Oct 21

How Should Mets Handle Yankees’ Success?

So, how should the Mets handle the obvious news the Yankees are back to being the bullies on the New York City block?

No question, 2015 and 2016 was fun while it lasted, but the essence of winning is to sustain it, and do it again, and again. Whether the Yankees can do that remains to be seen, but they but have the necessary building blocks the Mets didn’t.

The Yankees have the young core of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius, while the Mets had only one young star the last time they saw October, and that was Michael Conforto.  The Mets have since added Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo and Dominic Smith.

The Yankees have a solid bullpen, while the Mets don’t. The Mets have the potential of a good, but not a great pen, but clearly, there’s a gap.

The Yankees have several good, young starters, while the Mets supposedly had the best young rotation in the majors. Suffice to say, that never happened, and Jacob deGrom is the only healthy arm the Mets can count on for next season.

The Yankees have a reputation with general manager Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner ownership group of not being handcuffed when it comes to a willingness to spend to reach the next level. The Mets’ reputation with GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons is the opposite.

That’s four categories with the Yankees holding the edge in each one.

So, if you’re the Mets, what should you do?

The Mets’ first decision is to ignore the Yankees, regardless what happens tonight in Houston. The Mets don’t compete with the Yankees for anything other than the back pages of the tabloids, which in the grand scheme of things is irrelevant. Let the Yankees enjoy their success and just concentrate on your own business.

The Mets’ second step – not surprisingly – is to hire a new manager, and I’m guessing it will be Manny Acta based on managerial experience.

Alderson has a lot of work to do, beginning with devising a rebuilding plan. It won’t be exactly going to Square One, but it is close. Alderson said he expects the Mets to be competitive in 2018, but hasn’t defined what that means. It should be noted the Mets finished 22 games below .500 this season.

It’s a stretch to think, even if they get all their players back that they’ll improve by 28 games, which would tie them at 87-75, the record of the Colorado Rockies, the second wild card in the National League.

That’s just for starters.

For that to happen, Alderson must add the following:

Starting pitching: The Mets can expect deGrom back and possibly Noah Syndergaard, the latter whom returned from the DL but is far from a given. The Mets probably have higher expectations of Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo than they do Steven Matz, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. It would be reasonable to think Alderson would pursue at least one starter.

Bullpen: Alderson has never been able to build a reliable bullpen, but there’s potential with Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins. If one or two of the arms they acquired when they stripped themselves of their veterans at the trade deadline. Even so, they shouldn’t pass on getting a quality reliever in free agency.

Outfield: Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes are recovering from significant injuries and both are questionable to be ready for the start of the season. That leaves Nimmo and Juan Lagares as the only reliable outfielders, and the Mets are sold on the latter.

Second/third base: The Mets are expected to bring back Jose Reyes and/or Asdrubal Cabrera, but both? That might be a stretch. I believe Cabrera is better at both positions and could be a better offensive threat. But, Reyes is a better shortstop replacement. Is that enough?

Should Alderson address all four in the positive the Mets should be better, but will it be enough for the playoffs?

 

Oct 20

Mets’ Search Reportedly Down To Acta And Long

According to reports, the Mets’ managerial search is boiling down to hitting coach Kevin Long and Manny Acta. The Mets aren’t interested in talking to Dusty Baker, who was fired today by the Nationals.

A coach for the Mets under Willie Randolph, Acta previously managed the Indians and Washington.

Frankly, I’ve been disappointed in this whole process. My choice is Ron Gardenhire, who was given a three-year deal today by Detroit. I would have thought they’d at least kick the tires on Baker.

If Acta gets the job, the Mets say Long will stay on as a hitting coach. I don’t like this for two reasons, 1) how will Long react if he doesn’t get the job? and 2) how will Acta feel if he’s not allowed to name his own staff?

UNDERSTANDING DE BLASIO: I am not a fan of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, but I do admire his loyalty to the Red Sox.

De Blasio is a Red Sox fan, which is his right, and when asked about rooting for the Yankees, said he couldn’t do it if they reached the World Series.

Hey, the Mets are your team, so I can’t imagine you’d be rooting for them, either.

If you are a fan of a team, you don’t cheer for their archrivals. It’s just not done.

Oct 18

Playoff Scheduling Needs Fixing

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the experience of coming from two games down to beat Cleveland in the Division Series helped them in coming back from two games down to take a three-games-to-two series lead over the Astros with the ALCS heading back to Houston.

While it could have a contributing factor, I think it is secondary to Major League Baseball’s inane playoff scheduling of 2-3-2, which in this case rewards the wild-card team of having three straight games at home.

Such a format neutralizes the home field advantage the Astros earned by winning 101 games during the regular season compared to the Yankees winning 91 games.

Isn’t having the best record supposed to stand for something?

The fairest playoff format in all sports for a seven-game playoff series is 2-2-1-1-1. Baseball doesn’t do it that way, saying it wants to cut down on cross-country travel. Seriously? In October it wants to cut down on the travel?

Beginning with the wild-card games, why do they have to be played on different dates? That’s because MLB cares more about playing as many games as possible in primetime.

Normally, that would carry some weight if we were talking about the major networks broadcasting the games. But, instead there were games telecast on four networks: FOX, FX1, TBS and MLB Network.

I wonder how much of the country missed out on some games?

For the ALCS and NLCS rounds, only four times was each league scheduled on the same date. That’s ridiculous scheduling.

It’s bad enough that if the World Series goes seven games, Game 7 will be played Nov. 1.  I know things will never go back to the way it was, and I know MLB – like all sports – cares more about placating television than the fans in the stands, but c’mon, you have to do better than this.

With some creative scheduling during the regular season, MLB could easily cut a week off the calendar and start the playoffs earlier.

For example, since we have the unbalanced schedule thanks to interleague play, have at least once a month have teams play day-night doubleheaders within the division. Three home; three away.

That would cut six days off the schedule, it would make for more off days during the season, and enable the playoffs to start a week earlier.

C’mon Manfred, be a commissioner for the game and not just the owners.

 

Oct 17

Mets’ Managerial Search Remains Slow

A show of hands please: How many of you are enthralled with the Mets’ managerial search? I’m not either.

Today came word former Mets coach Manny Acta, who managed Washington and Cleveland, will interview later this week. Astros coach Alex Cora, who reportedly is a frontrunner in Boston after his interview Sunday, interviewed today.

The cynic in me suggests the Mets waited until the Astros were in town for the ALCS so they could save on airfare.

Joe McEwing is scheduled to interview Wednesday along with Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway.

Mets hitting coach Kevin Long met with GM Sandy Alderson last week. Former Detroit manager Brad Ausmus rejected the Mets, while Bob Geren, one of the first names mentioned, hasn’t even been contacted. Robin Ventura and Chip Hale were also brought up early, but that was nearly three weeks ago.

Long’s managerial experience is restricted to Single-A.

Again, the most experienced candidate out there is former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, but his name hasn’t been mentioned.

Alderson is waiting for something. I just wish I knew what it was.

NOT BANKING ON FRAZIER: The Mets had their chances at third baseman Todd Frazier in previous winters. They’ll have a chance again this offseason, but it’s not going to happen.

The 31-year-old Frazier made $12 million this season, and can you really expect the Mets to surpass that next year?

You know as well as I do that’s too rich for Alderson’s blood.

At his age, Frazier has one more big payday left and I’m thinking he’ll want three years, and he won’t get it from the Mets.

Oct 13

Why Won’t Alderson Consider Gardenhire?

Reportedly, Ron Gardenhire is one of three finalists for the recently-vacant Boston managerial position, the obvious question must be posed: Where is he on the Mets’ radar?

Of the ten or so mostly non-descript names mentioned to replace Terry Collins – whom the Boston media also lists as a candidate – Gardenhire is clearly the most experienced and qualified possibility.

GARDENHIRE: Should be the one. (AP)

GARDENHIRE: Should be the one. (AP)

Gardenhire, a former Mets infielder, led the Minnesota Twins to six division titles, and five times won at least 90 games. His kryptonite was the Yankees.

I find it incredulous Gardenhire’s name has not been linked to the Mets, despite GM Sandy Alderson stating leadership was the prime factor he valued in a manager.

The Mets knew months ago they were moving on from Collins, and yet they aren’t any closer to hiring a manager than they were when they announced he wasn’t coming back. John Farrell was fired as Red Sox manager Wednesday, yet not two days later The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Gardenhire was a finalist.

Gardenhire is a fundamentalist, and his teams always played the game the right way, played hard and rarely beat themselves. He has been described as old-school, yet a teacher who can relate to young players. He is respected by players and opposing managers and executives.

So, why won’t Alderson give him the time of day? Is it because he’s old-school? Is it the money? Is it a losing record in the playoffs? Is Alderson afraid of a high-profile manager? Doesn’t Alderson want to win?

If Alderson is truly committed to returning the Mets to contending status, he is doing ownership, his players and New York fans a disservice by not putting a call into Gardenhire.

I’m sure he can get the number.