Nov 10

Mets’ deGrom Should Win NL Rookie Award

The New York Mets should be in the national baseball news today as the postseason awards start this afternoon. It’s just another step in the Mets’ climb toward relevancy.

In an informal poll of voters, pitcher Jacob deGrom is favored to become the Mets’ fifth rookie of the year winner, joining Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). For those believing in omens, the Mets played in the World Series within two years of each previous winner.

DeGROM: Gets my NL Rookie vote. (Getty)

DeGROM: Gets my NL Rookie vote. (Getty)

To say deGrom could be the next Seaver or Gooden is a stretch, but there is a lot to like about him and it isn’t farfetched  to say he’s ahead of Zack Wheeler, and he’s definitely part of the core of young arms.

What was most impressive about deGrom was his composure and ability to command his secondary pitchers. These are things Wheeler must improve. Wheeler also has a tendency to run up his pitch count, frequently forcing an early exit. The Mets could count on deGrom getting into the sixth inning.

A ninth-round pick in the 2010 amateur draft, deGrom made the first of his 22 starts, May 15, and made an immediate impression by giving up just one run in seven innings in a 1-0 loss to the Yankees. He gave us a glimpse of his 96-mph. fastball and darting slider with six strikeouts and only walked one and gave up four hits.

DeGrom turned out to be the kind of workhorse the Mets need by working into the sixth or longer in 19 starts. Ten times he took a game into the seventh or longer.

DeGrom worked 140.1 innings this year, but in this era of pitcher preservation – not recognized by the Giants and Madison Bumgarner – he was pulled from his last start against Houston.

“Obviously, I wanted to make my last one, but they talked to me about it,’’ deGrom said at the time. “The decision was made for me not to, and to end the year healthy. I respect that decision and I look forward to next year.’’

The decision was made in large part by a season-low 92 mph., in his proceeding start against Atlanta, and manager Terry Collins said with a 9-6 record and 2.63 ERA, there was nothing left for him to prove. The lower speed is indicative of a tiring arm.

“We explained the big picture,’’ Collins said. “One more start isn’t going to vary any votes. One more start isn’t going to show everybody that he belongs here.

“One more start could lead to some trouble. The big picture was to make sure when this season was over that those five [rotation] guys were going to be healthy. We think we’ve reached that point.’’

By votes, Collins meant from the Baseball Writers Association, which concludes its voting after the season. Postseason performance is not included, for one reason it gives some players a larger body of work. For example, if the postseason were included, Bumgarner would easily win the NL Cy Young over the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.

The other National League candidates are Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton and St. Louis’ Kolten Wong. Hamilton fizzled at the end and Wong wasn’t a clear-cut standout, although he was impressive in the postseason.

The American League candidates are frontrunner Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees’ Dellin Betances and the Angels’ Matt Shoemaker.

 

Dec 17

All That’s Left For Dickey Deal Is Mets’ Fans Crying

All R.A. Dickey must do is turn his head and cough and he’ll be a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. That’s appropriate to Mets fans because they are the ones with the hernia from bearing the heavy weight of the promises the organization made them in recent years.

DICKEY: Going, going ... gone.

It is done and Dickey is gone after agreeing to a two-year, $25-million extension with the Blue Jays, which ironically is less than he sought from the Mets. If the Mets don’t feel a twinge of embarrassment in that they should.

Some of the money, along with his $5 million salary – when the Mets picked up the option they said they hoped to extend his contract – will be paid immediately of offset the tax difference between the United States and Canada. The exact dollar figure to be front-loaded is still being negotiated.

The Mets will receive catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, whose 2012 season was cut short by a knee injury, and Class A pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard. The teams are also swapping catchers, Josh Thole and John Buck, to give Dickey his old batterymate.

Toronto is including an undisclosed amount of cash to help pay Buck’s $6 million salary, further indication the Mets’ financial problems are far from over.

So, the Mets are giving their Cy Young Award winner and one of their few 2012 positives for two prospects – one injured – which are nothing more than wishes in the wind. The Mets are gambling the prospects will make it, but don’t know for sure. Nobody does.

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Dec 15

Mets Nearing Trade With Toronto For Dickey

At least the Mets will have the good sense to deal R.A. Dickey to the American League, where he won’t have the chance to stick it to them several times a summer.

If the trade of Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays does happen, it will end one the most stubborn and stupid phases in franchise history, one where there have been numerous stubborn and stupid moments.

Numerous reports have Dickey, a project who turned into a Cy Young Award winner, on his way to the Blue Jays for a package that could include catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, so say good-bye soon to Josh Thole.

Talks appear to be serious, although they haven’t yet reached the stage where Dickey’s agent to talking to the Blue Jays about an extension or he’s being asked to take a physical.

Dickey underwent surgery after the season to repair an abdominal tear, an ailment that did not prevent him from winning 20 games.

The Texas Rangers were also in the hunt for Dickey, but apparently backed out because the Mets’ demands were too high.

The Mets exercised a $5 million option for 2013 on Dickey with the stated intent of working on an extension. On top of the $5 million option, Dickey wanted two more years for $26 million. Meanwhile, the Mets were offering two years at $20 million.

So, it boils down to the Mets losing one of their few bright spots on the field, plus one of their most popular players for just $6 million.

That’s chump change by today’s standards.

The Mets were peeved when Dickey used the club’s holiday party as a forum to express his displeasure at the pace of the negotiations.

Dickey said: “In the context of the market, you want what you think is fair. I feel like we’re asking for less than what’s fair because that’s how it’s been for me.

“There is a surprise sometimes when things don’t get done quickly and you already think you’re extending the olive branch. At the same time, they have a budget they have to adhere to. I don’t know those numbers. And, I try not to take it personally.’’

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Nov 15

Cabrera, Trout And Posey Top MVP Candidates

AL MVP CANDIDATE MIGUEL CABRERA

The Major League postseason awards conclude today with the granddaddy of them all – the Most Valuable Player Awards.

San Francisco catcher Buster Posey and Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera competing against the Angels’ Mike Trout are considered the frontrunners. Throw a blanket over Cabrera and Trout in the American League.

Let’s look at the American League race first because of the potential closeness of the voting.

The award has been shared before, the National League in 1979 between the Cardinals’ Keith Hernandez and the Pirates’ Willie Stargell. It is possible to have co-winners in these awards because they are done on a point system: x number of points for first place, y number of points for second place and so on.

Clearly, Trout had a MVP season, especially impressive had he not missed the first month of the season. Had he played a full season, it is possible he might have prevented Cabrera from winning the Triple Crown, one of baseball’s rarest achievements last done in 1967 by Carl Yastrzemski.

There is no criteria set by the Baseball Writers Association of America, which is why relief pitchers have won (Rollie Fingers, 1981), Willie Hernandez (1984) and Dennis Eckersley (1992). Also, players from teams with losing records (Cal Ripken, 1991) and Ernie Banks (1958-59) have been honored, as well as starting pitchers (Justin Verlander, 2011), Denny McLain and Bob Gibson (1968), and Sandy Koufax (1963).

The voting for all postseason awards must be in on the last day of the regular season, so playoff performances are not counted. However, traditionally, many of the winners – if not most – come from teams in the postseason.

The arguments for Cabrera and Trout are equally compelling, if not convincing.

Cabrera won the Triple Crown which is rare and impressive, and led the American League in OPS; his team made the playoffs and he moved to a different position. All strong arguments for Cabrera.

However, Trout led the majors in runs scored – 20 more than Cabrera; accomplished what he did in fewer games; and his team had a better record than Cabrera’s; and he might have saved at least 20 more runs with his defense. All strong arguments for Trout.

I have no complaint for either, but if forced to choose between the two I would take Cabrera because of the Triple Crown. It is such a rare achievement I can’t overlook.

The National League is easy for me. The best players are Posey, Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, last year’s winner, St. Louis’ Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina, and Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen.

Beltran and Molina will take votes from each other; McCutchen will be penalized by the Pirates’ late season collapse; and Braun will suffer from last year’s drug test controversy.

Posey, coming off a serious injury, hit .336 with over 100 RBI, and caught one of the game’s best staffs.

Nov 14

Dickey Leads Cy Young Race; Verlander In AL

CAN DICKEY’S INCREDIBLE SEASON CONTINUE?

Baseball’s annual postseason awards continue this evening with the announcement of the Cy Young winners, a moment that could thrust the Mets into proud, yet potentially embarrassing moment.

Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey could be in position of winning the award and then being traded if a contract extension isn’t reached.

Only the Mets.

NATIONAL LEAGUE: The Mets’ feel good story this summer that was Dickey has a chance to get better in a few hours if he’s able to join Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden as franchise winners of the Cy Young Award.

The man who scaled a mountain last winter climbed another this season when he literally carried the team on his shoulders to go 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA, and he did it with an abdominal tear that required surgery.

Dickey’s competition for the award, Washington’s Gio Gonzalez and Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw, pitching for winning teams. Dickey’s Mets were 14 games under .500 with a winning percentage of .457. Dickey’s winning percentage was an amazing .769.

There aren’t enough ways to say how incredible that is.

The Mets didn’t hit for the second half and their bullpen kicked away leads all year. There were nights when he did it all by himself.

“To win 20 on a club with struggles is pretty big,’’ Mets manager Terry Collins said.  “Especially during the times we weren’t hitting, he was still winning games.’’

Dickey’s ERA was second to Kershaw’s 2.53; his 20 wins were second to Gonzalez’s 21; but, he was first in strikeouts (230), innings (233.2), complete games (five), shutouts (three) and quality starts (27).

Other than a knuckleball bias, I can’t see Dickey not winning.

AMERICAN LEAGUE: Things might be more up in the air in the American League between Detroit’s Justin Verlander, Tampa Bay’s David Price and the Angels’ Jered Weaver.

Both Price and Weaver had the type of seasons worth of a Cy Young, with perhaps loftier numbers, but Verlander is the best pitcher in the sport and could become the first repeater since Pedro Martinez  (1999-2000).

Price and Weaver were 20-game winners, but Verlander dominated again and took his team into the playoffs.

My thinking is Verlander is the incumbent who pitched well enough to win again. Until somebody blows away the field, he should get it, because repeating excellence might be the single most difficult thing in sports.