Jan 05

Losing DePodesta Will Impact Browns More Than Mets

It was interesting to see the Cleveland Browns hire Mets assistant GM Paul DePodesta from the Mets to be their Chief Strategy Officer, a position by its very title denotes incredible power. DePodesta, by all accounts, is a bright guy, so for a professional sports franchise to be interested shouldn’t be a shock.

DE PODESTA: Goes to Brown. (NBC)

DE PODESTA: Goes to Brown. (NBC)

But remember, DePodesta, who oversaw the Mets’ draft and player development departments, is also an “analytics” guy, which devalues the baseball manager. Football, however, is a different beast and coaches are supreme. Hell, the NFL even devotes an entire day – the Monday after the regular season is “Black Monday,” – for the mass firing of coaches.

The Browns, once a proud franchise relegated to an NFL doormat, took the early lead by firing head coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer after their loss to Pittsburgh Sunday. The Browns then promoted Sashi Brown to executive vice president of football operations.

Considering the power yielded by coaches and general managers in the NFL, it is odd the Browns would go to such unconventional means without those two key positions. Does this mean DePodesta has more power than the coach or GM? If so, aren’t the Browns limiting their pool of potential coaches and executives? That would seem the case. They appear to be limiting that pool for candidates who’ll take anything to be hired.

In that case, I am interested.

By hiring an analytics guy first, aren’t the Browns devaluing the coaching position? That could be the case. It will be very interesting to be in the Browns’ draft room to see the interaction between DePodesta, the coach and GM as they decide where to spend their first pick, and by extension, what to do with head case quarterback Johnny Manziel, who, listed OUT because of a concussion, was partying in Las Vegas on the eve of the season finale.

One thing also to consider, that in baseball there are three levels of minor leagues – and the ability to have multiple teams on the lower levels to develop players. Not so in the NFL, which for the most part has a “use him or lose him,” attitude with its players.

For example, the Mets bounced around Kirk Nieuwenhuis before losing him to waivers recently, and before him did the same with Dillon Gee. The pressure to use a player at the highest level can be averted for years.

How long ago did the Browns draft Manziel?

Yes. DePodesta has some fascinating decisions coming up.

Losing DePodesta, whose biggest contribution so far is Michael Conforto – that we know of – puts pressure on Sandy Alderson, who is battling cancer.

The Mets can give more power to assistants John Ricco and J.P. Ricciardi, and could also juggle within. Reportedly, Kevin Morgan will take over as minor league field coordinator.

There might be bumps, but I can see the Mets moving on without too  much difficulty. Meanwhile, 500 miles to the West, there could be a fascinating train wreck in the making in Cleveland.

 

Jan 02

Did Mets Make Right Call On Cespedes?

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves

When last we checked, free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes not only had appeared on the radar of the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, but both teams had emerged as the frontrunners to sign the former New York Met juggernaut. That was three days ago.

However, we have a little more clarity on the Cespedes front as the calendar flips to 2016, and none of it is particularly good news for the free agent who bellowed his demands for a six-year deal three months ago.

To begin, it turns out that the Orioles – while interested – never had any intentions of coming close to the $150 million Cespedes and his representatives at Roc Nation had set their sights on. The two sides are reportedly not even in the same zip code.

And as for the other frontrunner on the south side of Chicago, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported today that their interest in Cespedes is limited to a deal for no more than three years.

Sound familiar? It should. Three years was the most Sandy Alderson and the Mets were willing to offer Cespedes according to what team sources told Jon Heyman, and that firm stance ultimately led to the end of any negotiations with Roc Nation. In fact, the conversation between the two sides never even advanced to the point of discussing dollars.

Now, I’m never one to defend the Mets’ frugal ways, however last week I raised the possibility that perhaps this was not a case of the Mets being cheap, but simply a smart baseball decision by a general manager who has never taken kindly to handing out second generation contracts to players on the wrong side of thirty. It’s possible isn’t it?

Those of you who have followed this site since its inception 12 years ago, know all too well that I am not the least bit squeamish about hammering the Wilpons every chance I get. But this feels different to me.

Oh. I’m sure there’s no doubt Fred and Jeff were doing Ralph Kramden’s version of the Watusi when they heard about Sandy’s stance on Cespedes. I’m just saying that this wasn’t a case of them pressuring their GM to back off, or applying those well-polished fiscal handcuffs. Maybe giving Cespedes a six year deal is just a terrible baseball decision for the Mets or any other MLB team.

Still, our poor Mets took a lot of flak upon the news of their three-year or nothing posture, with most of the incoming fire coming from their own fan base itself. Perhaps the Mets front office was being judged a little too harshly based on today’s rumblings on the Cespedes front. Perhaps the Mets may have even been a little ahead of the curve?

In an offseason fraught with spending madness and vast ungodly sums of dollars being thrown about with such reckless abandon, maybe on this one occasion Sandy Alderson and John Ricco were being the adults in the room? It’s possible, isn’t it?

Anyway, there it is… My first article of 2016 is in the books and whether you agree or not, I hope I gave you something to think about. Happy New Year, my friends.

Nov 10

Cashman Playing The Game; Murphy To Yanks Makes Sense

Despite a $15.8-million security blanked in the form of a qualifying offer, second baseman Daniel Murphy is not expected to re-sign with the Mets. He has until Friday to make his decision.

Speaking to reporters at the GM meetings in Florida, Mets assistant John Ricco said.: “In making the qualifying offer, you always have to anticipate he’s going to accept. Otherwise, I don’t think we would have done it. It’s very early in the signing season. I’m sure what he and his representatives are trying to do right now is trying to get a gauge.

MURPHY: More bad luck

MURPHY: Pinstripes make sense. (AP)

“It’s hard for me to speculate whether the market is going to be there. We made the offer with the idea that we’d like to have him back. We’ll see how it plays out.”

The reported current market for Murphy includes both Los Angeles teams, Houston, and of course the Yankees.

As Ricco said it is early in the process and nobody wants to tip their hand. That explains why Yankees GM Brian Cashman downplays interest in Murphy.

“We have to offensive-profile players already at that position,” Cashman said. “So, I think if we did any changing there it would be seeing more balance on both sides of the ball.”

The Yankees’ current second base candidates are Rob refsnyder and Dustin Ackley. They are projected to be offensive-oriented players, although neither is in Murphy’s class.

Murphy-to-the-Yankees makes sense, because in that bandbox of a stadium he could hit at least 25 homers. He could also get some designated-hitter at-bats, but most of them would go to Alex Rodriguez. And, as he would with the Mets, Murphy could also back up at first and third base.

Cashman has to feign interest because he knows every agent will parade his client through the Bronx to prime the bidding pump.

Apr 10

Whose Lineup Is It Really?

GM Sandy Alderson took a not-so subtle poke at Mets manager Terry Collins the other day when he interrupted the latter’s pregame press conference and said, “Hey, Terry, here’s your lineup for tomorrow.”

Now, I’m not saying Alderson handed Collins a lineup and said, “use this,” but I do believe he’s had a lot of influence in what is put on the field.

Curtis Granderson hitting first, David Wright second, projected leadoff hitter Juan Lagares sixth and the pitcher eighth is not what was practiced during spring training, and, of course, there are questions why?

The front office routinely talks with the manager about lineups, but I doubt a manager with far more job security would accept this influence, and definitely not the ribbing Alderson gave. Bruce Bochy wouldn’t have. Neither would have Joe Torre or Tony La Russa or Sparky Anderson.

All this seems to be a jab at Collins, whom Alderson said he wasn’t supportive of in his book. How can anybody not see that? Surely, it had to make Collins uncomfortable, although he wouldn’t say anything. How could he?

The Mets’ unconventional lineup has drawn attention throughout baseball, to which Alderson told reporters: “I think what happened is people were surprised by the lineup. People don’t like surprises, whether it’s the media or fans or other people in baseball who’ve got everything figured out. So when there’s a surprise like that, people are scrambling around for some sort of rationale or explanation. Sometimes it gets a little crazy. That’s what I chalk it up to — mostly.”

That’s one or the reasons why there is spring training as teams work to avoid surprises. Why practice something and then deviate?

It makes no sense.

 

Mar 29

Alderson Facing A Lot Of Questions This Week

The Mets are entering the final week of their eventful spring training. Unless the Mets make a surprise trade – and what are the odds of that? – there shouldn’t be any notable additions, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t decisions to be made.

ALDERSON: A lot of thinking to do. (AP)

ALDERSON: A lot of thinking to do. (AP)

And, if you’ve followed closely, you know GM Sandy Alderson will make the final call on those decisions with only a minimal input from manager Terry Collins. The most successful teams have collaboration between the GM and the manager, usually based on respect, but that’s not the basis of this relationship. When the GM tells an author of his eroding confidence in his manager, what does that tell you?

So, operating under the theory this is Alderson’s team, here is what he must decide:

LEFTY RELIEVER: With Scott Rice optioned out, the thinking in Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin will get the nod over Dario Alvarez. There’s been talk about going outside, but that’s been going on all spring.

DISABLED LIST: There have been reports of Daniel Murphy and Vic Black being ready for Opening Day, but it’s a long season so why push it?

SECOND BASE: If not Murphy, then who? Alderson discusses Danny Muno or Matt Reynolds, but ignores Ruben Tejada, who is supposed to be the backup.

LEADOFF HITTER: They really don’t have one in the traditional sense, but based on their options it should be Juan Lagares. Quite simply, Curtis Granderson has more value as a run producer in the middle of the order.

BATTING ORDER: Primarily because of the juggling at the leadoff spot, there’s been little consistency in the order. We’ve seen the Mets have over 100 different batting order combinations in recent seasons. Unfortunately, it could be that way again.

ROTATION ORDER: Most teams who already know their rotation would have an order. Not the Mets.

So, Alderson has a lot to think about this week.