Nov 15

DeGrom Wins Cy Young Based On The Eye Test

In what was hardly a surprise, Jacob deGrom was the runaway winner in the National League Cy Young Award today.

In the end, deGrom’s Cy Young Award was less about analytics than it was about domination. The Mets’ ace dominated the voting like no game this season, collecting 29 of 30 first-place votes by the Baseball Writers Association of America – Washington’s Max Scherzer got the other – to become the sixth Cy Young Award winner in franchise history.

After a summer of debating over the value of wins and losses and pitching WAR, it all boiled down to nobody coming close to how easily deGrom handled hitters this season and in the process set a Major League record of closing the summer with 29 straight starts of giving up three runs or fewer runs.

Only once in 32 starts did he give up more than three runs. Once.

”I really do love competing, that is why we play this game, to go out there and compete,” deGrom said. ”Just every fifth day, it’s your day, and you want to stay out there as long as possible and try to put your team in a position to win. My thought process was, ‘Take the ball every fifth day and continue to try to put this team in a position to win and control what you can control.’ ”

What deGrom couldn’t control was the chatter about whether wins still matter in evaluating a pitcher’s effectiveness. Roger Clemens once told me a great pitcher will find a way of winning a game when things fall apart for his team. DeGrom finished at 10-9 with a major-league low 1.70 ERA (easily the most definitive statistic for a starter because it measures runs allowed which goes the furthest in determining whether a team wins or loses).

DeGrom’s ERA was the sixth lowest for a starter since 1969, when the mound was lowered as Major League Baseball tinkered to generate more offense.

There are other numbers that matter in evaluating a pitcher, such as 269 strikeouts in 217 innings pitched, and averaged 6.8 innings per start. DeGrom gave up a league-low ten homers, had one complete game, compared to Tom Seaver’s 18 complete games in his first of three Cy Young Award seasons. Dwight Gooden and R.A. Dickey are the other Mets to win baseball’s premier pitching award.

Despite his dominance, deGrom was frequently victimized by a porous bullpen and an offense that only gave him 3.5 runs a game, the worst support in the game for a starter. Overall, the Mets ranked 12th in the National League in scoring, and such paltry support was the genesis of the pro-analytic conversation after deGrom said winning the Cy Young Award was something that meant a lot to him.

At 30, deGrom is in his prime and will become a free agent after this season. He made $7.4 million this year and Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who was deGrom’s agent two weeks ago, has said it is a priority to re-sign him.

”Jacob clearly established himself as the best pitcher in baseball for 2018,” said Van Wagenen. ”His consistency and competitiveness were unmatched. I’ve always been impressed with his professional and dedicated approach on and off the field in addition to being a tremendous teammate.”

DeGrom’s ten victories are the fewest ever by a Cy Young Award winner in a non-strike-shortened season.

”This was one of my goals,” deGrom said. ”The team didn’t end up where we wanted to be this past season, but you kind of set personal goals, and I think being able to accomplish something that has been a dream of yours is just something special. To be a Cy Young Award winner, you’re in great company, and it truly is an honor.”

And, deserving based on the eye test, not by any new wave thinking.

Jul 06

Maybe The Real Issue Is When DeGrom Might Ask To Be Traded

As the Major League Baseball trade deadline nears, the speculation mounts as to whether the Mets will trade Jacob deGrom. As the Mets continue to waste his starts, the better question could be: Will deGrom ask for a trade?

DE GROM: Another no decision.. (AP)

DE GROM: Another no decision.. (AP)

After his last start, deGrom said he was tired of losing, and you can’t blame him for voicing his frustration. He hasn’t come out and said he wants out, but it could happen.

After eight innings tonight, deGrom’s ERA fell to major league-low 1.79 after giving up one run on four hits in eight innings. He’ll be a no-brainer to represent the Mets in the All-Star Game. Incredibly, he has given up more than three runs only once this season and has given up two runs or less in 13 of his 17 starts, but has just five victories to show for it.

He has eight no-decisions, which a hard-luck pitcher should get over a full season. After tonight, deGrom has gone 15 straight starts where he’s given up three runs or less. DeGrom came away empty tonight, but the Mets did not, winning 5-1 on Jose Bautista’s game-ending grand slam.

Given his production, and the Mets’ desire to sell tickets and be competitive in 2019, there is no reason why they should deal him. But, he’s 30-years old and if the Mets aren’t a contender next year, then when?

Realistically, deGrom could be 34 or 35 the next time the Mets sniff October. DeGrom has said all the right things, but eventually, he’ll have to think of himself, and if winning is what matters to him, it might not be in Flushing.

Mar 29

Familia Gets 15 Games; Case Raises Questions

I would not have thought it, but MLB came down on Jeurys Familia today, and you could say the Mets came away with their first victory of the season. While most – including myself – predicted he’d be suspended for 30 games on a domestic incident. Instead, MLB tagged him for just 15 games.

FAMILIA: Gets 15 games. (AP)

FAMILIA: Gets 15 games. (AP)

Familia was arrested Oct. 31 after his wife, Bianca Rivas, told police he was drunk and violent. The police report said she had signs of injury, however, she would not press charges.

A statement released by MLB read: “The evidence reviewed by my office does not support a determination that Mr. Familia physically assaulted his wife, or threatened her or others with physical force or harm, on October 31, 2016. Nevertheless, I have concluded that Mr. Familia’s overall conduct that night was inappropriate, violated the Policy, and warrants discipline.”

MLB would not say how its investigation differed from that of the police, or what factors it used to reach its decision, but there had to be something because his suspension was the shortest since creating a domestic-violence policy on 2015: Mets infielder Jose Reyes got 52 games for spousal abuse and Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman got 30 games, and his incident involved allegedly choking his girlfriend and shooting a gun.

Familia, who has 99 saves as the Mets’ closer, said in a statement:

“Today, I accepted a 15-game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my inappropriate behavior on October 31, 2016. With all that has been written and discussed regarding this matter, it is important that it be known that I never physically touched, harmed or threatened my wife that evening.

“I did, however, act in an unacceptable manner and am terribly disappointed in myself. I am alone to blame for the problems of that evening.

“My wife and I cooperated fully with Major League Baseball’s investigation, and I’ve taken meaningful steps to assure that nothing like this will ever happen again. I have learned from this experience, and have grown as a husband, a father, and a man.

“I apologize to the Mets’ organization, my teammates, and all my fans. I look forward to rejoining the Mets and being part of another World Series run. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.”

There is so much more left to digest and wonder about Familia’s case.

Only he and Bianca truly know what happened that night and she won’t say or do anything to implicate her husband, so we are only left to speculate and wonder about the future. Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for Familia. And hopefully, there won’t be a next time for Bianca.

As far as MLB judging players on their off-field behavior and possible incidents that have brushes with the law we have to understand there is a high degree of public relations with professional sports and that will never change. But, to what degree should MLB be involved has long been up for debate. That won’t change, either.

 

 

Feb 23

What Was Matz Thinking?

It’s not even March and Terry Collins has already given us our first head-scratching comment of the season. By this time, you’ve already seen the video of Steven Matz shark fishing, and unbelievably, reach over the side of the boat to touch the squirming animal.

This is beyond irresponsible and careless. Hell, it’s stupid. Why would he risk putting his career in jeopardy? A shark is a wild, out-of-control creature. It could have turned and taken off Matz’s hand. He could have slipped and fallen overboard. He could have impaled his hand on a hook.

So many things could have gone wrong, and Matz came away lucky.

Even crazier than Matz’s adventure on the high seas were the reactions of GM Sandy Alderson and Collins. Alderson said he didn’t have a problem, and Collins’ response to reporters was, “then it’s no problem,” when told Matz wasn’t bitten.

I’m hoping they underplayed it, but wouldn’t be surprised if they were not because their history is of not reacting to things they should.

Most standard Major League Baseball contracts have clauses banning activities that can be risky, such as scuba diving, basketball, drag racing, sky diving, skiing, and I would presume, fishing for sharks.

Feb 14

No Love For Familia From MLB

Mets closer Jeurys Familia isn’t commenting on his domestic violence case which is understandable. However, neither is Major League Baseball, which isn’t.

Familia greeted reporters in Port Lucie with a clipped: “My lawyer’s advice is that I don’t speak about anything related to my case.”

FAMILIA: Waiting on suspension verdict. (AP)

FAMILIA: Waiting on suspension verdict. (AP)

Major League Baseball is still investigating Familia’s Oct. 31 arrest following a dispute with his wife, Bianca Rivas in Fort Lee, N.J. There was immediate speculation he would receive up to a 30-game suspension, which has persisted even though the case was dismissed by the New Jersey legal system.

However, Major League Baseball – as it did in the case involving Jose Reyes – doesn’t always follow the lead of the courts and acts on its own.

Commissioner Rod Manfred expects a resolution by the end of spring training but would not guarantee a ruling, which is ridiculous when you think about it.

Why not?

Unless MLB’s investigation is any more intense or thorough than the Fort Lee police, what’s the point in delaying this? MLB, because it is understandably sensitive about domestic violence issues, will have to issue some kind of suspension.

What’s the delay? There have already been suspensions levied against Reyes and Aroldis Chapman, so we know MLB won’t let Familia skate.

In fairness to Familia and the Mets – who need to construct a bullpen – this should have been done before pitchers and catchers reported.

What’s the purpose of a delay?