Matt Harvey Acknowledges Existence of Contract Extensions; Skeptical on Global Warming and Evolution


Mets pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Spring Training in 3 days, but that didn’t stop Matt Harvey from arriving early in what could be considered another flagrant violation of team rules. Just another example of his infamous narcissism that has dominated the New York backpages since his arrival on the big league club. No doubt there will be a thorough investigation into what led up to his early arrival and his actual motives for disregarding the team mandated report date.

Once the media was able to get over Harvey’s arrival, they sat down with him for an interview during which the reporters asked him about his views on the possible existence of contract extensions in the sport today. Matt said,

“I think whatever comes up is going to come up. I’ve never shied away from it, I’ve never said I wouldn’t consider it. But I haven’t heard anything considering that.”

Wow. So Matt actually acknowledged that contract extensions exist. This is unprecedented. His agent Scott Boras is a known contract extension truther so this really contradicts his well documented skepticism on the subject.

When the topic switched to the particularly humid day in Port St. Lucie Florida, Matt had the following to say on global warming,

“The idea that man, through the production of CO2 — which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas — is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all the other factors.”

The interview closed with a question about the potential evolution of the Mets pitching staff in 2016 and a clear misunderstanding on the part of Harvey when he responded,

“There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.”

Weekly Roundup: Takeout Slides, Chipper Predictions, and Prayers for Maverick

MLB/Union Closer to 2B Takeout Slide Rule Change: I ranted in a January 27th post about how the league still hasn’t done a damn thing to rectify the 2B takeout slide problem. Well it seems they heard my complaining. Now that Ruben Tejada has finally shed his walking boot and Jung Ho Kang is making big strides in his daily physical therapy, the league has finally made some alleged progress. Heck, according to Buster Olney’s report, the Union and MLB claim they may make real changes before the season begins. Olney said they want to make sure runners “touch the base or make an effort to touch the base”. The planned rule change is meant to “improve safety” while maintaining “players’ aggressiveness”. In addition, they are still debating whether slides in question can be reviewed by instant replay.

So to recap, the current 2B slide rule essentially says the runner should be close enough to touch the base. The proposed new rule would say the runner must attempt to touch the base, and it wouldn’t discourage aggressive slides. I can really see the differences in the rules. Sounds like a groundbreaking reform that will really change the sport. And of course they don’t want umpires to be able to review these types of slides because it may slow down the games. This is going to go well. I will reserve judgement until the final rule is published but needless to say I’m skeptical. If it goes anything like when they changed the home plate collision rules, we are in for a long season full of confused players, managers, and umpires.

Chipper Predictions: Chipper Jones in a radio interview this week said the Mets are his early season favorite to win the World Series. Larry is really something else. From the Mets archrival to the team’s biggest booster. After the Chase Utley takeout slide he came out and ripped Chase a new one. Now he’s endorsing the Mets as future 2016 World Champions? And it’s not like he’s unemployed and endorsing the Mets from his couch. He literally works for the Braves. He just got hired as a special assistant.

He’s got to be working an angle. Still trolling us after all those years of crushing the franchise. It started with him naming his kid Shea. Now he’s taking it up a notch by pretending to be our biggest fan. I completely understand why Chipper would love our team. It’s designed exactly like his 90s Braves squad. A potential juggernaut built around young pitching. However, I think Chipper’s “love affair” with the pitching rich Mets is kind of like Eli Manning’s “love” for his brother Peyton. Right now, Chipper has the championship swag like Eli did before last week’s Super Bowl. So he’s “rooting” for the Mets like Eli was “rooting” for Peyton. The Mets are just a similarly designed team with aspirations to be as successful as the 90s Braves. We want to win 14 consecutive division titles like the Braves did between 1991 and 2005. We want to advance to the World Series 5 times like they did in the 90s. But the second we win one lone championship like Chipper did with the 1995 Braves, his cheerleader routine will stop. If we ever found a way to win two, Chipper could have twins named Citifield and Shake Shack, and he still wouldn’t get his championship mojo back.

Pray for Maverick (and Wright): Sandy Alderson conducted an interview with Steve Serby of the NY Post. First off, in the interview Sandy talked about how he was diagnosed with cancer four days after the Mets clinched the NL East last season, and he is still undergoing chemotherapy. The guy is a front office legend and clearly tough as hell. I hope the Wilpons actually give him some time off this season so he can recover instead of making him face the relentless media day in and day out. But it’s more likely the Wilpons remain in the panic room they had built in 2008 after Madoff was arrested and just let their lackey John Ricco deal with the press. Either way, pray for Sandy.

And while we are at it, pray for David Wright. Sandy said he hopes David and his titanium spine can play 130 games next season. Honestly, I will take anything we can get from David. 100 games would work for me. Quite frankly, we’d be better off keeping Wright cryogenically frozen until 2017 when the NL institutes the DH so he can take that job full time. Although considering our trainer Ray Ramirez can barely administer an X-Ray, I’m not sure I’d trust him to handle the freezing procedure.

Two New Cubans: This week, two new Cubans defected from the motherland. 31 year old 3B Yulieski Gourriel and 22 year old SS/OF Lourdes Gourriel Jr. were supposedly two of the top players remaining in Cuba. Are they brothers? Noooooo…….Yes!!!!

These two brothers are expected to be impact players in the major leagues. Pretty much like every Cuban player that has defected to date. The older brother Yulieski is supposed to have an immediate impact while the younger brother may need some minor league seasoning. It’s hard to complain about the Mets lack of interest in Cuban players considering we just signed the best one in the business. That being said, John Ricco should have a welcome party on standby in Florida, and we should be signing every Cuban player that comes ashore. Especially a Cuban star that plays 3B considering Wright is our biggest question mark. But I’m sure he’ll just wind up a Yankee as they are one of the teams rumored to have interest.

Clippard Departs, Mejia Promptly Banned: I wrote earlier this week about the departure of Tyler Clippard for a 2 year deal in Arizona. And of course, four days later Jenrry Mejia is promptly banned from the game for life due to a third positive PED test. Mejia getting banned for life makes too much sense. Things were too quiet in Mets land. It was inevitable that the first bad thing of 2016 was going to happen. I also think it’s hilarious that at the trade deadline we acquired Clippard and immediately afterwards Mejia received his second steroid suspension. And now once again, Clippard’s move and Mejia’s suspension happen simultaneously.

Mejia wasn’t part of the team last year, and we replaced Clippard with Antonio Bastardo, so I suppose our pen will be fine. But it still isn’t good that two relief options for 2016 have evaporated in one week. And speaking of Bastardo, he has to be next on the Mets steroid watch list right? He’s been suspended before, and it wouldn’t shock me at all to see our primary set up man go down for a second time.

Royals Plan Two World Series Celebrations: The Royals announced this week that they plan to have a World Series celebration in both games against the Mets to start the season. Banner raising the first game and then ring presentations on night two. Really just rubbing our faces in it. Well that’s just perfect. At least this doubles the chances for former Royals Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto to catch the ceremonies on TV. But in all seriousness, screw the Royals. I hope this fires the Mets up and helps them keep their eyes on the ultimate prize.

Minor League Notes: This week the Mets signed Roger Bernadina to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training. He may play all 3 outfield positions but he’ll never fill the void left by Triple A Vegas legend Kirk “3 Dingers” Nieuwenhuis.

Also, the Texas Rangers have officially signed former Met Ike Davis to a minor league deal. Oh how the mighty have fallen. From first round pick to Quadruple-A All-Star. I’m not sure how smart it was for him to take the deal considering Texas is just over an hour flight from Arizona where he contracted his Valley Fever. Although I suppose he had no real choice. Maybe another fresh start will finally cure him of the Valley Fever aka Mets disease. Nothing worked for Jason Bay, but perhaps there’s still hope for Ike. Not bloody likely.

2016 Mets: Pre-Season Scapegoat Predictions 

Before the Democrats had Wall Street and Trump had Mexican immigrants, Mets fans had the Wilpons to blame for all the team’s ills. Whenever the Mets were at or near the basement of the NL East over the last 7 years, the fans would ready their fingers for pointing at Jeff and Fred. “They are slashing payroll! They are in debt! They meddled in baseball decisions! We can’t win unless they sell the team!”

As you might expect, the Wilpons heard the criticism and simply joined in on the scapegoating. In fact, you could say they were the trailblazers for all the modern political finger pointing trends by blaming Bernie Madoff and Latin American immigrant General Manager Omar Minaya. It would be nice if Mets fans, the Wilpons, politicians, and society as a whole could all just unite in their scapegoating and find one illegal immigrant Mexican insider trading hedge fund manager to blame for all of the world’s problems, but I fear that day may never come.

Anyway, whenever the losing set in over the last 7 years (usually right before the All-Star break), Mets fans were ready with the stock Wilpon excuses. However, 2016 will be the first season in a long time where the Wilpons won’t be the default scapegoat. In fact, because the Wilpons signed Yoenis Cespedes and let Maverick Sandy make every move he wanted, fans can’t possibly blame them. At least not this year.

That being said, in a season that begins with the highest of expectations, finger pointing is inevitable the second the slightest thing goes wrong. So without further ado, here is the list of Top 5 likeliest goats if things fall apart in 2016:



5) The New Guy –
Whenever things go wrong, the easiest thing to do is to blame the new guy. And when the new guy is replacing a particularly popular player in Daniel Murphy, it makes him an even likelier target. Neil Walker has been one of the most consistently productive offensive 2B in all of baseball over the last 5 seasons. He’s a switch hitter, a better defender than Murphy, and he’s in a contract year. There’s almost no reason to believe he will do anything but thrive in the middle of the Mets lineup and earn himself a nice big payday after the season. That being said, after watching Jason Bay come over to New York as one of the most productive outfielders in the league and inexplicably deteriorate right before our eyes, there’s no guarantee that someone will thrive in the Big Apple just because they excelled in Pittsburgh. Plus look at the guy. I know he’s got a reputation as a hard-nosed player, but he appears to be butter soft. He looks like the kind of guy that reads the Bible in the hotel room on road trips. And not in that Daniel Murphy psycho fundamentalist Christian way but in that “I read it for the wisdom within” kind of way. I’m confident he is going to have a huge season for us. However, he’ll be one of the first fan targets if he has a rough start to the season and the team struggles.



4) Old Man Collins
– The manager is always a top scapegoat target especially when the team has high expectations for the season. Terry “Cotton Hill” Collins has faced a ton of adversity during his tenure managing this team. From the time he was hired in 2011 until August of last season, the team was completely awful. But the team was bad by design during those years. For the first time ever, Terry has the real NYC spotlight on him, and every managerial decision he makes is going to get scrutinized at an extreme level. Just look at Harveygate in Game 5 of the World Series. Even though he’s made a ton of questionable in game decisions during his time as manager, Game 5 may have been the first time he was broadly criticized by all the MLB talking heads. Why? Because it was a big game and people were actually paying attention. Now Terry is going to face that level of scrutiny for 162 games. We’ve seen Terry handle losing when it was expected, but it’ll be interesting to see how he handles a losing streak when Vegas expects us to win.



3) David Wright‘s Titanium Spine
– Last season, David Wright‘s spinal stenosis and all the injuries on the team in general had a major impact on the Mets pre-trade deadline performance. However, the injured players didn’t get blamed as much as the Wilpons did for not allowing Sandy Alderson to build a deep roster. Well now we have a deep roster, and David Wright has started his inevitable transformation into an injury-prone cyborg. With his spine deteriorating by the day and his desperate need for a futuristic titanium replacement growing, he’s in danger of becoming more machine than man. If he once again misses lengthy periods of the season and the team struggles, the fans may finally start complaining a little more about his frailty and gigantic contract. Or maybe all his robot parts will translate into a late career surge in performance and like astronaut Steve Austin he will transform into the inflation adjusted 138 million dollar man that we always hoped he would be.



2) Matt Harvey and his Sexcapades
Matt Harvey is the face of the Mets franchise. He demanded to be the face when he arrived, and he got his wish. He is always on the brink of being blamed for everything under the sun. He tweeted out that picture after his Tommy John surgery where he was flipping everyone off and he was widely criticized. At the end of last season, everyone was ready to crucify him because of the media fabricated story that he wanted to stop pitching once he reached his “innings limit”. Before the playoffs started he missed some BS workout and everyone was freaking out. The point is everything he does is going to be scrutinized. And all those criticisms I mentioned have happened while he’s been at the top of his game. If he experiences just the slightest amount of playoff hangover fatigue and his performance dips, it won’t be long before the media is blaming his appearances on Late Night with Seth Meyers for the team’s “lack of focus”. As long as the team is winning and he is performing at the top of his game, he can turn his limo into a clown car full of models and take them all to see the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. If Harvey and the Mets struggle, he’ll be run out of town faster than you can say “Dark Knight”.



1) Yoenis Cespedes and his Smoking/Bat Flipping/Laziness
– The acquisition of Cespedes, his torrid summer, and the Mets playoff run, happened so fast that fans barely had time to complain about anything let alone about Cespedes. But that didn’t stop a contingent of asshole Mets fans from forming after the World Series who thought the Mets should let Cespedes walk because he misplayed Alcides Escobar‘s lead-off inside the park home run in Kansas City. That’s right. There were fans who turned against the man who carried the team to the playoffs because he had a bad World Series (along with everyone else on the team). Imagine how quickly they will turn on him if he has a down month and the offense can’t get anything going during his slump. I can hear the complaining already. “His bat flipping is cocky” and “He takes lazy routes to the ball” and “He doesn’t run hard to first base” and on and on. Let’s not forget that Cespedes already has a made up reputation for being a clubhouse distraction, so it’s only a matter of time before the media decides to dust off the old lies and re-print them. In fact, he’ll wind up getting scapegoated for a lot of the same reasons Trump scapegoats Mexican immigrants. Basically a bunch of made up racist reasons. Anyway, let’s hope that we win 100 games and his bat flipping becomes an iconic memory of the season rather than a symbol of his “immaturity” like the Mejia save stomp (R.I.P. Jenrry).

After a run to the World Series and a successful offseason, it’s hard to feel anything but positive about our chances coming into the season. That being said, these are the Mets we are talking about. And I know come Opening Day when the Mets are losing to the Royals in Kansas City and my beer is half-empty, I am going to be looking to point my finger at someone. Better to just prepare for the inevitable now.

Jenrry Mejia Tests Positive for PEDs Again; Banished to The Wall by MLB


Well Jenrry Mejia has officially become the first mook in baseball history to get banned for life for PEDs after testing positive for a third time. It couldn’t be more fitting that in the city where A-Rod plays, the face of steroid use, some other insignificant Mets player winds up receiving the first ever lifetime ban.

Honestly, it’s pretty obvious that Jenrry Mejia has limited to no brain functionality. And I’m not talking about a Forrest Gump level IQ. At least Forrest understood concepts like love and cheating. Mejia must have the mental capacity of Brendan Dassey in the “Making a Murderer” documentary. Just no awareness whatsoever of what’s going on and what people are asking him to do.

MLB Official: Now Jenrry tell us about the steroids. Did you buy the steroids?

Mejia: …like at a store?...

MLB Official: No Jenrry. Now you need to tell us the truth. You bought the steroids didn’t you? It’s ok if you bought them.

Mejia:…yes.

MLB Official: Now, you understand how a steroid test works right?

Mejia:…a test?…like with…pencils?

MLB Official: No Jenrry. Not a school test. A drug test. If you just pee in the cup you can go home ok?

Jenrry: Ok.

MLB Official: No Jenrry in the cup. Wait wait wait.

He’s clearly completely clueless about what PEDs do and how a drug test works. Right? I mean how is it possible that somebody could test positive three freaking times?  Tons of players are still using. For Christ’s sake Bartolo Colon is 43 and working out like he’s in his mid-20s. Couldn’t Mejia at least inquire about his secret methods? Nope. He’s just been getting injections from some friend in the Dominican Republic who keeps telling him it’s “his vitamins”. And when Mejia would tell teammates “my vitamins hurt” they didn’t really ask too many questions considering “conversations” weren’t exactly Jenrry’s strong point.

Well now Mejia will don a Night’s Watch cloak per Rob Manfred and join Lord Commander Pete Rose at The Wall for life. So much for our young setup man and our planned mid-season bullpen boost. Our hard pass on the return of Tyler “Rat-Face” Clippard is suddenly a bit more questionable. At least Hansel Robles could step up in the pen. I read he’s been “working out” with Bartolo in the Dominican Republic. And since Robles was the only Mets player to actively recruit Cespedes all offseason, nobody can question his mental capacity.

Weekly Roundup: Clippard Scurries Off; Cry Baby Owners Hate Sharing


Clippard Scurries Off To Arizona: Well after more than 6 months of darting along the subway tracks, battling pigeons for food scraps, and being chased by stray cats, Tyler Clippard (aka Rat-Face, aka Splinter) has officially departed New York City for Arizona where he’ll now need to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes, coyotes, and other dangerous desert predators.

Clip was arguably one of the most unusual free agent cases this offseason. Other than Darren O’Day (2.31 career ERA) and Joakim Soria (2.58 career ERA), Clippard had the best resume of any reliever available. Yet he had to settle for a 2 year deal. We saw O’Day sign a 4 year deal, Soria sign a 3 year deal, and Tony Sipp sign a 3 year deal. Even Ryan Madson, who was never as effective as Clippard in his career and had been out of baseball from 2012-2014 due to injury, scored a 3 year deal. Yet for some reason teams were scared away from Clippard because his K/9 was slightly down in 2015 along with his velocity in September. I guess the experts have their reasons for being down on Clippard, but I wish him the best. He had a bad World Series but so did the entire Mets team.

Cry Baby Owners Hate Sharing: There were a lot of articles written last week about all the “concerns” MLB owners have with the number of teams that are “tanking” and how it negatively impacts the integrity of the game. The owners want to put a stop to it and plan to talk about it during the next collective bargaining negotiation and blah blah blah.

Translation: The owners of big market MLB teams don’t like sharing revenues with small market teams that are rebuilding.

First of all, “tanking” in baseball is not a real thing. Unlike the NBA and NFL draft, the MLB draft doesn’t have the same top heavy talent distribution with a diminishing overall player value as you get lower in the first round. Ken Griffey Jr. was the first number 1 overall selection in the draft to ever get elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Second, the Astros have seemingly become the poster child for the success of MLB teams that “tank” because they had the worst record for 3 straight seasons (2011-2013) and then made the playoffs last season. As a result of their horrendous stretch from 2011-2013, the Astros drafted Carlos Correa, Mark Appel, and Brady Aiken first overall in three consecutive drafts. Correa may wind up being one of the best position players in the league. That being said, Mark Appel just got traded for reliever Ken Giles and the Astros never even came to terms with Aiken on a contract. So it’s hardly fair to attribute their success last season to their “tanking strategy”.

Finally, we all need to stop living in a fantasy world. This has nothing to do with “tanking” and everything to do with the big market teams being bitter that they can no longer buy the top young talent in the draft. Remember how the system used to work? No? Well before 2012 there wasn’t a rigid slotting system with spending caps. So the most talented players would demand extremely high bonuses that were loosely regulated under league rules. As a result of that, players represented by agents like Scott Boras would frequently make their bonus demands known before the draft and the small market teams that had high picks would literally pass on the top talent because they could not afford to meet their contract demands. A prominent example was in 2004 when Jered Weaver, a consensus top 3 pick fell to the big market Angels at 12 because of his anticipated bonus. Small market clubs like the Rays, Brewers, Rockies, and Pirates all passed on him.

In order to rectify this competitive imbalance, Major League Baseball negotiated a slotting system in 2012 that assigned teams spending caps according to where they pick in the draft. Just like that, the league made it impossible for big market teams to buy the draft. And now that the best talent is consistently and appropriately being selected at the top of the draft board, the big market owners want to turn to…ping pong balls.

They say, “The draft isn’t working! Let’s just toss away the entire system and make it a lottery!” After all, that’s the only way they’ll have a chance to get that precious top slot money.

It’s a complete joke. If tomorrow the owners were allowed to stop sharing revenues with the small market “tanking” teams, the complaints about the integrity of the game would cease overnight.

Final Mets Notes: It was reported last week that smokeless tobacco could be banned from Yankee stadium and Citi Field this season. Great. The last thing we need is Matt Harvey having nicotine withdrawal fits on the mound come April.

Yankees News: Harper/Harvey 2019 is an Absolute Lock


Last week, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports wrote an article where he discussed how the Yankees recent frugal nature is part of a very calculated plan on their part to change their operating model in order to maximize profitability after years of being penalized by the league’s revenue sharing policy/luxury tax. He further speculated that while they are revising their operating model, they are simultaneously prioritizing future money to ultimately pursue Bryce Harper when he is a free agent in 2019.

I thought it was a great piece that clearly explained why the Yankees have been deliberately avoiding free agent spending this offseason, and why they will likely avoid long term financial commitments to players in the near future. However, no offense to Jeff Passan, but I think we can do a little more than speculate that the Yankees might pursue Bryce Harper in 2019. Anybody following New York Yankee baseball over the last 22 years knows that the Yankees will do whatever is necessary to ensure they are in a position to not only acquire Bryce Harper in 2019 but also to acquire Matt Harvey. Right now, I have more confidence betting on the Yankees signing Harvey and Harper in 2019 than placing a bet on any specific team to win the 2016 World Series. How do I know they will end up with Harvey and Harper? Because between 1994 and 2016, the Yankees have consistently ensured that their roster includes arguably the best position player and pitcher by making the necessary acquisitions roughly every 3 to 4 years. In fact, they specifically went out and acquired arguably the “best” position player or pitcher 9 times in the last 22 years.

First, let me preface this by saying I am not trying to make any statement about the correlation between the Yankees acquiring star players and winning World Series Championships. In no way am I trying to belittle the value of the precious “Core 4”. The Core 4 is the main reason for the Yankees run of success between 1996 and 2001. Second, let me define what I mean by “arguably the best position player and pitcher”. All the robot computers these days value players based on Wins Above Replacement aka WAR. So that’s what I’m going to use (as defined by Baseball-Reference.com) to value the position players and pitchers the Yankees have had on their rosters over the 22 year timeframe. And when I say “arguably”, I’m going to operate under the assumption that an argument can be made that any player finishing in the Top 5 for WAR in a single season is the “best” in the league. If you refuse to accept this premise then stop reading.

1994-1997

Pitchers- In the strike shortened 1994 season, the Yankees had no position players or pitchers finishing in the top 10 for WAR. In 1994, David Cone finished with a 6.8 WAR while playing for Kansas City which was good enough for 2nd in baseball behind only Greg Maddux. So what did the Yankees do? They traded for Cone midseason in 1995 and he finished 3rd that year with a WAR of 6.4. The Yankees did not have a top 10 WAR pitcher in the 1996 season but still managed to win the World Series with a staff that included Cone and Andy Pettitte. However, in 1997 Pettitte went on to finish 3rd with a WAR of 8.4.

Position Players– Between 1994 and 1997 there were no Yankee position players in the Top 5 for WAR. However Chuck Knoblauch finished 5th in 1995 with a WAR of 6.7 and 4th in 1996 with a WAR of 8.6. In 1997 he only finished 8th with a 6.7 WAR but his three year body of work combined with the lack of Yankee position players in the Top 5 during that span, was enough for the Yankees to trade for him after the 1997 season.

So between 1994 and the end of the 1997 season, the Yankees acquired one of the top position players and pitchers in the game to add to their “Core 4”.

 1998-2000

Pitchers-  In 1998 after winning the World Series, the Yankees had no Top 10 WAR pitchers in their rotation. So what did they do? They went out and traded for Roger Clemens who finished number 1 in 1997 with a WAR of 11.9 (2nd place went to Pedro Martinez at 9) and number 2 in 1998 with a WAR of 8.2 (behind Kevin Brown at number 1 with 8.6). Unfortunately, Clemens did not crack the Top 10 for WAR between 1999 and 2000.

Position Players- As mentioned above, no Yankees position players finished in the Top 5 for WAR between 1995 and 1997. When Chuck Knoblauch was brought in for the 1998 season he represented one of the top performing position players in that 1995-1997 timeframe. However, it turned out that between 1998 and 2000 the Yankees did not need to go outside their organization to have arguably the best position player in the league. Derek Jeter finished fourth in WAR in 1998 with 7.5 (A-Rod was number 1 with 8.5 WAR) and he finished number 1 in 1999 with a WAR of 8.0. In 2000 however they had no position players in the Top 10.

2001-2003

Pitchers- After Clemens failed to crack the Top 10 in WAR between 1999 and 2000, the Yankees once again decided to bring in one of the game’s best starting pitchers. In 2000, Mike Mussina finished 6th in the league in WAR. He finished behind Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Greg Maddux, and Brad Radke. Now I do realize that a 6th place finish does not meet my qualifications of “arguably the best”. That being said, at the time the Yankees signed Mussina he had finished in the Top 10 for CY Young voting 7 of the 9 seasons he played in Baltimore and was Top 5 for 5 of those 9 seasons. He also had 5 All-Star appearances. Not to mention the fact that in his first season as a Yankee in 2001 he finished 3rd in WAR with 7.1 wins. Based on that, I think he’s close enough to meet the criteria.

Position Players- In 2001, Jason Giambi finished 3rd with a WAR of 9.2 only behind Bonds and Sosa. And of course the Yankees signed Giambi for the 2002 season. In 2002, Giambi finished 4th in WAR with 7.1. Unfortunately he fell off in 2003 and 2004 missing the Top 10 entirely. But don’t worry because in 2002 A-Rod, while playing in Texas, finished second in WAR behind Barry Bonds and third in 2003 behind Pujols and Bonds. And I am guessing you know what happens next.

2004-2006

Position Players– In 2004 the Yankees traded for Alex Rodriguez to continue meeting their unspoken organizational mandate to have arguably the best player in the league on their roster. Unfortunately in 2004, A-Rod only finished 8th in WAR but in 2005 he topped the charts with his WAR of 9.4. In 2006 however he dropped out of the Top 10.

Pitchers- By 2004 Clemens had left the Yankees for Houston and Mussina was no longer a perennial top performer. So in 2004 the Yankees went out and traded for 40 year old Randy Johnson. Why? Why trade for a 40 year old pitcher? Well because between age 35 and 40 he was arguably the best pitcher in the league. In 2002 he had the number 1 WAR of 10.9 which was 2.2 wins higher than Curt Schilling at number 2.  In 2004 he was number 2 with a WAR of 8.5 but only behind Johan Santana who had a nearly identical WAR of 8.6. So the Yankees acquired Johnson for the 2005 season. He only finished 8th in WAR for 2005 and never lived up to expectations as an old man in New York. Luckily for the Yankees, in 2006 Chien-Ming Wang finished 4th in WAR with 6.0 wins. However his success was short lived due to injuries.

2007-2009

Position Players– In 2007, the Yankees still had the best position player in A-Rod  who finished number 1  in WAR at 9.4 (Cano came in at 10 at 6.7). However, in 2008 A-Rod plummeted to 10th with a WAR of 6.8. So what did the Yankees do? They signed Mark Teixeira who in 2008 had finished third in overall WAR behind Pujols and Utley.

Pitchers- In 2007 and 2008 the Yankees had no pitchers in the Top 10 for WAR. However, CC Sabathia, while with the Indians, finished 4th in 2007 with a 6.3 WAR that was nearly identical to the leader Roy Oswalt at 6.7. In 2008, Sabathia had a WAR of 6.8 and finished 5th but only 0.3 wins behind Johan Santana in 2nd place. So clearly the gap between the 5th and 2nd place finishers was minimal. The leader Tim Lincecum finished with a 7.9 WAR. So in 2009 the Yankees signed CC Sabathia to lead the staff.

The acquisition of Sabathia and Teixeira coincided with a World Championship in 2009.

2010-2013

Position Players– Between 2010 and 2013, the Yankees once again did not need to trade or sign the best position player in the game because they already had him in Robinson Cano. Cano in 2010 finished 3rd in WAR with 8.1 wins (behind Josh Hamilton at 1 with 8.7). In 2012 Cano was 2nd at 8.5 and in 2013 Cano finished 4th at 7.8.

Pitchers- Unfortunately for the Yankees, between 2010 and 2013 Sabathia did not perform at quite the level the Yankees had expected. In 2011 he did finish 4th with a WAR of 7.5. However no Yankees finished in the Top 5 in 2010, 2012, or 2013.

2014-Present

Since 2013, the Yankees have seemingly refused to acquire the position player or pitcher that qualifies as “arguably the best”. This was most evident when the Yankees refused to retain Robinson Cano. It can be explained to some degree by the death of George Steinbrenner and the loss of his passion to win at all costs. But the primary cause is attributable to what Jeff Passan discussed in his article. Due to the penalties associated with revenue sharing and the luxury tax, the Yankees have absolutely been forced to adjust their operating model to ensure maximum profitability. In order to get back in a sound fiscal position, the Yankees are waiting for existing long term commitments to come off the books in 2016 and 2017, while simultaneously refusing to sign any new players to long term deals. Their lack of long term commitments this offseason shows that they are clearly putting that plan into motion.

However, if the last 22 years have taught us anything, Brian Cashman’s plan for postseason success remains a constant: Ensure your roster contains arguably the best pitcher and position player in the sport and adjust every 3 years. Unfortunately, due to the constraints imposed by revenue sharing, Cashman and Yankees fans are going to have to wait 3 more years until 2019 before he can restart the next “cycle of winning”. After 5 World Series wins and 2 other appearances in the last 22 years, forgive me if I don’t shed a tear.

Wilpons Lose 300 Million; Payroll is Rising?

 I swear to God when the Mets traded Darrell Ceciliani to the Blue Jays earlier this week for “cash considerations” my brain instantly went to the same basic place it’s gone for almost 8 years now. I just imagined the Wilpons rummaging for coins lost in their sofa or running a yard sale, flipping a bunch of DVDs, Jeff’s old toys, and worn Mike Piazza t-shirts. At this point it’s instinctual for Mets fans to rant about how cheap the Wilpons are and how their financial situation is destroying the franchise. But right now we really can’t complain about their notorious frugality. They said they would raise payroll if we had a chance to win, we got to the World Series, and they raised payroll. This doesn’t mean I trust the Wilpons to write checks forever, but it does mean that at least right now we can’t say their financial losses are impacting the team.

That being said, what the hell is going on? They lost close to 700 million with Madoff when you include the money they had to pay the investors they swindled. They have close to a billion in loans against the team. And now their real estate fund has lost over 300 million dollars?  Yet payroll is going up. All the talk today is about how the Mets are finally spending like a big market franchise. Sandy even said “I think it could happen” in reference to signing all the young starters to long term deals.

Meanwhile Fred Wilpon’s portfolio continues to hemorrhage cash. And by the way he’s not just losing money on random shit. Real estate is his supposed bread and butter. It’s how he originally made his fortune.

I would like to know what the Wilpon family has on the league. I really really want to know. When a guy loses hundreds of millions of dollars while simultaneously chairing the MLB Finance Committee it makes you wonder what deep dark secret he stumbled upon in the past. I mean did Manfred and Selig invite the Wilpons over for dinner years ago at their remote country house and when Jeff went to the bathroom he stumbled upon some underground Kiss The Girls-esque torture chamber?

Everyone always chalks it up to “well he’s good friends with Bud Selig!” First of all, Bud Selig ripped the Dodgers out of Frank McCourt’s hands because he spent a few million bucks on divorce lawyers instead of team payroll. Yet when it’s comes to the Wilpons and their near billion in debt and losses, MLB is an open piggy bank. Just handing out loans to the Mets left and right. I highly doubt that’s explained by “friendship”. And second, Bud Selig is retired. He’s gone. Rob Manfred still keeps the MLB credit line open for the Mets and lets these mooks manage all the finances of the league.

But you know what? I’m done asking questions. If they spend millions on the team while simultaneously losing and owing people billions then great. Fine by me. As long as they are ready to spend the billion dollars it’s gonna take to retain Harvey and these pitchers. Or maybe they will all take 3 year deals with an opt out and a promise from Fred to help them pick out a house in a great location. You know, whatever seals the deal.

Reality Check: Trading De Aza Makes No Sense


Today the Mets held a press conference to re-announce the Yoenis Cespedes signing. Just a little show for the cameras and another opportunity for Cespedes to say through his translator that he’s happy to be back in New York and wants to win the World Series. Great. Fantastic. Fans love to see events like this, and they get everyone pumped for the season.

The problems started when Sandy came out for Q&A and the focus of the beat reporters shifted from Cespedes to the future of Alejandro De Aza. That’s right. On this exciting day for the franchise, the beat reporters couldn’t stop asking Sandy questions like “how will everyone get enough playing time?” And “will you consider trading De Aza this spring?”

To the trade question Sandy responded, “We’re not pursuing any of that at the moment”. He also talked about how everyone on the roster is a “regular” and we should look at “the full complement of players”.

But of course the media is focusing on how he added De Aza’s situation is “a little less clear” and his admission that a trade is “conceivable”.

Ummmm what the hell is everyone talking about? After creating an incredibly deep and talented roster, why would we want to trade away the depth?!? Why are the reporters even wasting our GM’s time by asking him these stupid questions? These questions imply that having depth is a problem and that trading De Aza makes sense.

News flash everyone: You need depth to win. Did we learn nothing from the second half of last season? Do we really want to line the bench with garbage players like Kirk Nieuwenhuis who strike out every time they get up to bat? And by asking the question about De Aza’s playing time, the reporters are ignoring what De Aza did the second Cespedes signed. He logged on Facebook and wrote:

“Looking forward to playing alongside Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and the rest of my new Met teammates. Focus is not on individual accomplishments, its on winning a championship for the city of New York.”

So De Aza doesn’t even care about his damn playing time. He publicly told everyone that’s he’s jacked up to backup.

And the questions are even more absurd because of the chain of events in our organization the last 7 days. Brandon Nimmo, our top outfield prospect at AAA just tore a ligament in his foot. He’s out 4-6 weeks. Yesterday we traded away Darrell Ceciliani to the Blue Jays to make room on the roster for Cespedes. So if we trade De Aza who the hell steps in on the bench? Eric “Soup” Campbell? He’s more likely to hit .400 in Triple-A Vegas than hit .150 in the major leagues.

The beat reporters spent the entire offseason writing articles about how Cespedes wasn’t a good fit for the team and how we needed to instead build a deep and versatile roster. Well they were all proven wrong about Cespedes when Sandy Alderson disagreed with their crackpot theories and brought him back. Now we have our star and our deep roster. Can everyone just shut up, smile, and enjoy it?

Weekly Roundup: It’s All Part of The Plan

 

On Wednesday, Sandy Alderson, Jeff Wilpon and Cespedes’ agent held a conference call to discuss how the Mets reunion with Cespedes unfolded. The details don’t really matter. The takeaways are that Cespedes is really happy to be here. He wants to win a championship. He wants to stay with the Mets forever. However, there were two notable comments. When asked about the impact the fan outcry had on the team’s decision making, Alderson said, “We understood the magnitude of this issue with the media and our fans and we didn’t want to over-project what we thought might happen.”

In other words they heard the fans, absolutely wanted to appease the masses, and didn’t want to disappoint them by promising to get Cespedes and then missing out. That is a perfectly acceptable and understandable response. 

When asked the same question, Jeff Wilpon dismissed the impact of the fan base and said, “It was the right time to get the deal done.” He added for the team to do a deal with Cespedes it “had to make business sense and had to be part of the plan.” 

He said it was all part of the plan!!! Baaahahahahaha. That’s gold. 

He then added, “You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that we are going to do everything we can to improve the team, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan.” But when I say that one little old star player may not be back next season, well then everyone loses their minds!”

Fantastic insight from renowned sociopath Jeff “The Joker” Wilpon. It’s extremely comforting as a fan to see that even after the Cespedes signing (i.e. the finest hour for the Wilpons in recent memory) that Jeff still remains completely out of touch with reality. He still has no sense of what the fans actually want (hint: it’s winning), what they want to hear and how to regain some goodwill after years of destroying it. 

Matt Harvey has Group Sex? Duh: Matt Harvey appeared this week on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, along with TV news anchor Connie Chung. In the segment hosted by Bravo’s creator Andy Cohen, the group played “Never have I ever” and revealed some shocking secrets. The first “secret” revealed was that Matt Harvey had a ménage à trois on a baseball field in college or something like that. Andy Cohen also acknowledged having a three-way or two in his life. Absolute shock of the century to hear that rich handsome celebrities have group sex. Quite frankly I imagine group sex is pretty much all Harvey and Cohen do when they aren’t playing baseball and interviewing Housewives of [insert trashy location] respectively.  

Cohen also revealed he’s done a lot of blow in his day. Harvey just shook his head and obviously remained silent on his own personal drug habits. When asked about her use of cocaine, Connie Chung (who I previously thought was a fictional character) stared blankly into space (possibly in the midst of a drug fueled paranoid hallucination). 

Final Notes: The Mets revealed Brandon Nimmo has a partially torn tendon in his left foot and will miss 4-6 weeks. Now that we have a deep major league roster, this news doesn’t sting quite as much as it could have. However, this does suck for Nimmo because he desperately needs to have a breakout 2016 season at AAA in Vegas. He was picked 13th in the 2011 draft out of high school, but he will be 23 in March and he has reached the point where he needs to separate himself from the pack in the minor leagues. In 12 months if Nimmo hasn’t taken big strides in Vegas the word “bust” is going to start being tossed around. I read some scout comparing him to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. That’s not good. He should probably find a way to shake that comparison. 

With illegitimate reliever Anthony Bastard officially added to the roster, the Mets were forced to put rubber armed reliever Carlos Torres on waivers. He’s probably going to get claimed. I would rather not lose him because I like him as a depth bullpen arm on the roster. That being said we really pitched him into the ground over the last few years. He’s probably physically dunzo. 

Finally, when asked about how to hit Mets pitching, A-Rod said “you go to church on Sunday and light up a couple of candles”. I hate A-Rod but you gotta love when any hitter says the only hope against the Mets staff is to pray. I also love A-Rod continuing the trend of MLB juice heads pointing to the man upstairs for the answers. As Manny Ramirez once said regarding whether or not to expect another positive steroid test, “Only God Knows”.