Mets Take A Flier On James Loney

Hooray!! The Mets finally took a flier and bought James Loney from the Padres for straight cash money. Finally we’ve done what most competing teams do all the time and made a low risk acquisition to potentially try and fill a roster hole. Pats on the back all around for Sandy, sweaty John Ricco, and the rest of Sandy’s staff. Pop the cheap mid-season acquisition champagne, and let’s celebrate that the Wilpons were willing to Venmo the Padres a few bucks for a stopgap solution at first base.

Loney is a contact hitter, who can take a walk and has a strong glove. That’s the reputation he’s built for himself. That being said, he couldn’t land a major league job in the offseason and was straight chilling in the Pacific Coast League. So let’s not get too excited. He has a reputation as a good defender, but the advanced metrics say he isn’t that strong in the field anymore. He hit .280 for Tampa Bay last year in 361 ABs. So the guy isn’t a useless scrub quite yet. He’s certainly better than Ty Kelly and Eric Campbell. He’ll probably platoon with Wilmer Flores at first base until Lucas Duda can be defrosted from his cryogenic sleep and have his new back discs specially ordered from China installed.

Former Met Scrub-A-Dub Update: The Cardinals just designated Ruben Tejada for assignment. Baaahahaha. He was hitting .176. Remember when I was furious that the Mets let him go in Spring Training for absolutely nothing? Well now he’s being released because he stinks. In all seriousness, the only reason the Ruben release didn’t bite us in the ass is because Asdrubal Cabrera has been healthy and excellent. Wilmer Flores got hurt and Matt Reynolds hasn’t done a damn thing in Vegas or at the MLB level. We lucked out that Asdrubal has been a rock. Mooks on MetsTwitter have been pointing at Ruben’s .176 average and making fun of people like me who were infuriated when we voluntarily dumped Ruben in the spring. Ummmm Eric Campbell is hitting .182 and just happens to play positions in the field where we had more of a need. But clearly we’ve had plenty of room on our roster all season for scrub-a-dub bums like Ruben, Ty Kelly, and Soup. It’s not like we dumped Ruben in favor of a massive talent upgrade. Also, did everyone forget last year’s Kirk Nieuwenhuis boomerang job back to the Mets? Vegas has a Ruben/Mets reunion going off at 1:1.

Anyway, Loney should be joining the team on Monday. This is good news people. Thank you Sandy!

Death To Depth: Penny Pinching Wilpons Place Ruben Tejada On Waivers

For all of Spring Training, the Mets beat reporters have been saying the Mets plan to cut Ruben Tejada, trade Alejandro De Aza, and demote Kevin Plawecki. And all Spring I have been doubting their claims. Curse my damn logical brain. I forgot about the Wilpon trump card. Saving a couple of goddamn shekels. Ruben has been placed on waivers. His days as a Met are numbered. Why? Tejada was due 3 million bucks. They are dumping him before the season starts to get out of paying his salary. They are probably even getting out of paying his NLDS medical bills. Uh oh, I thought the Coupon Wilpon days were over. Nope. Don’t let the Cespedes signing fool you. The penny pinching is back. Hell it never left. Sic semper altitudo! Death to depth! Say no to depth! The team is full. Vote Soup/Monell 2016!

So are we just handing minor league SS Matt Reynolds the opening day job until Cabrera returns? Maybe. Is Eric Campbell aka Soupman going to start at 3B with Wilmer Flores at SS? Dear god no. But probably yes. This is a bad baseball decision. Sure, unproven minor league SS Matt Reynolds could wind up being good. But why in God’s name are we holding SS tryouts during our 2016 championship run season? There’s absolutely no reason to release a competent backup middle infielder especially considering the lack of supply across the league. If his performance this spring or during the season was bad, that would be a different story. But he is raking at the dish this spring.

Ruben is going to get claimed immediately. Not by one of the worst teams in the league. No he’s going to wind up on the Cardinals who just lost their SS Jhonny Peralta to injury. Or perhaps even…the Dodgers! That’s right folks. The Utley/Tejada Odd Couple buddy comedy is that much closer to becoming a reality. If they team up, I’m sure they will become best good friends.

I really can’t believe the Mets are doing this. By “this” I mean voluntarily getting rid of depth to save a few pennies. It’s not even about Ruben. He really isn’t even that good. I have had problems with Tejada for years. He’s been arguably my number one Mets scapegoat through the dark times (2009-2014). But my problem was always with the way he was used. He’s been the Mets day one starter at SS since like 2011. We used him like a starter when the team sucked, and he’s really a reserve infielder on a good team. Finally we build enough depth to use him in the right role, and we are essentially releasing him to save a couple million bucks. Squeeze those pennies Fred and Jeff. Squeeze them real tight.

This is a developing story, and Ruben is not technically gone yet. But he’s definitely packing his bags. If Alejandro De Aza is next on the chopping block and Kevin Plawecki starts the season in AAA, I am going to lose my mind. So long Ruben. We will never forget our last memory of you getting absolutely demolished. Also, see you in the playoffs when you’re playing for one of our chief NL rivals. I’m sure that won’t come back to bite us.

Asdrubal Cabrera’s Body Sent Back to NYC And Like That, Poof…It’s Tejada

The greatest trick the Mets ever pulled was convincing us we had a new Shortstop and like that, poof. It’s Ruben. 

Should we trade Ruben? I hear the Cardinals are interested in Ruben Tejada. Who needs depth? We have Asdrubal Cabrera now so let’s get rid of Ruben before all his NLDS medical bills come due. And now…Cabrera’s knee has popped. Whoops. Back to the usual suspects at SS.

This was an absolute lock. As soon as Cabrera pulled up lame during yesterday’s game we all knew he was a goner. We’ve seen it too many times to be fooled. And he wasn’t exactly hiding it when he came out of the game. I mean he said he was fine but this photo said it all.  

Clearly Ray Ramirez loaded him up with painkillers. Just your standard Mets post-injury dose. Make all the pain go away. Ray Ramirez has made a living on career ending diagnoses. He knows what they look like. Once they said Cabrera was going for his first Mets MRI (Congratulations!) it was only a question of how bad.

Degenerative __________.



Personally, I was betting on the injury being some newly discovered knee condition. Then we heard this morning, Cabrera was being sent back to the special, different MRI machine in New York for further evaluation, and at that moment we knew he was being sent back in a body bag.

Anyway, this isn’t surprising. Of course somebody in the starting lineup got injured. Injuries happen to every team all season long and especially to the Mets. But it’s even more predictable that it happened at SS. We finally signed someone new. Finally signed a real SS. The first one we’ve had since Jose Reyes. And just like that, it’s back to the incumbent. Wilmer Flores cried his eyes out when he thought he was traded last season. Ruben never batted an eyelash at all these trade rumors. He’s been here before. He’s seen all the ghosts of Shortstops Past. Nobody is taking this job from him. Not trade rumors. Not Omar Quintanilla. Not even Chase Utley can stop him.

Now the Mets say we are probably talking about a short term injury. Asdrubal Cabrera has a strained patella tendon and is supposedly going to be inactive for 2 weeks. However, he’s currently getting your standard “day to day” platelet-rich plasma therapy at the Hospital for Special Surgery. And we all know the Mets injury conversion formula tells us weeks are months and the time given by trainer Ray Ramirez should be multiplied by 3. So we are looking at a 6 month absence. That being said, I hope this finally silences the goddamn people saying we should trade Alejandro De Aza and trade Ruben. We need these damn players. Depth is important.

P.S. I realize Wilmer Flores is now the actual starting SS “on paper”. But I didn’t mention it because we all know Wilmer is actually going to start at 3B. David Wright hasn’t even swung a bat or fielded a ball in a real game this spring. He’s been on the “day to day” injury list for the last 4 years. The Mets have been secretly flying Wright’s spine back to New York for evaluation every other week while David “works out” in Port St. Lucie. Wilmer is going to play 3B. Tejada is going to play SS and….wait for it…Eric Campbell is going to be our super sub. Soup’s on baby! Hip hip hooray.

MLB Pulls a Goodell; Drops Utley Suspension

Chase Utley did nothing wrong during Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS when he knocked over Ruben Tejada on a takeout slide. There I said it. MLB has said a lot of things since that day, but their words don’t matter. Their actions have consistently driven home the notion that Utley’s slide was completely acceptable and encouraged. And we already knew this. Let’s be clear. MLB said they dropped Utley’s pathetic 2 game suspension because of the way the rule was inconsistently enforced in the past. Ummm it wasn’t inconsistently enforced at all. It was never enforced. It was consistently never enforced. Takeout slides have been occurring forever. And the MLB never punishes anyone for the action. In fact, MLB has consistently encouraged the following league sanctioned lifecycle of the takeout slide:

1) Double play ball is hit.   2) Runner uses takeout slide to break up double play by illegally going out of the baseline to illegally interfere with the fielder.   3) Play is broken up and opposing fielder is injured.   4) Opposing team is angry.   5) Opposing team’s pitcher throws a baseball at the takeout perpetrator the next time he steps up to the plate.

And so the cycle continues. It’s really hilarious that in the context of the takeout slide, MLB has preached all offseason about how the culture must change and player safety must be the priority. And in an effort to discourage the old takeout slide culture they have…refused to punish the existing behavior. And not only that, in essence by repealing Utley’s suspension they have said, “we will let the Mets pitching staff handle Utley’s punishment with a beanball to the face”. Perfect! Player safety problem solved. Thank goodness.

If you want to know how MLB will handle takeout slide decisions in 2016, look no further than their handling of this. They had their first test right here, and they completely bungled it. They got the initial call wrong in October 2015. They got it even more wrong upon replay review. They admitted they didn’t understand the rule after the game, and also admitted they got it wrong in the game. Then they didn’t discipline the player essentially saying they were wrong when they said they got it wrong in October.

It’s going to be fun in May when we play the Dodgers and the biggest question before the series is “When are the Mets going to try and nail Utley with a 95 MPH fastball?” I wonder if Matt Harvey will appeal the 5 game suspension he is bound to get for beaning Utley, and if Yoenis Cespedes will appeal his 5 game suspension for fighting in the ensuing brew-ha-ha. We shall see, but at least we can put this whole thing behind us now. Well actually no. We can put it behind us once we nail Utley. Unless the Dodgers want to retaliate for our beanball. Then we will have to wait for retaliation 2.0 to put it behind us. Thanks MLB!

Mr. Manfred’s Neighborhood Play

I already posted about the new takeout slide rule yesterday. Ruben Tejada Rule. Chase Utley Rule. We can call it whatever the hell we want. As I said yesterday, I see it as nothing but a pointless rebranding of the already muddied takeout slide rules. And we are going to spend 162 games debating if the runner made an “attempt” to touch the bag and an “attempt” to hold on to the bag. It is ridiculous, and we are in arguably the same position as last October.

But today, all I am reading about is how the masses are appalled by the fact that the league published the new slide rule while simultaneously making the existing “neighborhood play” reviewable. The neighborhood play allows an infielder to record a force out at second base during a double play without technically touching the bag. It historically existed to protect shortstops and second basemen from takeout slides. And now that it can be reviewed by instant replay, it essentially means the league will enforce the actual rule of staying on the bag to record a force out. As a result of this change, Terry Collins said, “Someone is going to get their clocks cleaned.”

MLB continues to blow my mind with their myriad of unwritten rules like the neighborhood play. So we literally just made a play reviewable that doesn’t technically even exist by rule. And it only existed in the first place because the league refused to make a real rule addressing takeout slides. It literally exists because runners consistently crush middle infielders on takeout slides, and in order to give the infielders a chance to survive, everyone agreed off the record that they don’t have to touch the bag while turning a double play. You know what else we could have done all this time? Maybe release a “no crushing the middle infielder on takeout slides” rule. Does that work? Has anyone in MLB ever heard of writing down real rules that make sense?

And you know the best part? This new slide rule does not ban takeout slides at all. In fact, the league has openly talked about how they want them to remain a part of the game.

Let us recap: 1) Real rules exist that say fielders need to stay on the bag to record a force out. 2) Unwritten “neighborhood play” rule exists and says the opposite. 3) Now instant replay can be used to ensure the unwritten neighborhood play rule will no longer be enforced. 4) Slide rules now exist that define a legal slide and an illegal “roll block”. 5) The league does not want to discourage legal slides to break up a double play.

It is so simple everyone. Now, the league just wants middle infielders to stay on the bag, and they only want double plays to be broken up by runners that legally “take the fielder out” of the play. Get it?

As I said yesterday, the rule deliberation is pointless because the only way this works is if the league bans takeout slides through enforcement. They just have to consistently call the runners out. If they consistently side with the infielder then the practice will die out. And once the actual rule is established by virtue of the calls made during the games, hopefully somebody grabs a pen and writes it down.

MLB Slide Day; Stopwatch Era Begins

MLB finally came out with their revised rules in response to the Chase Utley takeout slide that ended the 2016 postseason for Ruben Tejada. How about a big round of applause for MLB, as it only took them 5 months to respond to something so simple and straightforward.

So here is what they came up with:

“A runner is still allowed to make contact with the pivot man, provided the following four conditions are satisfied:

  1. He begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base;
  2. He is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot;
  3. He is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home plate) after completion of the slide; and
  4. He slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.

As well, the runner may not engage in a ‘roll block,’ or intentionally initiates (or attempts to initiate) contact with the fielder by elevating and kicking his leg above the fielder’s knee or throwing his arm or his upper body.”

So there it is. It took them 5 months to come up with that, and quite frankly it is completely and utterly meaningless. I see it as nothing, but a pointless rebranding of the already muddied takeout slide rules. The first point would be meaningful if we were addressing the sliding style of Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star Game, but at this point in time all the players are starting their slide before they reach the base. The second and third points say “attempt” to reach the base and stay on the base. It’s going to be real fun watching umpires debate “an attempt” for 162 games. And the final point is the key one in my mind and will ultimately determine the success of the rule. The runner can’t change his “pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder”.

This is going to come down to one simple thing: Look at the base. I know it says “pathway”, but they really mean the runner shouldn’t shift his focus from base to fielder. It is going to become the “look at the base” rule. Chase Utley, Chris Coghlan and all the other hard-nosed players are going to have to sell the legitimacy of their slide by staring at the base the entire time. When Coghlan and Utley crushed Kang and Tejada, they both had their arm extended and made varying attempts to touch the base. Utley didn’t make much of an attempt to stay on the base, and technically his move was a “roll block” because he threw his upper body. But an adjustment to avoid the definition of a “roll block” can easily be made by the dirty players. They just need to stay low and reach for the base. Chris Coghlan stayed low and reached for the base when he took out Jung Ho Kang. But almost all these dirty slides involve the runner visibly shifting his focus and attention from the base to the fielder. They all look up or to the side or wherever the fielder is standing. And from now on, all they are going to do is keep their arm out and their face aimed at the bag.

All the rule deliberation is pointless. It always has been. The only way to eliminate this practice is for the umpires to consistently call the runners out. If they consistently side with the fielder then the practice will die out. It’s no different than helmet to helmet hits in the NFL. Once the referees threw the flag the players adjusted and now most guys aim low. If the umps call the runners out, they’ll give themselves up, slide as a mere formality, and the takeout strategy will become non-existent. Let’s just hope that the umps protect the fielders all season and ignore all the complaining sure to come from baserunners and old school managers.

Pace of Play Miracle: The other announcement from MLB today, was the beginning of the stopwatch era. Now mound visits by managers and pitching coaches will be 30 second timed visits. Hooray. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for. The league has yet to expand on these ground breaking pace of play developments but I am assuming any arguments about violations of the 30 second clock will be limited to 60 seconds for each manager and any challenges to the 60 second manager objection will be sent to the replay center in New York for review.

The second pace of play change is the one I find appalling. Now break timers between innings will mirror the time allotted to broadcasters between innings: 2:05 for locally televised games and 2:25 for nationally televised games, a reduction of 20 seconds each from the 2015 season. I don’t know about you, but if this takes away one single Cellino and Barnes or Grand Prospect Hall commercial on SNY I am going to lose my mind.

The Next Generation: 2016 Top 10 Mets Prospects 

Today, ESPN’s Keith Law released his highly anticipated 2016 Mets Top 10 Prospect rankings. Law is one of ESPN’s baseball analytics gurus, and he previously worked as a special assistant for current Mets Assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi when Ricciardi was GM of the Blue Jays. This year, Law had the Mets farm system ranked at 16th out of the 30 teams. Middle of the pack. Not showing off. Not getting left behind. Now that did represent a significant drop from our 4th place ranking in 2015. That being said, the drop makes some sense considering we promoted the top three prospects from his 2015 list (Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto and Kevin Plawecki), and we traded our top pitching prospect Michael Fulmer to Detroit at the 2015 trade deadline for Yoenis Cespedes.

Anyway, here is Law’s list and my thoughts:

1) Dominic Smith: The scouts love this guy. He was drafted 11th by the Mets in the 2013 draft. Law has him at 29th in his overall MLB Top 100 Prospects list. Law describes him as “one of the best pure hitters in the minors”, and he hit .305 in 118 games at High A ball last season. His power is still developing, but his glove is supposedly MLB ready and gold caliber. The idea of a defensive-minded player in our infield is borderline unfathomable (closes eyes…sees Lucas Duda throwing ball over D’Arnaud’s head in Game 5… shudders). His ETA is 2017 which would align well with Duda’s free agency timeline after the 2017 season. The only negative mentioned by Law is that Smith looked like he had gained a lot of weight in the Arizona Fall League, and he wasn’t talking about muscle mass.

Keith Law just fat shaming the hell out of Dom Smith. I think we can cut the guy a break, I mean after all it is winter. A perfect time to put on a little mass in the midsection for the sake of warmth. Granted, Smith is from California so additional blubber might not be entirely necessary. And conditioning is part of his job description as a professional athlete. But I am just going to pretend its a minor seasonal weight fluctuation, and that he’s on track for a breakout rookie campaign in 2017.

2) Steven Matz: Hard to count Matz as a prospect, but he didn’t hit maximum rookie innings thresholds in 2015. So he’s still technically a rookie. And why didn’t he meet the thresholds? Late promotion but also injuries. And injuries are the biggest red flag with him. In fact Law indicated his ceiling is capped at a number 4 starter with number 1 stuff because he fears he just won’t pitch enough. He doesn’t see him as a horse like Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, or Jacob deGrom. Let’s hope Matz proves Law wrong.

3) Amed Rosario and 4) Gavin Cecchini: Two shortstops in our Top 5 and in the leagues Top 100? Really? Is a Jose Reyes successor really on the horizon? Are the annual Spring battles between Ruben Tejada and someone else finally coming to an end? According to Law the answer is yes. Rosario, ranked at 42 in Law’s Top 100, is 20 years old but projects as a possible star. Law says “he has the kind of raw tools and athleticism to be a top 10 prospect in the game in a year”. Cecchini, ranked at 89 in Law’s Top 100, is closer to the major leagues then Rosario. He projects as a contact hitter with above average defensive skills. We selected Cecchini 12th in the 2012 draft, so the high expectations around him make sense. He broke out offensively at AA last year and is likely to start at AAA Vegas this season. If he can get past the distraction of the Vegas clubhouse slot machines and have a big season in AAA, he may be in the plan for 2017.

5) Wuilmer Becerra: We got this OF in the R.A. Dickey trade. He is 20 years old and projects to be a regular who can hit for average and power. The idea to trade R.A. Dickey after he won his CY Young Award in 2012 was an absolute no brainer. However, the haul Sandy got for him is truly astounding. Thor, Travis d’Arnaud, and this outfielder Becerra. It’s already looking like an all time heist based on the early success of Thor and D’Arnaud. If they both really go on to have successful, healthy major league careers and Becerra actually becomes a viable major leaguer, it’s going to look even more lopsided in the Mets favor.

6) Brandon Nimmo: Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray, Kolten Wong, and Joe Panik. All pretty good players right? Well we passed on all of them in the 2011 draft when we selected Nimmo 13th out of high school. Nimmo doesn’t project to have the defensive skills to play CF, and he has not developed the power that the Mets originally anticipated. He was going to start the season at AAA, but he tore a tendon in his foot so he will now miss 4 to 6 weeks. “4th outfielder” is being thrown around. “Bust” can’t be far behind.

7) Desmond Lindsay: Mets second round pick in 2015. He projects as a speedy defense first CF.

8) Robert Gsellman: He’s a sinkerballer that projects as a 5th starter. Should start the year in AAA Vegas and serve as rotation depth. Hopefully, our young starters are healthy and we never see him in the rotation. Ever.

9) Jhoan Urena: He’s a 21 year old third basemen that played at Single-A last year but battled injuries. Keith Law likes his swing and propensity to make contact.

10) Luis CarpioHe’s a 17 year old SS that has raw skills and handles himself well in the field and at the dish for his age.

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.

What Happened to Banning Takeout Slides?

utley ruben slide

It wasn’t too long ago that Yankee mole and MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre sat at a podium shortly after Ruben Tejada had been demolished by Chase Utley‘s filthy takeout slide during Game 2 of the NLDS. At that press conference Joe babbled on and on about the play all the while failing to offer coherent sentences explaining the definition of a legal slide or what exactly constituted the “neighborhood play” under the rules.

At that time Joe (i.e. The Head of Rules) said he was “digesting” the legality of the slide (probably as Ruben was digesting his hospital food), but he assured fans that Utley would be appropriately disciplined and that MLB owners would discuss potential rule changes during the offseason. Well as we all know, Joe failed to live up to his first promise when he handed Utley a meaningless 2 game suspension that wasn’t even implemented during the series.

However, last week Major League Baseball owners had a chance to make good on the second promise when they met Wednesday and Thursday at some retirement community in Florida for their annual meetings.

And it wasn’t just the rules around takeout slides up for discussion. These rich old coots had a lot to cover including:

  • The DH being used in the National League
  • Discipline for players facing investigations for alleged domestic violence incidents
  • Cardinals hacking scandal against the Astros
  • The “flaws” associated with instant replay review

Anyway after two full days of discussions, the owners had the following to show for it:

  • DH in the NL – No change
  • Domestic violence discipline- No decision
  • Cardinals hacking scandal- No decision
  • Instant replay review- No change
  • And finally on takeout slides…No change

Wow!!!! Talk about unbelievable progress. These guys can really cover some ground in between shuffle board matches.

So there was absolutely no progress whatsoever made on any of the issues on the agenda. After dirty takeout slides ended the season for both Ruben Tejada and Pirates star rookie Jung Ho Kang, the league has decided rather than at least clarify the existing rules it’s better to just let this one play out. Thus ensuring that next season we will almost certainly experience multiple takeout slide related injuries and an equal amount of umpire crews just shrugging and hoping to reach a representative at the MLB Replay Call Center in New York. “Representative!! Rep-re-sentative!!”

In regards to implementing the DH in the NL, Commissioner Manfred offered this incredible insight, “It is the single most important feature that defines the differences between the two leagues.” Ummm wait, wait, slow down. So the DH is something that is different between the American League and the National League? Ok I think I understand. So the rules are not the same right now. Got it. He then added “The most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo.” Gotta love the old status quo.

And by the way, the most hilarious part about the NL considering the implementation of the DH is the main reason behind it. They want to prevent injuries to pitchers. So we have second basemen and shortstops breaking legs and baserunners getting concussions on takeout slides, but we are more concerned about pitchers pulling their hamstrings as they run to first base. Well either way the important thing is that the league decided to do nothing.

The proposed “enhancements” to instant replay, centered on the owners’ desire to change the practice of overturning “safe” calls when it’s determined that the runner has in fact lost contact with the bag. I can’t even begin to try and offer you an explanation for why they want to stop umpires from getting these calls right. I’m guessing it has to do with their favorite pace of play debate. And quite frankly with so many of these owners on the verge of death, I can understand why they are prioritizing speeding games up.

Now it’s not fair to criticize the owners on everything. They did have a few major accomplishments including moving this year’s trade deadline to August 1st to avoid having it on a Sunday and the appointment of salty Cubs co-owner Tom Ricketts to the MLB small council. He will join current Master of Coin Fred Wilpon as another esteemed member of the committee.

And before it was all said and done the focus of the meeting turned to revenue sharing (i.e. a great debate about how the owners planned to split the tab for the entire event).  Obviously Fred Wilpon got up to use the bathroom when the tab was being settled only to return with promises of “getting it next year”.