The Starting Pitching Staff - Spring Training Edition


On the heels of the Jason Vargas signing, I started thinking about the 2018 Mets’ “starting rotation” and I realized that they have quite a few options to pick from for the coming season.  I know that is not exactly new information, but when you actually look at who Mickey Callaway has to pick from, it is more interesting then I originally thought upon first blush, if you will.

To the average fan, the rotation “should” consist of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, right?  I mean they were officially named the “Super Rotation”  a couple of seasons ago, like some weird offshoot group from a Marvel Comics movie.  Unfortunately, “life happened” and things did not go according to plan.  As most of you know, injuries knocked out four of the five pitchers for large stretches of time since then, with only Jacob deGrom remaining reasonably healthy.  I could get into the rare statistical probabilities of that taking place, but it is the Mets we are talking about so logic sort of goes out the window.

On a side note, haven’t we learned anything as Mets fans?  Remember our last “super rotation” with Generation K?  That edition crashed and burned within minutes after being anointed as the next big thing.  Perhaps it is time to go easy on the names and expectations, at least until you actually accomplish enough to warrant the attention, etc.   I would settle for a reasonably healthy and dependable rotation, without fancy names or unreasonable expectations but that’s just me.

Turning back to the number of pitchers that are on the current 40 man roster, you could fill out two and one half rotations if you wanted to.  Consider the following options, in addition to the aforementioned five starters (left or right handed, plus 2018 age in parenthesis);

Noah Syndergaard (RH - 26)
Jacob deGrom (RH - 30)
**Matt Harvey (RH - 29)
Steven Matz (LH - 27)
**Zack Wheeler (RH - 28)

Jason Vargas (LH - 35)
Seth Lugo (RH - 29)
Robert Gsellman (RH - 25)
Rafael Montero (RH - 28)

Corey Oswalt (RH - 25)
Marcos Molina (RH - 23)
Chris Flexen (RH - 24)

**Likely their last year with the Mets, due to free agency, etc.

Granted, not all of the listed pitchers will break camp on the 25 man roster for the start of the season.  Plus, your are also seeing a bulk of the Las Vegas 51’s starting rotation represented here, as well.   However, while not all of the names listed are “studs”, it is an impressive amount of depth that also has a good deal of experience on the mound in a major league setting (Vargas, Lugo, Gsellman and Montero).

One “wild card” in this analysis is our new coaching staff and their different approach to putting together and maintaining a pitching staff.   Something tells me that this will be much different then past years when our previous manager made some questionable decisions with his team’s pitchers.  MC is on the record as favoring quality over quantity, meaning that he isn’t afraid to spread the wealth of innings across is entire pitching staff instead of riding one or two pitchers into the ground.  There was even talk about “piggy backing” some pitchers so that most of his starters would only see the opposing lineup a couple of times before a change was made (I am a bit skeptical of that approach, but I will keep an open mind and see how it unfolds).  Cleveland had a pretty good pitching staff the past few years under MC, so he gets the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

With that said, you need a wealth of arms that can give you multiple innings to make it all work.  Some would call them “long relievers” that fill in the gaps between your starters and the back end of your bullpen.  It will likely necessitate a thirteen man pitching staff so there isn’t excessive fatigue and/or burnout which leads to injuries and ineffectiveness. The extra arm should be a benefit, despite short changing the actual bench by a player (which should be mitigated with our utility players like Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes).

So, what does the starting pitching staff look like as Spring Training gets up and running?

Does the Jason Vargas signing signal an unofficial six man rotation or will he be one of the "long relievers"?  

Who else on the list above will be in New York on Opening Day?

In addition to the pitching staff being the key to a successful season, this story line should also be interesting to watch as Spring Training unfolds.


Mack - If...

I do this every year.

I write a post with my prediction of the upcoming season and it always has the same central there… ‘if’.

Long time readers will remember how this works… if David Wright comes back healed and returns to all-star status’. I think I used that one four times.

First, a look at the changes on the 25-man:

            There were major departures here. Jerry Blevens, Jay Bruce, Jose Reyes, and Astrubel Cabrera were replaced by Jerry Blevens, Jay Bruce, Jose Reyes, and Astrubel Cabrera. No… wait…

Lucas Duda was replaced with Adrian Gonzalez.

Jason Vargas was added to the rotation.

Neil Walker was replaced by Todd Frazier, who will play third and move Cabrera to second.

Curtis Granderson will be replaced by a combination of Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo.

Addison Reed was replaced with Anthony Swarzak.

So, the net gain/loss is:

Gains:  Gonzalez, Frazier, Swarzak, Vargas, new medical dues, new manager, new coaches

Loses:  Duda, Walker, Granderson, Reed, old medical dudes, new manager, new coaches

This is obviously going to come down to the same thing we’ve talked about every spring in these posts… health.

We gain a guy that pitched 18 wins last season, a first baseman that produced 18/90 in 2016, and a third baseman that hit 27/76 last year and 40/98 in 2016.

Can they stay healthy and produce these kind of numbers in 2018?

But health concerns go beyond this.

What I don’t worry about is both the starting and relief pitching. There is plenty of depth in the rotation right now and Sandy Alderson seems to have created the same levels of depth in the top system levels of the pen.

For me, the whole health thing revolves around Michael Conforto. He was a budding superstar when he went down as well as the closest thing this team has for a leadoff hitter. We’re a good team with him, but we’re a tad short with him on the shelf.

But, beyond that, let me ask you a question.

If all the ex-Mets discussed here were still Mets, and they still had at least one year left on their deal, would you trade Duda, Walker, Granderson, and Reed for Gonzalez, Frazier, Swarzak, and Vargas?

Division Forecast

I’m not going to spend any time here trying make any of think that the Washington Nationals won’t win the division this year. They will.

I’m also not going to spend any time telling you that the Florida Marlins will finish anywhere but last in our division. They will.

What I will tell you is what we do against the other two teams, the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies will decide if we become a wild card team.

The Phiilies really haven’t done much since the 2017 season ended. They released P Make Appel, traded P Nick Burdi to Pittsburgh (for futures), and signed P Francisco Rodriguez, 2B Ryan Flaherty, OF Collin Cowgill, P Josh Tois, P Drew Hutchinson, and P Fernando Abad to minor league contracts.

Atlanta started the off-season by dumping their General Manager and cleaning out their international scouting team.

In October, they exercised an option on C Tyler Flowers, but declined an option on former Cy Young pitcher R.A. Dickey.

Their one big deal came in December when they traded OF Matt Kemp to the Dodgers. In return, they received 1B Adrian ‘don’t unpack’ Gonzalez, pitchers Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy, and IF Charles Culberton.

Gonzalez was released three days later and signed with the Mets.

The only deals done so far this year was the releasing of P Mauricio Cabrera, and agreeing to terms with P Peter Moylan.

As I said earlier, I’m not going to spend any time further discussing the Nats (though they too have done meh in the off season).

I also have not danced in the halls regarding any of the Mets additions; however, collectively, they have vastly improved their team verses the other teams in their division.

Their workingman’s approach to improving their team will pay off more as a lump sum move rather than an individual return.

Mack Predicitons

These are random and, as usual, pulled out of my arse.

1.     Mets fans will be thrilled with the full year production of both Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. They will both be members of the All-Star team and easily finish in the top 10 Cy Young finalists.

2.     P Zack Wheeler will once again disappoint, spend the first half of the season on and off the DL and will be DFA’s shortly after the All-Star game.

3.     2018 will not be the year of OF Michael Conforto. His slow recovery starts with ‘cautious optimism’ but ends with a mid-season shut down for the remainder of the season.

4.     His replacement, Juan Lagares, will go on to being one of league leaders in dWAR, and will justify every dollar the Mets paid him in 2018.

5.     ‘Pickup of the year’ will go to Todd Frazier, who will put together a year in the range of 20/80/.275.

6.     ‘Dud of the dealing’ will go to Adrian Gonzalez, who will be A-Gone by June.

7.     There will not be any ‘rookie of the year’ on this team. There is no room for those youngsters here.

Overall, the Mets will finish second in the division, but will once again fall short of being the top two runner ups in the National League.

At one point this team is going to have to try and match the Nationals in talent and I’m just not confident that will ever happen under the current ownership.


MLB Pipeline - Top 30 Mets Prospects


MLB came out with their new Top 30 Prospect list for the New York Mets and it is filled with the  usual suspects

I particularly found interested the individual player ratings on various offensive and defensive skills:

Hit: 60 - Andres Gimenez

Power: 55 - Peter Alonso (Mark Vientos, David Thompson)

Run: 60 - Adrian Hernandez (Desmond Lindsay)

Arm: 65 - Ali Sanchez

Defense: 70 - Luis Guillorme

Fastball: 70 - Gerson Bautista (Jacob Rhame)

Curveball: 60 - Thomas Szapucki

Slider: 55 - David Peterson (Justin Dunn, Marcos Molina, Gerson Bautista)

Changeup: 60 - P.J. Conlon

Control: 60 - Conlon (Justin Dunn, Jordan Humphreys)



Mack’s Apples - Shane McClanahan, David Peterson, Tito Francona, HBCUs, Xtra Inning Issues


Good morning.

Players To Watch in  College Baseball   -

   LHP Shane McClanahan, South Florida - McClanahan is rated as the No. 1 or 2 draft-eligible left-hander in the college game. The 6-2, 188-pounder came back from Tommy John surgery to strike out 12.32 per nine innings last season, ranking eighth in the country. He also led the American Athletic Conference with a .181 batting average against. With a 97-mph fastball and effective changeup, McClanahan draws comparisons to Chris Sale and is on track to be the highest draft pick in USF history.

John Sickels

2) David Peterson, LHP, Grade B/B+: Age 22, first round pick in 2017 from University of Oregon; short leash in pro ball with just 3.2 innings but in NCAA play he went 11-4, 2.51, with an excellent 140/15 K/BB ratio in 100 innings; fastball anywhere from 88 to 94 but plays up due to excellent slider and workable change-up; given 6-6, 240 pound frame it is possible his fastball velocity may improve further with pro coaching; even if it doesn’t, his ability to throw quality strikes with solid stuff will get him to the majors quickly; ETA 2020. 

 Tito Francona , a Former Baseball All-Star, Dies at 84 –

   John Patsy Francona was born on Nov. 4, 1933, in Aliquippa, Pa., on the Ohio border. His father, Carmen, a steelworker, gave him the nickname Tito (“little one” in Italian), according to the Society for American Baseball Research. The family moved to New Brighton when Tito was 10.

Francona was a star quarterback for New Brighton High School and played American Legion baseball. He married Roberta Jackson in 1956 and had two children with her, Terry and Amy. She died in 1992. His second wife, Jean, is among his survivors; a complete list was not available.

In retirement Francona was the parks and recreation director in Beaver County, Pa.

Baseball tourney with  HBCU 'foot in the door' for players –

   Last week, the tournament formally known as the Urban Invitational was renamed the Andre Dawson Classic. This weekend, it’ll feature six HBCUs: Alabama State, Alcorn State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Grambling State, Prairie View A&M and Southern. The University of New Orleans, which is helping to host the event with the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy, also will play, along with Illinois-Chicago.

Three outside-the-box answers to baseball's   extra-innings issue -

Last year, the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs -- an independent minor league in Northern California -- adopted a rule to force extra-inning games to resolution: Each half-inning would begin with baserunners on first and second base. Indeed, games ended much more quickly. The league's general managers, who pay most of their staff hourly, were happy.

Everybody else? "The players and fans hated it," said Theo Fightmaster, GM of the Sonoma Stompers, who went 8-1 in extra innings. "Even with all our success, it was easily the most hated thing we've ever introduced into the league."


Reese Kaplan -- What If 2017 Happens Again?


As much as we don’t want to think 2017 can happen again, what are the 2018 plans in the event of catastrophic injuries?


If Adrian Gonzalez (and let’s not fool ourselves into thinking even a sub .250 Spring Training will keep him from being the starter at 1st base) goes down with, oh, I don’t know, a back injury…who’s on deck?  Well, they claim they are comfortable with Jay Bruce handling 1st base duties and there’s always Wilmer Flores.  Todd Frazier also has logged time there as well.  Then there’s that young guy who will be hopefully more often at the craps table than the buffet tables in Las Vegas.  They seem well covered there.


Right now it’s Asdrubal Cabrera’s job to lose.  Behind him are the aforementioned Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes (though not necessarily in that order).  Waiting in the wings with an injured wing is T.J. Rivera. 


Should Amed Rosario experience some medical malady (though for once it’s not old age and/or a history of past injuries that is cause for concern), they have three equally unattractive alternatives in Cabrera, Reyes and Flores.  If they want stronger defense, though he's been switched to play 2B in the minors, Luis Guillorme came up as a SS.  


Todd Frazier has been a picture of health throughout his career, so it’s natural that something unexpected would affect him once he dons the orange and blue.  See shortstop alternatives above for who would take over and throw in T.J. Rivera as well.  In general, the infield seems fairly well covered.


Assuming the starters are indeed Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto (when healthy) and Jay Bruce, they have a strong offensive trio.  Defensive whiz (and perhaps reinvented batsman) Juan Lagares and the walking man Brandon Nimmo should round out the five men with lots of range to cover.  Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores are expected to get some spring innings out there, but in the latter’s case it would likely be an emergency situation akin to Todd Hundley out there.  If any of the big boppers in the outfield go down, Lagares, Nimmo & company are OK for awhile but there would most definitely be big drop off in run production. 


The starting duo of Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki are the current major league alternatives.  Down in the minors you have ex Nationals’ backstop Jose Lobaton as well as the up and down bat of Tomas Nido who had a sip of coffee with the big club last September. 


Tread lightly here, my friends.  We saw what happened last year when only Jacob deGrom emerged unscathed.  Rather than going pitcher by pitcher, what have they done for their depth?  Well, Jason Vargas for one big thing…yes, as a friend recently told me, he’s not the second coming (and left handed version) of Tom Seaver, but he’s not going to hurt you in games.  That’s a big step forward from many who took starts last year.  Can we forget Tommy Milone, Chris Flexen, Rafael Montero and others?  Hopefully a long winter of rest (and NO World Baseball Classic) will help Seth Lugo.  Robert Gsellman kicked it into a higher gear in September.  Chris Flexen gets a chance to regroup and try again in AAA which he’s skipped en route to the majors.  Corey Oswalt will also be in the mix down there as well.  Marcos Molina is another year removed from his TJS.  The depth is better but with four starters coming back from injury it’s not something on which to bet the ranch.


Well, the club was forced to see how they fared without Jeurys Familia for most of last year.  Then they had Addison Reed.  Now it’s AJ Ramos.  He’s a credible if somewhat lesser option.  The closer position seems well covered.  After that it’s newcomer Anthony Swarzak and returning lefty Jerry Blevins.  So you start off with four good bullpen options.  After that’s a dogfight between the starters who don’t crack the rotation, Paul Sewald, Hansel Robles, Jacob Rhame, Jamie Callahan and even some non-roster invitees like Kyle Regnault, David Roseboom, P.J. Conlon, Drew Smith and Kevin McGowan.  The depth seems better than when alternatives included guys like Erik Goeddel, Josh Smoker and others.  The only quality arm to depart was Chasen Bradford. 


I guess I’m buying into the company line – that with healthy starting pitching this team is probably competitive.  Without it, they’re not.



This Just In -- New Met Ty Kelly


In getting the old band back together fashion, the Mets have reacquired yet another player from their past -- Israel Word Baseball Classic veteran Ty Kelly who joins the club on a minor league deal.  The versatile Kelly has played middle infield and outfield positions for both the Mets major and minor league teams.  


Mike Friere - David Wright - The Player

Pic by Mack Ade
Mickey Callaway seems to be hitting all of the right buttons early in Spring Training and is "a breath of fresh air" compared to his predecessor.  So much so, that even the media seems to be enchanted by MC, which isn’t an easy thing to accomplish in the New York media market.  Granted, it is only a few days into ST and the position players have yet to start practicing, but a good start is better then a bad one.

With that said, our new manager went on the record earlier today and stated that he wants David Wright around the team as much as possible, as long as it does not interfere with his ongoing rehabilitation.  He cited DW’s leadership and his overall positive influence on the clubhouse, etc.  This is an excellent example of real leadership and an emphasis on open lines of communication between the front office, management and the players.   In other words, MC is actually doing what he said he would do, instead of simply “saying all the right things” at his first press conference.

Since part of the previous interview focused on our “Captain”, I started thinking about DW and all of the things that he has been through during the past few seasons.  

On a side note, if you have ever played “word association” with another person, it is a basic concept but it can reveal quite a bit about the other person’s mindset. The game is simple in that one person mentions a random word and the other person says the first word that immediately comes to mind.  For example, you could say the word “pizza” and the other person might reply “awesome”.   In DW’s case, if you played this game with a fellow Mets’ fan, the mention of his name would likely conjure up responses like “stenosis”, “injured” or “never coming back” (which is more then one word, but you get the point).

That is sad, because DW was one of the best players in all of baseball for an extended period but he will likely be remembered for what he was unable to do on the field, as opposed to what he had accomplished prior to his string of injuries.

In an effort to emphasize DW the PLAYER, here is a sampling of his statistical contributions prior to his injuries;

DW “broke into MLB” in 2004 as a 21 year old rookie and he played approximately one half of a season’s worth of at bats, giving everyone a glimpse of what was to come.  He became a fixture in the Mets’ infield from 2005 through 2014 before his injuries started to take their toll, causing him to miss large parts of the 2015 and 2016 season.

***If you divide his career at bats by 600 (roughly a full season), you get 11.45 “seasons” of playing time for DW, which is a convenient number to use as the divisor for his statistical averages.

Over the estimated 11.45 seasons, DW averaged the following line;

.296/.376/.491 (.867 OPS)

21 HR/ 85 RBI/ 17 SB and 83 R

4.36 WAR (and a slightly positive dWAR)

I would take that right now from Todd Frazier for the 2018 season!  

The statistics are impressive, despite his production tailing off as he became more affected by his condition.   He was an absolute “beast” during the 2007 and 2008 campaigns, putting up ridiculous statistics to include a “30/30” season that brought back memories of Howard Johnson’s best efforts.  It isn’t a stretch to think that if he stayed reasonably healthy, he would have been a strong candidate for induction into the HOF one day.

This is the DW that I prefer to remember when I hear his name, as opposed to the “shell” of a player that he has become due to his medical issues.  This version of DW should evoke words like "All Star" or "invaluable".  

Unfortunately (I hate to be negative), I think his best days are clearly behind him and it would be an absolute shock to see him well enough to even play again, never mind perform at his previously established levels.   Sort of like watching Tiger Woods play competitive golf and not coming close to playing like the magical player that he once was due to injuries.

Compounding DW's issue is the “albatross” of a contract that, in true Mets fashion, was signed JUST BEFORE his career went off the rails.  Perhaps a better way to think of his current contract is money owed for the wonderful eleven plus years that he provided for the team and it’s fans.

Whether he plays again or not, DW is still a valuable member of the organization and it is pretty cool to see our new manager recognize that fact.





It seems when an offensive player is evaluated in terms of offensive potential, statistics get extrapolated over 600 plate appearances in order to simulate what he'd do over the equivalent of a full major league season, so here goes:

For Las Vegas in 2017, 2012 6th rounder Jayce Boyd went to the plate 278 times and hit a surging .297; projecting his season totals up to 600 PAs would give you the following: 

39 doubles, 2 triples, 24 HRs, 100 RBIs, and a .371 OBP.

Even better, extrapolate to 600 PAs his numbers from July 1 forward and you get: 

.333, 43 doubles, 7 triples, 30 HRs and 130+ RBIs.  

Pretty sensational.

And yet, no one seems to ever discuss this formerly significantly injured dark horse as a current prospect.  

He's only played to outfield or DH since his thoracic surgery about 4 years back, so maybe he is incapable of playing 1B any longer due to impaired throwing ability...I am not sure.  

(P.S. I can't tell you how many times I told Boyd and Matt Harvey to stay away from Thoracic Park - they never listened to me, though, maybe because I am a dinosaur.  However, I am proud to say that I never clean with Ajax or Borax - Thorax works so much better on those sink stains).  Anyway:

In April 2015, Adam Rubin wrote this about Boyd, which makes it appear he can be a functional first baseman and presumably outfielder: 

  • ...Jayce Boyd is moving to the outfield. The Mets like Boyd as a 1B but are trying to diversify his positions because he is blocked at the major league level by Lucas Duda.  The previous year (2013) he underwent shoulder surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome. He is now throwing without pain. He also is showing improvement with the different throwing motion from the outfield.
With the bat, he kind of reminds me of the Natural - he hit like mad before the injury; playing time was drastically reduced during and after recovery from the injury; and finally had big, but part time, success at the dish years later in 2017.  

Why the added power? He started his minors career at just 185 pounds, but now is listed at 219, so he has added bulk which to me likely explains his 2017 power surge.

If he can in fact play a close-to-adequate 1B or OF, his righty bat could at some point come into play as a possible platoon partner with lefty Dominic Smith at 1B.  

Maybe Dark Horse Boyd can finagle his way to Citifield in late 2018 when rosters expand.  Just continue to improve at the plate and show he can still be adequate in the field.  And stay healthy.




Image result for tim tebow picture

Tom Brennan: 


Yeah, him. 

You know, the guy no one (but me) takes seriously.

Sandy Alderson in a weekend press conference said he believes TEBOW will be a major leaguer.  Everyone, pretty much, seemed shocked, skeptical.  Not me.

Twin T this off-season has gotten 15 pounds leaner and meaner, and worked out hard with master hitting expert (and fellow Christian) Daniel Murphy - I have no doubt their mutual faith is part of their bond.  

Tebow apparently has been picking Daniel's brain, and has altered his swing, presumably to generate more extra base power, which he is certainly strong enough to generate.  


As people often note that he hit in the .220's last year,  BUT I've said it before and will say it again...the Mets NEVER start a prospect's career in Full Season ball....Conforto? Alonso? Two of the Mets' best?  Both started in rookie ball Brooklyn. 

Most Mets draftees would've failed trying to do what Tebow did last year in A ball in his first season, except for Alonso and Conforto. Only those 2 would have hit as well.  IMO.  

And Conforto, in his year two, started out in St Lucie, where he hit .283/.350/.462 before a mid season promo to AA.  And he was a first round, top 10 draft pick.  Would Tebow, if he returned to St Lucie in his year 2, put up similar numbers?  Perhaps he'd put up better #'s.

Remember how poorly almost all the hitters did in Brooklyn the past 2 seasons?  Tebow outhit almost all of them, and against much tougher competition at higher levels.

I made the point recently that Kevin Kaczmarski started his career in rookie Kingsport after his collegiate days and hit .355...but in his second year, in Columbia and St Lucie, in the same  levels Tebow played in his 1st year, Kevin hit .280.

Sure, that's better than Tebow's year 1 numbers in Columbia and St Lucie, but it Kevin's his second year and he went pro straight out of college ball, not with a 10+ year layoff.  

Perhaps if Kevin K started his first season 2 levels higher in Columbia, he hits .220 there too...or less.  And I like Kevin as a prospect, especially if he adds some pop this year, so I am not denigrating him in any way here.  Just highlighting the challenge Tebow faced in his year 1.

Tebow in fact was hitting close to .280 for the season before his August 2017 deep swoon, which likely was hit-the-wall-related.  We've all heard of rookies who hit the wall...and Tebow, having not played baseball, suddenly played in 123 games and had almost 500 at bats.   And he was beaned on August 12, too - while not seriously hurt (he stayed in the game), it may have impacted him for a few weeks - I'm just speculating.

Tebow certainly has the size, and perhaps the ability, to hit like a recent former similar-sized Met, Lucas Duda. 

Lucas was criticized a lot, but it was to a large degree because he was correctly perceived as shy, retiring, and too cautious at the plate taking fat pitches - I think many of us felt he should have been better.

Tebow is far from shy and retiring, all can agree.  

It took quiet Duda almost 4 years to get to Citified for a September call up - Tebow is trying to do that in 2 years.  He has the intestinal fortitude and drive, IMO, to progress fast.

Enough said - I think Tebow will have a surprisingly good year in 2018 - how about .270/20/80 in AA and AAA?

And I will reiterate what I've opined before, we see him playing (at least on a limited basis) this September in Queens for the Mets.  

Time (and Sandy) will tell.  One thing he will do that no other 2018 call up could do - ring the sales register big-time - so he has a clear competitive advantage.

Or you could just continue to view him as a circus act.  If so, the circus will be coming to town before you know it.  I hear the popcorn rocks.


Mike Fiere - More Labor Strife?


While perusing Mack's Apples article this morning, I noticed that the "potential labor strife" that has been grumbled about of late has gained some traction and it seems that it will not go quietly into the good night (despite some recent movement in the free agent market led by the Mets of all teams). It's interesting because like most topics of discussion, there are many sides to the issue and your view usually depends upon your perspective.

From the outside, the casual fan's reaction to this "belly aching" is one of confusion because "those guys are getting paid millions of dollars to play a kid's game"!

For some perspective, the MINIMUM annual salary for a ballplayer in 2018 is roughly $545,000 dollars per year, which equates to approximately $262 dollars per hour (nice work if you can get it).  Even better, the AVERAGE annual salary for all of MLB for the 2018 season will be a shade over $4,400,000 dollars, or an absurd $2,116 dollars per hour!   This doesn't include additional sources of benefits and income like a healthy per diem on road trips (over $100 dollars per day), luxury accommodations, transportation (air, ground) and access to trainers that would cost the average citizen a ton of cash.

Delving a bit deeper, the AVERAGE annual household income for an American family is a shade under $60,000 dollars per year, or roughly $29 dollars per hour (for multiple earners). 

When you break the numbers down a bit, it  puts things into perspective, right?

Before anyone gets fired up, this is NOT a rant on how ballplayers make too much, etc.  I simply wanted everyone to see what the numbers actually look like before I start the second part of this article.   I TOTALLY understand that all of the players in question (even the fringe players) are infinitely better then any one of us "regular guys and gals" at this sport and that they deserve to be paid accordingly.  I am also NOT a shill for the Owners who likely have income streams many times larger then the listed statistics. 

What does bother me a little bit is that the source of this "potential labor strife" is the most recent edition of the MLB Labor Contract that was negotiated and agreed upon in December 2016.  For those of you who enjoy reading such documents, here is a link to the information (https://www.mlb.com/news/details-of-mlb-mlbpa-labor-agreement/c-210125462)

In short, the agreement was reached late in 2016 and it covers FIVE full seasons, terminating in December 2021.  The last time I checked, it is February 2018 and this season is only the second season of the five that are included in the listed deal.  You know, the deal that both sides AGREED to!  Perhaps there is a bit of "buyers" remorse on the players' part, but isn't it a bit early for "jockeying" to take place for the next deal that is still three and a half years from now?

Perhaps I am a bit "old school" but if you come to an agreement with someone, the expectation is that both sides "gave up a little to get a little".   Another term for this is "compromise" and every labor contract is a blend of what both sides want.  The current agreement falls under that philosophy and the fact that the Player's Union did not see the current situation unfolding is their fault, or more specifically the fault of their representatives that took part in the bargaining process.  The solution is to negotiate a better contract the next time around, not to act like a spoiled child and threaten to violate the terms of the current deal with a possible work stoppage almost immediately after it went into effect.

In my humble opinion, the main issue at play this off season comes down to a "cost/benefit" analysis and it can be used to analyze many different things.  For example, if you are selling a piece of real estate, or perhaps a random "bauble" at a garage sale, you try to price the item appropriately.  Ask too much and you will be waiting until you drop your price before the item sells.  If you price the item appropriately at the outset for the expectations of the market, your item is much more likely to sell quickly.

The current free agent market is over priced, plain and simple.  Teams are "waiting the situation out" until the prices come down a bit and the cost and benefit are in close proximity to each other.  Look no further then Jay Bruce's situation.   He was asking for too much money and/or too many years for his next contract when free agency began.  However, as time passed, his demands dropped to an acceptable level and the Mets made him an appropriate offer. 

Another issue is the penalties that accompany certain free agents who were offered and declined a qualifying offer from their previous team(s).  Who wants to sign Lance Lynn for an above market contract that will also cost you a second round pick in the next draft AND half a million dollars in International Bonus Pool money?   The answer is "no one" and that is why he is still seeking a new team, despite how talented he is.  It isn't so much "collusion" as it is poor "cost/benefit" ratios that are the product of the last labor deal.

Hopefully, clearer heads prevail and the next few seasons do not suffer from a work stoppage.  The time to air grievances and to ask for a better deal are AT the bargaining table and NOT fifteen months into a five year deal that has already been signed, etc.

My advise for the Player's Union is to find a better bargaining team next time.

Mack's Mets © 2012