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The Right Choice Was Luis Rojas But Time Will Tell

Luis Rojas is a manager and in the spotlight. That unexpected Mets’ vacancy occurred with the departure of Carlos Beltran. Now, sooner than expected, Rojas at 38, becomes the second youngest manager in baseball.

Luis Rojas /Neil Miller/The New York Extra

So there was, Rojas at Citi Field Friday afternoon. He put on the jersey with Number 19.  Seems like yesterday, Carlos Beltran was doing the same thing.

And this will not be that difficult transition for the Mets. Rojas, was the supposed runner-up to succeed Mickey Callaway. He was the quality control coach last season and that familiarity was a helping hand.

Brodie Van Wagenen/Neil Miller/The New York Extra

“We got to promote one of our own to be the leader and face of our Major League team,” said GM Brodie Van Wagenen.

Again, it was familiarity with the roster and organization . That leads to optimism and a positive point as to why, Rojas, the 23rd manager in Mets  history was a good choice,

Luis Rojas /Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Perhaps, Buck Showalter or Dusty Baker would bring that experience as tenured managers and who knows they may have come with a hefty price.

But with little time to spring training, and a coaching staff in place, it made perfect sense for the Mets hierarchy to go this route.  

First impressions at  his introductory press conference, well there was confidence from the new manager. Thank you to everyone that got him to this level after 13 years in the Mets organization as a coach in their minor league system

Thank you also to his family.  His father, Felipe Alou (former player and manager) and Moises, his half brother and one-time player with the Mets.

He learned from them. 

“I think every single thing has led to this,” he said. “From conversations with my relatives to the experiences in the Minor Leagues and winter ball. There have been a couple of championships as a manager and a coach. Those are the things that we can employ and use for our team.”

And time will tell, is Luis Rojas the proper choice to take over a Mets team that is expected to contend?

Credit/Neil Miller/The New York Extra

 Mets CEO Jeff Wilpon, said the new manager has the skills. 

“ Very good skills and he will be an excellent manager,”Mets CEO Jeff Wilpon commented to THENYEXTRA.

It also goes to Rojas’ advantage, knowledge and working with Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, and many more of this young Mets core. 

 He inherits a roster that should contend with three All-Stars, in Alonso, McNei,l and Jacob deGrom the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner.

So this manager will be tested in the first few months. Like Beltran, he will be reviewed and that comes with those daily meetings prior and after a win or loss with the media.

First impression, with notepads and microphones, Luis Rojas was brief and to the point.  Dominican born and proud, he went with the flow. Those in game decisions will be determined.

However, a consensus among baseball personnel, including those who have worked with him in the Mets system, all said this day was coming. But this first managerial job came sooner than expected.

“A baseball rat, excellent poise, demeanor and professionalism,” said Tom Gamboa, a former manager with the Brooklyn Cyclones Mets Penn League affiliate.

Gamboa added “I thought he might be Major League material someday but surprised it happened so fast at age 38. Great potential. Only lacks Major League experience but he has managed McNeil, Rosario and Alonso.”

And those words of poise and demeanor, all attributes that remained during this rapid search for a new manager.

Are the Mets in the proper direction with Rojas? He signed a multi-year contract that is assumed to be three years, and that should be ample time to take this team where they want to be.

Mickey Callaway was supposed to be the proper manager to get them there and to a World Series.  There was Carlos Beltran with the unfortunate circumstance of a baseball cheating scandal that got in the way.

Now, this Mets team belongs to Luis Rojas. He is expected, as the manager for Brodie Van Wagenen, to be the guide and at the forefront of assuring the Mets get to that championship level.

“I will lead this team into success,” said Rojas. 

And of course, time will tell. But we have to give the new Mets manager a chance in the months to come.

Comment: Ring786@aol.,com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

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Not Unanimous For Derek Jeter But The Hall Of Fame Is

File photo/Neil Miller /The New York Extra

One vote. That denied Derek Jeter as a unanimous selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and that should not matter. So fans that are outraged about Jeter not joining Mariano Rivera, his teammate, back-to-back as unanimous choices need to take a break.

Derek Jeter, unanimous or not, is one of a kind and there was never a doubt when his eligibility came for the call to the hall  Perhaps, not the greatest shortstop, or Hall of Famer, but one of the best of the modern baseball era. 

Here are some of the accomplishments:

A five-time World Series champion.  He is the Yankees’ all-time career leader in hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716), plate appearances (12,602) and at bats (11,195). 

His accolades include 14 All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and Roberto Clemente Award. Jeter was the 28th player to reach 3,000 hits and finished his career ranked sixth in MLB history in career hits and first among shortstops. 

The Yankees retired his Number 2. He was the longtime face of the franchise and part of that “Core Four” and four straight World Series championships under manager Joe Torre.

“”A Derek Jeter comes along once in a generation,” Torre said in a statement. “It was a true privilege to watch Derek and to be his manager for 12 years. To this day, he still calls me ‘Mr. Torre.’ Today, it is a pleasure to say, ‘Welcome to the Hall, Mr. Jeter!’ You did it with class and grace.”

This writer does not have a vote in the Hall of Fame balloting. If so, Jeter gets a vote here as a first ballot Hall of Famer. He was the epitome of a New York Yankee and an asset for the game of baseball.

More than his credibility, which was never an issue, the unanimous vote would have been  icing on the cake. Derek Jeter, though. played the game and did his business as that longtime 20-year shortstop for the New York Yankees.

The Hall of Fame was never in the picture. He made this a Hall of Fame career. 

Though the persona and character of a player should have no impact on the vote for enshrinement, Jeter, could be an exception. His teammates, prior, during, and after the championship years all saw this coming.

The opposite players on the field all saw this coming. And that word respect, all  for Number 2, they will be there with Jeter up in Cooperstown in July.

“It’s going to be a very special day standing next to Derek in Cooperstown this summer,” Mariano Rivera said in a statement. “ He had such a deep desire to win, and that singular commitment to his team is what made him so special. Derek prided himself on being a consistent presence.”

He added, “ No moment was too big. He was fearless, and he was the type of leader we knew we could count on year after year. I feel so fortunate that he was a teammate and friend for my entire career, and I congratulate him on this great honor.”

 Rivera will hold that distinction as the first unanimous player voted into the Hall and there may not be another one, that is, unless another Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera comes along.

And with the media that respect was also a part of Derek Jeter on and off the field, tough the writers who get this privilege look at the numbers and contribution for Hall of Fame credentials. 

“The Captain” of the Yankees was always available after a loss. There was always time to answer the questions, the last one reporter to ask always got the proper response which also defined his leadership in the Yankees clubhouse.

Off the field, Derek Jeter went his business. You never heard about controversy, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.He represented the Yankees pinstripes and all in good standing.

A managers type of player. And for the media, their type of player. Recall after the Yankees bitter 2001 World Series loss to the Diamondbacks, after Luis Gonzalez got that hit through the infield off Mariano Rivera in Phoenix.   

In the visitor’s clubhouse, at his locker stall, there was Derek Jeter. In that quiet and hush Yankees’ room, after contemplating the loss with his head bowed  and a bat by his side, , Derek Jeter was ready to talk,

Like all baseball players who talk after a bitter loss, he said “This is baseball.”  But, Derek Jeter offered more than that standard quote. He was the person offering a perspective with minimal talk about analyzing what went wrong.

It was a simple conversation. This was a part of the moment and showing that baseball is a game. Recall,  as we all do, that was a year of baseball coming off the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

That was Derek Jeter. The person and baseball player that you could never criticize. No ego to him and a team player.

His day arrived. The attention will be about Derek Jeter in the months ahead and we will never get tired of cheering the newest Hall of Fame inductee.

Unanimous or not and well deserved. One of a kind is Derek Jeter. And, he continues to make an impact as co-owner of the Miami Marlins.

But there is that distinction over many who played the game and that is the Hall Of Fame.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Mets Move On Without Beltran As Damage Control Begins Also For MLB

File photo Brodie Van Wegenen /Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Direct your attention to Carlos Beltran, the Mets, and baseball hovering over a dark cloud. The game is in trouble and this baseball cheating scandal is far from over.

Beltran, the lone player implicated with that 2017 Astros’ championship team, is no longer the manager of the Mets, a brief tenure that stands second in the annals as the shortest reign, next to Wally Backman who lasted four days with the Diamondbacks.

But the Wally Backman situation was different, taxes and personal issues. The Carlos Beltran situation was being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and one of the culprits that has put Major League Baseball in a bad situation.

And all of this will be discussed in years to come, and technology advancement, attributed to three managers losing jobs, is another issue and one that baseball has to address as they try and recover from this black eye.

But the reality now, and for the Mets, they are without a manager. They were supposed to have Carlos Beltran for three years, maybe more, to guide them to a championship. 

Beltran, a choice of GM Brodie Van Wegenen, will resurface and perhaps as a manager, He is tarnished as much as the game is. You can rule out a potential Hall of Fame induction in a few years when his name comes up for consideration,

In essence, this scandal of cheating to steal signals from opposing pitchers, is difficult to digest. Baseball fans will forgive to an extent and only because they want their team to win.

Except, cheating, as was with the steroid scandal, the Pete Rose gambling issue, and the Black Sox scandal, is hard to tolerate. 

The billionaire dollar industry, as baseball is, got them caught. It cost AJ Hinch, Alex Cora, and now Beltran their jobs. It will be difficult to recover for them, even if they deny they were culprits to get their team wins and collect more of that revenue that is always available.

So the Mets, and unexpectedly, once again are on a managerial search. They want to move on and get by this black eye, Though, again, Carlos Beltran was a culprit in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The search is on as the healing begins.

 Mets Gm Brodie Van Wagenen, said Thursday afternoon on a conference call with media, “I don’t think the values we that we’re looking for have changed.”

He said, “This team is one that we believe in. This team is one that we believe can contend and we want to make sure that we have the right support around them to achieve their success.”

Carlos Beltran was the one to do that. The former and popular player, forgiven for making that last out in the 2006 NLCS at Shea Stadium, was the perfect candidate in a long managerial search to succeed Mickey Callaway.

Thing is, there are 28 days before pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie and that does not leave much room to anoint a new manager. Last thing the Mets want is entering spring training without a leader.

But they did not expect this turn of events. Even as the day transpired, Wednesday into Thursday morning, there was that slim chance, Carlos Beltran would survive this scandal.

He wasn’t the manager that was implicated, one of the players that reportedly orchestrated this cheating scheme in his final year as an active player on that 2017 Astros team, and now  a negative part of the baseball annals.

And this is no longer an issue as to how the Mets handled this. Did, Brodie, a key part of  the hiring process, have knowledge that Carlos Beltran was a part of this scandal?

That issue was clarified as no, according to a timeline that the GM outlined on Thursday.  But, Beltran, as is, may not have taken all of the skeletons out of his closet.

So, the prevailing question now, as the Mets go forward, who is the next manager and when will that come to fruition?  We know, this process will be rapid. There is precious time with that timeline drawing in on spring training. 

The next manager has to have the same goals and guidelines.

 Who will that be? Luis Rojas, Eduardo Perez, Buck Showalter? Tony DeFrancesco, who managed the Mets’ Syracuse Triple-A affiliate was in place as the first base coach. 

He is not a logical choice, interim manager for the Astros and prior to Hinch and that 2017 team, and the Mets would not want to go that route. Hensley Meulens? He was appointed bench coach, for Beltran, with no previous managerial experience.

Fiel photo Terry Collins/Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Terry Collins, a longshot, even if it became an interim basis. He could leave the chair for David Wright, a fan favorite who goes by the book, but Collins and his days as an active manager are over.

File photo David Wright /Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Yes, lots of damage control that will be difficult and more so for Major League Baseball.  The Mets will overcome this adversity that was not expected.

The unfortunate thing, we never will see how good a manager Carlos Beltran could have been.  Greed, though, and technology with a billionaire dollar industry of Major League Baseball got in the way,


Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786- Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Beltran May Be Safe But Needs To Answer

credit twitter

Carlos Beltran is guilty. So are dozens of others among the 2017 Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox players involved with the sign-stealing situation that has rocked Major League Baseball. He was instrumental in discussing the scheme to stealing signs from the opposing pitcher that was attributed to technology.

Yes, technology is the culprit and so is Beltran.  However the findings and determination of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said, “Assessing discipline of players for this type conduct is both difficult and impractical.”

Mandfred added, “I am not in  position based on the investigative record to determine with any degree of certainty every player who should be held accountable.”

The accountability cost Astros’ general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch their jobs and suspensions. Speculation is Alex Cora,  bench coach under Hinch, also a culprit, will lose his job as manager of the Red Sox.

And the players associated with this have that protection of their union. The Astros’  2017 World Series championship stays in the record books. Findings and repercussions around the Red Sox will not nullify their championship of 2018.

The Mets have not commented about Beltran. The rookie manager will surely have to answer a ton of questions when pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie in four weeks.

And the last thing the Mets don’t need is for  this situation to linger. Modern technology has caused this dilemma, the game of baseball has changed, and that has to be addressed.

But Carlos Beltran has to answer the questions, and  unless Major League Baseball says otherwise, he has to face the music. 

The prevailing question, as this investigation continues to unfold that caused the latest black eye for baseball, what’s next? Does Carlos Beltran avoid suspension? Is Beltran safe?

As of Tuesday, the Mets are not commenting.CEO Jeff Wilpon and GM Brodi Van Wagenen are scheduled to appear Thursday morning in Port St. Lucie to officially announce a change to the name of the Mets’ spring training complex and they could avoid the questions.

There are numerous current and former players associated with the Mets manager and they are not commenting. So we are all in the dark with this.

And this is expected to continue as the dark eye for baseball. The newest scandal goes in the books as a substantial issue and in the categories with the steroid scandals, Pete Rose, and the Black Sox era.

Where does Carlos Beltran stand? Unless, the Mets believe that Beltran and his association with this are detrimental and a distraction, his position is safe. The Mets do not need further distractions as they prepare and expect to contend with a new season on the horizon.

Though, to put this to rest, Carlos Beltran will need to answer the questions. He is no longer a player and now a part of management. He needs to answer to clarify his role and admit to the mistakes.

Now, on the other hand, Alex Cora up in Boston is the predicament. If the further findings of the commissioner go further, if the Red Sox follow the role of the Astros and dismiss Cora, then the Mets are put in a position.

Carlos Beltran could survive this, or the Mets can decide to make a statement and reprimand their new manager. In other words, the Mets could have the final decision.

Beltran, not receiving favorable headlines,  can deny he was wrong. But the findings of this investigation are saying otherwise.

In the best interest for the Mets and for their fan base, Carlos Beltran must respond.and the best approach is to make a statement in front of the cameras and notepads.

Either way, Carlos Beltran will be writing out the Opening Day lineup for the New York Mets, regardless of this black eye and being a culprit to this mess.

The damage control for Major League Baseball is now the issue. This will not go away, and the technology experts that have control will need to improvise their system and assist with the damage control.

This was bound to occur as stealing signals and signs have always been a part of baseball but not at this magnitude, Carlos Beltran can provide some closure.

It’s closure for the Mets and for Beltran’s reputation as that “Mr. Good Guy” in baseball, and for the fans here in New York.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Third Base Is Position To Watch For The Yankees

Credit Twitter

Gio Urshela and the Yankees reportedly agreed to a one-year contract of $2.475 million on Friday which was the deadline for arbitration eligible players.  For Urshela, with that breakout year in 2019, and unexpected as the unknown player, a well deserved deal.

So the Yankees will go into spring training with an interesting situation.  Urshela provided that unexpected production in the lineup who became a highlight reel at third base. 

 Miguel Andujar, recall,  a Yankees “Baby Bomber” came up short in 2018 for AL Rookie Of The Year honors but a season ending injury to his shoulder gave, Urshela the opportunity in 2019. 

The Yankees got a pleasant surprise from Ursehla, the 28-year old and part time player acquired from the Cleveland Indians. He Completed the season batting .314 in 132 games, 21 home runs, and 74 RBI in 132 games. 

All good of course. Urshela was one of the sparks for a Yankees roster that sustained numerous injuries and he filled the void under a contract that paid him a Major League minimum salary of $555.000.

 GM Brian Cashman has assured, Andujar is not out of the picture. In other words, and assuming Andujar is healthy, he will be in the mix at third base but it will be his job to win. This is certain to be a storyline going into spring training and something that will transpire.

Andujar, from reports out of the Dominican Republic, has resumed throwing and fielding. He has reportedly recovered from surgery to his right shoulder. The 24-year old appeared in 12 games last season.

While Andujar has to prove that this will be a comeback, and time will tell, the Yankees also have options. They have that flexibility to pull off a trade, even though, Andujar, and his value has diminished on the market due to the inactivity.

Regardless, of the trade talk and speculation, Miguel Andujar remains in the plan. The value of Urshela is also significant and he could be used as a designated hitter or off the bench.

So where does this stand? Do the Yankees bank on  a healthy Miguel Andujar and use Urshela to their advantage?

Manager Aaron Boone and some of the Yankees’ staff  plan a visit to the Dominican Republic in the next few days and gather a further evaluation.of Andujar.

“We believe he is going to be totally healthy as we enter Spring Training and good to go,” Boone was quoted as saying this week. 

And from the reports, Andujar has been taking ground balls and throwing.

“He’s good to go right now,” Boone said. “We feel like he’s in a really good spot physically. We’ll get to spend a little bit of time with him and put our eyes on him a little bit.”

Again this is a good sign. And, unless an offer is too enticing  for the Yankees, that would get them something valuable in return, expect a nice battle to determine who will start at third for the Yankees come Opening Day.   

Brian Cashman, a believer in both,  has said that third base for now is in the hands of Ursehla. And when it comes to making contact at the plate, Urshela and Andujar hit the ball on the screws.

Consistently hitting the ball on the screws is part of the equation and the Yankees interest in DJ LeMahieu was drawn, in particular,  by DJ having the highest percentage of hard hit balls in the game.

Though the ground ball rate was above average.  The same applies to Andujar and Urshela. 

Said a high-ranking baseball official, “The ALCS with the Astros showed that Ursehla was one of two Yankees with DJ that the Astros played straight up. They shifted effectively on the rest of the lineup.”

And when you come down to it, that’s what makes this a great situation for the Yankees.   So let the battle begin in four weeks or so when Aaron Boone begins his third season as the manager.

It could be a job that Miguel Andujar has to battle for. Then again, either way, third base, designated hitter, or even the outfield for Gio Urshela is not a bad option.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

New Coach Hired For NYCFC With Expectations

Credit nycfc

Ronny Deila is the new coach in town. Soccer fans are aware of his background and soon the third head coach for New York City FC will look to get them their first MLS Championship. 

He succeeds Domenec Torrent. He guided NYCFC to to the MLS East division title last season. The team lost to Toronto in the MLS Eastern Conference finals at Citi Field and came up short for the second straight year,

Coaching, though, is not the reason NYCFC failed to advance. Not anything like other pro sports in this town, Major League Soccer is a league of international talent. Coaches come and go as they are offered lucrative opportunities to take on responsibilities to guide prominent teams that play abroad.

So, NYCFC, once again begins the transition before their official season opener at Yankee Stadium in March,  

Deila, a three-time title winning manager at multiple European clubs including Celtic FC in Scotland, joins NYCFC from Norwegian club Vålerenga where he served as manager beginning in 2017. He has signed a three-year contract with the Club and will join NYCFC pending the approval of a U.S. work permit.

After an extensive playing career, most notably at Odds BK in his native Norway, he took charge of Strømsgodset in 2008. Deila won his first trophy in 2010 capturing the Norwegian Football Cup and then led the club to its first league title in 43 years in 2013.

Deila left Strømsgodset for Celtic FC in 2014 and won back-to-back Scottish Premiership titles during his time in Glasgow. Additionally, Deila has managed in both the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds and UEFA Europa League, and won the Scottish League Cup in 2015.

 “When the opportunity came up to join New York City FC as their new Head Coach, it was a dream come true for me to manage an amazing Club in a great city,” Deila said Tuesday.

“When I come in, it’s important to continue to build on what’s already proven to be a strong foundation and to get some of my ideas across. The way I want to play and the way NYCFC has played is very similar. I’m a very attacking coach. We want to have the ball as much as possible, but also try to be direct when you have those opportunities.”

Sean Johnson, the perennial NYCFC goal tender, will return and that will also help the new coach get off to a good start. The past three seasons, Johnson has led the league in goals saved and become a leader on the field and in the locker room.

NYCFC is set to return nearly 95 percent of last season’s goal scorers as well as four defenders who started more than 24 games from the league’s fourth ranked defense. Club Captain, Alex Ring, and United States Men’s National Team goalkeeper, Johnson, will also be back in 2020.

But it has been the attack of NYCFC teams that has attributed to their success of reaching the MLS postseason the past two years. 

“I’m really looking forward to getting going and getting to know the players in preseason and begin my time at NYCFC,” Deila said. “I’m ready to see our supporters and hopefully we’ll have a wonderful relationship. I’m going to do everything I can to play good football the City way and I’ll give everything from myself to the Club and I’m sure we’re going to achieve fantastic things in the future.” 

And the future is a key component with the hiring of this new coach. He has a reputation of winning and building a foundation which is important in this league. 

 NYCFC, the 20th MLS franchise, first to compete in New York City, has had one knock since their inception in 2015 and that has been their inability to retain a coach. 

Patrick Vieira, appointed their first coach in March of 2015, guided NYCFC to the Eastern Conference semi-finals in 2017. He left mid-season in 2018 for a lucrative opportunity to manage Nice an elite football club in France.

In his past stops, Deila established a reputation for recognizing and developing young talent. Throughout the past decade, Deila took numerous Manchester City players on-loan at his clubs including Jason Denayer, who is currently vice-captain of Olympique Lyon, Patrick Roberts and Dedryck Boyata.

So, this appears to be the proper move for a team that has goals to go that extra step and bring the MLS Cup home to New York.

 NYCFC CEO, Brad Sims, said: “We’re extremely excited to have Ronny join us, and after a thorough coaching search, we’re confident we’ve found the perfect fit for New York City FC. He’s an experienced manager that has succeeded in winning trophies at clubs with high expectations like we have here at NYCFC.”  

Deila will take the reins of the Club coming off its best season in franchise history. NYCFC finished atop the Eastern Conference in 2019 and qualified for the Concacaf Champions League for the first time in Club history.

 “I think consistency is an important thing,” Deila said. “ Consistency in the way we play and to keep on improving in the City style. The group of players have been here for a while and they’re ready to take the next step together. Winning a title will be a big goal for myself and for the Club.”

He said the expectations are high but that consistency on the sidelines, and In this case retaining a coach is important. The players, and of course that important fan base surely hope they have a long term coach to guide them in the new decade.

“The expectations from the fans are high and I’m going to show them that my expectation is the same,” Diela said. “ We are here to win and that’s why I’m coming because it’s another opportunity to win a title.”  

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Yoenis Cespedes Is The Mets Question

Yeonis Cespedes file photo /Neil Miller/The New York Extra

What can the Mets expect from Yoenis Cespedes and does the often injured and controversial outfielder fit in the plan? We have come to know there is never a dull moment.  

And GM Brodie Van Wagenen knows that Cespedes, the contract, and playing time is in his hands.

File photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

We do know, as witnessed in the Mets’ 2015 championship run, that Yoenis Cespedes,  when healthy, can be a cog in the lineup. But when not, the Mets have survived and can do without him.

So last week it was here we go again, a contract that was restructured for the 2020 season, $29.5 million in the final year of a four-year deal to a guaranteed $ 6 million.

 Cespedes and a run-in with a boar at his ranch was the story.

Instead of chasing fly balls in the outfield, hitting home runs out of the ballpark, Cespedes, a horse at his ranch, caused a violent fall.  Two right fractures to his ankles that kept him sidelined last season were finally the official cause. 

Mets officials and his representatives visited the ranch. MLB Commissioner office officials and those from the players Association also knocked on his door.

And so it goes, you know the story,  The Yoenis Cespedes mess with the Mets drags on and gets more interesting with the complications.

File Photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Cespedes, according to sources, is in playing shape. He was quoted last week saying he will hit over 40 home runs this coming season. Cespedes said this will be a breakout year in the walk-off deal of a contract with the Mets that could increase to $11 million if he is on the Opening Day roster. 

The contract can be prorated if he misses more time and joins the team later.

Complications, yes, because the Mets need to make decisions as to where their troubled and high profiled player belongs. And there is not much time to make those decisions with spring training on the horizon in six weeks and still with decisions as to who will command the outfield. 

File photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

In many ways, the Cespedes situation can be seen as fulfilling a contract and the Mets hierarchy would rather not eat the remaining part of this. 

Allowing their problem to walk away, that’s a predicament. 

Because a healthy and effective Yoeneis Cespedes, for the Mets, or any other team, can make a difference and that is the predicament. You just don’t know and the Mets protected themselves with the restructured contract.

So, let’s play the role of the GM here. Let’s project that Yoneis Cespedes is in the starting lineup at Citi Field come Opening Day, March 26th at Citi Field.

Assume that Cespedes is in the lineup, then project him in the third slot or cleanup and starting in right or left.

If no Cespedes, and if GM Brodie Van Wagenen does not pull off another of his creative moves, assume J.D. Davis has an outfield sport or newly acquired Jake Marisnick.

Otherwise the lineup could look like this: 

Brandon Nimmo- Centerfield , Jeff McNeil at Third, Pete Alonso First Base, Robinson Cano at Second, J.D. Davis Leftfield, Michael Conforto Rightfield, Wilson Ramos-Catcher, Amed Rosario- Shortstop.

Bench: Cespedes (If on roster), Jed Lowrie (If not traded), Dom Smith (If not traded) and Marisnick to start the season. There is flexibility here and again, just an assumption, so don’t draw conclusions.

Basically, it comes down to where and how Yoenis Cespedes will fit into this entire equation. Do say this, if Pete Alonso continues where he left off, a rookie home run record (53), and if Cespedes becomes an everyday player and hits those 40 or more home runs, the Mets have a potent lineup.

But let’s wait. Because the Yoenis Cespedes drama has not reached a final chapter with the New York Mets.


Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Betances Introduced And Mets Bullpen Could Be Lethal

Dellin Betances said Thursday at Citi Field about the Mets, “I’ve heard a lot of good things about the organization. I’m excited. I’m already at home.”

And it did not take long for Betances, now a key part of a revamped Mets bullpen, to make his decision to jump across town. Carlos Beltran, a former teammate with the Yankees is his manager.

 Beltran may have been the instrumental part of this one-year deal of $10,5 million and vesting options for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

The Mets are better in the bullpen, assuming as stated here,  turnaround seasons come  Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia.  Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo are expected to continue where they left off and be as reliable as they were in that second half run of last season.

They have Brad Bach, Robert Gsellman and the addition of Michael Wacha. Some are saying this is a lethal bullpen and that remains to be proved after finishing  next to last in baseball last year.

So there will be skepticism based on many factors, mainly,  Betances, rebounding from a  right shoulder injury and partial Achilles tendon tear. After a 60-day stint on the injured list, his September 15 season debut in the Bronx was cut short with the low-grade lat strain.

 But there could also be room for optimism with this bullpen. Betances did not get surgery and said he is ready for spring training. And, if healthy, this could be the key for a turnaround that puts the Mets in good position.

“ Our expectation is he should be ready to go,” said General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen. “I don’t think there will be any restrictions once we get to Spring Training.”

Beltran was not available. He was enjoying those last days of a vacation at his home in Puerto Rico. When the season begins, and if this bullpen is as lethal as it looks, the rookie manager will have plenty of options and flexibility. 

Betances talked about his role with the manager. The Mets were a good fit.  Betances said, he is home and is expected to be the late inning stopper. The Yankees are in the past, and  according to sources were never in the process of re-signing the Right-hander.

Beltran has the options. If Diaz can’t revert to that 57-game closer, and that may be asking too much, Betances could become the closer. He has that experience.

“Whatever they see me in, I want to do whatever I can to help the team win,” Betances said. 

He has posted a 2.36 career ERA (100 earned runs/381.2 innings) with 36 saves and 621 strikeouts in 358 major league games with the Yankees. Betances also  established a record with 100 strikeouts or more in five consecutive seasons with the Yankees. 

If effective, the fastball and slider are lethal and the Mets could not get that type of production last year out of the pen.

“He didn’t want to just restablish himself ,” Van Wegenen said. “He didn’t just want to go out and perform his normal job. He wanted to dominate, and he expressed that very clearly.”

And that is what the Mets hope to see- dominance from the bullpen. They could have that weapon, possibly the best bullpen in the NL East, a top three in baseball if effective, and again that word is dominant. 

It was the mission of the general manager to revamp a part of this team that was a major failure.  

Betances had that different look when he stood at the podium Thursday. The facial  hair, not a part of the Yankees look, and of course the Mets blue and orange was obvious a difficult take for a Yankees fan.

A welcome addition for Carlos Beltran. He had something to do with this for Betances to stay in New York.

“As soon as he got the managerial job, I think he kind of pushed the name Dellin Betances, as far as management, so he definitely played a big part,” Betances said. 

“Always one of the topics was, “We would love to have you. And I’ve told them all, the management, that we want you. So hopefully we get to have you’ And now, it happened.”

Yes, it did happen. And Brodie Van Wagenen was not talking about this being a risk. This was about his mission of improving the Mets bullpen.

“We believe that a healthy and dominant Dellin, combined with Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Brad Bach,, Robert Gsellman, this collective group has the potential to be one of the best bullpens in baseball,” he said.

Time will tell.  Dellin Betances stayed in his surroundings of New York. In  August, we will determine if Betances and the others have made this one of the best bullpens in baseball.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso


Giants Need Stability With A Coach To Get this Right

File photo /The New York Extra /New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur

Pat Shurmur was not the answer. The Giants have lost a lot of games since 2017, (36) more than any other NFL team and now they are searching for their fourth head coach in the last six years.

And so it goes.  The Giants have become a revolving door of head  coaches and stability is important when it comes to winning ball games. You see this too often when a team fails in any sport.

However, the NFL is different and 16 games can determine the faith of a franchise. Though in this case, GM Dave Gettleman, at the helm since 2017, stays where he is.

Gettleman took over to rebuild a franchise. Two years later, the Giants start all over again to rebuild. It is now in the hands of this GM to restructure and get this franchise back to respectability.

Basically, it starts at the top. The Giants are in that position, in the largest market, the biggest media market. Shurmer, this time was the culprit and his successor will also confront a similar situation. 

So, who will now attempt to get this storied franchise back on track? That will be determined by Dave Gettleman. With a reprieve, he will now be analyzed and has another year to get this right.

Perhaps, and a prevailing opinion, ownership does believe the GM  made the right choice in drafting Daniel Jones to succeed Eli Manning and that was the difference. 

And in due time, Jones will amount to be that successor, though we can be asking too much for him to duplice two Super Bowl championships that Manning delivered as the franchise quarterback. 

The issue here,  minimal tolerance with that lack of stability as to who guides this franchise on the sidelines.  The Ginats fan base is angered and in New York this is so important. We have seen how it works in this market and use the Yankees as an example.  

Joe Torre and Joe Girardi, their long tenures as managers got the support of management, then again, they had the players and resources to be successful.

It starts at the top and the GM and new coach need this lasting relationship to make it work. The Giants need that stability to guide them. 

So where do the Giants stand? Their loyal fan base wants to see a winner. 

Sam Garnes, 5th round draft pick of the Giants in 1997 and later played a year with the Jets, offered an opinion to nyextra.com.  

“I look forward to seeing who the next coach is just like everyone,” said the former defensive back. “I think great defense and complimentary offense is what gets this fan base excited.”

Oh, that fan base is looking for the proper direction. Immediate names that could appease this fan base are Mike McCarthy- a Super Bowl winner with the Packers.

 Ron Rivera, recently released with the Panthers, took his team to a Super Bowl, regardless there has to be stability and more than two years for a coach to guide this franchise on the sidelines. 

But, after two seasons, 9-23, will show there needed to be another change. 

 Giants co-owner John Mara said the GM “is the right person to lead us going forward. Dave has a long record of success. We think he’s capable of putting a great team together and he’s going to get that opportunity.”

Apparently Pat Shumer wasn’t the answer. Neither was  Steve Spagnuolo or Ben McAdoo. They could not fill the shoes of their predecessor, Tom Coughlin and his two Super Bowl championships.

This is in the hands of Dave Gettelman. He got the vote of confidence. And that confidence begins with stability, and getting the right coach with experience who can turn this darn thing around.

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Michigan State Had The Plan And Takes The Pinstripe Bowl

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson did not have a successful Bronx homecoming at Yankee Stadium Friday. The former head coach at Fordham University built a program up a few miles away at Rose Hill for three years and moved on before taking over at Wake Forest in 2014.

“This is the palace; this is the most famous place in the Bronx,” he said this week about coaching at Yankee Stadium leading up to the 10th annual New Era Pinstripe  Bowl against Michigan State. 

But the Palace did not treat him well. There was a moment when his Demon Deacons had control and appeared to be going home with their fourth consecutive bowl victory coached under Clawson.

Michigan State had other ideas as their defense came up strong. And  Brian Lewerke, in his final game, threw for 320 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score and copped MVP game honors in leading Michigan State to a 27-21 victory. 

“They did a good job of pressuring us,” said Clawson. “I thought their defensive line did a good job of rushing the passer. We just didn’t get open on the perimeter. We didn’t make enough plays. Credit to them, they did.”

Clawson was proud of his players. Not every team gets that opportunity to compete in a late December football game at Yankee Stadium, and this Pinstripe Bowl has become a premiere event.

Syracuse, Penn State, Rutgers, and Notre Dame have been there. They also battled on the turf at Yankee Stadium in previous years in the Bronx. 

 Clawson and his team knew this was going to be a struggle against that Spartans defense and a historic program that appeared in their 29th Bowl game. 

“I’m proud of the way our players competed, battled,” Clawson said. “ We got really thin. That was a little bit the story of our season. I think when we were a healthy football team, we could play with pretty much anybody in the country.”

Yes, Clawson had to battle and keep his players on the field during a 8-4 season, 32.8 points per game that was second in the ACC.

Junior quarterback Jamie Newman, an all ACC honorable mention selection, second in the conference with 289.1 yards of total offense per game, threw three touchdown passes in the first half.

But his team with 250 yards offense in the first half could only compile 101 in the second. That also told the story of this 2019 Pinstripe Bowl.

“I thought we missed some throws,” Clawson said. “ We ran that little speed-out a couple times. Didn’t throw that well. We had opportunities to make plays. We’ll go back and watch that film. We’ll have a hard time sleeping for a couple of days.”

Similar to his days at Fordham, when his team lost to good teams in the Patriot League, Clawson provided the proper analysis ro this loss.

“There were chances to win that game,” he said.” I think as we became one-dimensional, we played from behind, they did a pretty good job rushing the passer. Again, credit to Michigan State. They’re a good football team. Sometimes when you don’t make plays, the opponent has something to do with it. I certainly want to give them their credit and their due.”

Michigan State finished the decade 92-40, though they finished 7-6 two straight years.  And they were able to contain Newman in the second half, which also contributed to their win.

And for Mark Dantonio, the Spartans’ all-time winningest coach, this was his sixth Bowl Game victory that goes with three Big 10 championships.

“ I thought we did a pretty good job rushing their tackles back into the quarterback’s lap pretty much, cut down his running opportunities,” Dantonio said. 

About Newman, he said, “A good football player. To look at it, 17 rushes per 112 yards for their quarterback. He threw the ball down the field effectively, as well. Good football player. We needed to contain him.”

 This wasn’t the Penn-State 31-30 thriller and win in overtime against Boston College in 2014. But this was a good one as the college football tradition continued at Yankee Stadium and Michigan State took home the George M. Steinbrenner III Trophy.

“Obviously when you win the football game, it’s sort of icing on the cake,” Dantonio said. “We had a great experience here.”  

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