Category: baseball

Holiday Cheer At Citi Field As Mets Have Busy Day

from right to left ,Brandon Nimmo,wifr Chelsea Nimmo, and J.D. Davis Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Brandon Nimmo played Santa and J.D. Davis was the elf Tuesday at the Mets annual Kids Holiday party held at Citi Field in the Foxwoods Club. The event has become a highlight of the Mets community initiatives and kids from a nearby public school were greeted and took part in gift giving.

Neil Miller/The New York Extra
Neil Miller/The New York Extra

But that wasn’t the only business at Citi Field Tuesday. The Mets continue to prepare for the annual baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego that commence Sunday.

And  Sterling Partners, Fred and Jeff Wilpon ownership, is reportedly in negotiations to bring in billionaire Steve Cohen as a major investor.

In the long run. Cohen could have complete control of the franchise and the Wilpons could have less of a say in the everyday control of financial matters. Most Mets fans are hoping that there is a complete change in ownership and in the  meantime this is still a team owned by the Wilpons.  

Either way, it is business as usual. San Diego here they come. The Mets, from various sources do intend to be busy. The immediate need is finding that gap in the pitching rotation that became a reality with the Zack Wheeler five-year $100 million deal to the Phillies.

They could be in the market for a lower tier free agent to fill the gap, possibly Rick Porcello. There is the intention to revamp the bullpen and if Seth Lugo comes out of the pen to fill the gap, well a need for that starter is more of a necessity.

Then there is the intention for outfield help. The Mets will be shopping.  They could also look at Davis as a trade chip. Or they could find a suitable team for Dominc Smith.

Smith, as known, serves a better purpose as your everyday first baseman, of course, NL Rookie of The Year Pete Alonso has that locked up. 

Davis, could be slated as the everyday left fielder or play his natural position at third. 

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

“ I do feel a little more comfortable at third base,” Davis said Tuesday. “Because that was where I was drafted. Just being a third baseman and playing most of my games at third, I prefer that.”

Davis, though, will go with the plan. He will resume offseason training activities when he leaves New York Friday and returns to Elk Grove, California.

“If it’s left field, so be it,” he said. “ Wherever the team needs me, I know we’ve got a lot of talent on this team. So wherever the team needs me, I’ll play.”

And by all means, the Mets need to hesitate in any plans to trade Davis. He spent considerable more time in left than at third, and there was a learning process in the outfield. 

 Davis did become an important cog in the lineup with a slash line of .307/.369/.527 in the 140 games he appeared. He was the ace of player transactions under rookie GM Brodie Van Wagenen.

And with Davis in the lineup, along with Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto, the Mets have developed a good and young core.

Davis is going with the plan. He is optimistic that he will remain in New York as the Mets continue to build towards playing baseball in October.

“It was a little bit difficult coming from left field to third base because of 150 feet,” said Davis. “The ball gets on you a little quicker. But I play third base, just like anything, more reps over there I’ll be just fine.”

He added, “Just like anything, I’m comfortable. I’m confident over there and I’m excited.”

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

He said that Nimmo was a good Santa. And Nimmo, also a part of that young core is projected at this time to be starting in center.

“I’m working on controlling center field, until they tell me something,” he said. 

Nimmo is healthy and working on getting his neck stronger after missing most of his time in 2019 with a bulging disk.

“I think we’ll be good,” Davis said. The offense, we are a pretty tight group.”

Nimmo and Davis played their roles to perfection for the kids. Now they hope that role can lead to playoff baseball on the field in 2020.

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

Mets And Yankees Preparing For Winter Meetings and Their Needs

One week from tomorrow the baseball world will convene in San Diego for the annual Winter Meetings. The agenda at these meetings have become more business dealings for Major League Baseball and the trade market has shown minimal activity.

Regardless, the process to restructure for teams begins at these meetings as general managers and executives huddle in their suites. Rumors do become a spectacle as this has also become a media event.

So don’t expect anything significant to transpire with the exception of rule changes for the game and other business issues. There will be a transaction or two, and the stepping stones to more significant trades or free agent signings taking place when the meetings conclude.

Giancarlo Stanton #27 file photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

The Yankees will be looking for additions to their bullpen and possibly seeking a player or two. GM Brian Cashman always comes out of these meetings with a missing piece, Giancarlo Stanton in 2017, though that signing has not paid dividends.

file photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Didi Gregorius, depending on what route he goes, well that obviously causes Cashman to go hunting for infield help.  Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler? Cashman may be in pursuit of one of the prime pitchers on the free agent market.

Again, all speculation as to where this goes.

The Mets, they need to be active. Carlos Beltran, a first year manager, inherits a team that won 86 games this past season. They are close to going that extra step and need those pieces to make it happen.

As expected, Wheeler is on the market. The Mets are not ruling out his return to keep a rotation in tact with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marucs Stroman and Steven Matz. 

No surprise here as a high ranking NL official said  to yours truly, “Teams with a strong and deep starting pitching staff will ultimately win. We see this with the Dodgers, Nationals, Astros, Cardinals, Braves, and Indians.”

The Mets won with a rotation in 2015, not so long ago.  That included a forgotten Matt Harvey and 27 strikeouts in the postseason, which by the way, is a top five club record.

 Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, should expect Wheeler to be elsewhere and that causes a void. Either Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo come out of the bullpen and fill the rotation spot. Or the Mets shop for a lower level free agent on the market.

But the bullpen needs a total revamp. Taking Lugo or Gsellman out of the pen causes another void. There is confidence Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia will turn things around. Justin Wilson, except for a limited time on the injured list, overall was proficient as the lefthander out of the pen.

Jeurys Familia #27 file photo Nil Miller/The New York Extra

So there will be decisions and some shopping for help out of the pen.  Take into consideration a Mets bullpen blew over 20 saves in 2019, and in the late innings.  Win those games, perhaps, that was the difference as to why the Mets were not one the NL wild card teams.

New York Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes #52 file photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

And there is that possibility, from all reports, Yoenis Cespedes will be seen again. The Mets are looking to get him back on the field and be in that outfield mix that is minus Juan Lagares. 

Van Wagenen, has not ruled out a trade for an outfielder. Michael Conforto and  inconsistency has been an issue in the lineup. The Mets are rumored to be interested in signing a free agent, Starling Marte, and that could be something to keep an eye on in San Diego.

And then there is the business of baseball. The Mets seem to go along those lines in their process of decision making as they move towards 2020.

That same NL official said, “We see that clubs are resistant to signing older free agent players to long term contracts. Teams are cognizant of the declining value of that older player who then becomes an albatross in the latter stages of a majority of those contracts.

The Yankees have seen this and basically have gone away from signing players long term, the exception was that trade for Stanton in a financial deal with the Marlins.

But the Mets, a team that is criticized for not signing the free agent, they have been burned in the past. Yoenis Cespedes, though a boost in 2015, re-signed and that lucrative deal has not been to their advantage with a player that is prone to injuries.

So the Mets will be the active team in San Diego, maybe not a headline player or two, but stepping stones to get where they want to be in October.

Stay tuned for the next few weeks before the holidays kick in. It all starts in San Diego a week from Sunday for the Mets, Yankees, and 28 other teams who look to improve.

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

Ellsbury And Bird Never Showed Their Potential With Yankees

The Yankees made roster moves Wednesday evening and perhaps Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird should have been sent out of town sooner.  Of course it had to be Ellsbury and Bird to make room for the 40-man roster.

file photo /Neil Miller /The New York Extra

This is all about business and baseball.

More importantly, this is another baseball decision with the upcoming Rule 5 Draft that will be held December 12 during the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

file photo Neil Miller /Te New York Extra

But  in defense of Ellsbury and Bird, they could never show their potential as the often injury prone Yankees of the past few years. It can be said, when healthy, Ellsbury and Bird were catalysts to the lineup but there was never much time to take notice.

 Ellsbury, a .297 hitter with 65 home runs, 314 RBI over seven years with the Red Sox, spent most of this past season on the comeback trail from 2018 arthroscopic surgery to repair a left hip.

We never got to know the real Jacoby Ellsbury. He was like that no-show that saw circumstances go beyond his control, never a catalyst in New York as he was for the Red Sox. The Yankees expected that much when they signed him to a seven-year $153 million contract.  

Then, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “Will be nice to see him finally on my side.”  Girardi, though never had much time to see what Ellsbury could do in his side. 

Instead, the Yankees will reportedly eat the remaining $21 million of that contract that was not insured for next year.

Again, this columnist goes back a year after the Ellsbury contract. Yankees General partner Hank Steinbrenner, with limited control said to yours truly,“We are getting away from signing long term multi year contracts.”

He was referring to signing long term pitchers. The last one supposedly  was granted to the recently retired CC Sabathia who had his share of injury issues with the knees in his last few years in the Bronx. 

Steinbrenner, then, was resisting the temptation to say he was against seven -year deals to position players.

He was right, because, Jacoby Ellsbury goes down as one of the worst long term contracts granted by the Yankees and perhaps in baseball.  And that also says a lot, as to why GM Brian Cashman has not been active about going after that needed front line starter and long term deal.

It may go down as one of the worst signing in New York baseball history, with the exception of the Mets’ signing of Bobby Bonilla who was signed before the 2000 season.

The Mets wanted Bonilla off their roster. He was an aging player and they wanted to go in another direction. Instead, they did not want to pay him the $5.9 million that remained and opted for a deal that gives Bonilla that unique deal of million dollar paydays every July 1 for 26 years.

Ellsbury should be so fortunate. Point is, he showed no signs of a damaged or aging player when he was signed. 

Hence, don’t expect the Yankees  attitude to change during this free agent signing period. In other words, don’t expect Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strausburg pitching anytime soon in Yankees pinstripes. 

And we never got to know the potential of 27-year old Greg Bird. He was a left handed hitter the Yankees needed. He had that natural ability to hit for power at Yankee Stadium.

But Greg Bird was in that unfortunate category of having the swing and trying to stay on the field. 

When asked prior to the All-Star break, GM Brian Cashman said  to this columnist about Bird, “He’s capable. He has talent. We are being patient about his situation and hope Greg Bird can still be in our plan.”

Yeah, patience does have a virtue in sports, it always does. But this was another situation of the Yankees put in a situation of retaining and getting around the issue of salary in this confusing era of  business and baseball.

Perhaps, Bird, too, would have seen his last days as a Yankee prior to the start of the 2019 season. But there was always hope he would get back to potential as the Yankees got around the first base issue and moved along.

The Yankees lost their patience. It was time to move on. Just as it was time for the Yankees to get away from that Ellsbury contract.

Now they can all move on and look at this as possibly another contract or two that went bad. 

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

Jacob deGrom ,Another look by Rich Mancuso,The New York Extra

08/11/19 Washington Nationals vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY
#48 Jacob De Grom pitches in the 1st innning The New York Extra

Now you can place Jacob deGrom in that category of dominance. There won’t be a debate about the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner in that category of being a top pitcher in the game with consecutive awards that became official Wednesday evening.

Once the Baseball Writers’ Association of America could look at the win totals,as that significant factor in determining CY Young consideration.

But Jacob deGrom has changed that criteria and turned the vote into that category of dominance.  The Mets right-hander became the 11th pitcher to win consecutive Cy Young Awards with 29 of 30 votes.

It has been dominance from a modern day pitcher with 21 wins in the last two seasons. The wins used to play a role in the vote. But Jake has changed the guidelines with his dominance.

 He showed that again in 2019, a 2.07 ERA in his final 27 starts, finishing 9-7. And if the Mets provided more run support and bullpen preserved the lead, Jacob deGrom ups the win totals.

“I kind of got back to my mindset of 2018,” deGrom said Wednesday night. “I didn’t let much bother me.”

And that characteristic of  going about his business is something in itself. As the Mets showed down the stretch in September, deGrom, was in his usual position of pitching deep into games. He went about business as the Mets failed to score runs,

08/23/19 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #48 Jacob DeGrom hits a solo homer in the 6th inning Neil Miller /The New York Extra

But it wasn’t an easy April. Jacob deGrom did not resemble a Cy Young pitcher in the first few months. He had to struggle as hnis team failed to score runs. He made the necessary adjustments with that mindset of getting wins for hbis team as a priority. 

File Photo #48 Jacob DeGrom Neil Miller /The New York Extra

The Cy Young talk came  into play months later. The admiration from his teammates in the clubhouse is what every pitcher looks for.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #28 J.D.Davis hits a solo homer in the 1st inning Neil Miller /The New York Extra

“I was so impressed with the way he carried himself throughout the first part of the season,” said J.D. Davis. “He hit some adversity but continued  to grind it out to then turn the page and be lights out for the rest of the season.”

It was Cy Young all over again. He joined the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Nationals’ Mat Scherzer as the 20th pitcher to win multiple CY Young Awards.

“His attention to detail and preparation went to another level.” Davis said. “And while a lot of us young guys watch one of our leaders dive into trying to better himself everyday, helped us to stay motivated and driven into bettering ourselves for the team.”

What stands out here was leading NL pitchers in strikeouts, lowest OBP allowed, finishing second in  ERA and WHIP, third in innings pitched.

And those final 23 starts, allowing more than two runs just four times and three runs twice in that span. Jacob deGrom, though, was not happy as he finished the season as a Cy Young favorites in his final start.

He said, “I guess you do kind of set personal goals, but tonight we fell short of a team goal.”

You hear this about the Cy Young Award winners over the years and comparisons with some of the former Mets that have been on the mound.

Tom Seaver, Doc Gooden, R.A Dickey, all Cy Young Award winners with the Mets.  Seaver and Gooden stand out as those homegrown products and led the Mets to championships.  

Jacob deGrom got the Mets close in 2015. He wants that championship and his team is close after falling three game short of a 2019 NL wild card .  

The Mets fell short but this week two of their homegrown took home awards. Tuesday, Pete Alonso was the landslide 2019 NL Rookie of the Year.  

It is all good for an organization that is close to getting the major hardware in October.

“It means a lot to this team and organization to have a Cy Young Award winner and a Rooke of The Year winner,” Davis said. “The future is bright for the Mets and is led by two great ballplayers.”

Davis Said, “I can’t wait for the 2010 season to start.” 

 And something says, Jacob deGrom is destined for history with another  Cy Young Award and championship year not far from becoming a reality.
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Mets deGrom Wins Back to Back Cy Young Awards

File photo New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom #48 Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

What is with it with the Mets and these one-voter outliers?!

Mets ace Jacob deGrom made history Wednesday night, becoming the first Met pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Young awards, just the seventh in NL history to go back-to-back and the 12th overall to accomplish that remarkable feat.

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom #48 /file photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

But it wasn’t unanimous.

deGrom got the first-place vote on 29 of 30 ballots. Dodgers left Hyun-Jin Ryu got the lone remaining first-place vote and finished second.

“Words can’t express it,’’ deGrom said on MLB Network. “I said it was a dream to win one, but to win back-to-back, honestly, I’m kind of speechless right now.’’

Which might go for a lot of Mets fans.

Rye (14-5) had a better ERA (2.32) than deGrom (2.43) who went 11-8. But deGrom had more strikeouts (255) than Rye (163) and Mets ace was virtually untouchable in the second half of the season.

After giving up seven runs on nine hits in five innings of a loss to the lowly Marlins, deGrom’s numbers were 3-5 with a 3.98 ERA. This a far cry from his 2018 numbers of 10-9 with a ridiculous 1.70 ERA.

“I feel like I was trying to better what I did in 2018,” deGrom told reporters. “I think that was something I struggled with to start this year, was kind of dwelling on what happened last year. Kind of not focusing on the task ahead as much as I probably should have.”

deGrom regained his focus and posted a 1.89 ERA the rest of the season. Yet it was the same case last season, when deGrom beat out Max Scherzer. De  Grom was not a unanimous winner. He got the first place vote on 29-of-30 ballots.

If this sounds familiar it should. Earlier this week Mets slugger Pete Alonso won the NL Rookie of the Year, getting the first-place nod of 29-of-30 voters. Alonso, who wore black 100-% baseball cap signaling his belief that he should be the unanimous winner.

Justin Verlander won Cy Young in the American League. He and deGrom join Mets legend as the only three pitchers to have won Rookie of the Year and multiple Cy Young awards.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom reacts after giving p a 3 run homer in the 7th inning to #7 Vitor Caratini as the Cubs lead the Mets 4-1 Neil Miller/The New York Extra

 “This year, having that little rough patch, this game will humble you quick,’’ deGrom said. “Last year, I didn’t really seem to have any

. It was kind of smooth sailing all year. But this year, to recover from that little rough patch and figure out a way to get it done and go out there and fix some mechanical things, was good.”

Just not unanimous good.

Yankees Will Be in Mix For Cole or Strasburg

File Photo Steve Strasburg Neil Miller /The New York Extra/2019

 Aaron Boone could have won the 2019 AL Manager of The year but he was the runner up to the Twins’ Rocco Baldelli. Boone was deserving with a team that overcame a  MLB record 30 players on the injured list and winning 100 games or more in his first two years as manager.

File photo Aaron Boone Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Leave that for another day about Aaron Boone coming up short. The priority now is for the Yankees to go that extra step and play baseball deep into October.

And with the GM meetings this week in Scottsdale Arizona, Brian Cashman has started that task to a new season. In a few weeks the process to winning again in 2020 continues at the annual Winter Meetings in San Diego. 

File photo Brian Cashman Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

Which always brings up the question for all teams, and in particular for the Yankees, regarding their failure to reach the World Series for the first time since the years of 1910.

But the Yankees are close. You can blame the inability to send a frontline starter to the mound in the postseason, a Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. 

Overall, the Yankees  2019 postseason has been recounted over and over about their failure to score with runners in scoring position. Or was it analytics that saw their potent lineup swing and miss at first pitches?

The objective, as it always is for Brian Cashman, return and win the World Series and do it with their mix of a few veterans.  Get it done with another year of experience from Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Gio Ursehla, and perhaps Miguel Andujar.

And with that in mind, the objective of every GM in baseball this week is beginning that process to improve.  

“ Of course we’re going to talk to Strasburg,” Cashman said Monday. “We’ll talk to Cole. We’ll also talk about some surprise guys, I’m sure. It’s going to take two to tango. It’s hard to predict. But of course, anybody would have an interest in players like that.”

So, Cashman is talking. The Yankees, never dormant during the offseason,they will make their bids.

File Photo Zach Wheeler Neil Miller/The New York Extra

But bring this into consideration? How high will the Yankees go with an offer to Cole or Strasburg? How high will an offer go to Zack Wheeler if the Mets don’t make their bid to re-sign the Right-hander? Wheeler is considered the third top pitcher on the market next to the other two.

And keep this in mind, through the Yankees spend, they are always looking to not exceed that luxury tax threshold of $208 million, though they have the means this offseason to spend.

 Didi Gregorious and Dellin Betances are free agents. Cashman is not ruling out a return for Betances, though in a game that requires bullpen help, the Yankees may not have the means to retain him and all assuming at the right offer.

Then there are the words of Yankees General Partner  Hank Steinbrenner who informed this columnist three years ago that gone will be the days of handing out lucrative and long term contracts to pitchers.

For the most part, this Steinbrenner, with limited control, is still in the decision process. The Yankees have not gone long term with a starting pitcher since handing a seven-year multi-million dollar deal to CC Sabathia in 2008.

 Steinbrenner said at the time, “It is not worth the risk with a pitcher long term and susceptible to injury.”

But the philosophy, and heard from numerous sources, has changed within the Yankees hierarchy. They are aware, as we all do, the game has changed. Pitching and in the  postseason will win ball games even if it means spending over the tax.

Though for Cole, Strasburg, or Wheeler  there will be a tremendous cost. Cole is projected to obtain the highest paid contract on record for a pitcher and perhaps tops in the game.

But if the trend holds, count on the top two pitchers on the market signing late in the game and a few weeks before spring training.

Again, these next few days are about meeting and getting to know. Very few deals are made during the GM and Winter meetings.  It’s a bidding war and the Yankees will be a part of the process.

And if the Yankees want  to take that step and begin the new decade with a championship, well the first step is bringing one of those top three pitchers to the Bronx.

They hardly fail to get what they want. They are the Yankees and they do have the means to do it.  Stay tuned!
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

All Alonso Needs to do is Keep Playing Like a Rookie

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Mets #20 Pete Alonso hits his 42 home run of the year breaking a Mets record and putting the Mets ahead 1-0 in the 4th inning Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Now that Pete Alonso has accomplished almost everything a rookie can hope for, here’s our hope.

Peter Morgan Alonso, please don’t change.

Don’t make it habit but if you happen to get your jersey torn off after a post-game heroic, do the interview shirtless.

Continue to honor the victims, heroes and families of 9/11.

07/26/19 Pittsburgh Pirates vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #20 Pete Alonso at ceremony with Tunnels to Towers and Wounded Warriors Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Keep crushing home runs.

And for as long as humanly possible, play baseball like a 12-year-old at Williamsburg, full of joy and passion.

Of course, for the next couple of weeks, take the National League Rookie of the Year Plaque on a Stanley Cup-like run. You can’t plant flowers in it or drink beer out of it but you can hoist a lot of cold ones in Tampa or New York or any else place there’s a Mets  fan.

We’ll set over/under at 53, the record number of home runs Alonso slugged this year. That didn’t break just any record, it broke the record for home runs by a rookie previously held by a Yankee – Aaron Judge.

Trust us. This is huge for Mets fans that spends almost eternal second fiddle to the Yankees.

In addition to crushing those 53 home runs, Alonso drove in 120 runs while hitting. 260. The Polar Bear, all 6-3, 245 pounds even stole a base.

What was stolen from Alonso was winning the award in unanimous fashion, which clearly was on his mind Monday night at the award’s announcement. He wore a black hat inscribed with “100 %.”

 Alonso received 29 of 30 first-place votes. One voter opted for Atlanta rookie pitcher Mike Soroka received the one other first place vote.

If Alonso needs motivation next season, he could look there. Just as he could have used the fact that he barely made the big club coming out of spring training. Surely he was thrilled to make the team and maybe there was some extra mojo.

But this is what makes Alonso such a New York treasure. He doesn’t need a chip on his shoulder because he has laughter in his heart. He loves the game. He knows how few make this dream come true.

Hopefully, Alonso will never forget that. He’ll continue to embrace the big, warm, cuddly Polar Bear persona, player version of Mr. Met. He’ll get just as big a thrill out of a walk-off walk, that led to the bare-chested celebration, as he gets from a walk off homer.

He’ll be that kid that dreamed of one day winning NL Rookie of the Year. And then he did it.

Beltran, Perfect For the Mets by Rich Mancuso/The New York Extra

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 04: Carlos Beltran poses for pictures after being introduced as the next manager of the New York Mets during a press conference at Citi Field on November 4, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Truth is Carlos Beltran never left New York. We know the one-time New York Met was an all-star during his playing days at Shea Stadium signing that lucrative seven-year $119 million dollar deal after the 2004 season.

 Monday morning at Citi Field, he said  “I can’t wait to rewrite our story with the New York Mets.”

file photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra 2019

Now the reality of the Carlos Beltran story begins, not as the player but the manager who will begin to guide the Mets in 2020.   He now gets that opportunity as the 22nd manager in franchise history and there was never a doubt he was coming home.

 Beltran, a nine-time All-Star, World Series champion with the Houston Astros, three-time Gold Glove winner and American League Rookie of the Year, said the Mets were the only team he considered to be a first time manager.

“His familiarity with New York City, his familarity with the Mets, his understanding of how to cope with expectations , adversity and success all factored into it,” said Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

02/04/19 truck sendoff day at citifield for the NY Mets, queens ny Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen talks to fans at the truck send off today at Citifield File photo by Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

Van Wagenen said, Beltran wanted this opportunity. He was the finalist of three, but that first impression was being a players’ manager, Not that his predecessor, Mickey Calalway, wasn’t that type, but Van Wagenen obviously wanted the manager of his choice.

And what he said during the long interview process secured the deal. He desired to be a players’ manager and he will.

But that does not matter now. Carlos Beltran is home. He never left New York, retained his residence here. He learned more working under Yankees GM Brian Cashman the past two years as an adviser.

New York Yankees General Manager , Brian Cashman file photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Cashman was one of many that gave their endorsement to hire Beltran. 

“I feel that I have more credibility to motivate the players and be there for them,” he said.”  

Today, the way the game has changed, Beltran has those tools to relate in and out of the clubhouse.

Not that Mickey Callaway, who was dismissed after two years, didn’t have that relationship with his teams. Despite what was reported, the manager’s office was always open for communication when Callaway was at the helm.

But the Mets went in another direction and this time they brought a former player home.

 Mets fans will eventually forgive Beltran for the last out in 2006 that concluded their season and failed  to get the Mets to a World Series. And they should, because those six-and-a-half years wearing Number 15 will eventually get him to the Hall of Fame when the time comes in 2020.  

Credit twitter

Omar Minaya was a key component in getting this three-year deal with an option for a fourth done. He was always a Carlos Beltran supporter and they kept in contact.

Brodie listened to Minaya, the former GM  who signed Beltran in his free agent year. Beltran had another supporter, former Kansas City Royals GM Allard Baird, assistant to Van Wagenen who delivered Beltran to the Major Leagues.

 Beltran ended his career as the fifth player to reach both 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases, and just the fourth switch hitter with 400 home runs.

And this from Brodie Van Wagenen, “It was Carlos’ strengths that won the day. His ability to relate to young players, very few people have that ability to do that and walk in a room.”

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #36 Mickey Callaway talks to the press before the game Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Yet this could be the most significant move made by Van Wagenen. A year on the job, he did not hire Mickey Callaway two years ago. He wanted his own manager and now he has one that comes from the family.

And if the Beltran hire does not work, Brodie Van Wagenen will have failed again in the eyes of Mets fans who want that commitment to win and play baseball in October.

But for now, the Carlos Beltran era once again begins in New York. The first Latino manager for the franchise and in New York baseball has a lot of work to do beginning Tuesday morning.

A coaching staff and lots of organizational meetings before the first pitch next March are on the agenda. More so the story, as Beltran said, is to win. And he can’t wait to rewrite the story.


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Beltran Will Have to Learn to Drive Fast

04/06/16 Houston Astros vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.YNew York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran #36 at batting practice today File photo Neil Miller / The/New York Extra

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely – John Dalberg-Acton.

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

 The Mets have hired a manager that has never managed before.

Carlos Beltran isn’t the first to make this jump. Aaron Boone has been pretty darn impressive since taking over the Yankees. Yes, Boone inherited a team replete with talent, resources and culture, but there is a long list of coaches/managers that have failed in similar scenarios.

09/19/15 N.Y.Yankees vs N.Y.Mets at Citifield Queens N.Y. New York Yankees lead 3-0 after 2 innings New York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran #36 hits a 3 run homer in the 1st innning File photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Beltran’s Mets should have a solid corps of talent but we don’t know what resources the Wilpons are willing to invest in this team. And the culture of the Mets has been one of dysfunction.

10/04/16 New York Mets wild card work out day jeff wilpon at work out today File photo Neil Miller / The New York Extra
File Photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

 Enter Brodie Van Wagenen who the Mets hired last season as GM despite the fact that he had no front office experience. The results have been mixed.

Van Wagenen made several aggressive moves (some think too aggressive) acquiring Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz and Marcus Stroman. The Mets were in the playoff race until the final two weeks of the season and it was electric.

02/04/19 truck sendoff day at citifield for the NY Mets, queens ny File photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra Mets gn brodie van wagoner talks to fans at the truck send off today at citifield

 Van Wagenen seems to have been granted tremendous power by the Wilpons. The question is, is it unchecked power? Is it the limitless power the Mets will be paying for if Van Wagenen’s ‘Forward Charge!” approach doesn’t work?  

Some of the most notorious military leaders in history have led their troops to disaster. George Custer, who graduated at the bottom of his class from West Point, led the 7th Calvary to disaster in the Battle of Little Bighorn. James Brudenell, the earl of Cardigan, lost everything but his sweater when he ordered the charge of the light brigade.

The GM with no previous management experience has hired a manager with no managing experience.

Risky? Sure.

Exciting? Yep.

Beltran only wanted to coach the Mets, and, according to published reports, did not interview for any other openings.

As is the case with Boone, Beltran, who retired in 2017, should relate to the players.

File photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

There were eight managerial openings after last season. Six have been filled. Beltran is the only minority. MLB needs to look at that because fair or unfair (read, unfair) Beltran might face extra scrutiny and certainly more attention. If he succeeds it bolsters the case for more minorities to be hired.

Beltran is walking into a unique scenario. For the first time since 2016, the Mets will enter a season with legit expectations to make the playoffs.

Van Wagenen has shown his desire to floor the accelerator, which means Beltran first ride will be in the fast lane.

This makes the Mets, with slugger Pete Alonzo and a terrific rotation, a must-watch.

08/05/19 Miami Marlins vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #20 pete alonso celebrates on a go ahead homer in the 7th innning Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Start your engines Mets fans. The Mets might be the most intriguing story in baseball next season.

Did the Yankees Lose the ALCS at the Trade Deadline?

Robbins Nest

10/17/17 Houston Astros vs New York Yankees at Yankee stadium bronx ny ALCS Game #4 photos by Neil Miller/The New York Extra New York Yankees Brian Cashman Gen Manager

By Lenn Robbins

As you drown your sorrows in whatever libation you prefer at Sunday brunch or during Sunday Night Football, no doubt there will be lively discussion and debate as to how and why the Yankees lost this ALCS to the Astros, 4-2, especially after winning Game 1 in Houston.

Was it in the top of the 11th inning of Game 2 when Gary Sanchez, owner of one of the most retched postseason performances in Yankees history, struck out looking with runners on first and second?

Or was in Game 3 when the Yankees had runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings and couldn’t get that one key hit off a less-than-dominating Gerritt Cole?

Or perhaps it was Game 5 when the Yankees had bases loaded in the fifth inning after knocking out starter Zack Greinke. But Houston’s Pressly struck out Edwin Encarnacion.

One can even make a case that it was Saturday night’s, 6-4, season-ending heartbreak of a loss in which Jose Altuve’s two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth trumped DJ LeMahieu’s two-run, game tying homer in the top of the frame.

The Yankees got what they wanted, or at least what their strength should have been – a bullpen game – words that make the fingers cramp, but that’s a discussion for another day.  

08/15/19 Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny #17 aaron boone takes #57 chad green out of the game after giving up 5 runs in the 1st innning

Every game the Yankees lost in the series was winnable, a testament to the depth and resilience of this 2019 team. Despite Sanchez’s batting slump and suspect fielding, Adam Ottavino’s October struggles, Giancarlo Stanton’s battered body and Aroldis Chapman’s hanging slider, the Yankees could have beaten a healthier and more balanced Houston Astros team.

As to why the Yankees didn’t win takes us back to July 31st when the trade line came and went and the Yankees had done nothing to improve their starting rotation. The belief that Luis Severino would return after a season on the injured list and suddenly bolster the rotation in October was at best ridiculously optimistic, at worst, folly.

Only GM Brian Cashman knows exactly what potential deals were on the table. He decided that the asking price for any of the starters that were available was too high. He’s earned that right. Anyone that signed LeMahieu as a free agent and assembled this kind of quality depth has certainly earned that right.

But in a city that judges whether a season is a success or failure in championships or bust, the season busted with Saturday night’s loss.

“No matter how many games we won in the regular season, this is a failure,” Aaron Judge told reporters after the crushing end the season. “I think about the season as a whole, guys getting injured, guys getting back, a lot of ups and downs, I think about missed opportunities and some guys I might not play with again …”

Cashman and Co. need to think about upgrading the starting pitcher. Houston’s Cole, 29, who would have pitched today had there been a Game 7, leads the list of free agent pitchers but the cost will be stunningly high.

Steven Strasburg, 31, will be available if he opts out of a deal that will pay him $100 million over the next four seasons. Zack Wheeler, 30, is on the market but the Mets should be ashamed if they let him cross from Queens to the Bronx.

It’s easy to sit back and suggest how much money a team should dole out but this is the Yankees after all. They have more automaker sponsors than some teams have sponsors.

If the Yankees don’t want to feel the devastation they experienced this October next October, the pitching has to be better. Just look at the starting pitching of the two teams that will play for the world series – Houston and Washington.

Next round’s on me.