Andy LaRoche's ridiculous day

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If only he could always play against his old team, LaRoche really would be the star many thought he’d become. The 26-year-old third baseman went 5-for-5 with two homers, two doubles and six RBI in Monday’s rout of the Dodgers. That made him 14-for-29 against the Dodgers this season. His slash line is .483/.516/.931, compared to .259/.333/.403 overall.
LaRoche’s performance this month and in the four-game series win over the Dodgers in particular won’t change the fact that he’s been a disappointment in his first full season as a regular, but it likely will lock up a starting job for him in 2010. He’s hit .338 and launched five of his 12 homers during September.
Beyond the first couple of months of next year, it’s hard to tell what’s in store. The Pirates’ former top position prospect and current top prospect are both third baseman. Neil Walker, though, needed a strong finish just to end this year with a modest .264/.311/.480 line as a 23-year-old in Triple-A, and Pedro Alvarez seems increasingly likely to end up at first base.
LaRoche looked like a future 30-homer guy in the low minors, but injuries sapped his power potential. Almost as disappointing is that his on-base skills haven’t come along. LaRoche posted OBPs of .410, .399 and .445 in his final three minor league seasons. He was often aided by kind offensive environments, but his patience and his ability to hit line-drive singles and doubles figured to make him a quality major leaguer. Instead, he’s really only been adequate against left-handed pitchers so far. Fortunately, two-homer, two-double games do have a way of changing numbers in a hurry.

Report: Extension talks between Mets, Neil Walker are “probably dead”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: Neil Walker #20 of the New York Mets sits in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.

The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before a start to deal with the yips

9 Apr 2000: Rick Ankiel #66 of the St. Louis Cardinals winds back to pitch the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Brweers at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport
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The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.

It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:

On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:

“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”

Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.