The New York Post is doing its best to try and turn Jimmy Rollins’ prediction of the Phillies in five into some big controversy, calling Rollins “mouthy,” saying the Yankees are prepared to “muzzle” him and doing whatever they can to get any actual members of the Yankees to go on record with something controversial. Not surprisingly, no one comes close to taking the bait. In fact, Johnny Damon basically says the only reasonable thing one can say in such a situation: “What do you expect him to say and what do you expect Phillies fans to expect? I wish he had predicted it the other way, but then there would have been a lot of angry Phillies fans.”
In other words a tempest in a teapot. Faux outrage from a paper who lives to stir this kind of stuff up. Fun to some degree, but ultimately meaningless.
Why the Post is bothering baiting people over Rollins I have no idea given that it is great at stirring up its own controversy from whole cloth. Did you read yesterday’s cover story Bob was talking about? Yeah, the “Frillies” stuff was cute, but the sheer Philly hate was something to behold. Some man-on-the street quotes from the article:
“Philly fans are a bunch of whiners and should learn how to dress. They should try reading GQ.”
“I don’t have hate for Philly exactly — they are like our redheaded stepchild. It’s like a nothing city. It’s just insignificant in comparison to New York.”
“Their fans are whiners, the food is lousy and there is nothing to do. New York is all about being on top, with no excuses — just like the Yankees.”
“The big meal there is a steak with cheese and onions on a hero, but they don’t even call it a hero. It’s a hoagie. What the hell is a hoagie?”
I’ve been to Philly before. Between my experiences there and the comments I get whenever I dare say a negative thing about the Phillies, I’m 100% certain that Philly fans can give it back to New York in equal or greater measure. That the Post didn’t send a reporter to Philadelphia to get competing quotes was probably a function of them not wanting to pay thousands of dollars in emergency room bills.
So forget Jimmy Rollins and his predictions. Let’s focus on the real competition here: the competition to see whether New York or Philly fans can do the most to shock the nation.
New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.
Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.
The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.
It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.
Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.
The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.
Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.
Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.
Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.
While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.
Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.