Did the Yankees rig the fifth starter's race?

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That’s what Joel Sherman of the Post says. Except, contrary to what I thought when I read his headline, he doesn’t think it was Joba Chamberlain who got short shrift, it was Sergio Mitre. Sherman suggests that Mitre’s superior spring training stats would have won him the fifth starter’s job over Hughes had things been on the up-and-up. Which assumes that you chose your starting pitchers based on spring training stats alone as opposed to the long term well-being of the team, which Hughes — and Chamberlain — represents far more than Sergio Mitre does.  If Cashman had made his choice of fifth starter based on spring training stats alone he’d be doing the organization a massive disservice.

Sherman likewise calls the centerfield competition between Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner “rigged.”  Which is likewise silly because it’s not at all clear that there ever was a proper competition. The Yankees wanted to make sure Granderson could still handle center, sure, but I don’t recall anyone connected with the team declaring it an open competition.  Gardner had the same chance of starting in center this year that my backup propane tank had in grilling my steaks last night: they could be deployed if necessary, but as long as the primary option was up to the job it wasn’t gonna happen.

Gardner is like my propane tank in another way too: both I and the Yankees could do better. Next spring I’m going with a proper charcoal grill. Next spring the Yankees are going with Carl Crawford. I think we’ll both be happier because of it.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.