The morning I made a half-hearted case for Bobby Valentine to take over as the Mets’ manager if and when Jerry Manuel gets fired. Part of my half-heartedness about it all was that I was agreeing with Mike Lupica, but part of it was based on the sense that while hiring Bobby Valentine could maybe make the Mets exciting again . . . hiring Bobby Valentine could make the Mets exciting again. In a bad way. Things almost always seem to end badly for Valentine, and they ended rather badly the last time he left New York.
Jon Heyman — another guy I don’t always enjoy agreeing with, but who in this case I think is right — makes the point better than I just did:
Judging by what’s being said, the most popular choice for successor
would be Bobby Valentine, who did a superb job as Mets manager in
his first go-round, from 1996 through 2002. But Mets ownership seems
reluctant to go for Valentine II, according to people who talk to them.
[Bob] Melvin did a respectable job in Arizona, where he got the team to the
NLCS in 2007 and was known as a solid guy who was very receptive to
front office suggestions. In other words, he’ll be better than Valentine
at doing exactly what the bosses say without challenging them too much.
The Mets front office wants a company man, and Bobby Valentine, for all of his wonderful traits, is not a company man.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.