Nice game for the Mets last night, but it’s only one game. The rotation still has problems and it’s not unreasonable to assume that the team will continue to struggle in the early going with tough series against the Cardinals, Cubs, Braves and Phillies. If they do struggle, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Jerry Manuel will be fired. If he is fired, who replaces him?
My favorite candidate — one I picked almost solely because I was drinking in his bar earlier this week and it seemed like a good idea at the time — is Bobby Valentine. He’s back in the States. He really isn’t doing much else. He’s well thought-of in New York and would probably get the fans excited again, at least for a little while. It’s the kind of move that would take the tabloid heat off the team for a bit to boot, and that’s a consideration that’s always on the table in New York.
The only thing giving me pause about it is that Mike Lupica came out this morning strongly in favor of the idea, and since he tends to be wrong about everything there must be something wrong with the idea of Bobby Valentine coming back to Queens. We’ll let that go for a minute on stopped-clock-is-right-twice-a-day theory.
So that’s my “should.” Will they do it? Hard to say. They have another candidate in house in former Diamondbacks’ manager Bob Melvin, who was hired as a “scout” this winter, but who may really be there simply so he’s close by if and when Manuel gets canned. There’s a pretty small but pretty vocal Wally Backman fan club too. I’ve never been all that impressed with either of those guys, but you have to figure there names would be in play.
So what do you think? Is Valentine your guy? Melvin? Backman? Should I just shut up about it and wait until Manuel is actually fired? Or are the Mets going to go on a tear, make the playoffs and render these sorts of conversations moot?
Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.
After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.
Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.
Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.
O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.
It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.
The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.
There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.
The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.
Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.
Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.
Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.