Should the Mets hire Bobby Valentine?

Leave a comment

Bobby Valentine 2.jpgNice 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? 

Yoenis Cespedes should be ready for Tuesday’s game

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Mets are off today, and that day off may be just enough to get outfielder Yoenis Cespedes ready to start their next game, on Tuesday, against the Braves. At least that’s what he’s telling Mets manager Terry Collins.

Cespedes did not play in the weekend series against the Nationals, but was available as a pinch hitter yesterday. He was even on the on-deck circle at the end of last night’s game.

Cespedes, who tweaked his hammy running to second base on Thursday, is hitting .255/.364/.636 with six homers and 10 RBI in 15 games on the young season.

Marcus Stroman was called for an illegal quick pitch for some reason

Getty Images
5 Comments

A “quick pitch” is an illegal action in which the pitcher pitches the ball before the batter is prepared. What makes a quick pitch a quick pitch? According to Rule 6.02(a)(5), it’s this:

 . . . Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted.

There are a couple of reasons why you don’t want quick pitches in baseball. In one respect, it’s about safety, as mentioned specifically in the rule. You don’t want a pitcher throwing a 90 m.p.h. fastball in the batter’s general direction if he’s not ready for it, because if it goes off course the batter will have no ability to defend himself and bail. But there’s also a spirit-of-the-game reason for it. The essence of baseball is the face-off between batter and pitcher. While everyone wants the game to move along promptly, the game isn’t really the game if the batter isn’t ready.

There is more art than science to all of this, of course, as all batters and pitchers have different pre-pitch routines, but when you watch a game, there’s a rhythm to all of that. You know the batter is gonna take a couple of practice swings and settle in. The pitcher tends to respect that. The quick pitch rule is rarely invoked for this reason.

It was used in yesterday’s Angels-Blue Jays game, however. And used badly in my view. Watch Marcus Stroman pitch to Kole Calhoun. The ump is Ramon DeJesus. The count was 3-1, so the automatic ball resulted in Calhoun being awarded first base:

Calhoun was obviously upset about something, calling time after Stroman is into his motion (which is not allowed) throwing his hands up and stuff after the pitch. But tell me, in what way was he not “reasonably ready” for that pitch, to use the language of the rule? He’s facing Stroman, looking at him. He’s done with his warmup swings, his bat is up and cocked and he’s standing in hitting position. I understand that it’s a judgment call by the umpire, but it seems to me like the umpire just called time too late because Calhoun didn’t feel ideally comfortable or something.

Either way, it set off Stroman and manager John Gibbons. Gibbons was ejected arguing the call. Stroman, who was otherwise excellent yesterday, was rattled for a bit, giving up a couple of hits and a run afterward. It was Calhoun who scored, natch.

It didn’t affect the outcome, but it certainly seemed like a bad call. And possibly a bad precedent, as batters may now try to lobby harder for quick pitch calls, given its success yesterday. Or, if umpires tend to think that was a bad call too, maybe they’ll overcompensate for it and be less likely to call quick pitches? You never know how this stuff will play out.

Whatever happens, I’ve been against Major League Baseball’s habit of increasingly taking judgment calls away from umpires, trying to make the subjective objective and making a flawed instant replay system the Supreme Court of Baseball Calls. But jeez, it’s hard to argue for allowing umps to hold on to judgment calls when they blow ’em like this.