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?
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.