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?
The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.
Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.
Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.