Harper: the Mets' biggest problem isn't talent. It's a "lack of toughness"

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What was the problem with the Mets this year?  The rotation? The pen? The injuries? Nah, according to John Harper of the Daily News it was all about character. Or the lack thereof:

Let’s start with toughness, the one intangible the Mets have lacked most in recent years . . . Not that retaliating or even fighting is a cure-all for the Mets.
Talent aside, however, winning in the big leagues starts with attitude,
with the type of mental and physical toughness that has defined the
Phillies and separated them from the Mets.

And writing for the New York tabloids starts with believing — with a religious fervor — that an unsuccessful baseball team lacks character and a successful one has it in spades.

“Talent aside?”  Talent is almost everything, dude. Then comes health, then comes good fortune. To the extent “toughness” isn’t some post-facto concept writers see when they want to see it and ignore when it suits their purposes, it’s rounding error on the final 1% of the equation.

But I guess you can’t dwell on that when you write in a media environment that demands that everything be explained by reference to heroes and villains, clutch performers and chokers, men and wusses and the like.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.