I’m not sure what to make of the Terry Collins choice just yet. Obviously I didn’t think Wally Backman was the right choice, but I didn’t have a preference for any specific candidate per se. While Mets fans don’t want to hear it, my thinking is that the team is likely to be in the competitive wilderness for a while, and that the best way to use the next couple of years would be to cleanse all of the dysfunction from the organization. The guy I’d pick would be whoever I thought could bring stable professionalism to the table while the Sandy Alderson regime is putting its stamp on things. Of the finalists I’m guessing that Bob Melvin was the guy who fit that profile the best but, no, I’m not under any illusions that Bob Melvin was a guy anyone was crying out for. The other candidates were like spicy Thai food: some people loved ’em, some people didn’t. Melvin was pot roast. No one really hated him, but he didn’t inspire any excitement at all.
Can Terry Collins be the guy who steadies the ship while its being overhauled? Possibly. We’re a day or two away from someone going out and getting an injunction against people using the word “intense” to describe Collins — and things ended poorly for him in Anaheim partially, it’s said, because of that intensity — but you have to acknowledge that there is more to his resume than mere intensity. You couldn’t come up through the ranks of the Dodgers organization of the early-to-mid 80s if you were merely an intimidator, because that organization was still known for skads of young talent and professionalism back then. Likewise with the late 80s Pirates, who were producing lots of talent at the time. Mets fans who worry about the Alderson-led Athletics’-brand of boring managers should take note that, at one time, Collins was thought of as the anti-Art Howe, leading to his hiring by the Astros. He managed in Japan and in China, which suggests that he possesses a discipline admired in Asian baseball but also the ability to function in a hierarchy.
So there’s the drill sergeant rep, sure, but like any good drill sergeant he’s aware that there is brass above him to which he is subordinate. In this he may very well be the perfect compromise between the Backman backers and the folks who are more interested in having Sandy Alderson’s vision for the organization carried out. He’ll be able to bark when he needs to. He’ll be able to carry out orders from above. At least that’s the theory.
And if it doesn’t work? The guy only has a two-year contract and, I assume, Wally Backman will get two more years to build his resume in the Mets’ system, so we may be back here again fairly soon.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.
Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.
Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.
Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.
Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.
Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.
The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”
Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.
Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.
On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.