Frank Viola — the best pitcher in the history of Long Island — was all over the lobby down at the Winter Meetings last month. I figured it was just because he lives down in Florida and was meeting and greeting, but maybe he was there on the make for a job. He just got one: he’s been named the pitching coach for the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets’ Class A team. This is my favorite part of the story:
In addition to Viola and Backman, former Mets players Tim Teufel, Mookie Wilson, Howard Johnson, Randy Niemann, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling all have jobs in the organization or with the team-owned SNY cable network.
I know Viola wasn’t with the team then, but that factoid made me go back and check out the 1986 Mets’ Baseball-Reference page. One of my favorite time wasters is to figure out who the most obscure and/or most unexpected player to actually pitch an inning or make a plate appearance for a famous team. Call them the Eddie Matthews All-Stars if you will. It can be a Hall of Famer who made an otherwise unmemorable cameo with a World Series team like Matthews did with the 1968 Tigers. It can be some random former prospect for a team you root for who somehow stumbled forward several years to pinch hit five times for a winner after you figured he was selling cars for a living.
I think my vote for the 1986 Mets was former Tiger jack-of-all-trades, Tim Corcoran, who used to get talked up a bit in late 70s Tigers publications. There’s almost always one.
None of this has anything to do with Frank Viola, of course. But that’s how my mind works when it’s the offseason and nothin’ is going on.
It was assumed already, but Mike Scioscia made it official during Monday’s press conference for new general manager Billy Eppler that he will return as Angels manager in 2016.
Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in the majors, has been at the helm with the Angels since 2000. There was a clause in his contract which allowed him to opt out after the 2015 season, but he has decided to stay put. He still has three years and $15 million on his contract, which runs through 2018.
Jerry Dipoto resigned as Angels general manager in July amid tension with Scioscia, so there were naturally questions today about what to expect with first-time GM Eppler in the fold. According to David Adler of MLB.com, Scioscia isn’t concerned.
“I think we’re going to mesh very well,” Scioscia said. “If we adjust, or maybe he adjusts to some of the things, there’s going to be collaboration that’s going to make us better.”
Eppler is the fourth general manager during Scioscia’s tenure with the team.
After winning the AL West last season, the Angels finished 85-77 this season and narrowly missed the playoffs. The team hasn’t won a postseason game since 2009.
Astros center fielder Carlos Gomez sat out the final series of the regular season in order to rest a strained left intercostal muscle, but there was good news coming out of a workout today in advance of Tuesday’s Wild Card game vs. the Yankees.
This has been a lingering issue for Gomez, who missed 13 straight games with the injury last month. He aggravated the strain on a throw to home plate last Wednesday and was forced to sit while the Astros fought to keep their season alive. Astros manager A.J. Hinch told reporters last week that Gomez’s injury would typically take 45-50 days to recover from, so it’s fair to wonder how productive he can be during the postseason.
Gomez mostly struggled after coming over from the Brewers at the trade deadline, batting .242 with four home runs and a .670 OPS over 41 games.