Michael Weiner’s spring training tour took him to Port St. Lucie today, where he met the Mets. Adam Rubin reports on the two Met-specific issues that are likely on Weiner’s radar screen:
- Weiner said he has been assured by the commissioner’s office that players’ guaranteed contracts will not be affected by the Wilpons’ legal issues; and
- He has “every expectation” that the Mets aren’t going to mess around with Francisco Rodriguez’s playing time this year in an effort to keep his $17.5 million option from vesting.
It’s not likely that Weiner would have any worries about the guaranteed contracts. Major League Baseball showed with the Rangers last year that it will step in with a line of credit of that’s threatened. Players are going to be paid.
Weiner was more interested, it seems, talking about the Mets as players in the free agency market. He probably realizes, though, that even if the Mets didn’t have Madoff problems, they’re not exactly in a position — competitively speaking — to be leading the market right this moment, so there would be no upside to him complaining about it now. The union wants the Mets as big bidders for players, but it’s not like the union can do anything about it at the moment.
As for the K-Rod option, the Mets know that the union is watching the matter closely, so there’s no need to shoot anything across the team’s bow with respect to the issue. Such a thing is not Weiner’s style anyway. He makes references at the end of Rubin’s article to “arbitration precedent” for a team messing with playing time to save money, and that’s probably enough. Come August, there’s a great chance that the only thing worth talking about the Mets will be K-Rod’s option, so it’s not like the issue is going to fly under the radar. The union will be watching. As will the media.
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.