Now that Prince Fielder is officially a member of the Detroit Tigers, many have assumed that the Rangers will step up their efforts to sign Josh Hamilton to a contract extension.
While contract talks are expected to continue leading into spring training, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said during an appearance yesterday on ESPN 103.3 in Dallas (via Jon Machota of FOX Sports Southwest) that he never viewed things as an either-or situation in regard to Fielder and Hamilton.
“I look at it like we would like to get a deal with Josh — Prince or no Prince,” Daniels said. “We would like to keep Josh here for an extended period of time. It’s got to be a deal that works for both sides. He’s got kind of a unique set of circumstances because of how his career has played out, and he’s going to reach free agency at a different age than where Prince will or even a guy like Elvis [Andrus] will because he got to the big leagues so young.
“Josh, I think rightfully so, is going to look at this as maybe the one time he really hits free agency and how does he factor that in with his family and the different opportunities that he has. We’re talking to them about this, the Rangers organization as a group. We love Josh. We love what he’s about, and we want to keep him here, and we’re going to continue talking to him and hopefully we’ll figure something out.”
These are some refreshing comments by Daniels. We’re so used to hearing canned responses from team officials about how they’d love to keep a player around for a long time without getting into any of the complications involved. Daniels seems to get that fans are much smarter than that, especially in regard to Hamilton’s unique situation.
Setting aside his immense popularity, Hamilton turns 31 years old in May and hasn’t played more than 133 games in a season since 2008. That makes this negotiation pretty tricky. Would a three- or four-year deal (perhaps with a vesting option based on games played) work for the Rangers? Maybe. But they should absolutely draw a line in the sand. And nobody should blame Hamilton if he turns them down and bolts for a big payday this winter. Given his durability issues, it will likely be the only long-term deal of his major-league career.
Jacob deGrom put together one of the best post-season starts in Mets history, outdueling three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to pitch his team into a 1-0 NLDS lead. The right-hander fanned 13 over seven shutout innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk as the Mets won 3-1.
deGrom’s game score of 79 is the fifth-best by a Mets starter in the playoffs, behind Jon Matlack, Mike Hampton, Bobby Jones, and Tom Seaver, according to Baseball Reference. As Katie Sharp notes on Twitter, deGrom is one of three pitchers to hold the opposition scoreless on 13 or more strikeouts and one or fewer walks. The other two are Tim Lincecum and Mike Scott.
In the eighth inning, reliever Tyler Clippard allowed a one-out double to Howie Kendrick followed by an RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez as the Dodgers finally got on the board. Closer Jeurys Familia entered and recorded the final out of the eighth inning by inducing a weak line out from Justin Turner. In the ninth, Familia worked a 1-2-3 frame to wrap up the game.
Kershaw remains winless in the post-season since Game 1 of the 2013 NLDS, a span of seven starts. He gave up a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning, then walked the bases loaded in the seventh inning before departing with two outs. Reliever Pedro Baez entered and allowed two of his inherited runners to score when David Wright lined a single to center field. On the evening, Kershaw was on the hook for three runs on four hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts. Though he lost his command a bit towards the end of his start, the lefty pitched quite well and will be on the receiving end of some unnecessary criticism as a result of taking another post-season loss.
deGrom and Kershaw both struck out 11 batters, the first time that has happened in a major league post-season game.
Michael Cuddyer didn’t look too good out in left field for the Mets.
Game 2 of the NLDS will continue on Saturday at 9:00 PM EDT. Noah Syndergaard will start for the Mets opposite Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.
For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per MLB.com’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.
The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.