I don’t have any memories of Kirk Gibson the football player, but I do remember hearing friends’ dads up in Michigan in the early 80s talking about Gibson made a big mistake picking baseball over football. This was before he truly broke in as a full-timer with the Tigers and was battling some injuries. These guys all were silenced by 1984, of course, and obviously Gibson ended up making a pretty wise choice.
But as Dan Bickley of AZCentral reminds us, thinking that Gibson could’ve/should’ve gone to the NFL is not crazy talk. He spoke with Gibson about his football career and what led him to baseball instead. And old story for some, but I imagine a lot of people in their 30s and younger may not realize how good a receiver Gibson was at Michigan State. He would have been a high draft pick in 1979 if he had committed to football and probably could have made a pretty good go of it in the NFL.
At least until he was destroyed by injuries.
The Mets signed catcher Jose Lobaton to a minor league contract, the team announced Friday. The deal includes an invitation to spring training, where it’s assumed Lobaton will be in the mix for a backup role behind Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.
Lobaton, 33, is coming off of a four-year stint with the Nationals. He put up his worst career numbers in 2017, producing -0.6 fWAR after slashing just .170/.248/.277 with four home runs in 158 plate appearances. While he’ll give the Mets little to work with at the plate, his near-decade of experience behind the dish should make him a decent emergency option, if nothing else.
In the meantime, the Mets are expected to roll with a d’Arnaud/Plawecki platoon to start the season. Both catchers saw slight upticks in value over the 2017 season: d’Arnaud turned in 0.8 fWAR after hitting a career-high 16 home runs, while Plawecki collected 0.6 fWAR and three homers after raising his batting line over the Mendoza Line for the first time since 2015.