When crazy managers roamed the Earth

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Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle has a wonderful column up about an all but extinct species: the volcanic, red-ass manager. The guys who barked at the press and the players and smoked and grunted and did all of those wonderful/awful things. Guys like Gene Mauch and Jim Fregosi and Ralph Houk and Billy Martin. Ostler shares some stories about these guys from his 30+ years on the beat:

Mauch could flip a spread. A few years earlier he had flung a platter of barbecued spareribs after a game, splattering a row of lockers and decorating the dress suits of several players. The Jackson Pollock of managers.

Stuff like that.

Ostler is right that the culture has changed. And it makes sense. Managers are now smoother. CEO-types. Or, more often, delegates of the front office as opposed to generals or, in Houk’s case, majors. Frankly, that’s what their job demands and how most of us, if we ran a team, would want our managers to behave.

But boy, it’s way less fun for those of us not directly in their line of fire.

Mets sign Matt Purke to minors deal

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The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.

Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.

While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.