Manuel completes first year as Mets manager

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Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes
that today is Jerry Manuel’s one-year anniversary as Mets manager.
Manuel has gone 88-67 at the helm, producing what has to be one of the
most-complained-about .568 winning percentages in baseball history.

Manuel took over for Willie Randolph 69 games into last season and
guided the Mets to a 55-38 (.591) record after they went 34-35 (.493)
under Randolph. Of course, they faded down the stretch and ended up
missing the playoffs by one game, so Manuel’s tenure was viewed as more
failure than turn-around.

This season has been similar in that the Mets currently sit a
half-game out of the playoff picture at 33-29 and fans criticize Manuel
constantly. Meanwhile, from a non-New Yorker’s point of view he has the
team in the thick of contention despite a ton of injuries to everyone
from Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, and Brian Schneider to Billy Wagner,
Oliver Perez, J.J. Putz, and John Maine.

He’s certainly been far from perfect and Mets fans have plenty of
room to complain about specific issues and faults, but in the big
picture Manuel has won 57 percent of his games with a somewhat flawed
and now injury-wrecked roster, which is good for the second-highest
winning percentage in franchise history behind only Davey Johnson.

Or as Sherman so aptly puts it:
“Manuel is a gregarious, self-confident man with a ton of baseball
knowledge. I sense an excellent manager in there. I just wonder if he
will ever have enough time or the right team with the Mets to prove
that.”

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.