The whole “Mount Rushmore” thing is a bit played out, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Yesterday ‘Duk at Big League Stew opened up the floor for baseball managers, wondering which for guys you’d include if they were building a managing Mount Rushmore.
My first answer is to punt to Chris Jaffe, who just wrote the best and most comprehensive book about managers you’ll ever read. Jaffe, commenting in a thread over at Baseball Think Factory says that it should be John McGraw, Joe McCarthy, Bill McKechnie, and Tony La Russa.
Hard to argue with that list. McGraw and McCarthy were among the most successful managers ever (though McCarthy was dealt an outrageously good hand with the Yankees and screwed up major while managing the Red Sox). McKechnie isn’t well known these days, but he may have been a better manager than either of the other two. He certainly had less to work with than they did. I don’t like La Russa that much, but I appreciate his skills and legacy. If you have to have a modern guy on there he probably deserves to edge out Bobby Cox if for no other reason than he has been more influential than Cox. Joe Torre obviously belongs in that conversation too.
Still, you’re leaving a lot of deserving guys off. Casey Stengel for one. Earl Weaver. Sparky Anderson. Connie Mack. Maybe you have to make two Rushmores, one for pre-war and one for post-war. Maybe it breaks down with McGraw, McKechnie, McCarthy and Mack on one, and Stengel, Weaver, Anderson and La Russa on the other. Even better: make it a “Last Supper” instead of a Mount Rushmore. Then you can put in whoever you’d like.
Just don’t ask me who gets to be Jesus.
Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.
While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.
Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.
Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”
Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.
If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.