‘Tis the season for irrational personnel suggestions

16 Comments

If it weren’t for that pesky First Amendment I’d campaign for a law that forbids partisans of any baseball team from suggesting personnel moves until a good ten days after the World Series ends, because almost anything that comes out in that vein is reactionary and fairly stupid. As soon as the Yankees were eliminated there were people talking about trading Nick Swisher, which makes no sense. Lately a certain brand of Phillies people are trying to pass off this kind of baloney:

Chase Utley has been haunted by one injury after the next. His defense at second base has gone from acceptable to poor. His offensive production is deteriorating at troubling speed.

So exactly what was so outrageous again about the notion of moving Utley to the outfield earlier in his career?

While far less than a populist view, the Utley-to-the-outfield initiative was advanced by the enlightened. Loosely based on the Alfonso Soriano-Robin Yount model, the idea was to provide full protection of Utley as a power hitter by minimizing his inning-to-inning physical stress. Naturally, it was shouted down. The best thoughts usually are.

Utley made a couple of bad plays at second in the playoffs and now people are trying to argue that he’s no good at second anymore. Meanwhile back in the world of the reality-based, he’s still pretty obviously the best second baseman in the National League. Sure he got hurt this year, but by just about every measure he was just as good defensively in 2010 as he’s ever been.

Perhaps there will come a time when moving him to the outfield makes sense. That day, however, is not today.

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

Mike Stobe/Getty Images
7 Comments

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.