Derek Lowe on Dusty Baker: “I have zero respect for the guy”

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In last night’s Reds-Indians game, Cleveland starter Derek Lowe was brushed back with a mid-90s fastball from Mat Latos. Not something you see happen to a pitcher very often, especially when there were no plunkings of other shenanigans previously. Which, in this game or series, there was not. So what gives?

After the game MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian asked Derek Lowe about it and he gave a long, expletive-filled but ultimately not-very-forthcoming explanation, alluding to some years-old bad blood between Reds manager Dusty Baker and himself:

After the game, Lowe insinuated that Baker has been instructing his pitchers to throw at him for the past five seasons due to a grudge that dates to Lowe’s final year with the Dodgers in 2008.

“Dusty will deny it,” Lowe said. “I have zero respect for the guy — not that it matters. I imagine he’d say the same about me” … The 39-year-old Cleveland starter hinted at an incident that was never made public during his time in Los Angeles, but he was not willing to offer up specific details.

Baker was gone after all of the media at the game became aware of what Lowe said, so he had no response.  Hopefully we’ll learn more today, but Lowe repeated several times that Baker will, as he always has before, pretend that he doesn’t know what Lowe is talking about.  Lowe does, though, but he’s not saying.

This is delicious. In fact, it’s more delicious that we don’t know the reason for the bad blood.  Was it a woman? I bet it was a woman. It’s a crazy love triangle, with Lowe in the Gatsby role and Dusty as Tom Buchanan. Marty Brennaman as Nick Carroway. I haven’t figured out the women yet. Hopefully Bastian or Reds MLB.com guy Mark Sheldon will ask Dusty about it today.

Noah Syndergaard on Mets extending Jacob deGrom: ‘Pay the man already.’

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March has marked contract extension season across Major League Baseball. Just in the last week, we have seen Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Brandon Lowe, Alex Bregman, Ryan Pressly, Mike Trout, Eloy Jiménez, Blake Snell, and Paul Goldschmidt sign extensions. Nolan Arenado, Luis Severino, and Aaron Nola also notably signed extensions during the offseason.

One name strikingly absent from that list: Mets ace Jacob deGrom. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom is earning $17 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility going into the 2020 season. He will turn 31 years old in June, but is an obvious extension candidate for the Mets, who have built arguably their most competitive team since 2015, when the club lost the World Series in five games to the Royals. Thus far, though, the Mets and deGrom haven’t been able to get anywhere in extension talks.

deGrom’s rotation mate Noah Syndergaard is watching. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Syndergaard said, “I think Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want them to keep him happy so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all the fuss and pay the man already.”

Syndergaard added that the recent extension trend around baseball — and deGrom’s lack of an extension to date — sends a message. He said, “I think so, yes, because of what you see in what’s going on in baseball right now. If there wasn’t a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, then I don’t know what the circumstance would be. But you see Chris Sale, Verlander getting extensions. I think it’s time Jacob gets one too.”

Part of the equation behind the recent rash of extensions is the stagnation of free agency. Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel — two of baseball’s better pitchers — have gone through almost an entire spring training without being signed. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado didn’t find new homes until late February. Free agents in their 30’s are largely being underpaid or otherwise forgotten about. Extensions represent financial security for young and old players alike. Syndergaard himself can become a free agent after the 2021 season, so if deGrom’s prospects improve, then so too will his, at least without knowing the details of the next collective bargaining agreement which will be put into place ahead of the 2022 season.