The Mets’ tradition of throwing players under the bus before trading them continues apace

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Last year the Mets didn’t want to bring Justin Turner back and they non-tendered him. They had the right to do so, of course. It says so right in the rules! There’s a thing that happens on certain teams, however, that somehow prevents them from merely parting ways with a player. Some teams, and the Mets are one of them, like to anonymously trash a player to reporters first.

So the Mets trashed Justin Turner to the press when he was non-tendered, telling Adam Rubin of ESPN New York that “Turner’s propensity for not running hard irked the front office, which had finally seen enough.” Turner, of course, joined the Dodgers where he hit .340/.404/.493 in 322 plate appearances while playing four different positions. We didn’t hear about his lack of hustle all year to my recollection.

They, of course, did this with R.A. Dickey, whose climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was deemed “selfish,” and they did with Carlos Beltran like it was their job.  They’re doing it again, this time with Jon Niese, who they are likely looking to trade. The story, as reported by the Daily News:

In the third inning of that Friday night home game against the Astros, after Ruben Tejada had drawn a walk, Collins signaled for his pitcher to bunt. With the corner infielders charging, however, Niese decided to swing away and flied out, thereby angering his manager.

According to players and coaches who were there, Collins jumped Niese as he came back to the dugout:

“What the f— was that?’’ the manager demanded.

“They were coming down my throat so I tried to slash,” Niese said.

“Next time get the bunt down like we told you,” Collins continued.

“F— you,” Niese said to Collins. “Take me out if you don’t like it.”

Is that interesting? Sure, on some level it is because we as fans like to gawk at things. But it’s also the case that exchanges like that happen a lot during the course of a long season. And that this particular exchange was not terribly notable. We know this because (a) it didn’t come up in the month and a half since it occurred; and (b) Collins himself tells the Daily News that he has no problem with Niese and that this particular exchange wasn’t a big deal. He actually takes some issue that it went down the way it was stated above, but his overall sense is “eh, it’s baseball and it’s not a big deal.”

But it’s out now, likely because Niese is a good candidate to be traded and someone in the Mets front office, for whatever reason, can’t seem to just let a player go without talking smack about him first.

Seems like a lovely place to work.

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3

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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane expects to hire a new manager by Feb. 3.

The Astros need a new manager and general manager after AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday, hours after both were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane said Friday that he’s interviewed a number of candidates this week and has some more to talk to in the coming days.

Crane refused to answer directly when asked if former Astros player and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was a possibility for the job. But he did say that he had spoken to Biggio, fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and former Astros star Lance Berkman in the days since the firings.

“We’ve talked to all of our Killer B’s,” Crane said referring to the nickname the three shared while playing for the Astros. “They’ve contacted me and they’ve all expressed that they would like to help. Berkman, Bagwell, Biggio have all called and said: ‘hey, if there’s anything I can do, I’m here for you.’”

“So we’ll continue to visit with those guys and see if there’s something there.”

Crane says his list is still rather extensive and that he hopes to have it narrowed down by the end of next week. He added that he expects most of Hinch’s staff to stay in place regardless of who is hired.

Crane has enlisted the help of three or four employees to help him with the interview process, including some in Houston’s baseball operations department.

“We compare notes,” he said. “I’ve learned a long time ago that you learn a lot if four or five people talk to a key candidate and you get a lot more information. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Crane’ top priority is finding a manager with spring training less than a month away, but he said he would start focusing on the search for a general manager after he hires a manager. He expects to hire a GM before the end of spring training.

“We should have another good season with the team pretty much intact … so I don’t know why a manager wouldn’t want to come in and manage these guys,” he said. “They’re set to win again.”

The penalties announced by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday came after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs in Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. The Astros were also fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

With much still in flux, Crane was asked what qualities are most important to him in his next manager.

“Someone mature that can handle the group,” he said. “Someone that’s had a little bit of experience in some areas. We’ve just got to find a leader that can handle some pressure and there’s going to be a little bit of pressure from where this team has been in the last few months.”

Despite his comment about experience, Crane said having been a major league manager before is not mandatory to him.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “We made a decision to let that get behind us. We think the future is bright. We’ll make the adjustments … people think we’re in crisis. I certainly don’t believe that.”