Mike Matheny
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Royals hire Mike Matheny as special advisor for player development

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Former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has joined the Royals as special advisor for player development, the team announced Friday. The responsibilities covered by his new position will include partial oversight of baseball operations, including scouting and player development. Matheny was dismissed by the Cardinals in mid-July after leading the team to a 47-46 record through the first half of the season, at which point he was replaced by bench coach Mike Shildt.

The 48-year-old previously served as a special advisor to the Cardinals in 2008 and was officially promoted to manager just prior to the 2012 season. He guided the club to a cumulative 544-428 record through six consecutive winning seasons and four postseason runs, though they fell short of another championship title after losing out to the Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs from 2012-2014. While his midseason dismissal was startlingly abrupt, the writing had been on the wall for some time — not just because of the team’s poor record, lackluster effort on the field, and relative distance from a postseason berth, but because of some controversial tactics he had endorsed within the clubhouse, too.

Matheny won’t be stepping into as significant of a position within the Royals’ organization, but the prevailing assumption is that Kansas City could be eying him as a potential successor to longtime skipper Ned Yost, whose contract is currently scheduled to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season. The 64-year-old Yost brought the Royals to two World Series appearances over the course of his eight-year campaign, but hasn’t returned the team to the playoffs since their championship clincher in 2015 and is just coming off of a 104-loss season in 2018 — the worst the franchise had seen in 13 years.

Phillies-Mets could get contentious tonight

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As the Mets were wrapping up a 9-0 shellacking of the Phillies on Tuesday night, reliever Jacob Rhame threw a pitch up and in to first baseman Rhys Hoskins with two outs in the ninth inning. The pitch sailed behind Hoskins’ back. The slugger wasn’t happy about the scare, understandably. Players began to trickle out of their respective dugouts, but a fracas was avoided.

Hoskins was skeptical that Rhame simply missed his spot. Per MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan, Hoskins said, “He didn’t miss up and in the rest of the inning, so I’ll let you decide. I would assume teams are pitching me in because that’s where they think they can get me out, and that’s fine. That’s part of the game. Again, I think most guys are capable of pitching inside and not missing that bad.”

Teammate Bryce Harper said, “I don’t get it. I understand that two of their guys got hit yesterday. But, I mean, if it’s baseball and you’re going to drill somebody, at least hit him in the [butt]. Not in the head. You throw 98, it’s scary now. You could kill somebody. Lose your eyesight. That’s bigger than the game.”

Indeed, two Mets were hit by pitches on Monday night. José Álvarez hit Jeff McNeil in the seventh inning, which advanced a base runner. In the very next at-bat, Juan Nicasio hit Pete Alonso with a first-pitch fastball. It was obvious neither was intentional as the Phillies were only down two runs and hitting both batters advanced base runners and led to runs scoring. It is less obvious that Rhame’s pitch to Hoskins was unintentional, but he showed empathy in his post-game comments. Rhame said, “When you accidentally sail one, it’s probably pretty scary. I’d get [angry], too.”

Will Wednesday night’s series finale be contentious? Despite being “fairly upset,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said, “We do not retaliate, and we do not throw at anybody intentionally,” Jake Seiner of the Associated Press reports.

Mets manager Mickey Calloway didn’t give as straight an answer. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Calloway said, “I think at this point, you just go out there and beat people, and win. … For now, I don’t feel like anything has been intentional at us that has warranted anything from our side.” If that changes, however, Calloway said, “They’re going to have each other’s backs.”

Hopefully, neither side decides to take justice into their own hands. But, welcome to the NL East in 2019. The Mets lead the Phillies by one game, and the Braves and Nationals by 1.5 games. It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out division fight all year long.