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Mets seem committed to being dumb with bullpen


Last night, the Mets were clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning. Jeruys Familia didn’t have it. He gave up a single and a walk to put two men on and then lucked into a double play. Then he walked two more guys to load the bases. With the heart of the Phillies order coming to the plate, the game was on the line. That it was the Phillies — who the Mets figure to be battling all season long in the NL East — means that this game mattered a whole heck of a lot. The Mets needed an out there. The leverage could not have been higher.

This past offseason the Mets swung a blockbuster trade for reliever Edwin Díaz. Díaz saved 57 games last year and, before last night, had allowed only one run in seven outings. He also had not pitched since last Thursday. Díaz is the Mets’ best reliever, he was more than fully rested and he was ready to go in the bullpen. So what did Mets manager Mickey Callaway do?

He put Robert Gsellman in the game. Gsellman issued a bases-loaded walk on four pitches which forced extras innings. The Mets ended up winning the game — and Díaz got the save — but a good outcome does mean that a bad decision was not made. The win notwithstanding, not using Díaz in the eighth was a bad decision.

After the game, Calloway met the press and from the sound of it he and the Mets seem content to make bad decisions in the future too:

“He’s not going to get four outs. He’s going to get three . . . When we get to the playoffs, he’ll be available for more than three outs.”

Díaz is young and has had bone spurs, so perhaps some caution with him is necessary, but who said he had to get four outs in that situation? Why not just bring him in for the one critical out? Or, maybe two if Callaway decided to pull the plug on Familia earlier in the inning? Callaway also added that he has faith in his other relievers. OK, fine. Even better then to use Díaz for one out there and one of his other relievers in the ninth inning, which would’ve started with a one-run lead and no one on base, thereby presenting way lower leverage, right?

This approach to using Díaz is sub-optimal pitcher usage. The “three outs only” thing — and the assumption that, if used in the eighth last night, he would’ve had to get four outs — is about catering to the save statistic.

Callaway says he’ll change all of that once the Mets are in the playoffs, but by mismanaging his bullpen like this, he’s going to end up harming the Mets’ chances of making the playoffs in the first place.

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.