Showing posts with label Jacob deGrom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jacob deGrom. Show all posts

Monday, January 25, 2016

Yoenis Cespedes signs three-year deal to stay with Mets

Yoenis Cespedes
Yoenis Cespedes was the last of the impact free-agent outfielders on the board this offseason, and he had to wait until late January to sign a contract.

But, what a player-friendly contract it is.

Cespedes will stay with the New York Mets, after agreeing Friday on a three-year deal worth $75 million. The Mets front-loaded the deal -- Cespedes will make $27.5 million for the 2016 season, and the contract includes an opt-out after one year.

Given next offseason's weak crop of free agents, Cespedes is in position to go back on the market next year and cash in with an even bigger contract -- if he performs at a high level this season in New York.

Cespedes was acquired by the Mets midseason last year, and he hit .287 with 17 home runs and 44 RBIs in 57 games. During that stretch, New York went 36-21 and transformed itself from a middling team into NL East Division champions. They went on to make the World Series before losing to the Kansas City Royals.

Give the Mets credit. This move solidifies them as one of the top teams in the National League. Quite possibly, they are the favorite to make it back to the World Series. It's hard to bet against them with the pitching staff they have in place. Their rotation includes Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and one of Bartolo Colon or Zack Wheeler.

Find me another team in baseball that can match that kind of quality and depth in starting pitching. I don't think there is one.

There's every reason to believe Cespedes, 30, will continue to be productive as a cleanup hitter. The only real problem for the Mets here will be their outfield defense. Cespedes is a plus defender in left field, but on the Mets, he'll need to play center field in between Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson. As a center fielder, Cespedes is adequate at best. That could hurt New York at times, but I think the benefits of this signing far outweigh the drawbacks for them. They are one of the teams that has a shot to win it all in 2016.

What does this mean for the White Sox? Well, back to the drawing board. I'm not sure the Sox were ever serious contenders for Cespedes, and certainly, they were not going to hand out a contract like the one Cespedes signed.

The Sox got caught a little bit here, slow-playing the outfield market, believing somebody's price would eventually come down into their range. That never happened, and for now, they are stuck with the status quo in their outfield. We'll find out in the next few weeks how much they really believe in Avisail Garcia. Will they give him another year in right field, or will they make a trade to replace him?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mets complete NLCS sweep of Cubs

Daniel Murphy is the first player in baseball history with at least four total bases in six consecutive postseason games. That's probably because he's first player to hit a home run in six consecutive playoff games. The New York second baseman took Cubs reliever Fernando Rodney deep in the top of the eighth inning Wednesday night to set that record, as the Mets beat the Cubs, 8-3, to complete a four-game sweep of the National League Championship Series.

New York will face the Kansas City-Toronto winner in the World Series.

It's getting late, so I'll just offer a few bullet points from this game:

  • Why on earth did Cubs manager Joe Maddon start Jason Hammel in a do-or-die game? Granted, Jon Lester on short rest is no sure bet, but nobody should be surprised that Hammel got pummeled. He gave up five runs, all earned, in just 1.1 innings. The Cubs were behind 4-0 just six batters into the game, and the crowd at Wrigley Field was full of long, ashen faces. That was a nightmarish start for the Cubs, and a dream come true for anyone cheering for the Mets. Maddon is considered a genius by many in the Chicago media, but starting Hammel is this game was a terrible move, an indefensible decision.
  • Power pitching will always beat power hitting. The Cubs have a lineup full of dangerous hitters, but they can't score if they don't hit home runs. The Mets outhomered the Cubs, 3-1, on Wednesday and 7-4 in the series. The Mets have four quality pitchers in Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz. Those power arms in the New York rotation gave up a grand total of six runs to Cubs hitters in four games. For the most part, they kept the Cubs in the park and off the scoreboard. As a team, the Cubs hit just .164 in the four-game series.
  • Enough with the silly Cubs narratives, man. A lot of people ask me why so many White Sox fans (such as myself) refuse to cheer for the Cubs. Well, there are a couple reasons, but most of all, I'm weary of the storylines that seem to follow the Cubs. I'm tired of hearing about omens and curses and black cats and "Maddon magic" and various other hocus-pocus. Movie scripts that were written decades ago should not be taken as prophecy. The Red Sox rallying from 3-0 down in the 2004 ALCS has nothing to do with the 2015 NLCS. Nothing. There are no dead people looking down from heaven to make a ball disappear in the ivy. None of these extraneous factors have any impact on the outcome of ballgames.
Remember, the Cubs did not lose to the Mets because they are cursed. They lost because New York is a better team than they are. In fact, the Cubs are not cursed at all. They haven't won the World Series in 107 years because they've never fielded a good enough team to get the job done. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Yoenis Cespedes' steal of third base: Most overlooked important play in NLCS Game 3

The Cubs played a lousy defensive game Tuesday night in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. The New York Mets took advantage of most of their opportunities and got strong pitching from Jacob deGrom to earn a 5-2 victory at Wrigley Field. The Mets now have a 3-0 stranglehold on the best-of-seven series.

Here in Chicago, some of the postgame laments are focusing on a couple misplays in left field by Kyle Schwarber, and a wild pitch by Trevor Cahill in the top of the sixth inning that allowed New York's Yoenis Cespedes to score the go-ahead and eventual winning run. Cubs shortstop Javier Baez made an error on the first play of the game, and right fielder Jorge Soler also had a horrible misplay in the sixth inning, so there were no shortage of defensive gaffes by the Cubs.

But the most overlooked important play in the game proceeded Cahill's wild pitch. With Cespedes on second base and one out in a 2-2 game, the Cubs' middle infielders, Baez and Starlin Castro, fell asleep. They were not holding Cespedes close, and he got a huge jump on Cahill and stole third base with ease.

The Mets successfully stole third base just five times during the regular season, but this is the fourth time one of their baserunners has swiped third in the postseason. New York is being more aggressive in the playoffs. The Cubs should have caught on to that by now, but apparently not.

That stolen base put Cespedes at third with just one out, which is always crucial. As it turns out, Cahill made the big pitch he needed to get the second out. Travis d'Arnaud grounded out to third base, and Cespedes could not advance. Michael Conforto then struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt, but the ball skipped past Cubs catcher Miguel Montero all the way to the screen. Conforto reached first safely on the dropped third strike, while Cespedes raced down the line to put the Mets up 3-2.

They tacked on two more in the seventh, with help from a Schwarber misplay, but do you think that steal of third base was crucial? You bet it was. That wild pitch means nothing if Cespedes is still standing on second base.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Jose Abreu wins AL Rookie of the Year; Jacob deGrom wins NL honor

The American League Rookie of the Year voting, as expected, offered little in the way of drama.

White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu became the ninth unanimous winner in the history of the award, earning the first-place vote on all 30 balllots (150 points). Los Angeles Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker (40 points) finished a distant second, while New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances (27 points) placed third.

Abreu had one of the best offensive seasons ever for a rookie. He hit .317/.383/.581 with 36 homers and 107 RBIs. That's good enough to win the award just about every year, and let's face it, the competition for this honor was not particularly stong this season. It was Abreu and everybody else among AL rookies, especially after Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka went down with an injured elbow midseason.

In fact, if you look at the first-half numbers, you'd have to say Abreu and Tanaka were at one point in a tight race for Rookie of the Year:
  • Abreu: .292/.342/.630, 29 HR, 73 RBI
  • Tanaka: 12-4, 2.51 ERA, 129.1 IP, 19 BB, 135 K
But, the injury limited Tanaka to just two starts the second half of the season. While Abreu managed just seven home runs the second half, he hit .350 and raised his overall batting average by 25 points. That made Monday's announcement a foregone conclusion.

Abreu becomes the sixth White Sox player to win Rookie of the Year. The others are Luis Aparicio (1956), Gary Peters (1963), Tommie Agee (1966), Ron Kittle (1983) and Ozzie Guillen (1985).

In the National League, New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom won Rookie of the Year. He picked up 26 first-place votes (142 points) and finished comfortably ahead of Cincinnati Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton (92 points). St. Louis Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong (14 points) was third.

The 26-year-old deGrom had a monstrous second half, compiling a 1.99 ERA in his final 15 starts. For the season, he finished 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA. He recorded 144 strikeouts in 140 innings.