Mets should look for starting pitching help on heels of Max Scherzer injury

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The New York Mets are 12 games over .500, sitting atop the NL East with a comfortable seven-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The team had avoided their first series loss of the season until this past weekend when they dropped two of three games to the Seattle Mariners. With a chance to get back on track and take three of four from the St Louis Cardinals, the Mets entered the 9th inning of Thursday’s game with a 5-4 lead. But in the blink of an eye, Edwin Diaz was victimized by a soft hit infield single and later by an error from third baseman Eduardo Escobar that allowed the tying run to score. Mets fans had seen this movie before. But for this matinee showing, fans may have been treated to the director’s cut. With the Cardinals now leading 6-5 in the 10th (thanks to the dopey extra-inning ghost runner rule), Pete Alonso saved the day and Mets fans further heartache with his mammoth walk-off two-run home run. Further heartache, you ask?

The Mets’ strong start to their season- highlighted by multiple, seemingly impossible, come-from-behind wins- would be a reason to start purchasing playoff tickets. But in the middle of the Mets Thursday win, turned loss, turned win again vs. the Cardinals, Mets fan’s greatest fear came true.

That is the news about Max Scherzer, who pulled himself from his start Wednesday due to an apparent injury in the middle of an at-bat. An MRI on Thursday revealed an oblique strain for the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer and a 6-8 week recovery timeline. Despite the absence of their ace Jacob DeGrom, Mets fans felt some security knowing Scherzer could hold down the fort until his return. They’re both shelved for at least the next month and a half.

Billy Eppler has made it clear- the New York Mets are a win-now team. The team signed Scherzer this offseason, three new starting position players in Mark Canha, Starling Marte, and Eduardo Escobar, and traded for starting pitcher Chris Bassitt. But without DeGrom. Without Scherzer. With Tylor Megill already enduring a stint on the injured list. The New York Mets need to trade for another starting pitcher.

Yes- it’s early. No- it’s never wise to negotiate in desperation. It’s something that even the most optimistic of Mets fans would admit about the state of their rotation right now. But something Mets fans are all too familiar with is the midseason swoon that has doomed this franchise year in and year out.

Last season the Mets held first place for over 100 days—longer than any other division winner in the league. But the Mets not only did not win the National League East. They didn’t even make the playoffs, finishing eight games under .500 with a 77-85 mark.

And while that Mets team was not nearly as talented as this one, thanks to the offseason additions made by Eppler and approved by owner Steve Cohen, the core pitfalls of the 2021 disaster mirror what the 2022 Mets currently face. The Mets, already without DeGrom and now without Scherzer, will have to go into the deepest crevices of their starting rotation depth for the interim. And there is a very real possibility the Mets will see 2 to 3 turns in their rotation feature Taijuan Walker, David Peterson, and Trevor Williams on the bump.

The trade market surely hasn’t developed, but perhaps the Mets should be the first to jump in the pool. Frankie Montas and Luis Castillo are the first two pitchers to come to mind. Two starters are pitching for teams that figure to be in the basement all year long with Oakland and Cincinnati.

It would be hard to envision the Mets making a trade of that magnitude at this early juncture of the season. But perhaps a pitcher of less pedigree, such as Chad Kuhl of the Rockies, could be serviceable for the time being. A former Pittsburgh Pirate, Kuhl has a 3.77 ERA pitching in the unfriendly confines and thin air of Coors Field. Would someone of that ilk be enough to help carry the freight while the Mets’ two aces are on the mend? Maybe. Maybe not.

But one thing is for certain- one month into the season, the New York Mets have been forced to scrape the bottom of their starting pitching depth barrel, just as they were forced to in 2021. And we all know how that season ended.

Yes, it’s early. But The Mets have seen this film before. Will they cut this tape differently? Or watch a repeat? Will it feature that same bitter, cruel ending?

MLB, union agree to July 25 deadline to determine international draft’s future; paving the way for a CBA deal

In a positive development in talks for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), MLB and the Players Association pushed back the deadline to decide on whether or not an international draft will replace the current international free agent signing system.

In the last few hours, owners were pushing for the international draft to substitute the current signing period for young free agents, mostly from Latin America, but players didn’t like the idea at all. The topic put a halt on some very important progress made by the two parties in the last two days on core economic issues.

Now, however, the sides agreed to establish a July 25 deadline to solve the issue once and for all: if the sides agreed on an international draft, the current qualifying offer and the draft pick attached to free agents would disappear. If no deal is reached, the qualifying offer and international signing systems will remain as they currently are.

MLB has a path towards a CBA agreement

With that being the major roadblock in CBA negotiations on Wednesday, there is now a clear path for MLB and the union to bridge the small gaps in key economic issues and announce a deal within the next couple of days, if there aren’t any surprises.

MLB cancelled games through April 13 last night, but there is some hope that, if a deal is reached this week, there still could be 162 games played.

If a deal is reached soon, free agency could begin as soon as tonight and spring training could potentially start next week. Stay tuned, because there could be some good news soon for fans of all teams, including, of course, the New York Yankees and Mets.

At long last, it appears that baseball is around the corner, and fans are on the verge of, finally, enjoying the sport they love and so passionately follow.

MLB reportedly tells union they can still play 162 games if there is a deal today

Tuesday could be a very important day for baseball fans, or just another disappointment, depending on the final outcome: MLB could potentially be back, and with a 162-game calendar, if the league and the union come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) today, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

“Huge day in baseball. Deadline No. 3. MLB told the players union if they can do deal today they can still play 162 games; if not, a 2nd week may be lost. MLB suggested a rise in luxury tax threshold to $228M, But details haven’t surfaced and players say there’s still work to do,” Heyman tweeted.

Of course, we, as fans and media, can get the best possible outcome, which is having the assurance there will be a full season starting soon, or we can see yet another week chopped off the calendar. At this point, there is no gray: it’s either black or white.

The two sides are not particularly close to a deal, mainly because the most important item in the agenda, the competitive balance tax (CBT, or luxury tax), still represents a hurdle.

The CBT is MLB’s biggest hurdle towards a deal

MLB currently wants it to start at $220 million and end in $230 million in 2026, but the Players Association is currently at $238 million to begin 2022 and $263 million in 2026, the final year of the CBA agreement.

The league is willing to go up to $228 million, hoping that the MLBPA comes down a little. The incremental gains, however, could be hard to iron out.

Other issues remain the minimum salary, as MLB wants it to start at $700,000 with $10,000 annual increases, but the union wants at least $775,000. The bonus pool for outstanding pre-arbitration players is another problem, as owners are offering $30 million and players want $80 million as a minimum.

At the end of the day, we will probably know if we get to see spring training in a matter of days, or if baseball will continue suffering until there is a deal. Stay tuned, Mets and Yankees‘ fans.

MLB and Players Association to meet today, with union open to renegotiating 14-team playoffs format

After barely speaking since Tuesday, when the Players Association turned down a last-minute offer by the league before their deadline – since it wasn’t met, Commissioner Rob Manfred already cancelled the first two series of the season – MLB and the union are expected to have some contact today.

The MLB Players Association (MLBPA) will present, in writing, responses to the league’s latest proposals, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

What was MLB’s latest offer? The competitive balance tax (CBT) would start at $220 million for 2022, 2023, and 2024, then increase to $224 million in 2025 and $230 million in 2026 (MLBPA wants to start, at least, at $238 million this year).

There is also a $55 million difference in the pre-arbitration bonus pool for outstanding players. The league is offering $30 million, players want $85 million.

MLB wants 14 teams in the postseason

MLB wants to start with a $700,000 minimum salary, increasing it by $10,000 per year until 2026. Players want to start at $775,000.

Talks are expected to revolve around the expanded playoffs. The MLBPA has shown a willingness to revisit the 14-team format that owners want, but with a “ghost” win for the division winner. As MLB Trade Rumors explains, “under that scenario, the division winner would only need to win one game to move on to the Division Series, while the Wild Card club would need to win two straight games.”

It is believed that the union would like to use the 14-team playoff format as a bargaining chip: they obviously don’t want half the teams making the postseason because teams would see they don’t need to spend so much in payroll to get into the party, but they could ask MLB to increase its current offer of a $220 million CBT in exchange.

Negotiations should be quick and effective if MLB and the players don’t want to miss more regular season games. MLB fans, including Mets and Yankees‘ enthusiasts, will have to wait a bit more to watch their teams.

New York Yankees/MLB News: Blame game makes more progress than the CBA

The New York Yankees and the other 29 major league teams scattered around the country have spent most of the long postseason, unable to do anything to improve their teams for a new season of baseball. A season that now seems may never happen with the complete collapse of the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations and at least a delay in the start of the baseball season.

On December 1, 2021, Commissioner Rob Manfred lowered the hammer on the negotiations by imposing a lockout. A lockout, he said, was necessary when the two sides in the CBA negotiations could not forge a new agreement to guide them for the next five years. That lockout forbids any team from making any transactions or even talking to players or agents about the upcoming season until a new agreement has been reached.

This was particularly harmful to the New York Yankees. While other teams scooped up nearly half of all free agents before the lockout, the Yankees sat on their hands, just watching, while having significant holes to fill and upgrades to be made.

Now that the deadline for a new agreement reached and three spring training games have already been canceled, Manfred has announced that the first two series of the regular season will be canceled. For the New York Yankees, that means they will have one less series with the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros. With no negotiations scheduled, it is likely, even more, series will be canceled, or there may be no 2022 baseball season at all. The work stoppage in 1994 led to 232 canceled games.

Now with nothing happening, obviously, each side in the negotiations is blaming each other for the cancelation of opening day. But, it’s just not the sides, the fans are disappointed and angry that millionaires and billionaires couldn’t resolve problems for the good of the game.

The blame game is now in full swing, with many players calling out MLB for their inability to come to an agreement and start the season on time. Even Yankee pitcher Gerrit Cole has scolded the league. Max Scherzer, the newly hired Mets ace, is not only blaming the league but possibly the owner of the Yankees, Hal Steinbrenner.

So far, it looks like the sides have only agreed upon a universal DH and some minor concessions from each side. But the main issue of money, and how much each gets, is still as contested at the very beginning of the negotiations.

The league and union don’t seem to be too interested in resuming negotiations. Expanded playoffs are not even complete. Meanwhile, the financial issues at the heart of this dispute; minimum salaries and CBT thresholds — are as divisive as they’ve been all winter. It is likely that the only talk in the coming days will be who to blame for this mess. One must remember that every day this goes on without a resolution is another game lost.

 

New York Yankees/MLB News: Texas Rangers and Houston Astros series canceled, no CBA reached

Many thought it would end like this, and it has, a new Collective Bargaining Agreement could not be reached. The result is that MLB has canceled the first two series of the new season. The New York Yankees will miss the season opener with the Texas Rangers and the series with the Houston Astros. Next up would be the home opener with the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium and the series with the Toronto Blue Jays.

What is even more discouraging is that as of this morning, there are no new talks scheduled to resolve the situation, which may lead to even more canceled games.

What is most sad is that neither the owners nor players seem to care about the fans that are eager to see baseball games played across the country after a long postseason with any games to watch. Why? Because both sides could not solve greed problems, both wanted more money.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan has reported:

“The concerns of our fans are at the very top of our consideration list.” — Rob Manfred, on the day MLB canceled regular-season games, during a league-initiated lockout. He also reported: MLB has canceled the first two series of the season.”

After the MLB owners and the players’ union failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, by M.L.B.’s self-imposed deadline Tuesday evening, Commissioner Rob Manfred said the season would not start on March 31. Due to logistical problems, Manfred also reaffirmed that the games could be canceled, not rescheduled.

The announcement was made Tuesday at Roger Dean Stadium, where the Cardinals and Marlins would usually be having spring training but instead hosted the talks. Two spring training games have already been canceled as MLB players are trying to stay in shape at local high school fields in both Florida and Arizona.

Meanwhile, these are the first MLB games to be canceled since the 1994-1995 player walkout. Then 232 regular-season games were canceled. Manfred has this to say about the canceled games:

“I had hoped against hope I wouldn’t have to have this press conference where I am going to cancel some regular-season games,” Manfred said, adding, “I want to assure our fans that our failure to reach an agreement was not due to a lack of effort by either party.”

How sincere that statement is is anyone’s guess. It is hard to believe that two fully qualified negotiators could not agree in over 100 days of negotiations. The whole 2022 season is in question, with both sides’ heels dug in. 

Former Yankee great Derek Jeter abruptly steps down as CEO of Miami Marlins

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Former New York Yankees shortstop and legend Derek Jeter decided to resign from his post as the CEO of the Miami Marlins, noting differences in vision for the club and the direction management wanted to take.

 

“Today I am announcing that the Miami Marlins and I are officially ending our relationship and I will no longer serve as CEO nor as a shareholder in the Club. We had a vision five years ago to turn the Marlins franchise around, and as CEO, I have been proud to put my name and reputation on the line to make our plan a reality,” Jeter said in a statement. “Through hard work, trust and accountability, we transformed every aspect of the franchise, reshaping the workforce, and developing a long-term strategic plan for success.

“That said, the vision for the future of the franchise is different than the one I signed up to lead. Now is the right time for me to step aside as a new season begins.

“My family and I would like to thank our incredible staff, Marlins fans, Marlins players, and the greater Miami community for welcoming us with open arms and making us feel at home. The organization is stronger today than it was five years ago, and I am thankful and grateful to have been a part of this team.”

 

Yankees/MLB News: New owners’ offer won’t help end the CBA deadlock

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For the New York Yankees and other MLB teams, the owner’s newest offer won’t draw the end of the CBA impasse any closer. In fact, it is likely to assure a late start to spring training and the start of the 2022 baseball season. With the pitchers and catchers scheduled to show up today, the spring training is now officially delayed.

In the MLB’s latest offer made over the weekend, the owners asked for the ability to eliminate hundreds of minor league playing jobs in its latest labor offer to the players association. The MLBPA will have no part of that request, dragging on the negotiations that have not shown any progress and assuring a late start of the season.

The number of minor league players a team can have at any time is 180. This is called the Domestic Reserve List. The owners have allowed that to remain at current levels, but Manfred’s office, under the latest request, will be able to lower that figure in future years to as little as 150 players in the future, adjusting it up and down at a whim. This is a request that the players will soundly reject, as reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

In recent years the owners have proposed controlling the size of the Domestic Reserve, which was rejected multiple times. The players have not specifically responded to the request, but sources report that the players intend to reject it and any future proposals that could cut minor league jobs.

Two new MLB rules will make a complex situation even more complicated in other recent developments. Those two rules are the Universal DH for the season 2022 and beyond. The other is the loss of removal of draft pick compensation. With many National League teams now looking for a DH to replace a pitcher that used to have to pitch, it will likely be a boon to free agents, with more teams interested in acquiring them.

Training camps will remain shuttered Wednesday when pitchers and catchers had been scheduled to start workouts for a 2022 season. Unless a miracle happens in the negotiations in the next few days, the start of the 2022 season will be delayed.

MLB News: With no agreement in sight, MLB asks for federal help

With MLB and the Players Union not substantially closer to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, MLB has asked the Feds to intervene to help iron out a new agreement, as the start of spring training is just two weeks away. Of course, even that move must be approved by the players union. When a new agreement could not be reached by the December 1 deadline, MLB instituted a shutdown until the sides had come together with a new agreement. Since then, the sides have had four meetings and have not been able to come together. Now MLB has asked for the assistance of a federal mediator to help resolve the labor issues between the league and the MLB Players Association, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Should the two sides agree to this move, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service would assist with the proceedings between the two sides, with the help hoping to move the negotiations toward a new agreement. According to one MLB official, the league sees this as the most productive path going forward to move the negotiations ahead and avoid a loss of games at the beginning of the new season, which now appears to be in jeopardy.

On December 2nd, MLB instituted the lockout that forbids the New York Yankees or any of the other 29 major league teams from having any transactions to improve their teams. The sides can not even engage with each other with talks. Talks between the sides should have been productive as the main players in the talks are both experienced negotiators. The MLBPA leader and Executive Director is a very skilled negotiator. This time the players are tired of losing in negotiations and are not willing to concede on some of their wants. The other is Commissioner Rob Manfred, that has a degree in labor negotiations, but apparently, that hasn’t been helpful either.

This was particularly important for the New York Yankees as they remained out of the early moves that saw almost half of all available free agents going to other teams. Now with only days before catchers and pitchers report for spring training, the Yankees still have the holes to fill that were present after the conclusion of the World Series. They were able to upgrade their coaching staff but were not able to acquire any new players. With the lockout, the Yankee front office and general manager Brian Cashman have had plenty of time to figure out their moves once the lockout is over, but they will have to pounce and quickly, as other teams will be in the same situation.

In the past Federal mediators have helped resolve other professional sports negotiations, particularly assisting the National Football League, National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer, among others. They have not been as successful with MLB issues.

MLB and the MLBPA met on Tuesday to resolve some of the core economic issues. Past concessions bringing the sides closer seemed to be erased when those issues could not be resolved and tainting the progress already made. The MLBPA (players union) offered to reduce its bonus pool by $5 million. That pool was to increase the money available to the best minor league performers. But the talks on Tuesday did not result in any movement with that issue..

According to sources, the MLBPA remains stuck on a pair of key issues: They want a reduction in revenue sharing, and the union wants all players with two years of service time to be eligible for arbitration. The problem with these two MLBPA requests is that MLB has been steadfast, that those issues are non-starters for MLB team owners. Other issues include the leagues’ minimum salary and the competitive balance tax threshold. There have been over two dozen years of relative peace between the two sides, but this year the MLBPA has dug in its heels. The next step is for the players to agree to Federal negotiators. If they don’t do that, the start of spring training is surely in jeopardy.

If MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred can not find a way to start spring training on time, it will be just one more negative mark on the reputation of one of the most hated men in baseball. Zack  Britton is currently the Yankees’ representative to the players union.

Yankees News: Yankee long time adversary “Big Papi” elected to the MLB Hall of Fame

The New York Yankees had no players on the 2022 ballot elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The only player voted upon to be inducted this year was the famed Red Sox star, David Ortiz, otherwise known as “Big Papi.” The Yankees had several on the ballot, but none achieved the necessary 75% of the vote required for induction. Here are the results of the Baseball Writers Association vote:

David Ortiz: 307 votes, 77.9%

Barry Bonds: 260 votes, 66% (final year on ballot)

Roger Clemens: 257 votes, 65.2% (final year on ballot)

Scott Rolen: 249 votes, 63.2%

Curt Schilling: 231 votes, 58.6% (final year on ballot)

Todd Helton: 205 votes, 52.0%

Billy Wagner: 201 votes, 51.0%

Andruw Jones: 163 votes, 41.1%

Gary Sheffield: 160 votes, 40.6%

Alex Rodriguez: 135 votes, 34.3%

Jeff Kent: 129 votes, 32.7%

Manny Ramirez: 114 votes, 28.9%

Omar Vizquel: 94 votes, 23.9%

Sammy Sosa: 73 votes, 18.5% (final year on ballot)

Andy Pettitte: 42 votes, 10.7%

Jimmy Rollins: 37 votes, 9.4%

Bobby Abreu: 34 votes, 8.6%

Mark Buehrle: 23 votes, 5.8%

Torii Hunter: 21 votes, 5.3%

Players that received less than 5% of the vote were automatically dropped from the list for future voting. There were no Yankees players that fell within that category. Many of the above players will become eligible again under the Golden Days and Early Baseball Era committees in the years ahead. Back in December, that vote was held, and Yankee pitcher Jim Kaat was inducted along with five other players from other teams, making a total of seven players to be honored during the ceremony in Cooperstown, New York on July 24, 2022.

For many seasons, David Ortiz, the long-time designated hitter for the Red Sox, was a Yankee pain in the butt for the Yankees. After a successful six-year stint with the Minnesota Twins, he served on the Red Sox for 14 years. He retired after the 2016 season with a .290 batting average, a .956 OPS, and 483 home runs for the Red Sox. This was the first year of eligibility for his induction, and he succeeded with 77.9 of the vote. During his time with the Red Sox, he was a Yankee killer with his home runs. He helped the Sox to three World Series while being a ten-time All-Star and an eight-time MVP nominee as well as a seven-time Silver Slugger.

David Ortiz came into his own with the Red Sox and turned into one of the greatest designated hitters and most clutch postseason performers in major league history after being released by the Twins. He was elected to the Class of 2022 on Tuesday. Ortiz received votes from 307 of the 394 voting members of the Baseball Writers of America. Meanwhile, The Yankees, Roger Clemens, and the Giants, Barry Bonds, along with Sammy Sosa and Curt Shilling, failed the vote in their final year of eligibility.

“I’m always going to thank the Minnesota Twins because the one thing I learned in that organization was that opportunity is not out there every day,” Ortiz said coyly about his six years with the Twins, only two of which found him in the lineup for more than 100 games. “Once you get it, hold on to it because once you let go, it’ll probably never come back to you.”

As I said earlier, Roger Clements failed in his last year of eligibility. He, along with the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, has been unable to reach Hall of Fame status as at least 25% of voters have kept them from receiving the votes needed due to their performance-enhancing drug usage. Another Yankee, Andy Pettitte, also tainted by his short-term drug usage, only received less than 11% of the vote. Other ex-Yankees on the list, Andruw Jones, received 41.1% of the vote, and Gary Sheffield received 40.6%.