John Harper

Jacob deGrom (48) Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jacob deGrom (48) Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The idea of a five-man starting rotation for the ages, as predicted by John Smoltz, among others, is but a memory now, with Matt Harvey gone and Steven Matz more mediocre than elite since his rookie season.

But the Mets might still have the best Big Three in baseball, if Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard all pitch with the dominance expected of them. 

How far can that take them? Pretty darn far, if their history is any indication.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
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Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred gestures while speaking during a Major League Baseball owners meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) (Ben Margot/AP)
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred gestures while speaking during a Major League Baseball owners meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) (Ben Margot/AP)

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's desire for more action and less dead time in baseball is at the heart of the rules changes that were announced on Thursday, and with that in mind, here are the three I believe are most noteworthy:

1) The three-batter minimum for relievers, which goes into effect in 2020, and makes for intriguing strategy decisions as well as fewer late-inning pitching changes.

2) A 28-man September roster, as of 2020, which will finally bring an end to the ridiculous practice of essentially having unlimited substitutions in the final month of the season.

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Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred gestures while speaking during a Major League Baseball owners meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) (Ben Margot/AP)
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred gestures while speaking during a Major League Baseball owners meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) (Ben Margot/AP)

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's desire for more action and less dead time in baseball is at the heart of the rules changes that were announced on Thursday, and with that in mind, here are the three I believe are most noteworthy:

1) The three-batter minimum for relievers, which goes into effect in 2020, and makes for intriguing strategy decisions as well as fewer late-inning pitching changes.

2) A 28-man September roster, as of 2020, which will finally bring an end to the ridiculous practice of essentially having unlimited substitutions in the final month of the season.

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Best of Tim Tebow 00:01:02
Tim Tebow is done with Spring Training at the Major League level. It was definitely an eventful spring for the outfielder.

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Two-plus years into the Tim Tebow experience -- or is it experiment? -- the outfielder's most notable accomplishment in baseball circles has been turning widespread cynicism about his motives into blanket appreciation for his commitment.

After all, the former Heisman Trophy winner, and now TV star/football god in SEC country, has ridden minor-league buses all over the eastern half of the country for two seasons, making only incremental progress toward prospect status, and still Tebow perseveres.

And so even notoriously hard-bitten major-league scouts preface their harsh analysis of the player with praise for the person.

Tags: Tim Tebow, John Harper
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Feb 25, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; New York Mets shortstop Andres Gimenez (72) plays the field during a spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Feb 25, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; New York Mets shortstop Andres Gimenez (72) plays the field during a spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Andres Gimenez ranged deep and far to his left, well into the outfield grass to field Gabriel Guerrero's hard-hit ground ball, and then with quick feet and a strong arm he made a difficult play look remarkably easy.

So much so that I felt compelled to text a scout who was at Friday's Mets-Marlins game in Port St. Lucie and ask for a comp:

Tags: Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, Robinson Cano, John Harper
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Tom Seaver is the living, breathing embodiment of the 1969 Miracle Mets, so the news that he has dementia is bound to cast a pall over this summer's 50th anniversary celebration of that championship team.

The Hall of Fame pitcher won't be able to attend the ceremony at Citi Field, and while the Mets on Thursday said they plan to honor him in his absence, there's no way to avoid the sense of sadness that prevails when the one guy everyone wants to see will be missing.

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Is Gio a good fit for Yankees? 00:00:41
Andy Martino argues that Gio Gonzalez is not the right pitcher the Yankees need to replace CC Sabathia or Luis Severino to start the season.

On a day when Brian Cashman addressed the Yankees' first mini-crisis of the year, I thought it was revealing that he left the door open to acquiring another pitcher, even as he made a point of expressing confidence in his depth.

"I can't rule anything out," he told reporters in Tampa, "but the main focus is what we've got."

That could just be his way of saying he'll only jump in on Dallas Keuchel or Gio Gonzalez, the two most attractive unsigned free-agent pitchers, if their price falls to a bargain level...

Tags: CC Sabathia, J.A. Happ, James Paxton, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, John Harper
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Two-man race heats up for Mets 00:01:17
Both Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith are having good springs, so the question becomes a little bit tougher, who makes the Opening Day roster?

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Dominic Smith is the feel-good story in Mets' camp, hitting ropes to all fields and so far making the case the Sandy Alderson regime gave up on him too quickly, sticking him in the outfield mostly so Wilmer Flores could play first base.

Meanwhile, Pete Alonso -- not Peter -- is the guy whose at-bats are must-watch moments in Port St. Lucie. He hits the highest, most majestic home runs since Darryl Strawberry was launching moon-scrapers (or hitting the roof in Montreal on occasion) as anticipation builds for the rookie's arrival in New York.

Tags: Dominic Smith, Greg Bird, Luke Voit, Pete Alonso, John Harper
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New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird doubles during the third inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird doubles during the third inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Dominic Smith is the feel-good story in Mets' camp, hitting ropes to all fields and so far making the case the Sandy Alderson regime gave up on him too quickly, sticking him in the outfield mostly so Wilmer Flores could play first base.

Meanwhile, Pete Alonso -- not Peter -- is the guy whose at-bats are must-watch moments in Port St. Lucie. He hits the highest, most majestic home runs since Darryl Strawberry was launching moon-scrapers (or hitting the roof in Montreal on occasion) as anticipation builds for the rookie's arrival in New York.

Tags: Dominic Smith, Greg Bird, Luke Voit, Pete Alonso, John Harper
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Jul 31, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) runs home to score on first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11) first inning single against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports (Tommy Gilligan)
Jul 31, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) runs home to score on first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11) first inning single against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports (Tommy Gilligan)

Within an hour of the news the Bryce Harper saga was finally over, a gambling website, BetOnline.ag, sent out an email offering updated odds on the state of the NL East, essentially declaring the Phillies as heavy favorites to win the division.

With Harper on board, signing a 13-year, $330 million contract, the site's odds on the Phillies winning the NL East went from 2-1, a number that already made them co-favorites with the Nationals, to 5-4, or practically an even bet. 

That feels like way too much of an overreaction, especially in a division with four legitimate contenders, including the Mets. 

Tags: Bryce Harper, Edwin Diaz, Peter Alonso, Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, John Harper
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 (Adam Hunger)
(Adam Hunger)

PORT ST. LUCIE - At his locker, Zack Wheeler is talking about his impending free agency, but don't get the wrong idea. He might be the hungriest guy in the room, having been forced to watch at home in Georgia, recovering from Tommy John surgery, when the Mets made their surprise run to the 2015 World Series.

He wasn't even back for the late-season surge in 2016 that netted a wild-card berth.

"I've never won, so I really want to win," Wheeler was saying. "And I want to do it with these guys. Our pitching has been talked up for so long now, I just want to do it and have some fun. Winning in New York, you can't beat it."

Tags: Zack Wheeler, John Harper
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Brodie Van Wagenen (Matthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com)
Brodie Van Wagenen (Matthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter | : PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A couple of hours after Todd Frazier had officially joined Jed Lowrie as an early injury casualty, GM Brodie Van Wagenen stood in the sun, Ray Bans on, making the case to reporters that he'd essentially accounted for just this possibility.

"This was part of the design," he said, "to make sure we had versatility and depth to cover whatever comes our way."

That's certainly one way of looking at it, and indeed the new GM made a point of addressing depth this offseason to protect against injuries in ways the Mets had not the last couple of years.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Todd Frazier, John Harper
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New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard poses for a photo on photo day at First Data Field. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard poses for a photo on photo day at First Data Field. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

West Palm Beach, Fla. -- Scouts wondered why Noah Syndergaard was trying to turn himself into more of a sinkerballer last year than a flamethrower capable of blowing hitters away with high heat?

Now, Syndergaard admitted he's on a mission to be more of a true power pitcher again in 2019.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
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Feb 21, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Adam Ottavino (0) poses for a photo on photo day at George M Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Feb 21, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Adam Ottavino (0) poses for a photo on photo day at George M Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

TAMPA, Fla. -- Nobody has created more buzz early in Yankees camp than Adam Ottavino. Aaron Judge singled him out as the one free agent he was most pumped to see his team sign. Hitters whiffing against him in a simulated game a few days ago spoke as if they'd never seen a nastier slider.

And manager Aaron Boone only half-kiddingly said hitters are sometimes more relieved to be done with an at-bat against Ottavino than ticked off after a strikeout because his slider is such a wicked pitch.

Tags: Adam Ottavino, John Harper
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Feb 14, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA;New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Feb 14, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA;New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

TAMPA, Fla. -- So why didn't the Yankees sign Manny Machado?

On Friday, GM Brian Cashman answered that question in detail for the first time, speaking for some 30 minutes to reporters on the field here during a workout at about the same time Machado was being introduced in San Diego.

Through all the verbiage, he made perhaps three most significant points:

Tags: Troy Tulowitzki, John Harper
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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

TAMPA, Fla. -- Clint Frazier admits it's awkward. He wants to let the world know the concussion stuff is behind him, that he's ready to make good on the top-prospect hype of a couple of years ago.

He just doesn't want to sound like some cocky kid saying he's here to take job from the old man in left field, which is how some of Frazier's early comments this spring could be interpreted without context.

Tags: Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, John Harper
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Jul 24, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets injured left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) watches from the dugout during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jul 24, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets injured left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) watches from the dugout during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

TAMPA -- Having missed all of last season with surgery in April to remove bone spurs on both of his heels, Troy Tulowitzki seemed to have something of a message for Yoenis Cespedes:

Good luck.

Tags: Troy Tulowitzki, Yoenis Cespedes, John Harper
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 (Butch Dill)
(Butch Dill)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

TAMPA -- Betting that Troy Tulowitzki will stay healthy and play at something resembling his old All-Star level probably wouldn't be a wise investment based on his recent history. But, for the moment at least, it's as if the ghost of Derek Jeter is back at shortstop for the Yankees.

He famously idolized Jeter, wearing No. 2 for the Rockies and Blue Jays. And to hear others talk about Tulowitzki, he brings some of that same star presence.

Tags: Troy Tulowitzki, Tyler Wade, John Harper
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 (SNY Illustration)
(SNY Illustration)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

TAMPA - The Manny Machado news broke on Tuesday just as the Yankees were taking the field for their first full-squad workout of spring training, and it turns out they weren't lying in the weeds on the Johnny Hustle guy any more than they are going to make a last-minute bid to sign Bryce Harper

It also wasn't so much a surprise at this point as a statement of belief in the team they've built, as well as further proof of how times have changed for this storied franchise. 

Indeed, the Yankees may have won 100 games last season but they were no match for the Red Sox in the post-season, leaving them to watch helplessly as their famed rivals won still another World Series - their fourth since breaking the Curse of the Bambino in 2004.  

Tags: Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, John Harper
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New York Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton singles against the Toronto Blue Jays during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. (Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton singles against the Toronto Blue Jays during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. (Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

TAMPA - On his first day in Yankee camp, Giancarlo Stanton wasn't making any bold predictions or declaring that New York has yet to see him at his best, but he said just enough to make it seem he believes Year Two in pinstripes will be something closer to his NL MVP season of 2017. 

Which raises an obvious question:

Is there legitimate reason to believe he's more than a streaky mistake-hitter who will always be vulnerable to elite pitching, as it appeared last season?

Tags: Giancarlo Stanton, John Harper
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Ah, spring training. In some ways it's the best time for baseball writers, a time when players, managers, and executives are more relaxed and willing to talk before the pressure of the long season takes hold. 

I first went to spring training in 1982, and suffice it say we writers were a lot more relaxed as well in those days, before Internet deadlines and social media changed everything about the job. 

The quotes aren't nearly as colorful these days, when players seemingly live in fear of the Twitter reaction to even the smallest misstep, but as I head to Florida to write about both the Mets and Yankees for SNY, there's still nothing better than baseball and sunshine in February.

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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Ah, spring training. In some ways it's the best time for baseball writers, a time when players, managers, and executives are more relaxed and willing to talk before the pressure of the long season takes hold. 

I first went to spring training in 1982, and suffice it say we writers were a lot more relaxed as well in those days, before Internet deadlines and social media changed everything about the job. 

The quotes aren't nearly as colorful these days, when players seemingly live in fear of the Twitter reaction to even the smallest misstep, but as I head to Florida to write about both the Mets and Yankees for SNY, there's still nothing better than baseball and sunshine in February.

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Sep 26, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) reacts after the top of the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 26, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) reacts after the top of the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Everyone seems shocked that Jacob deGrom left the door open to the notion he'd consider limiting his innings in 2019 if he doesn't the contract extension he wants. But, sorry, I can't buy into the outrage.

This isn't Matt Harvey, suddenly springing the idea of shutting himself down in the heat of a September pennant race.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, John Harper
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter | Much is still to be determined, but if D.J. Lemahieu winds up being a glorified utility infielder in the Bronx, which seems to be a distinct possibility, then wouldn't it be fair to suggest the Yankees -- with the questions surrounding CC Sabathia -- may have been better off spending that money on, say, Gio Gonzalez?

Or better yet, Wade Miley?

It's too late in the case of Miley, who signed the bargain deal of the winter with the Astros -- one year, $4.5 million -- apparently because nobody believes the story that he re-invented himself with a cutter, despite his 2.57 ERA over 18 starts with the Brewers last season...

Tags: CC Sabathia, John Harper
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter | : You could see this coming from the day Brodie Van Wagenen crossed over from agent to GM, and now he's in a staredown with Jacob deGrom that is not only pivotal for the organization, but perhaps his own credibility with his players.

Van Wagenen, after all, wants to be a good-guy boss, having spent years as an agent cultivating relationships with players. Two of his big moves this offseason were acquiring former clients, Robinson Cano and Jed Lowrie, and he made both at least partly out of a strong belief in what he came to know about them as people as well as players.

Furthermore, BVW has spent the offseason declaring his faith in the 2019 Mets, talking them up as favorites with a bravado that has been well received by the players.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, John Harper
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

In a month or so, it will feel as if Spring Training may never end. But for now, as official workouts begin in the next few days, there is hardly a more welcome sight in sports -- especially for New Yorkers looking desperately for a reason to believe the city's championship drought has to end sometime.

Yes, nothing sells hope quite like baseball in the Florida sunshine, especially when there is reason for optimism in Tampa...

Tags: Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, Greg Bird, Luis Severino, John Harper
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

In a month or so, it will feel as if Spring Training may never end. But for now, as official workouts begin in the next few days, there is hardly a more welcome sight in sports -- especially for New Yorkers looking desperately for a reason to believe the city's championship drought has to end sometime.

Yes, nothing sells hope quite like baseball in the Florida sunshine, especially when there is reason for optimism in Port St. Lucie.

all in the Florida sunshine, especially when there is reason for optimism in Port St. Lucie.

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MLB commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. answers questions from media during workouts the day before Game 1 of the 2015 World Series against the New York Mets at Kauffman Stadium. (Denny Medley/USA Today Sports Images)
MLB commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. answers questions from media during workouts the day before Game 1 of the 2015 World Series against the New York Mets at Kauffman Stadium. (Denny Medley/USA Today Sports Images)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter | It's no secret that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is determined to bring about dramatic pace-of-play changes to his sport. How determined has suddenly become a most intriguing question, especially for the Mets.

Suddenly an avenue has opened for Manfred to immediately implement the radical change that would require pitchers to face a minimum of three batters per appearance, which would prevent managers from matching up batter-by-batter with relievers and surely improve the pace of late-inning baseball.

The catch is that MLB owners would have to agree to immediately adopt the DH in the National League, as counter-proposed by the Players Association. And that is something that is seen as unlikely, SNY's Andy Martino reported earlier Wednesday...

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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Last year there was a relatively simple answer to the question of why baseball's free-agent market was frozen:

Wait 'til next year.

Only here it is, next year, and two of the most desirable free agents to ever hit the market -- Bryce Harper and Manny Machado at age 26 -- are among the 100-plus major leaguers still unsigned as spring training approaches, so now it's clear the climate officially has changed in the way teams are doing business.

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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Last year there was a relatively simple answer to the question of why baseball's free-agent market was frozen:

Wait 'til next year.

Only here it is, next year, and two of the most desirable free agents to ever hit the market -- Bryce Harper and Manny Machado at age 26 -- are among the 100-plus major leaguers still unsigned as spring training approaches, so now it's clear the climate officially has changed in the way teams are doing business.

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Sandy Alderson
Sandy Alderson

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter | If the trade for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz pays off in a big way for the Mets, new GM Brodie Van Wagenen will be hailed for his boldness and creativity. But to some degree such success would also vindicate Sandy Alderson as well.

After all, it's fair to say the Alderson regime's biggest failure was poor drafting that led to a weak farm system. Certainly, I made that case more than once over the last couple of years, when injuries at the big-league level exposed the organization's glaring lack of talent in the high minors.

However, that assessment needs to be updated a bit, and now that Alderson has officially moved on to become a senior advisor with the A's, where he won a championship as GM and groomed Billy Beane for his Brad Pitt moment, there's a chance his tenure with the Mets will look better in the years to come...

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Lucas Duda, Michael Conforto, Michael Cuddyer, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter | In the interest of equal time, if you will, I thought it only fair to bring the Mets into this week's Hall of Fame discussion, if not the actual proceedings. 

Because, let's face it, in a feel-good week for the Yankees, the only good news to come out of the voting for Mets' fans was the lack of a significant increase for Roger Clemens. The Rocket may be paying the big price for his steroids taint but in Queens he remains forever branded as a villain for once famously throwing that broken bat in Mike Piazza's direction.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Robinson Cano, John Harper
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Sonny Gray out of the Bronx 00:00:34
New York Yankees have shipped Sonny Gray to the Reds, a change of scenery might be best for the young pitcher.

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter | Yankees GM Brian Cashman has made precious few mistakes in recent years while building a young playoff team via trades and home-grown player development, but his whiff on Sonny Gray officially went into the books on Monday when he traded the starting pitcher for a prospect and a draft choice.

Even if the return on the three-way trade with the Reds and Mariners produces value in the coming years -- and the Yankees are high on a 21-year old outfielder named Josh Stowers -- Gray's failure in New York can't be erased.

Ideally he was supposed to be something akin to what Justin Verlander was for the Astros -- a final piece of a championship puzzle. Instead, Gray left Yankee decision-makers dumbfounded by his apparent inability to cope with pitching in New York.

Tags: Cincinnati Reds, Sonny Gray, John Harper
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 (Jayne Kamin-Oncea)
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

John Harper, SNY.tv | TwitterMaybe Alex Cora was simply playing to the crowd at the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday night. But suffice it to say he didn't seem concerned that the Yankees had just added another weapon, Adam Ottavino, to the best bullpen in baseball. 

"Somebody might write this, I don't care," Cora said upon receiving his AL Manager of the Year award. "If you guys thought last year was special, wait 'til this year."

Tags: Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, Boston Red Sox, John Harper
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter | Curious as to why the Mets hired a hitting coach, Chili Davis, who lasted all of one year with the Cubs? Here are a couple of reasons to believe it was more of a well-reasoned decision than you might think.

First, there is not a more perilous job in baseball these days than that of hitting coach, thanks partly to the launch-angle revolution, which has way too many hitters trying to be J.D. Martinez, and partly to the rise of personal hitting coaches that convince way too many hitters in the offseason they can be J.D. Martinez.

That also explains why, by long-time hitting coach Dave Magadan's count, no fewer than 17 teams this offseason had openings for that very position.

Tags: Yoenis Cespedes, John Harper
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New York Yankees former player Mel Stottlemyre is introduced during the 66th annual Old Timers Day game at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE)
New York Yankees former player Mel Stottlemyre is introduced during the 66th annual Old Timers Day game at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter | Mel Stottlemyre always seemed to be at peace with the fact that he came along at the wrong time in Yankee history, an All-Star pitcher on many bad teams during one of the longest championship droughts the franchise has ever known.

"I was always too blessed to think of it that way," Stottlemyre told me once.

Even after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the blood cancer that he succumbed to on Monday at age 77, Stottlemyre had the relentlessly positive outlook of a man who was grateful for his lot in life, as a major league player and then coach with five world championship rings...

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Harper, McCarron share HOF votes 00:00:54
SNY's John Harper and Anthony McCarron debate their votes on whether Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be enshrined in Cooperstown.

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Even with four newly elected Hall of Famers off the ballot, and my anti-PED stance firmly in place regarding Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens, I still voted for 10 players this year, the sixth straight time I've used the maximum number of spots allowed. 

So I guess I'm officially a Big Hall guy now, after years of thinking Small Hall was the way to go. And I'm OK with that. 

Not that I'm good with Harold Baines being elected by a 16-person committee in December, but I do believe that for years baseball writers as a whole tended to take too much pride in making the Hall of Fame more exclusive than those in other sports, at the expense of rewarding excellence. 

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Brodie Van Wagenen, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, and Jeff Wilpon (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Richard Drew/AP)
Brodie Van Wagenen, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, and Jeff Wilpon (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Richard Drew/AP)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Since it appears the Mets are largely finished making offseason moves, even if they really should be doing more to make good on their all-in declaration for 2019, now they have to hope a potential nightmare scenario doesn't unfold around them in the NL East.

That would be Bryce Harper returning to the Nationals, Manny Machado signing with the Phillies, and Craig Kimbrel reuniting with the Braves.

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New York Yankees relief pitcher Zach Britton throws the ball during the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the 2018 ALDS at Fenway Park. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Zach Britton throws the ball during the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the 2018 ALDS at Fenway Park. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The theme of this Yankees' offseason is finding ways to close the gap on the Red Sox, and there's no denying the rivals to the north established a clear level of superiority last season.

Yet it's plausible to make the case that, at least for the moment, the Yankees have opened an important gap of their own over the Sox. Right now, in fact, they own a Patriots vs. Jets-like advantage in the bullpen, if I can extend the New York-Boston angle to make a point.

Tags: Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Jonathan Holder, Boston Red Sox, Tommy Kahnle, John Harper
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Apr 10, 2018; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) prior to the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Apr 10, 2018; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) prior to the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter | : So Omar Minaya went on MLB Radio this week and downplayed expectations that Yoenis Cespedes is being counted on at all by the Mets in 2019.

"If he gives us anything this year, that is gravy," was the way he put it.

Now wait a minute...

Tags: Anthony Swarzak, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jacob deGrom, Jerry Blevins, Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Yoenis Cespedes, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
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Relief pitcher David Robertson (Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)
Relief pitcher David Robertson (Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

For all of the promise their starting rotation offers in 2019, the Mets badly need to add depth there as insurance against the inevitable injuries that will occur. 

My solution? Sign David Robertson

Let me explain.

Tags: David Robertson, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Noah Syndergaard, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, John Harper
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen recently surprised just about everybody by saying the Mets should be regarded as NL-East favorites next season, prompting the obvious question:

Has the new GM done enough, coming off two disastrous seasons, to warrant such a bold pronouncement? The short answer is no, in large part because the division is shaping up as perhaps the most competitive in the National League next season -- excluding the Marlins, of course...

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Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado hits an RBI double during the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. (Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports)
Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado hits an RBI double during the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. (Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

In some ways the Yankees seem to be in a perfect spot to win any staredown for the services of one Manny Machado, dictating the terms along the way.

The Phillies, after all, are the team that promised its fan base it is ready to spend stupid money this offseason, which sounded like something of a guarantee to sign either Machado or Bryce Harper.

They are also the team that desperately needs a superstar in its lineup and at the box office, after their young players hit a wall and turned a feel-good season of contention into a September collapse.

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 (SNY Illustration)
(SNY Illustration)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

When the news broke on Tuesday that Matt Harvey is signing with the Angels, my first thought was, well, at least Anaheim is closer to Los Angeles than San Diego. 

It was only last April, remember, when Harvey, already relegated to Mickey Callaway's bullpen by then, had such a craving to party in LA that he hopped a ride from San Diego, where the Mets were playing a weekend series. 

To which Sandy Alderson essentially threw up his hands and said enough is enough. 

Tags: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Matt Harvey, John Harper
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

With trade speculation dominating the offseason, here's list of Mets who have been rumored in deals, where they rank from most likely to be traded to least likely, and why.

1. OF Juan Lagares

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Jacob deGrom, Juan Lagares, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

With trade speculation dominating the offseason, here's a list of Yankees who have been rumored in deals, where they rank them from most likely to be traded to least likely, and why.

1. RHP Sonny Gray

Tags: Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, Greg Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury, Miguel Andujar, Sonny Gray, John Harper
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Brian Cashman was just messing with everybody, especially Scott Boras, with his "Death Star" quote, right? 

Then again, if the White Sox are the only team in hot pursuit of Bryce Harper, as some baseball people seem to think, maybe anything really is still possible as it pertains to his free agency. 

Who knows? Cashman seemingly had done everything but submit to a lie-detector test to convince the world he has no interest in signing Harper, and then suddenly he was making a Star Wars reference that plays into the Yankees' Evil Empire image. 

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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter | : After re-signing with the Yankees, J.A. Happ will be a perfectly fine No. 4 starter in the Bronx. And such a deal makes more sense than giving Patrick Corbin six years at something approaching the $140 million he received from the Nationals.

It probably just doesn't sound quite as appealing to Yankee fans after all the buzz about a potential trade for Noah Syndergaard the last couple of days.

Same goes for the weeks of speculation about trading for Corey Kluber that apparently goes by the wayside now...

Tags: CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Miguel Andujar, Noah Syndergaard, John Harper
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How Yankees could get Machado 00:01:17
The New York Yankees have been linked to Manny Machado but would it benefit them if they traded rookie Miguel Andujar in order to get him?

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Reports coming out of the winter meetings in Las Vegas on Tuesday have indicated that the Yankees might be willing to include third baseman Miguel Andujar in a potential blockbuster three-way trade with the Mets and Marlins.

The deal, which became the talk of the meetings on Monday night, would have the Mets sending Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees, while getting back catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins.

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has made it clear he'd love to have Realmuto, but he doesn't seem willing to meet the Marlins' asking price, which would involve some combination of Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto.

Tags: Miami Marlins, Miguel Andujar, Noah Syndergaard, John Harper
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Sep 25, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Sep 25, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Mets fans don't want to trade Noah Syndergaard -- I get it. 

But are you telling me you wouldn't deal him for J.T. Realmuto and Miguel Andujar, with the understanding that Brodie Van Wagenen would then sign another starting pitcher?

Come on, you can't love the long blond hair that much.

Tags: Miguel Andujar, Noah Syndergaard, John Harper
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