Was Craig Breslow's decision to throw to third in the seventh inning of last night's World Series game correct?

He says yes. His manager is not so sure.

Breslow, as quoted by Evan Drellich at MassLive.com, "I looked up and I saw that I definitely had a play there. I didn't make a good throw. That's not a throw I make too much, but it's one I need to make there."

Manager John Farrell: "I'm sure Craig would like to have that ball back and hold it with a chance to shut down the inning right there..."

I think they are both right.

 

Lets set the scene. In the seventh inning of game two, Craig Breslow relieved John Lackey. His first, and more important mistake was walking the first batter he faced - Daniel Descalso - by wOBA, the weakest hitter in the Cardinals lineup. The next batter, Matt Carpenter lifted a fly ball to shallow left field that tied the game. Jonny Gomes' throw home was late and off line. Breslow picked the ball up and threw to third, thinking he could nab John Jay there. He airmailed the throw. That was mistake number two.

This is the diamond the moment before Breslow released the baseball.

 

I estimate that the speedy Jay, who is already sprinting full bore, is about 30 feet from third base in that frame. In just over a second, Jay will be sliding into third base. IF Breslow were to release the ball at that instant, he has about a second to get the ball to third base. Remember  he needs to give Bogaerts time to apply the tag. I estimate that Breslow is 100 feet from third base. If he had a full second to get the ball there, he merely has to throw the ball at 68 miles an hour. He can do that. But he doesn't have a full second. Because Bogaerts needs time to catch and apply a tage. If he has three quarters of a second, he would have to throw the ball at 91 miles an hour to nail Jay. His four-seam fastball  averages 91 miles an hour. He can do that. That's off a mound, with a windup. If Breslow was doing the math, which he wasn't, if he had anything less than three quarters of a second from the instant of release to Bogaerts' glove, he should not have thrown the ball.

And yet, it makes perfect sense for Breslow to think he had a play on Jay at third base.

Here is the diamond as Breslow was scooping up the ball after it left catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia's glove.

Jay is barely 20 feet from second. This picture perfectly captures the reason Breslow thought he could throw Jay out at third. Go back to his quote, "I looked up and saw I definitely had a play there.. " This is the part of the play he got right. However, the issue for Breslow is what happened in the intervening frames. He's no infielder. He was too slow in getting from picking the ball to his release. While he was grabbing the ball off the grass, gathering himself to throw, and hopping, Jay was still running. Take a look for example, at how far Breslow hopped. He fielded the ball outside the dirt circle around home plate. He threw from comfortably inside it. That's maybe a six-foot hop. While Breslow was airborn, Jay was running. While Breslow was winding up to throw, Jay was running. Perhaps Dustin Pedroia, Stephen Drew, Bogaerts or a well-practiced infielder could and would have thrown Jay out at third.

What happened? This.

Lets subtract eight feet of height from Breslow's throw. What if it was shin-high and Bogaerts just had to catch the ball and slap a tag on the sliding runner? It looks from that shot as though it would have been late.

By the time Breslow released the ball, it was too late. This is the part Farrell got right.

Baseball players do not reach the big leagues by thinking in general that they will not make a play. Rather the reverse is the case. Guys reach the big leagues, by thinking that they can make the play. They work and practice to execute, and they are right - they do make the play - more often than anyone else on the planet, that's what makes them big leaguers. But in this case, Breslow was doing something unfamiliar, throwing to third at maximum velocity under time pressure, that he rarely ever does.

So, in a sense, one of the hardest things for professional athletes to do, and the thing they do not train to do, is, in the most pressure-packed moment that their sport offers, think "no, I cannot make that play." Coaches preach endlessly in the minors, "make the right play."

In fact, I would argue, the key moment, and even better example of this, came earlier in the sequence.

Imagine what would have happened, if instead of throwing home, Jonny Gomes had thrown to the cutoff man. Sure, the tying run would have scored from second. But Jay would never have started towards third. And the Cards and Sox would have had a tie game with runners at first and second. Maybe in this alternate universe, Carlos Beltran still would have singled off of Breslow to drive home a run as he did in real life. In this case, that would have put the Cardinals ahead 3-2 instead of 4-2. Or Jay didn't score on the single. Or perhaps, Breslow retired Beltran to keep the game tied.

Gomes has thrown out two runners at home plate in 2013, a career-high. He's nailed seven runners at home in eight big league seasons, under one per year. Just once in his career, in 2009 with Cincinnati, has he thrown out a runner at home plate on a sacrifice fly.  For his career, Gomes is one  run above average with his arm.

And SoSometimes the best decision is not to make the throw and cede the lead. Neither Gomes nor Breslow was thinking about the probability that he would succeed on his individual throw (and necessary catch, and tag). Neither was evaluating the reward of a successful throw versus the cost of an unsuccessful event. Neither was thinking about the much greater possibility of something going wrong. But maybe they should have.

Sometimes, the road to immortality (in a baseball sense) is for a player to best recognize his own limitations and learn to say no. Or just be Carlos Beltran and hit .339/.448/.714 (!) over 10 series in a post-season career.

Tags: Analysis, Toby Hyde

Free-agent OF Dexter Fowler, Royals OF Lorenzo Cain and Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen (USA Today Images)
Free-agent OF Dexter Fowler, Royals OF Lorenzo Cain and Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen (USA Today Images)

The price on position players -- especially outfielders -- is going down by the minute, according to multiple MLB market markers.

The top-tier, free-agent market includes outfielders Dexter Fowler, Jose Bautista and Ian Desmond, while the trade market reportedly includes Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Charlie Blackmon (Rockies), Adam Eaton (White Sox), Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson (Royals), Odubel Herrera (Phillies) and Jay Bruce (Mets), among others.

"If I'm Fowler, I give up making $18-20 million a season and quickly grab one of those four-year, $60 million offers, because it might not be there if he waits," a team executive told me.

In regards to the Mets, this doesn't bode well for wanting to trade Bruce. And, it probably explains why reports now indicate Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto are off the table. Because, if prices are dropping, it's not worth moving them.

Tags: Jay Bruce, Matthew Cerrone
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Jay Bruce (19) has dominated the Mets news cycle during the Winter Meetings (USA TODAY Sports)
Jay Bruce (19) has dominated the Mets news cycle during the Winter Meetings (USA TODAY Sports)

Mets GM Sandy Alderson should have at least one or two reasonable trades on the table for OF Jay Bruce, according to teams that have talked with the Mets.

However, because he's comfortable with slow-playing the free-agent market for relief pitchers, Alderson appears totally fine holding off on dealing Bruce for an arm, while letting the outfield market play out and revisiting his options during December.

"Things are generally slow," Alderson explained Tuesday, talking to reporters. "Hopefully things start to loosen up a little bit. ...Clubs are still trying to figure out exactly what they think is exactly the best way to go. The contours of the market are still a little bit vague, so you don't see a lot of movement."

Tags: Jay Bruce, Matthew Cerrone
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 (Geoff Burke)
(Geoff Burke)

Tuesday's News and Rumors...

The Mets contacted the Royals about closer Wade Davis >> Read more!

The Mets also may have interest in free-agent relievers Matt Belisle, Joe Blanton, Junichi Tazawa, Drew Storen and Boone Logan, as Jerry Blevins is seeking a three-year deal >> Read more!

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he and his staff are planning to change the workload and routine of their starting pitchers >> Read more!

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Oct 17, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Wade Davis (17) and center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) celebrates after beating the Toronto Blue Jays in game two of the ALCS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports (Denny Medley)
Oct 17, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Wade Davis (17) and center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) celebrates after beating the Toronto Blue Jays in game two of the ALCS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports (Denny Medley)

Dec 7 | 6:15 AM

The Mets asked the Royals about closer Wade Davisbut were asked to part with elite SS prospect Amed Rosario, who the team considers untouchable, according to Daily News reporter Kristie Ackert.

Instead, the Cubs are close to acquiring Davis for 24-year-old OF Jorge Soleraccording to multiple reports on MLB Trade Rumors.

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Aug 4, 2016; Bruce (19) celebrates a three run home run with Granderson (3) (Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Aug 4, 2016; Bruce (19) celebrates a three run home run with Granderson (3) (Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Dec 6 | 6:15PM

The Mets are definitively trying to trade OF Jay Bruce, not Curtis Grandersonrival team executives told MLB reporter Jon Heyman late Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Mets, current offers for Bruce have been 'underwhelming,' Newsday's Marc Carig tweeted earlier in the day.

Tags: Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce
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Sandy Alderson is surrounded by reporters during the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings (Credit: Manning-USA TODAY Sports)
Sandy Alderson is surrounded by reporters during the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings (Credit: Manning-USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets are not yet willing to pay some of Curtis Granderson's $15 million salary or Jay Bruce's $13 million salary to help trade them during this week's Winter Meetings.

"Not at this point," Alderson said Monday, when specifically asked about the scenario.

Alderson is not usually this vague, though, which makes me think he'll eventually give in. However, right now, it's early enough in the off season that he isn't feeling desperate. Instead, I'm hearing they're more likely to give up a prospect or two in the deal, so the acquiring team is incentivized to absorb Bruce's $13 million.

Remember, the goal here is to a acquire as many relief pitchers as possible before the start of spring training, and I see Alderson eventually getting his men one of the following ways...

Tags: Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Matthew Cerrone
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Nov 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler (24) talks during the World Series victory rally in Grant Park. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Wierzbicki)
Nov 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler (24) talks during the World Series victory rally in Grant Park. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Wierzbicki)

The Mets are not trading both Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce so they can sign free-agent OF Dexter Fowlera high-ranking team official told SNY's Steve Gelbs.

This is disappointing, if true. I'm sure it is, but I also know Mets GM Sandy Alderson and his front office tend to make statements based on what's happening at that specific moment, and it does not necessarily recognize where things are headed.

Remember, Alderson and his staff repeatedly told reporters that the Mets wouldn't release Jason Bay, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, nor would they be trading Carlos Beltran and RA Dickey, and they eventually did all of the above. I'm not saying the Mets will sign Fowler, or trade both Bruce or Granderson, I'm simply suggesting that we all take what they say with a grain of salt... because things have a way of changing as the environment changes around them...

That said, this is exactly the move I want to see the Mets make.

Tags: Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Matthew Cerrone
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MNoah Syndergaard (34), Jacob deGrom (48) and Matt Harvey (33) walk in from the bullpen at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
MNoah Syndergaard (34), Jacob deGrom (48) and Matt Harvey (33) walk in from the bullpen at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

For the second time this offseason, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he and his staff are planning to change the workload and routine of their starting pitchers, he told reporters Tuesday at the Winter Meetings.

Last month, Alderson said he is open to occasionally using a six-man rotation and mixing in spot starters so guys can get extended rest between appearances.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler
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Robert Gsellman pitches against the Braves last Tuesday in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens/AP)
Robert Gsellman pitches against the Braves last Tuesday in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens/AP)

Teams have asked about RHP Robert Gsellman, but Sandy Alderson has told them he's not available, sources told ESPN.com's Adam Rubin.

Gsellman, 23, had a 2.42 ERA (2.63 FIP) and 1.27 WHIP, while striking out 42 batters in 44 2/3 innings, during seven starts and one relief appearance for the Mets in 2016.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Zack Wheeler
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Free-agent relievers Fernando Salas, Brad Ziegler, Joaquin Benoit and Joe Smith (Credit: USA Today Images)
Free-agent relievers Fernando Salas, Brad Ziegler, Joaquin Benoit and Joe Smith (Credit: USA Today Images)

Dec 6 | 4:00PM

Free-agent LH reliever Jerry Blevins is seeking a three-year deal worth $5-6 million a season, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo reported on Twitter.

"If Blevins is willing to do a two-year deal, maybe Sandy Alderson can reel him back," MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone wrote Nov. 22. "But, if Blevins finds himself eventually weighing three-year offers, I bet Alderson passes and, instead, signs a veteran or two on minor-league deals."

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Tebow during an Arizona Fall League game at Camelback Ranch (Credit: Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today)
Tebow during an Arizona Fall League game at Camelback Ranch (Credit: Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today)

The Mets haven't decided whether OF Tim Tebow will be invited to play in big league games during Spring Training, GM Sandy Alderson said Tuesday.

"That's a decision we'll make some time in the near future," Alderson said, adding that there's "no benefit" to having him in big league camp.

Mets manager Terry Collins said earlier Tuesday that Tebow would play for the Mets during Grapefruit League games this spring, even if he's in minor-league camp

However, late last month, Tebow would not say if he plans to attend Spring Training.

Tags: Tim Tebow
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Sale of Two Cities 00:02:22
The DNL panel discusses the ramifications of the Chris Sale trade to the Boston Red Sox in a blockbuster move at the Winter Meetings.

The Nationals will not be adding Chris Sale, who is about to be traded to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech and two other prospects, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.

Earlier Tuesday, Rosenthal said the Nationals would have included RHP prospects Lucas Giolito and Victor Robles in a deal with Chicago. However, they've been reluctant to put them in a deal for Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen, who they've reportedly been pursuing since last summer.

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In honor of Mets media relation executive Shannon Forde, who lost her long, difficult battle with breast cancer last March, MLB announced Monday it will renovate a youth field in Forde's honor in her hometown of Little Ferry, N.J.

"I think a picture says a thousand words," Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said at a press conference at the Winter Meetings. "This is the group that loves and misses Shannon every day."

To raise money for the project, which is part of their annual Play Ball program, MLB is auctioning off a number of unique opportunities, including a pitching lesson from Johnny Cueto, player and manager meet-and-greets, a dinner with Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez.

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David Wright waits during batting practice before facing the San Diego Padres. (AP)
David Wright waits during batting practice before facing the San Diego Padres. (AP)

David Wright will be the team's primary third baseman entering spring training, Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Monday during the Winter Meetings.

According to Alderson, Wright is on track to start baseball activities during December.

Last month, Alderson told WOR 710 AM radio that, while he's hopeful that Wright will return, the Mets need to be realistic about what to expect from him in 2017.

"I think that we're very hopeful he's gonna be able to come back and be productive," Alderson said. However, "I think we have to be realistic about how many games we can expect him to perform."

Tags: David Wright
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New York Mets' Jose Reyes (7) reacts after hitting a game-tying, two-run home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens/AP)
New York Mets' Jose Reyes (7) reacts after hitting a game-tying, two-run home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens/AP)

The Mets will work out Jose Reyes in the outfield during Spring Training, Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Monday at the MLB Winter Meetings.

"We didn't want to do it last year, because we didn't want him working out at multiple new positions," Alderson explained about when the Mets acquired Reyes last summer.

Tags: Jose Reyes
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Alderson answers fans' questions 00:05:56
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson answers fan-submitted questions on Mets Hot Stove.

New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson talks David Wright's health, Jose Reyes' position in the lineup and what he thinks of Travis d'Arnaud when he answers fan-submitted questions on Mets Hot Stove.

Tags: David Wright, Jose Reyes, Travis d'Arnaud
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McCutchen (22) at bat at PNC Park (Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
McCutchen (22) at bat at PNC Park (Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

The Rangers, Dodgers, Nationals, Mariners and a 'mystery team' have all recently asked about trading for Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, according to reports on MLB Trade Rumors.

The Nationals have pursuing him since July, Jayson Stark of ESPN recently said to Twitter. However, in addition to the above teams, the Mets, Orioles, Blue Jays, Giants, Phillies and Cardinals have all reportedly expressed interest in acquiring a center fielder this off season.

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SNY at MLB Winter Meetings 00:19:03
Andy Martino and Steve Gelbs discuss all the up-to-date topics with the Mets and everything else in the league at the Winter Meetings.

Earlier today, also on Facebook, MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone answered questions during a Live Q&A about the overall hot stove, and what's next for the Mets >> To watch Cerrone's Q&A, click here!

Cerrone will be doing another Facebook Live Q&A for SNY tomorrow around 11 AM ET, after which Gelbs and Martino will return at 1:30 PM ET with another Winter Meetings Live from Washington, DC.

SNY will be live streaming Sandy Alderson's mid-day talk with reporters on their Facebook page each day at 3:30 PM during the Winter Meetings, which you can follow here.

Lastly, later tonight, Cerrone and co-host Robert Brender will be recording their second Winter Meetings Podcast, recapping the day and looking forward to what's on tap for Tuesday. 

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Travis d'Arnaud catches at Chase Field (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Travis d'Arnaud catches at Chase Field (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

"The Mets are fully planning to go with Travis d'Arnaud as the primary catcher in 2017 and don't foresee going the external route," ESPN.com's Adam Rubin wrote late Sunday.

According to Rubin, the Mets do not intend on pursuing free-agent C Welington Castillo, who was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks this past weekend.

Tags: Kevin Plawecki, Rene Rivera, Travis d'Arnaud
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Photo: Chris McShane
Photo: Chris McShane

The Mets' top prospect for 2017 is 21-year-old SS Amed Rosario, according an organizational Top 10 list by Baseball America..

The team recently added Rosario, RHP Marcos Molina, OF Wuilmer Becerra, RHP Chris Flexen, and Nido to their 40-man roster, which will protect them from December's Rule 5 Draft.

According to TPG Mets, no other players on BA's top 10 list are eligible.

Tags: Gabriel Ynoa, Gavin Cecchini, Robert Gsellman
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