The New York Mets have recently made some significant moves that are expected to improve the team in more ways than one. After making a surprising trade with the Cleveland Indians, the Mets were able to acquire both All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and former Cy Young contender Carlos Carrasco. Although Carrasco is out with a hamstring injury, he should be back soon.
With this one deal, the Mets were able to simultaneously upgrade in the three main facets of the game: defense, offense and starting pitching. To make the deal possible, the Mets had to give up a future star shortstop in Andres Jimenéz, a solid hitting shortstop in Amed Rosario, rookie right-hander Josh Wolf and minor league outfielder Isaiah Greene.
The move is considered a blockbuster trade and many critics think it is one-sided, in the Mets favor of course. Cleveland is strapped for cash so they had to optimize the value they had in Lindor, who is set to become one of the top MLB free agents in 2022. The 27-year old superstar said he will only talk about a contract extension before the season begins. Otherwise he will go the free agent route. (Sign the man already!)
Lindor sports a .285 career batting average and hit over 30 home runs for three straight seasons from 2017 to 2019.
Carrasco is entering his eleventh MLB season and has a 3.77 career ERA. The impressive right-hander from Venezuela posted an 18-win season in 2017 and 17 wins in 2018.
Although Jimenéz looked like a budding superstar last season, I think the Mets new owner, Steve Cohen, is trying to win now, which is what fans want to hear. And I don’t blame them, since the Mets last celebrated a World Series Championship way back in 1986. Carrasco, who is the elder statesman between the two, wasn’t even born until the year after in ‘87!
I like the trade for a variety of reasons. Besides strengthening the rotation to help two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, it gives the team a great hitter in Lindor and greatly improves the team defensively up the middle. The Mets are counting on Luis Gillorme and Jonathan Villar to backup the infield off the bench. Gillorme has proven to be a very good hitter coming up through the Mets’ farm system and Villar hit 24 homers with 73 RBI when he was with the Baltimore Orioles in 2019.
The Mets are also stronger up the middle because they signed free agent All-Star catcher, James McCann, to a four year contract. McCann ranked in the top-10 in hitting among all MLB catchers during the past two seasons and is one of three catchers who has caught over 100 base-stealers since 2015.
New York also added RHP Taijuan Walker, who looks to be the third starter when the season begins, behind DeGrom and Marcus Stroman. Walker comes in with a 35-34 career record and an ERA of 3.84.
There is no doubt the Mets already appear to be better on paper in 2021 compared to last season, however, they may need an upgrade at the center field position and they should keep looking to further strengthen the bullpen.
Although I like Brandon Nimmo’s offensive approach in the leadoff spot – because all he does is get on base, however, I’m still not convinced he will be good enough defensively in center field. I do like the fact they signed Albert Almora Jr. and Kevin Pillar as backup outfielders. Both appear to be sound defensive players and Pillar was in the running for a gold glove a few seasons back.
I thought George Springer was the perfect fit but that ship has sailed since he signed a six-year, $150 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. Springer seems to always come through in clutch playoff situations with an explosive bat and solid defense. Although Springer’s career average is only .270, he clubbed over 30 homers, both in 2017 and 2019. Good thing is, I will still be able to enjoy watching Springer continue to be a Yankee-killer – ha!
Sometimes I think it takes one or two big trades or free agent signings to put a team over the top. Prime example, the Los Angeles Dodgers. As much as I dislike the Dodgers (since they crushed the Mets in the playoffs back in 1988), they have been solid, perennial contenders recently, until they made the big splash by acquiring Mookie Betts, who helped them win it all last season. How could the Mets not land a perennial MVP candidate named “Mookie”? I know, I kept asking myself this same question.
The only other glaring weakness the Mets need to address is the bullpen. Although the Metropolitans signed RHP Trevor May and former Met, LHP Jerry Blevins – as the old saying goes, you can never have too much pitching. And we all know the Mets bullpen has been consistently inconsistent for nearly two decades now. And when they do well, they always seem to find a way to blow big games in clutch situations.
While I don’t like to call for people’s jobs, it seems like the Mets need an attitude change in the bullpen. Although I am proud of my fellow Puerto Rican, Ricky Bones, it seems like he’s been the bullpen coach forever (really since 2011), and hasn’t been able to instill the confidence, consistency, tenacity and strategy needed in a big league reliever. I believe most players have the athletic ability to perform, however, good coaching can instill confidence and help them master their craft.
But we can’t put all the blame on the coaches. The GM, scouts and front office need to do a better job at evaluating players and their intestinal fortitudes. They need to ensure the players' minds are right for performing under the big spotlight that comes with playing baseball in New York City.
After watching a few spring training games this season, it appears the Mets do have a pretty scary lineup. It looks like Nimmo will be leading off and either Lindor or “The Flying Squirrel” Jeff McNeil in the two-hole, followed by Dom “The Bomb” Smith, “Polar Bear” Pete Alonso (who appears to be locked in already) and Michael “Con-fuerte” Conforto (“fuerte” means strong in Spanish) batting fifth. J.D. Davis and McCann should also provide some much needed pop to the bottom of the lineup.
It should be an exciting year for the Mets, as long as they can stay healthy of course. And due to these uncertain times, who knows what the future has in store for the New York Mets, or for any of us frankly. Hopefully, we can get the majority of the fans and players vaccinated, so we can all enjoy a solid baseball season in 2021 and maybe get a chance to safely enjoy a game…in person!
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you would like to send a comment or make a donation, go to the bottom of my homepage. Until next time, let’s go Mets! #nymets #mlb
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Orlando, FL - The 2019-2020 NBA season has finally come to an end after hitting the pause button for over four months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Los Angeles Lakers won their 17th title to tie the Boston Celtics for the most all-time in league history. They did it by beating the Miami Heat in six games after a hard fought series - until the final match where the Lakers cruised to a 106-93 victory.
LeBron James led the way for L.A., winning his fourth NBA Championship and becoming the first player in league history to win the Finals MVP with three different teams. He did it by notching his 28th career playoff triple double leaving him only two behind the all-time leader Magic Johnson.
He couldn't have done it without the help of his superstar big man, Anthony Davis, who showed the world his ability to dominate the game offensively and defensively as well. The 6'10" forward/center exemplified excellent long range shooting, dominance in the paint and tenacity on the defensive end, blocking and changing shots throughout the playoffs.
It seemed like destiny for the second year Laker who once took a Greyhound bus from Chicago to Ohio at age 15 to attend The LeBron Academy summer camp. Davis had also developed a bond with the late great Laker Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, who took Davis under his wing as a rookie in the 2012 Olympics, where they won the gold medal for Team USA.
Another key factor was the play of Rajon Rondo who seemed to come out of a time machine to win his second NBA title after winning his first with the Celtics back in 2008. Rondo played with a cool calmness to keep the team from unraveling against the sharp-shooting Heat team. His passing was exceptionally exquisite, amazingly efficient and he never really seemed to force the issue.
Although Rondo was never really known as a great shooter in his days with the Celtics, he showed a sweet stroke from long range and finished at the rim beautifully. He became only the second player in NBA history to win a title with both the Lakers and Celtics. The other being Clyde Lovellette, who played for the Lakers when they were in Minneapolis.
Kentavius Caldwell-Pope contributed throughout the playoffs with some clutch three-point shooting along with backcourt mate Alex Caruso. Dwight Howard earned his way on the starting lineup as he wreaked havoc on the defensive end and finishing some powerful dunks offensively to contribute to his first NBA title. Kyle Kuzma, who was quiet for most of the playoffs, seemed to find his role by hitting several big three-point shots down the stretch.
Miami's young squad made a valiant effort taking this series to six games when no one even expected them to make it to the Finals. Led by the great Jimmy Butler, they were able to make this an exciting series that created some doubt on whether the heavily favored Lakers would end up victorious.
The Heat definitely showed they belong with the ability to play team ball and make difficult shots over the much taller Lakers defense. Duncan Robinson had a team record 270 threes during the regular season and Tyler Herro deserved to be the youngest player to start in the NBA Finals at just 20 years of age.
The Heat lost their starting point guard and team leading scorer during the playoffs in Goran Dragic, along with starting center Bam Adebayo, both due to injuries in game one. Dragic, who sustained a tear in his foot, tried to make a comeback in game six but it was too late. Adebayo was able to return in game four after suffering a neck injury, but was clearly playing hurt. It came at a time when he was playing some of his best basketball and was considered one of the most improved players in the league.
Nevertheless, it was a great run for the Heat. They should be proud defenders of the Eastern Conference and back in the mix next season. General Manager and Team President, Pat Riley, seems to always find the right pieces to create a competitive roster and Head Coach Erik Spoelstra maintains a good team culture.
As for the Lakers going forward, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them in the finals again next season, provided the super human LeBron continues to play like he is still in is prime at age 35 going on 36. Besides Rondo and Howard, the rest of their team is still fairly young so don't be surprised if LeBron competes for a fifth NBA title, which would only leave him one behind the G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan.
It's Frank Vogel's first NBA title as head Coach in only his second year with the Lakers. The New Jersey native made some key moves and adjustments to put his team over the top, such as inserting Howard into the starting lineup, getting LeBron his rest when needed it and entering Rondo in pivotal game situations.
Although I am not a Lakers fan, it only seemed fitting for them to win this one for the late great Kobe Bryant a.k.a. 'The Black Mamba", who I've always admired as a player. To me, Kobe was the closest thing to Jordan and the five-time champion set a standard for the Lakers organization that few will ever replicate. One of the few being LeBron, who will most likely stay in L.A. with A.D. (for at least one more season) to defend their title.
Although playing in the NBA bubble for three months was challenging for many, it proved to be a success during the COVID-19 pandemic. We got to see some great basketball and thankfully there were no deaths and no major outbreaks related to the bubble.
It came during a scary time when social injustice, police brutality, racial and political tensions, violent and peaceful protests and the Black Lives Matter movement were all front and center across the country. The players were obviously hurting inside, struggling with anxiety, depression, frustration and anger, which caused them to protest some games in the middle of the playoffs. Imagine the feeling of not being able to be there to protect your family during these times.
Although these players get paid millions of dollars playing the game they love, they showed their resilience and spoke up about the issues that were haunting them. However, they generally kept a mature, positive attitude and demanded justice with a strong but respectable approach. I don't recall any NBA players saying they wanted to overthrow the government or defund the police. There seemed to be a general call for social justice, racial unity and equal rights.
I never appreciated watching sports as much as I did during the pandemic. Having no sports on television was definitely abnormal and I sure hope that never happens again. Watching the NBA and other sports was definitely a great escape from the harsh realities of 2020.
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Much has been said about the issues with Major League Baseball and the lack of interest from the younger fan base and the low attendance at the stadiums across the US. I agree it is quite expensive nowadays to take a family of four out to a game, which is probably the most popular reason for the poor attendance. However, there are several other factors MLB fans and former fans believe contributed to the decline in popularity.
Although I love the new food options at the new stadiums, most fans refuse to support a team that charges 10 bucks for a burger and another 10 bucks for a beer, especially if the team continues to put a losing product on the field (and I don't blame them one bit).
Many fans say the game is too slow and takes way too long to finish. Most people don't have the time or patience to sit in front of the TV for three hours plus and watch their team lose a regular season game. I think the MLB can easily solve this issue by implementing a pitch clock. I hear the league is currently testing this out in the minor leagues so we’ll save this vote for later after we see the data. Let’s get this game moving a bit faster to create some excitement!
Others say they don't like the way the game is played with virtually every hitter swinging for the fences as the record number of home runs and strikeouts continues to increase exponentially year-over-year!
Then there's the folks who think the MLB needs to ban defensive shifts altogether because it's supposedly hurting the game. Back when I was growing up the game wasn't overrun with analytics and saber-metrics. Although not as often or as drastic, defensive shifts were always part of the game. However, there were many great hitters like the late Tony Gwynn and the great Wade Boggs and the more recent Ichiro Suzuki, who were all masters at beating the defense. As the old Willie Keeler saying goes, "Hit 'em where they ain't!"
I played baseball most of my life including four years varsity high school and later with my family and friends and we always took pride in bat control. I'm surprised by the amount of professional baseball players that cannot or will not hit to the opposite field. This is something I was taught ever since I played at the Roberto Clemente Little League in Jersey City, NJ. We even took time in the batting cages just to concentrate on hitting to the opposite field. An RBI single to the opposite field is a lot better than striking out with runners in scoring position!
Don't get me wrong, I always wanted to hit for power with my first two swings. But when it comes down to two strikes, its time to bare down and get on base for your team. I understand the old saying, "Chicks dig the long ball!”, however it seems like the game is too hit or miss nowadays, home runs or strikeouts. Stolen bases have become a rarity and the hit-and-run is a lost art. And besides, the game wasn't designed for individual stats and hitting the most home runs. It's still a team sport and the players should be doing whatever it takes to help the team win, even if that means settling for a single to the opposite field.
Although some pitchers like Houston Astros former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander think the balls are juiced, I believe in large part the reason for the rise in home runs has much to do with the newer, much smaller ballparks being built nowadays. Although the players are bigger and stronger than ever before, and more players are opting to go for the home run on every swing, I believe the smaller fields make the players want to swing for the fences more often than not. I saw with my very own eyes my 15 year-old cousin, while playing in a Babe Ruth tournament, hit a home run over the left field fence in the new Yankee Stadium! The new Philly stadium looks like a wiffle-ball field and the New York Mets had to move their fences in three times at Citi Field just to compete with the rest of the league!
So the question we need to vote on is, should the MLB ban defensive shifts to help the hitters? I vote no because I always took pride in being able to beat the shift and if you want to be a great hitter you should too!
Now you can have your voice heard and score points by downloading the MySportsVote app and voting on this poll and many others by clicking on the following link: https://www.mysportsvote.com/mlb/353
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When it comes to sports, music, writing, or editing video, I have immersed myself in some form or another in many different ways through the years.
Growing up in a Puerto Rican household in the late 1970's and early 1980's, I always heard stories of the late great Hall of Famer, Roberto Clemente. What made Clemente special was that he wasn't just a great baseball player. He was also a great humanitarian, as he died at the young age of 38 while attempting to bring supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
Hearing stories of the Legend known as Clemente made me want to excel in sports and hope to one day be able to help others in need as well. Unfortunately, I wasn't good enough to make it to pro sports but I did play 3 varsity sports in high school (basketball, baseball, and soccer) and competed in intramural sports at Rutgers University (flag football). I graduated from the Rutgers University School of Communication in New Brunswick, NJ with a Major in Journalism and Mass Media and a Minor in Puerto Rican and Hispanic Caribbean Studies. I worked as an intern for the New Jersey Nets Broadcasting Department and worked with radio broadcasters Bill Raftery, Bob Papa, and Chris Carrino. I also worked as an editor/reporter for the ESPN SportsTicker. I've interviewed players, coaches, and general mangers in the NBA, NFL, and MLB. I went on to work at a few other sports related television production companies for a total of 10 years working in the sports industry.
I decided to to take my talents into the Water Pump Sales Industry and performed well for 7 years reaching and exceeding sales goals, however, I realized my passion is still, and has always been with sports.
I view myself as a Journalist with an objective point of view but I'm also a die hard Mets, Nets, Magic, and Broncos fan. My friends and I consider ourselves Fantasy Sports experts and future General Managers with excellent scouting ability to project talent at a young age. I hope you will enjoy my opinions and subscribe to see my picks of the week. I'm sure you will be impressed with my results!
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