At their Friday post-trade deadline press conference, Mets President Sandy Alderson and acting general manager Zack Scott put the best spin they could on the only move they made, trading minor league outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong to the Chicago Cubs for shortstop Javier Baez and pitcher Trevor Williams.
Baez is a terrific player who Mets fans know has enjoyed many big games against their team. He can adequately fill in at shortstop while Francisco Lindor recuperates from his oblique injury. Given how many punchless nights the Mets offense has endured this year, you can’t blame Alderson and Scott for making the deal.
Alderson and Scott were honest about their frustrations in not being able to land a name starting pitcher by the July 30 cutoff. They’re painfully aware ace Jacob deGrom will likely be out with an inflamed elbow until September. They also know this year’s Cinderella story, pitcher Taijuan Walker, has become a pumpkin since the All-Star Game. No. 2 pitcher Marcus Stroman is slumping as well. It’s unrealistic to expect rookie Taylor Megill, on no one’s radar screen in spring training, to be the ace as they head into the final third of the season.
The marketplace was not favorable to the Mets. “There were too many potential talent buyers and not enough sellers,” Alderson said wistfully. “We saw teams trading some of their best minor league prospects for either rentals or just one more year of control. We weren’t prepared to do that.”
I asked him to compare the trade deadline to 2015 when he obtained outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers with scant minutes to go before the closing bell. “We were concerned primarily with driving down the price,” he chuckled in a thinly veiled swipe at former Mets COO Jeff Wilpon. “We were finally able to pull the trigger on it.” That trade was the catalyst that eventually sent the Mets to the World Series, though Cespedes’ eccentricities and injuries would eventually haunt the club.
The Mets wore black jerseys last Friday night for the first time in nine years. I asked a couple of the players if they were as excited as the fans were about their return. “I like them. They’re fresh and new for us,” Dominic Smith said. “They were the uniforms the Mets wore when I was growing up,” added catcher James McCann.
Why would the Mets draft Vanderbilt University pitcher Kumar Rocker last month and not sign him? Clearly, they didn’t do their due diligence if medical issues were the reason. This is the nonsense fans came to expect from the Wilpons. New owner Steve Cohen shouldn’t get a free pass here.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
Astoria native Bob Costas is television’s best interviewer, in my opinion. He returned to HBO Sports last Friday night with “Back on the Record with Bob Costas.” It was a fast-moving hour as Costas interviewed Charles Barkley and gymnast Aly Raisman. “Back on the Record” will air monthly.
Former Mets and Yankees pitcher and current YES Network air personality David Cone was a panelist on “Back on the Record” and admitted he choked pitching a playoff game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. “I had written a column for the New York Post which was ghost written by Bob Klapisch in which I criticized some of the Dodgers. They let me hear it when I was on the mound. I couldn’t pitch effectively and was awful,” Cone told Costas.
I spoke with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg before the start of the Olympics. He may have been prescient about Simone Biles when he told me the pressure on athletes who compete in gymnastics, swimming, and track & field is a lot greater than it is on tennis, baseball, or basketball players, because we only care about the sports in the former category during the Olympics while we are familiar with those in the latter category all the time. Their endorsement deals and glory don’t hinge on achieving Olympic gold.
NBC Sports officials made a good bet in promoting swimmer Calaeb Dressel in their ads in the weeks leading up to the Olympics. Dressel rewarded their faith by winning five gold medals.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who was feeling the most heat he has ever received since being in his position, quieted the naysayers by acquiring sluggers Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo at the trade deadline.
It didn’t take long for the jokes to start flying about how Joey Gallo should avoid eating in the famed Little Italy eatery Umberto’s Clam House, because the mobster with whom he shares a name met his demise in a violent way there nearly 50 years ago.
Life and style
Last Sunday marked the 40th anniversary of the debut of MTV, which, for better or worse, revolutionized the music industry and pop culture in general. It was somewhat bizarre how the anniversary was commemorated more on Sirius SM’s “80s on 8” channel than it was on MTV itself.
Condolences to a former press box colleague, Tom Moloney, on the recent and sudden passing of his wife, Gladys. The Moloneys lived in Flushing for years and Tom loved to tell me how his wife knew nothing about baseball when she immigrated to the United States from Malaysia in 1989 but quickly become a rabid Mets fan. Having met her on numerous occasions, I can attest Tom wasn’t exaggerating. Her memory will always be a blessing.