Mets President Sandy Alderson finally got around to hiring a general manager last week when he chose Arizona Diamondbacks assistant general manager Jared Porter to fill the vacancy created by the dismissal of Brodie Van Wagenen. The 41-year-old Porter also served stints in the Red Sox and Cubs organizations. Based on his resume he certainly has earned the right to be an MLB general manager. That was clearly not the case with Van Wagenen.
At the November press conference which formally introduced Steve Cohen as the Mets owner, Alderson stated his desire to hire both a president of baseball operations and a general manager. A couple of weeks later Alderson said he would be tabling his search for a baseball operations czar until 2021. Alderson is not a fan of needless bureaucracy so my guess is Porter will have that role as well albeit without the fancy title. It will be interesting to see whether Alderson allows Porter to take the lead when it comes to negotiating with top-tier free agents as centerfielder George Springer and Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Trevor Bauer.
Newly acquired Mets catcher James McCann met the media via a Zoom conference last Thursday. He casually mentioned he has worked out in the past with his Nashville neighbor, beleaguered Mets pitcher Steven Matz, who was abysmal last year and really hasn’t been any great shakes since his 2015 rookie season.
McCann recalled how his first big league team, the Tigers, did not tender him a contract two years ago after having spent four seasons with them. That unsettling experience motivated him to up both his offensive and defensive game with his next team, the White Sox.
Matz was lucky the Mets tendered him a contract for 2021 as I wrote two weeks ago. Although it did not come up at McCann’s press confab, it’s clear that his relationship with Matz was a factor, besides price, as to why the Mets were willing to pass on the more accomplished JT Realmuto.
McCann knows that a key job for any catcher is to be a psychologist to his pitchers. Given Matz’s propensity to fall apart when an error is made or if an umpire doesn’t give a strike call, McCann will be earning his Ph.D. this season.
Mets manager Luis Rojas also Zoomed with the media last week. He wouldn’t guarantee the inconsistent Amed Rosario would be the Mets starting shortstop but he also ended speculation he’ll be moved to the outfield in 2021.
He said he spoke to pitcher Seth Lugo who has made it clear he wants to be a starter and not a reliever. “Most pitchers want to start,” Rojas replied, adding he made no assurances to him.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
There have been many pitchers who had reputations for throwing in excess of 100 miles per hour and never lived up to their hype. One of the first to fall into this category was an 18-year-old from Connecticut named Steve Dalkowski who signed with the Baltimore Orioles in 1957.
Dalkowski could throw hard but like a lot of flame-throwing pitchers his control was far from pinpoint. Ted Williams reportedly said he never wanted to hit against him.
During a 1963 spring training game against the Yankees, Dalkowski heard something pop in his elbow when throwing a pitch to Phil Linz (both men passed away in 2020) and his career was ruined. Alcoholism and deep psychological problems scarred him from that point.
“Dalko: The Untold Story of Baseball’s Fastest Pitcher” (Influence Publishers) authored by Bill Demski is a fascinating look at one of baseball’s tragic figures.
Life and style
The most common New Year’s resolution people make is to increase their exercise. There is a danger of doing physical damage if you inadvertently stress certain parts of the body while doing sit-ups or various yoga stretches. A company named PSO-RITE (pso-rite.com) makes a number of small lightweight devices that relieve pressure on your neck and spine which not only help avoid problems in those key parts of our physiology but also have a massaging effect on them,
Last week I mentioned a number of streaming services which enhance home entertainment which is especially valuable given both the cold weather and Covid. I inadvertently omitted AMC Plus (amcplus.com) and Apple TV Plus (appletvplus.com).
AMC Plus gives viewers access to the libraries of IFC, BBC America, Sundance TV and Shudder cable networks as well as original programs. You can binge-watch iconic series as “Mad Men,” “The Walking Dead,” and “Breaking Bad.”
Apple TV Plus has quickly acquired some series which have big names attached to them and have also gotten good reviews such as “The Morning Show,” which stars Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell, and “Ted Lasso,” which has Jason Sudeikis playing a soccer coach who is over his head in England. In addition, Steven Spielberg has revived his “Amazing Stories” which ran on NBC in 1985. It remains a homage to Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone.”