Earlier in the week it was announced that the Mets Triple-A hitting coach George Greer had been hired by the St. Louis Cardinals. Greer was named the Cardinals system wide hitting coach. It is well-known that the Mets are in search of a new hitting coach, thus making the timing of this move a bit odd to me.
The Cardinals have been one of the premier franchises in the sport for some time now. They compete for a World Series title year in, year out, leaving many wondering just how do they do it? Very rarely do you see the Cardinals give out long-term deals to overpriced free agents. They let arguable the games best player at the time, Albert Pujols, walk and they didn’t even skip a beat. I credit much of this to their player development and scouting department. An area which the Mets undoubtedly need to improve on.
This is what left me thinking, What exactly are the Cardinals seeing in Greer that the Mets aren’t? If an organization of the Cardinals stature felt he was worth such a position, why wouldn’t the Mets do their best to hold onto him? Greer was rumored to be a potential candidate for the Mets hitting coach, I’ll go ahead and assume he felt he was not going to be offered the position. Aside from that, interim hitting coach Lamar Johnson was told the Mets would not be retaining him as the teams hitting coach, choosing to rather reassign him elsewhere within the organization. These two factors must have played a big part in Greer making the decision to leave so quickly. But at the very least, why wasn’t he offered a similar position within the organization?
I’ll be the first to say that I think the value of a hitting coach is overstated. These are major league baseball players, they already know how to hit and require very little coaching at this level of play. With that being said, even the best of players can develop bad habits and go into a slump. This is where the advice from a hitting coach may come into play. Besides the occasional tweak or words of encouragement to a younger player, I don’t think a hitting coach has the ability to turn around an entire offense simply by his presence.
At the end of the day, this is just a minor league hitting instructor. But this move left me once again questioning the thought process within our front office. Look around the league, unless you are willing to open up your checkbook like the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox, you must rely heavily on your farm system to build from within. Maybe I’m overstating this and Greer is an easily replaceable coach, but I have to doubt that if an organization of the Cardinals caliber was willing to scoop him away.
The Mets were able to salvage a game in their series against the Dodgers last night, but it didn’t come easy. After Juan Lagares helped the Mets recapture the lead in the bottom of the seventh, the bull pen was in jeopardy of blowing the lead in the eighth inning. After Yasiel Puig nearly tied the game, with a double off the center field wall, Hanley Ramirez stepped to the plate against Dice-K.
Ramirez ripped a ball into left field, which looked like a sure thing hit that would tie the game at four a piece. That is until Eric Campbell, who was making his first start in the outfield, decided he wasn’t having any of that. Campbell made a tremendous diving catch to rob Ramirez and was able to quickly get to his feet and fire the ball into second base, doubling off Puig for an inning ending double play.
Puig may have made the better catch just a few innings earlier, as he robbed Wilmer Flores of an extra base hit in the right center gap, but Campbell provided the play of the game given the situation. It was unknown just what kind of defense Campbell would provide in the outfield coming into tonight, it’s unlikely he will be a gold glove caliber defender, but he certainly showed us he knows what he’s doing out there.
Hat tip to Wally Backman for pushing Campbell to be promoted and assuring Terry Collins of his capabilities.
The Associated Press released their study this morning of the MLB payrolls for the 2014 season, and after 15 years on top, the Yankees have been dethroned. The Dodgers are the new king in baseball with a whopping $235 million dollar team payroll, significantly ahead of the Yankees measly $204 million.
Here’s a brief overview of the league standings:
1) Dodgers $235 Million
2) Yankees $204 Million
3) Phillies $180 Million
4) Red Sox $163 Million
5) Tigers $162 Million
22) Mets $89 Million (This is embarrassing)
30) Astros $45 Million (Hey, its higher than the $27 Million they were at last year)
In case you were wondering, the average MLB player salary is now roughly $4 million. For comparison sake, the average salary for a person living in the United States in 2014 is $42,498. It’s good to be a professional athlete.
I know this isn’t really any significant news, as we knew the Dodgers were to surpass the Yankees this year. But isn’t it just more fun when the Yankees are spending head and shoulders ahead of the competition? It just seems more fitting when a team playing in the financial capital of the world is looking down upon the rest of the league. The Dodgers do play in an equally as powerful city in Los Angeles, but the Dodgers just don’t draw the same Hatred that the Yankees do. Come on Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, open up that check book, you’ve got work to do.
With the All-Star just a few days away, I started to get excited about seeing David Wright come out with the starting line up and Matt Harvey potentially starting the game. Then I began to think about the Fox crew that will be calling this game, which I am not a fan of, and I thought to myself Vin Scully should be calling this game.
Scully is in the midst of what could very well be his final season in broadcasting. With the mid-summer classic being held in Citi Field, a building that was made in homage to where his career began, Ebbets Field, what better place to honor his storied career. This sounds like it is meant to be and I hope Fox has something planned to ensure Scully’s involvement. Whether it be as a narrator during the introduction video or a brief stint in the broadcast booth, It would only be fitting to have Scully’s presence felt in a game meant to promote Baseball’s biggest stars.
Vin Scully is a New York native, born and raised in Washington Heights. He later attended Fordham University, which is where he first began broadcasting. Scully split his time between playing center field for the baseball team and announcing the school’s football games on the WFUV radio station that he helped form. His initial goal was to call professional football games for a living, as that is what first drew him to Sports Radio. Red Barber, the man who had hired him at CBS radio, was so impressed with his early work calling college football games that he invited Scully to join his broadcast team with the Dodgers, he was just 22-years-old.
By 1953, at the age of 25, Scully became the youngest man to call a World Series game. After his two counterparts moved on for various reasons, Scully was left as the principal announcer for the Dodgers, a position he still holds to this day. in 1957, when the Dodgers made the decision to move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, Scully made the move with the franchise. In 1964, when legendary announcer Mel Allen retired, the Yankees offered Scully their lead play-by-play job for the historic franchise. Scully decided to turn down the offer and stay with the team that gave him his start. He is not only the voice, but also the face that has become synonymous more than any other with the Dodgers organization.
This is the 64th season that Vin Scully has been apart of the Dodgers broadcast booth, which makes him the longest tenured broadcaster with one team in the history of sports. Scully has been given numerous awards over the years and earned some of the highest honors possible for a broadcaster. In 1992, he was given the Ford Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame, which is the highest honor given to a Sports Broadcaster within the field. He has also been given a lifetime achievement Emmy, named the National Sports Broadcaster of the year three times (1965,1978,1982), given a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and named the Sports Broadcaster of the Century, just to name a few.
From the final game the Dodgers played in Brooklyn to their first game in L.A., Scully has called some of the most memorable moments in baseball. He has called Koufax no-hitters, Don Larsen’s 1956 perfect game in the World Series, “Fernando Mania”, Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, Kirk Gibson’s heroic World Series walk-off home run, The Buckner game and has called 28 different World Series. Scully is also the announcer in the movie “For Love of The Game”, where he may be the stand out performer as captures each in-game scene beautifully.
On top of that, Scully has also called some of the greatest moments in Sports, not just baseball over the course of his career. He has called the Master’s, golf’s most prestigious event, Tennis championships and NFL games for years. He was the lead play-by-play man during the 1982 NFC Championship game referred to as “The Catch” when Joe Montana found Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone to beat the Cowboys. It is his versatility to call more than just baseball that will have his voice living forever in the memory of all sports fans.
Vin Scully with go down in history as one of, if not the best, Sports Announcer in history. His ability to connect with fans and capture a memorable moment is unlike any other. Scully’s voice is the last remaining from a generation of when baseball truly was America’s game. In what could be his final season, why not use the game that is meant to promote the games biggest names, is there really any star bigger than Vin Scully left in the baseball? I think it would be only fitting to see Scully involved some how in this years All-Star Game to honor this all-time great in a place very similar to where his career began.
In what was a rarity for the Yankees off-seasons, they were never even in discussion with top-tier free agents such as Josh Hamilton and Zack Grienke. We have become so accustomed to Brian Cashman and the Yankees swooping in and outbidding any club with seemingly no regard to how high their payroll becomes. With the new salary cap system in baseball due to start in the 2014 season, Cashman has finally had to work under restrictions to keep this club under the $189 million ceiling set for the 2014 luxury tax.
Just how bad did it get for the Yankees this off-season? The Pittsburgh Pirates, yes the PIRATES, outbid the Yankees for catcher Russell Martin, a key member of the 2012 Yankees. That is something that never would have happened in years past.
The luxury tax is nothing new, it has been in place for 10 years now. Only four teams have ever had to pay the tax, and one of them, the Yankees, have paid it every single season its been in existence. What makes next year different? A new clause comes into place that penalizes offenders who have gone over the luxury tax limit consecutive years in a row with a 50% tax. That means for every dollar spent over the $189 million dollar figure, a team would have to pay 50% of that in taxes to be dispersed among every team who falls below the tax limit.
Here’s the loophole that was left in this luxury tax system. The only thing the Yankees have to do to avoid paying the 50% tax is get under the limit for ONE SEASON. That’s it. By doing this, it will reset their tax penalty and put them in the same boat with franchises who have never once gone above the set threshold. This will put them back to the beginning, which is a 17% tax for teams who spend above the limit, that is a 33% savings. Hence the push by management for Cashman to hold off on signing big name free agents or give any long-term extensions (Robinson Cano) until they are able to clear this mark for one year.
If you think this is a sign of the Yankees having financial problems, you obviously are not aware of the reported $471 in revenue they made last season, or Forbes valuing the franchise at $2.3 billion, or how they sold 49% stake of the YES network for $3.4 Billion. That’s right, $3.4 BILLION. Simply put, the Yankees are just looking to save a few bucks. After all, whether we like it or not, baseball is a business.
Don’t be mistaken, the Yankees will not end up coming back to the rest of the pack and on a level playing field with the rest of baseball, that’s not going to happen. This is still the Yankees, no team in baseball makes the money the Yankees do. To most fans, I’m sure they will complain about the team going cheap, saying this never would have been the plan under George, and maybe there right. But this is the direction the front office has decided to go in, making business moves rather than throwing money at the biggest names in the sport.
With a current roster loaded with aging, overpaid, stars, the Yankees needed to make these decisions for more than just business reasons. Contracts such as Alex Rodriguez’s can ruin a teams salary availability for years as they enter the twilight of their career no longer performing at the level which earned them the contract in the first place. This is something the Yankees must get away from and begin to find better ways to spend their money. Do you really want the Yankees to continue down the path of giving players already in the back-end of their prime long-term contracts? It’s time they made a change. They will undoubtedly continue to spend money where it needs to be spent, it’s just a matter of spending it in a smarter manner as their aging superstars begin to come off the books in the next few seasons.
In some regards, like it or not, it is admirable that teams like the Yankees and Dodgers are willing to spend whatever it takes to acquire the best talent available in hopes of giving their fans a winning ball club. At the very least, it shows ownership is willing to go the extra mile to win, which is all you can ask for in an owner. I would much rather have that than say Jeffery Loria of the Marlins. Who has become notorious for gutting his team down to the core with no regard to putting a quality product on the field for his fan base, all the while collecting luxury tax money from the Yankees and Dodgers, pocketing the money rather than improving his product on the field.
Look for the Yankee payroll to stay atop the highest in baseball, just don’t expect it to be head and shoulders above the competition anymore. Those days are over.