Nov 14, 2019

Jacob deGrom: The 2019 NL Cy Young Award Winner

In the 2019 off season, Jacob deGrom's agent Brodie Van Wagen became the teams General Manager. 

Instead of a long dragged out contract negotiation, the Mets gave him the largest raise any arbitration eligible player ever got. deGrom got a $137.5 million five year, contract extension with an option for 2024.
2019: With excitement starting out the 2019 season, deGrom got his first Opening Day start. On March 28th, he started out where he left off in 2018, pitching six shut out innings, striking out ten Nationals in the Mets 2-0 win. He walked just one allowing five hits. 

On April 3rd in Miami, he pitched seven shut out innings, striking out 14 Marlins while walking one & giving up three little hits. deGrom started out the season at 2-0. 

In that game, he hit his second career HR, it was a solo shot off Trevor Richards to lead off the top of the 3rd inning.

From there on, he had three terrible outings, taking losses in all three games, like a deGrom no one had ever seen before. On April 9th he gave up six runs on eight hits, including three HRs to the Minnesota Twins. 

Next the Braves got him for three runs in five innings, with two more HRs in a 7-3 Met loss. He did strike out nine.

It was feared that he may have injured his elbow on his throwing arm.  

Quotes- Jacob deGrom: "It was just a little sore, I had been sick since Atlanta, kind of had a whole body soreness. For me when I don't throw, it seems things pop up. I wasn't on my normal routine. I was trying to just get enough in to be able to make my starts & I just felt a little soreness in my elbow. I decided to say something."

He felt fine, was checked out fine by doctors, no MRI needed & he was taken off the IL.

But in his next start, the Brewers pounded him for five runs over four innings, as he ended April 2-3 with a 4.85 ERA.

In May, he began by pitching a fine seven innings of shut out ball in Cincinnati to start out the month on Mat 1st. 

But the anemic Mets offense couldn't muster up any offense & he took a no decision in a 1-0 Met loss.

On May 6th, he took another loss as the Padres shut out New York in San Diego 4-0. deGrom fell to a lowly 2-4.

On May 11th he recorded his first victory in over a month, as he beat the Marlins at Citi Field 4-1. He allowed one run on five hits while striking out eight. 

But on May 17th, his next start, the Marlins got him for seven runs & nine hits over just five innings, leading to loss #five. 

On May 22nd he had catcher Tomas Nido behind the plate & it resulted in just two runs allowed over six innings. In games where Nido was catching him his ERA was 0.67 & games where his battery mate was Wilson Ramos, his ERA was 5.33. The Mets won the game 6-1 over the Nats in Citi Field, but deGrom got no decision.

As the Mets went west for a Memorial Day game against the Dodgers in L.A., Nido was back behind the plate. 

deGrom went through five innings leaving with a 3-2 lead against Clayton  Kershaw. But the Mets bullpen blew that & it lead to another Mets loss.

On June 1st the Mets took a 6-5 loss in Arizona, deGrom gave up just one run as he struck out seven, giving up five hits into the 7th inning. 

On June 7th, he suffered a loss, but only gave up two runs in a 5-1 Mets loss to the Rockies at Citi Field. It was his third double digit strike out game, his first in two months as he struck out ten. After another no decision he went on the four game win streak.

On June 18th in Atlanta, he finally got offensive run support as the Mets scored ten runs. deGrom pitched into the 9th inning, as he struck out ten batters again, allowing two runs on five hits with no walks issued for the second straight game. The Mets beat the Braves 10-2 as deGrom went to 4-6.

On June 28th the Braves beat him at Citi Field, as he gave up three runs, the most he had given up in his last seven starts. His record fell to 4-7 on the year.

2019 All Star: But as July started, things began to turn around for him & the Mets. First off he was voted to his third All Star team, representing the Mets along with Pete Alonso & Jeff McNeil in Cleveland. 

As Pete Alonso stole the show winning the HR derby, deGrom did ok himself. He pitched a scoreless 3rd inning for the NL, striking out George Springer & retiring DJ LeMahieu & Mike Trout easily.

 deGrom would win four
straight decisions. In that time, he suffered five no decisions, while never allowing more than two earned runs  in those games. In two of those games he didn't allow an earned run. 

In two other games, he allowed just one run, including an 11 strike out performance against the Chicago White Sox & a season high 13 strike out game  against the Braves. 

On July 14th in South Florida, deGrom beat the Marlins in a 6-2 Mets win. He gave up just one run, it came in the 2nd inning, after that he had a stretch of 17 scoreless innings over the next three games. 

On July 19th, he matched zeroes with the Giants, Tyler Beede in San Francisco. deGrom had his sixth double digit strike out game (10) allowed no runs on three hits, but exited in the 8th inning to a no decision as the Mets took a 1-0 loss on a Pablo Sandoval walk off hit.

On July 25th, he pitched seven shut out innings at Citi Field, he struck out nine, walked just one to earn his sixth win of the year. This was the first win in the Mets seven game win streak. 

After another no decision, he beat the Marlins at Citi Field to get to .500. In that game he struck out eight, walked just one & gave up two runs on five hits in a 6-2 Mets win. The win was the Mets third in another Mets win streak, this one of eight games.

In his next start on August 11th, a 1st inning Pete Alonso bases loaded throwing error, led to three unearned runs, which resulted in a Mets loss. He  pitched five innings as the Mets took a 7-4 loss to the Nationals. 

On August 17th, after the Mets lost four of five, deGrom started another Mets win streak. On this night the Mets were in Kansas City & deGrom pitched seven innings, giving up just a run on three hits, as the Mets went on to a 4-1 win, getting him over the .500 mark. 

On August 23rd, as the Mets donned silly looking, all white uniforms, deGrom struck out 13 batters & hit his second HR of the season. But the Mets suffered a heart breaking 2-1, 14th inning loss to the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field, which started a five game losing streak.

In his next two outings, deGrom was roughed up for four earned runs both times, the first resulted in a loss to the Chicago Cubs & the other a no decision in a Met loss to the Nats.

As September began, the Mets were still in the pennant race & deGrom would win three straight decisions. The ace of the staff stepped up once again, stopping a two game losing streak & getting his team on another win streak. 

On September 9th, he had his ninth double digit strike out game of the year. deGrom allowed one run on three hits, in a 3-1 Mets win over the Diamondbacks. It was the opening win of a big series sweep for the Mets. 

In that game he began a streak of 24 consecutive scoreless innings, as he would not allow another run for the rest of the season. In his last five games he would walk just two batters as well.

On September 14th in Los Angeles he pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out eight Dodgers but got a no decision. On September 20th, he won his tenth game of the year, beating the Reds in Cincinnati, shutting them out for seven innings, striking out nine. 

The Mets were hanging by a thread in the wild card race, 3 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot with nine games left to play. 

On September 25th, he shut out the Marlins & allowed just two hits while striking out seven in a 10-3 Mets win. deGrom finished the year with his 11th victory & the NL strike out crown.

For his 2019 season, deGrom won his second straight Cy Young Award. He went 11-8 with the NL's second best ERA at 2.43 ERA. 

He led the NL in strike outs (255) walked 44 batters in 204 innings pitched in 32 starts (8th most in the NL). 

His WAR for pitchers was first in the league (7.3) his HRs per 9 innings was third best in the NL (0.776) & his strike out/base on balls was fourth best in the NL (5.796).

At the plate he batted .200 going 13-65 with two HRs two doubles four runs scored & four RBIs. On November 13th he named the NL's Cy Young Award winner for the second straight year.

Nov 13, 2019

Randy Niemann: The Forgotten 1986 World Champion Mets Pitcher (1985-1986)

Randall Harold Niemann was born November 15, 1955 in Scotia, California. The big six foot four, two hundred pound lefty, was drafted three different times, but did not sign until 1975. He was the second round pick of the AL New York club.

In 1977 he was sent to the Houston Astros for Cliff Johnson & Dave Bergman. In 1978 at AA Columbus he posted a 2.05 ERA with a 9-5 record for the Astros minor league team.

He began 1979 at AAA Charleston but was called up in May debuting against the San Diego Padres on May 20th. He pitched seven innings allowing just two runs, but earned no decision. In his next start he threw a complete game victory against the Cincinnati Reds allowing just one run.

Overall he appeared in 26 games, tossing three complete games, in only seven starts going 3-2 with a 3.76 ERA. He became a middle reliever, spending two seasons in Houston before going to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1982.

After just eight games in 1983 he had a 9.22 ERA and was sent down to the minors the rest of the year to tune up. In September 1983 he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Miguel Dilone, pitching only five games at the Sox MLB level. 

In March of 1985 he was traded to the New York Mets for minor leaguers Ken Reed & Gene Autrey.

At AAA Tidewater he was 11-6 with a 2.76 ERA getting a September call up to Shea Stadium. He debuted on September 17th against the Philadelphia Phillies pitching two innings of relief. He made four appearances allowing no runs in five innings of work. The next season he was forgotten through time, but was officially a member of the 1986 World Champion Mets.

1986 Championship Season: He debuted in 1986 in the third game of the season, as a reliever in the 12th inning of a tie game in Philadelphia. He allowed two runs in the bottom of the bottom of the 14th inning, serving up the game winning hit to Steve Jeltz.

Two days later Niemann was charged with two runs in the top of the 13th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals, taking his second loss. 

From there on he would pitch 13 1/3 scoreless innings. On May 18th, he pitched three innings of relief in Los Angeles earning the win as the Mets beat the Dodgers 8-4. As the season went on he pitched less as the very talented Mets staff gave little chances for relivers. He was briefly sent back down to Tidewater.

In his first game back, he pitched the first game of a double header on August 17th getting a rare start. He pitched six innings, allowing just one run against the St. Louis Cardinals, earning his second win of the year in the 9-2 romp.

Overall he appeared in 31 games for the '86 Mets, getting credit for six holds. He was 2-3 with a 3.76 ERA allowing 44 hits with 12 walks, while striking out 18 batters in 35 innings.

1986 Post Season: On the field Niemann, made no post season appearances. He commented on the rowdy flight back to New York after the Mets won the intense NLCS Game #6 against the Houston Astros.-

Quotes: Niemann said: "It wasn't just guys destroying a plane. It was guys destroying a plane after an emotional roller coaster. There's a difference." Niemann is credited with dousing Mets GM Frank Cashen with champagne after the victory in Houston in a famous story in the book “ The Bad Guys Won”.

He signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Twins in 1987, spending most of the year at AAA, pitching just six games with the Twins in June. 

He ended his playing career at age 33, Life time after eight seasons he was 7-8 with three saves, posting a 4.64 ERA with 102 strike outs in 200 innings pitched in 122 games.

Retirement & Coaching Career: Starting in 1989 Niemann began coaching in the Mets organization. He began with Kingsport then moved on to Pittsfield in the NY/Penn. League. 

In 1996 he was bullpen coach under Bobby Valentine. That June, he was fired by GM Steve Phillips after an eight game losing streak. Phillips wouldn't fire the popular manager, Bobby Valentine because the fans would go crazy. So Phillips decided to fire Bobby V's coaching staff. 

After the firing, Neimann went from minor league pitching instructor to also being a. rehab pitching coordinator.

Niemanm was the Mets AAA pitching coach for the AAA Norfolk Tides from 2005-2008. 

In 2009 he replaced veteran, Guy Conti as Mets bull pen coach and remained there for 2010 under Jerry Manuel.

In May, during the subway series he got into a heated argument in view of the fans with troubled Mets closer Francisco Rodriquez in between innings while in the bullpen.

He played down the incident claiming responsibility, although K Rod seemed to have been upset at the way he was being used by Manuel. After the 2011 season he cut ties with the Mets ending a 24 year relationship with the organization

In 2012 he was the Boston Red Sox pitching coach under former Mets manager & friend; Bobby Valentine. The next year he was not retained under John Farrell's Red Sox tenure in 2013. 

In 2015 Niemann moved on to the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Coaching the A ball Pal Beach team from 2015-2017. In 2015 he won the George Kissell Award for excellence in Player development. In 2018 he was promoted to their minor league pitching coordinator.

Honors: In 2016 he was on hand for the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 Championship team.

Asdrubal Cabrera: Former Mets Infielder (2016-2018)

Asdrubal Jose Cabrera was born November 13th 1985 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. The six foot, switch hitting middle infielder, was signed as an amateur free agent by the Seattle Mariners in 2002.

In the minors at just 19 years of age, Baseball America named him the best second baseman in the Midwest League. He quickly jumped right up to AAA level.

In 2006 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Eduardo Perez. He began 2007 at AA ball & was fourth in the league in batting by mid summer. 

He was brought up to the Indians big league club as a second baseman that August. He contributed to the Indians stretch run, batting .283 as they won the Central Division making it to the ALCS.

2013 Post Season: In his first post season game he hit a two run HR against the AL New York team as the Indians clobbered them 12-3. He hit just .176 in that series.

In the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox he drove in four more runs. He would get to one more post season with Cleveland, going 0-4 in the 2013 AL Wild Card Game loss to Tampa.

Cabrera spent eight years in Cleveland making two All Star appearances (2011-2012), having his best season in 2011 when he had 165 hits hitting 25 HRs & 32 doubles with 92 RBIs (all career highs) batting .273.

On May 18th that year, he became just the fifth MLB short stop to ever have a five hit, two HR day.

He would hit over .270 four straight seasons with a career best .308 in 2009 playing 131 games. He would hit 30 plus doubles for four straight years as well (2011-2014). 

On Opening Day 2013 he hit a 5th inning two run HR off Toronto's R.A. Dickey & made a game saving bases loaded double play grab to preserve the 4-1 Indians win.

He would lead all short stops in errors (19) in 2012 but rebounded with the leagues third best fielding % (.982) in 2013.

Trivia: On May 12, 2008 he turned the 14th unassisted triple play in MLB history, it came against the Toronto Blue Jays. He snagged a line drive, touched second forcing Kevin Mench & then tagged Marc Scutaro to complete the play. 

In July of 2014 he was traded to the Washington Nats for Zach Walters, to help the Nats playoff run, replacing Danny Espinosa. He hit 5 HRs with 9 doubles & 21 RBIs in 49 games as the Nats won the NL East. 

They would get eliminated in the NLDS by the San Francisco Giants. Cabrera hit a HR in the 3-2 Game 31 loss & then drove in a run in Game #3, batting an overall .200. 

In 2015 he signed a one year deal with the Tampa Rays, playing as the teams main short stop posting the 4th best fielding % in the AL (.974). His offensive numbers remained relatively consistent the past few years, in 2015 he hit 15 HRs with 28 doubles 66 runs scored 134 hits five triples & a .265 average.

At the 2015 winter meetings, Cabrera signed a two year deal with the New York Mets for $18.5 million. The addition of the thirty year old Cabrera & second baseman Neil Walker the previous day, gave the Mets a strong solid infield with lots of flexibility. 

Cabrera proved to be the Mets answer at short stop, playing 135 games there & posting the second best fielding % in the NL, while turning 77 double plays.

He was a great team mate & was the first Met out of the dugout, when a player hit a HR. He would wait at the edge of the dugout, to celebrate the HR, then pull that players helmet off their head & toss it away.

The importance of Cabrera's bat in the Mets line up didn't really start making a difference until about July. He ended the first three months of the season with until 8 HRs & 23 RBIs & a .255 batting average.

He hit his first Mets HR on April 23rd in a 8-2 Mets win at Atlanta. On June 21st he hit his 7th of the year, coming off the Royals Ian Kennedy in a big 2-1 win at Citi Field over Kansas City. The next day he added a two run HR off Danny Duffy, helping the Mets & Noah Syndergaard to a 4-3 win.

On July 1st, he hit a pair of HRs & drove in three runs in the Mets 10-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. Later that week he hit HRs in back to back games against the rival Washington Nats.

On July 31, 2016, Cabrera strained the patellar tendon in his left knee while rounding third base in a 6-4 win against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. Two days later he was put on the DL & missed almost three weeks of action. In that time the Mets realized how much he was missed.

In the time he was gone the Mets fell to their lowest point of the season 60-62 with the wild card seeming like it was never going to happen.

But from the day he arrived back, the rag tag team who had been struck with injuries both on offense as well as pitching, began their incredible stretch run. Cabrera was a huge part of it.

 He returned  to the line up with bleached blonde hair, on August 19th on the Mets road trip in San Francisco. As the Mets went to take two of three in St. Louis, Cabrera started a stretch where he drove in runs in five straight games, with a total of seven in ten games with at least one RBI.

On August 23rd he hit two HRs in the Mets 9-4 win at Philadelphia & then added another the next day. In that week he had 12 hits in six games raising his average to .270, winning the Player of the Week Award.

He began September with HRs in back to back games although the Mets lost both. He went on to a ten game hit streak & hit safely in fifteen of sixteen games, getting his average to .281. He was the NL Player of the Week in that final week of August. 

Quotes: Manager Terry Collins- "I don't know where we'b be without him". In the five weeks after his return he was one of the top hitters in the NL batting .364 with 9 HRs & 22 RBIs.

He was arguably the heart & soul of the team, playing with the injured leg through pain while inspiring the rest of the squad. Before games he wrapped the knee & after games he iced it up. Cabrera said in Spanish: “With my experience, I think I’ve earned that respect from the team and from my teammates. I always try to boost everyone’s spirits.”

On September 22nd he had his most dramatic moment of the year, hitting a three run walk off HR, off Edubray Ramos of the Philadelphia Phillies in the 11th inning leading the Mets to a 9-8 win to stay atop the wild card lead in the NL. On Sunday September 25th, the Mets beat the Phillies 17-0 the biggest lopsided win in team history.

In the 7th inning, Cabrera hit a grand slam HR, his 23rd HR of the season, as the Mets continued to win. In the emotional Mets Marlins game at Florida, after the tragic death of Jose Fernandez, Cabrera had two hits & drove in a pair of runs in the Met loss.

2016 Wild Card Game: Cabrera got one of the four Mets hits off the San Francisco Giants; Madison Bumgarner in the wild card game & also drew a walk.

Cabrera would tie with Yoenis Cespedes for the teams best batting average (.280). He would lead the team in hits (146) & doubles (30) while coming in second with 62 RBIs.

He played in 141 games,  hit 23 HRs scored 65 runs stole 5 bases & posted a .336 on base %. He walked just 38 times & struck out 103 times.

In 2017 Cabrera led the 4th place Mets team in batting (.280) hits (134) & doubles (32). He was second in on base % (.384%) at bats (479) third in RBIS (59) & runs scored (66).

Drama: The Mets used him at short stop, then at second base & third base, a position switch that didn't sit well with Cabrera. The move made way to keep Jose Reyes, a fan favorite, in the lineup. At first he demanded a trade not wanting to give up short stop.

A week later he changes his tune & said he was fine with it. This was the only low point of Cabrera's Mets career, other than that he was one of the better Mets free agent signing.

He began 2017 with three hits & an RBI on Opening Day in the Mets 6-0 win at Citi Field over the Atlanta Braves. He would drive in runs in four straight games in early May. After a multi HR game against the Chicago Cubs in June he missed a week of action with injury. In July from the 22nd to the 28th, he had 12 hits over a seven game span.

In September he hit safely in 13 of 16 games, hitting well enough in the final month to raise his average twenty points from where he was at the end of August. On September 30th, in the final game of the season he had a four hit day, including a three run HR in a 7-4 win over the Phillies.

2018: In 2018 the Mets had one of the best starts in club history (11-1) that is before it all fell apart quickly. Cabrera hit .340 in April with 17 RBIs, starting out with an eleven game hit streak from March 31 to April 13th. He had another four hit day on April 16th, with a HR & two RBIs.

After 98 games he was batting .277 with 18 HRs 23 doubles & 58 RBIs, when his Mets career ended as he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for a minor leaguer. 

Mets Career: In his Mets career he player 374 games batting .279 with 55 HRs 85 doubles & 179 RBIs with a .339 on base %.

In 2018 he played 49 games with the Phillies, batting .228 with 5 HRs & 17 RBIs, the Phils faded out of the race in September.

In 2019 he began the year with the Texas Rangers, hitting 12 HRs with 51 RBIs & batting .235. 

He was released in August & got signed by the Washing Nats. In 38 games there he hit .323 with 6 HRs & 10 doubles & 40 RBIs. 

2019 Post Season: He made the post season there going 3-0 in the NLDS. In the NLCS he got into four games against the LA Dodgers, going 1-6 driving in two runs, both in pinch hit appearances. 

His RBI single in Game #4 gave the Nats a two run lead, sealing thier 4-2 win. In Game #6 he had a sac fly in the 6th inning. With the Nats he went to his first World Series.

In the World Series he went 6-23 playing in all seven games. In Game #2 at Houston, he drove in three runs in the Nats 12-3 win. Cabrera & the Nats went on to win their first championship.

In his 13 year career he has hit .268 with 1646 hits 180 HRs 371 doubles 25 triples 534 walks 829 runs scored & 1210 strike outs with a .331 on base% in 1660 games. He has played 1078 games at short 365 games at second 165 at third & 3 games at first & was a DH 26 times.

Family: Asdrubal & his wife Lismar have two children. Cabrera earned the nickname Pearls due to the fact he wears a white beaded necklace his wife made for him.