Free Agent Outlook: Alex Rios

Alex Rios

In the past Alex Rios was one of the more frustrating players in baseball. When he was a prospect he was considered a 5-tool player and he did prove this to be true, just never in the same season. While he did always flash the glory that he could be he never really lived up to that .300 hitter while being a 30/30 player that we thought he could be. As his career has gone on he has gotten far more consistent with what he can do and has become a very solid player in the game even if he still doesn’t steal bases.

BB% K% AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BABIP wOBA wRC+ WAR
2014 5.0% 17.1% .280 .311 .398 .709 .118 .335 .309 92 0.2
2013 6.2% 16.3% .278 .324 .432 .756 .154 .311 .330 104 3.1
Career 5.9% 16.1% .278 .323 .439 .762 .161 .311 .330 100 26.7

 

Looking at his numbers the last few years he has regressed a bit since 2012 where Rios has his best season of his career. This is expected since at age 33 he has already passed his prime and is already out of the “golden years” for hitters. Even with this down year he did at least but up passable numbers and was able to hit the ball about the same he has normally done throughout his career. The one thing that is noticeable is the rise in his swing rate, which took a 2% increase from last year, but this could just be an anomaly for him since it still fits into his career percentages. The worrying thing about Rios is the numbers look very sad considering he was batting in hitter friendly Arlington Park most of the season and he still regressed quite a bit. The jury is still out if this is a sign of major regression or just a bad year.

Pros:

Rios has proven to be a very consistent hitter the last few years. In the last 5 seasons Rios has failed to bat over .275 once and that was a terrible season for him back in 2011. After that season though he has been the very model of consistent being able to hit for a moderate amount of power and get on base regularly. Rios isn’t immune to the strikeout but at the same time he doesn’t get struck out as often as most players now and days so it balances out that low walk rate. As a fielder Rios is just average but still very usable.

Cons:

As we discussed at the top of this article Rios was a little up and down in the beginning and seeing the numbers from last year we have to assume he may be in the trend again. It’s easy to throw his 2014 season struggles out since it was just one season but at 33 (34 at the beginning of the 2015 season) those downward trends could start becoming an issue quickly. Rios isn’t a walker, never has been and likely never will be, which could lead to some to an inconsistent OBP later in his career. In fact we can see that trend already starting having his OBP drop 10 points each of the last 2 seasons and if that’s not a trend to worry you then here’s another to worry you. His ISO is in the same trend as his OBP but worse dropping 50 points each of the last 2 seasons, remember that ISO isn’t the homerun stat it’s his overall power numbers so that means doubles are down as well. Overall Rios seems to be losing the all-important battle of age and we’re seeing the outcome.

Contract:

Toronto had a very odd period of time where they gave huge contracts to players they thought would be their future. In today’s climate that’s actually the trend, lock up the young guns and seal them up, but back then it wasn’t the norm and even by today’s standards Rios’ contract would never happen. Rios had a 7-year $69.8 million contract with a 1-year team option for the 2015 season, which the Rangers have just declined, and we can assume no one is crazy enough (or at least likes his job enough to keep it) to sign him to a similar contract so we have to take a guess.

Coming off the 2014 season Rios’ stock is low and won’t get a super amount of suitors. He will get a few, as we’ll discuss later, but at his advanced age there isn’t really a market for him. Using his WAR as a starting point we can look and see what players around him could be a good comparison and to be fair he’s in a group of underachievers like Baltimore’s Chris Davis, Shin-Soo Choo, Eric Hosmer, and Jean Segura. But there is one name that does make a good comparison for Rios and that is Miami Marlins outfielder Garrett Jones who signed a 2 year $7.8 million deal last offseason. Looking at Rios’ numbers a 2-year deal, with maybe a team option for a 3rd, would be appropriate and making it say $10-13 million a year would be more than fair. In fact if the team was trying to save a buck or 2 they can make it a incentive lased deal where Rios can earn his money after his struggles.

Teams:

Detroit Tigers: With Torii Hunter on the market and likely retiring the team will be looking to not only add a bat but a consistent one. Rios could easily fit that requirement and this could be his best option for a bigger payday. Detroit is desperate to get an offense that can consistently hit all year round and Rios has been pretty consistent in the last few years. The downside is of course the power numbers will continue to decline in that spacious field.

Texas Rangers: Yes they just declined his $14 million option but that’s probably cause they think they can sign him for less. Rios would be in the drivers seat on this one since the Rangers don’t have a lot of options to really fall back on. While Rios didn’t fair so well in his first full season there he did just fine in the half season he had in 2013.

Atlanta Braves: This one comes with an asterisk right on the bat since this could happen only if the rumor that the Braves are potentially trading Jason Heyward to the Boston Red Sox is true. If that’s then the team will need a new outfielder but at the same time if they do this the teams in rebuild mode so they’re not likely spending money on aging outfielders.

Milwaukee Brewers: While the team does have a pretty strong outfield at the moment it all hinges on how much they believe in Khris Davis. Davis was on pace at one point last season to shatter the strike out record just after the All-Star break but he finally found his swing and ended up being a strong rookie campaign. Rios would be more consistent but Davis has the upside.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The team doesn’t really have a set RF for next season at this moment so it could work for Rios. It’s a hitter friendly field and less pressure than both Texas and Detroit would be so it has its advantages. On the down side the D-Backs aren’t likely to fork up the cash that Detroit and Texas can so it would be a price cut. Secondly the team isn’t ready to be in the playoff hunt next year but its time is coming, a 34-year-old RF may not fit into their plans.

 

For more up to date baseball info and reports you can follow me on Twitter at @jbiesiada

Hiroshima Carp/Kenta Maeda Undecided

 

Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda has shown interest in heading to America to play in the MLB but his team, the Hiroshima Carp, aren’t sure if they want to post him. In a quote from Carp owner Hajime Matsuda he said, “We have the right. We would like to let him go, but based on his production this year it will be difficult.” At this moment it is unclear if the Carp will post Maeda but considering he’d be posted in accordance with the new rules set after the Tanka signing. If the team decides to post Maeda they can post for the maximum amount of money, $20 million, and if no deal is struck pull him back and try again next year.

Maeda has been scouted by many MLB and other independent scouts and so far it seems Maeda looks like a mid rotation pitcher. He has a good amount of pitches and they all rate as above average but he doesn’t have Tanka or Darvish type of pitches or velocity. Maeda had a productive 2014 and a strong WHIP of 1.08 and a good 3.85 K/BB ratio. More importantly is the durability of Maeda who has 6 straight seasons of 175+ innings, a feat that teams are always impressed with. Maeda’s numbers look average when compared to many MLB pitchers but many teams are looking for a good mid-tier pitcher.

Kenta Maeda

BB/9 K/9 HR/9 WHIP ERA
2014 2.0 7.7 0.6 1.08 2.56
2013 2.0 8.1 0.7 .096 2.10
Career 1.9 7.3 0.6 1.05 2.43

 

Three different ways to construct Tigers’ bullpen for 2015

espn.go.com

espn.go.com

The Tigers’ 2014 season ended prematurely largely due to the lack of reliable late-inning options in the bullpen for rookie skipper Brad Ausmus.

One of the late-inning pen arms in closer Joe Nathan, who didn’t help out the cause, will likely be back after a dismal first year as Detroit’s full-time closer due to the $10 million he’s owed in 2015.

The same applies for Joakim Soria who was acquired at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline from the Texas Rangers. Ausmus came under fire for his mishandling of him in the second half of the season, after Nathan stumbled at the end of the season while ’14 eighth-inning man Joba Chamberlain literally fell on his face and was miserable down the stretch, posting an earned run average just below five. Through it all, Ausmus proved to be stubborn, refusing to change his ways as he underutilized Soria in high-leverage situations, going to Chamberlain almost automatically to set up Nathan (although his numbers did not warrant such usage).

In the process, Soria never became accustomed to a role, and along with the hinderance of his oblique injury, the Tigers never got to see the best form of him. However, he’s also likely to be back, after Detroit head honcho Dave Dombrowski dealt two top farmhands in return for the man formerly known as “The Mexicutioner” by the Kansas City Royals fanbase.

Additionally, due to Ausmus getting the chance to return as skipper for a second season, expect the role of Nathan to remain the same. Also, expect Soria – if his $7 million option is picked up by Dombrowski and company – to see his role increased with the likely departure of the most reliable righthanded reliever for Detroit in the first half of this past season in Joba.

After Nathan and Soria, the Tigers relief arm who has the best chance of claiming a spot at the back end of the club’s pen is hard-throwing Venezuelan right-hander Bruce Rondon, who sat out this past season due to Tommy John surgery. The 23-year-old is expected to get the first crack at the eighth inning, if Soria’s option is declined or if the former Royals closer suffers an injury which keeps him out for an extended period of time.

At this point, Rondon – health and command-permitting – is expected to take over the closer role from Nathan in 2016, after the former Twins closer’s atrocity of a contract expires.

Until the active MLB saves leader leaves Motown, expect Rondon to be counted upon to bridge the gap from the Tigers starting pitching staff to the club’s incumbent eighth and ninth inning men.

When Rondon doesn’t get the call in the seventh, Al Alburquerque seems like the most likely in-house option to get the nod to bridge the gap between the organization’s major league starting arms and late-inning arms.

A healthy Rondon and a more often-utilized Al Al should be part of the solution implemented by Dave D and the front office for Detroit’s pen in ’15. However, the duo of Alburquerque and the young flamethrower from Venezuela aren’t enough to heal the club’s long-standing Achilles’ heel at the back end of games.

It means Dombrowski has to get busy this offseason – most likely via the free agent market – in order to prevent the pen from cutting short yet another campaign for Detroit.

Targets of Dombrowski –  the franchise’s top decision maker and a World Series winner with the 1997 Marlins – should include big names, such as Baltimore Orioles trade deadline acquisition and left-handed specialist Andrew Miller – a former Detroit first-round draft pick – plus Sergio Romo, who recorded the final out against Motown’s MLB club in the 2012 World Series for the San Francisco Giants.

The 29-year-old Miller might have already priced himself out of the Tigers’ price range for a non-closing type of reliever due to his stellar ’14 campaign in which he struck out 103 batters in a little over 60 innings pitched in time spent with both the O’s and Boston Red Sox, whom he pitched for during the first half of the season.

As for the 31-year-old Romo, he pitched poorly enough to have the closing job stripped from him by Giants manager and two-time World Series champion Bruce Bochy in late June in favor of Santiago Casilla, who hasn’t looked back since taking over the role.

In doing so, Romo likely pitched himself into Dombrowski’s price range for a late-inning reliever who will not see time in the ninth inning on a consistent basis.

If Miller and Romo don’t intrigue you, there’s also Pat Neshek and his unorthodox style available for likely a cheaper price after signing with his current organization in the St. Louis Cardinals on a minor league deal this past offseason. All he’s done is reward the Cards with an earned run average below two, a career-best fielding independent pitching mark below two and a half as well as his first career All-Star Game appearance.

If the Tigers seep deeper into the free agent pool for pen arms, Dave D and his staff could decide to give veteran southpaw Jesse Crain a shot to re-gain some value on a cheap deal after he missed all of this past regular season due to right shoulder trouble, which also caused him to miss the second half of 2013 when he was a member of the Chicago White Sox and later the Tampa Bay Rays after being dealt near the end of July.

With all these various options, a move or two is bound to be made in an effort to upgrade the relief corps for 2015.

The only question that exists now is what new and shiny toys will Ausmus be tasked with handling out of the pen in his second year as a big league skipper. Without further ado, here are three different relief pitching alignments I can envision the club going with to fix its Achilles’ heel in the coming cold and snowy winter months:

“Dream world” bullpen:
Closer – Joakim Soria
Setup – Bruce Rondon (vs. righties) and Andrew Miller (vs. lefties)
7th inning – Joe Nathan (1st option) and Pat Neshek
Middle – Pat Neshek (1st option) and Al Al
Lefty specialist/long – Kyle Lobstein

Most likely pen alignment:
Closer – Joe Nathan
Setup – Joakim Soria
7th inning – Bruce Rondon (1st option) and Pat Neshek
Middle – Pat Neshek (1st option) & Al Al
Long/lefty specialist: Kyle Lobstein

Second most likely pen alignment:
Closer – Joe Nathan
Setup – Joakim Soria
7th inning – Sergio Romo
Middle – Bruce Rondon (1st option) & Al Al
Lefty – Ian Kroll
Long – Kyle Lobstein

Which of these three pen alignments do you think is most likely the one that the Tigers bring into Lakeland, Fla., at the start of spring training? Voice your opinion in the comments section, or by casting your vote in the poll below.

Free Agent Outlook: Melky Cabrera

Melky Cabrera

Now that the season is over its time to start looking at the potential free agents and see what teams could use these players. Today we look at 2014 break out Melky Cabrera, well ok he’s not technically a “break out” player since he had his true break out season back in 2012 but after a disappointing end to that season and a 2013 that was injury plagued 2014 was a good bounce back break out. First lets look at what Cabrera did in 2014, the good and the bad.

 

BB% K% AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO HR BABIP wOBA wRC+ WAR
Cabrera 6.9% 10.8% .301 .351 .458 .808 .157 16 .313 .354 125 2.6
League AVG 7.6% 20.4% .251 .314 .386 .700 .135 139.5 .299 .310 96 19

 

2014 was a return to form for Cabrera and he did exactly what many predicted he’d be like when he was coming up through the minors. The Cabrera we saw in 2011-2012 was an illusion that many people fooled themselves into thinking was real. He’s not a 20-homer guy like he was averaging those 2 seasons but the 13-16 homer range seems to fit him perfectly. As for his other numbers this year they really do play to his strengths as a player. Low strikeout rate balances out the low walk rate but his contact skills really allow him to swing a little more freely and not have to take a walk.

Strengths:

Cabrera is a great contact hitter and if his .301 batting average doesn’t sell you on that his 88.3% contact rate should. That’s almost 10% better than the rest of baseball, not just the AL or NL all of baseball. More impressive is only swinging 45.5% percent of the time means even though he doesn’t walk often he doesn’t exactly swing freely at anything that he’s thrown. He’s also a great hitter since he can spray the ball to all fields and shifts aren’t as effective on Cabrera. Looking at spray charts you can see that Cabrera has an ability to hit liners into the gaps very easily. 21.2% of pitches he made contact with were line drives this last season which puts him just above average in that category but it’s the placement that is important. Most are right in the gaps and this accounts for the high ISO but not having a really high amount of homers. It is nice to see that his power isn’t limited to home or away since he’s actually hit just as many in Toronto as he did on the road.

Cabrera isn’t that bad in the field either being one of the better defensive LF in baseball last year. His .992 fielding percentage ranks in the top percent of LF in baseball. Cabrera had 13 OF assists in 2014 and even ended the season with a 3.4 runs saved with his arm which is a decent amount for a LF, a position that isn’t really known for their strong arms. A nice bonus for Cabrera’s future team is that he’s actually a decent speed guy even if it doesn’t show in the stolen base stat.

Cons:

Cabrera’s value really does lie in his ability to make contact and the rest of his numbers purely rely on that. If you were to figure out his wOBP he would have a .051 and that’s a very pedestrian number for a guy who had a very good OBP. Not only that I do worry about the power numbers regressing a little down the line. Players like Cabrera do have a tendency to be a little streaky and while he has been able to avoid that last year but its always a worry. As I stated above he hit just as many homers on the road as home but I do wonder how that his numbers could change if he goes to teams that have a little more extreme pitchers park. This isn’t saying his gap power would change but since Toronto does have a spacious outfield.

While his defense is good but his range isn’t terrific having a UZR/150 of -7.1 and that puts him below average range for all outfielders. Knowing that his range isn’t the best it also plays into him not being super speedy. He’s an average speed at the best of times and that will only diminish with age and at 30 his golden years are past him.

Conclusion:

Melky Cabrera is a great hitter with a good hitters eye and an ability to make solid contact. Even if he does regress a little the numbers are consistent enough to make the risk worthwhile. In fact consistent is the best word to use when describing Cabrera; a .340 OBP guy with an ability to hit the gaps but can hit homers when the pitcher makes a mistake. Cabrera’s shortcomings with speed aren’t getting any better moving forward so any team that decides to take a chance on him will have to insure then can deal with it as he gets older. Luckily for that team unless Cabrera suffers a lead pipe to the knee he should be fine for the next few years (if you got that 1994 reference give yourself a high five.)

As for the teams that could really use Cabrera the list isn’t a small one. Looking at the list of 2015 free agents Cabrera is easily one of the top 3 best free agent outfielders of the bunch, sadly that list has more bench and platoon guys than starters. Of the 30 players currently scheduled to hit the market there’s only about 8 players that could be considered starters and while that sounds like a good thing for Cabrera it could be an issue finding a team. If there isn’t a lot of teams looking for outfielders, most retaining their outfield from this pervious season, then his options are limited to teams looking for an upgrade and could afford the contract market value will demand. Cabrera was making $8 million for 2 years with Toronto but he could easily ask for a $15 million a year contract at least and my assumption is he’d want a 4-year deal.

Taking a look at teams that have a legit shot of obtaining Cabrera you have to consider not only the team but also the money the team can off.

 

Toronto Blue Jays: Obviously the team that Cabrera has played with the last 2 years is the first team that would try to retain his services. They’d have the space to put him and the money to sign him. While the team’s offense is solid the team may need to bypass on Cabrera to spend extra on pitching.

 

Baltimore Orioles: Another team that has the money and could have the outfield opening spot. The team is currently talking to outfield Nick Markakis to see if he will sign back but nothing happened yet. If they can’t resign Markakis they could look to Cabrera to fill that void in LF that Markakis would leave. With Cabrera’s skill set and a rather large outfield to play with Cabrera is a good fit and a bad at the same time. Good for his contact skills but his defensive issues will only be magnified from that same large outfield.

 

Detroit Tigers: With the utter embarrassment suffered in the playoffs the team is going to look to improve themselves in anyway possible. With Torii Hunter potentially retiring at the end of this season the team is going to need to find a replacement and they don’t have the pieces in the minors. The big question is if the team will focus on trying to create a more consistent offense or fix the team’s terrible bullpen. The team can afford Cabrera if he asks for what I predict but we’ll see which direction the team takes.

 

Texas Rangers: Much like the Tigers the Rangers are a team looking to make a comeback and are losing a regular outfielder in Alex Rios. The smaller outfield will make Cabrera’s defensive shortcomings less of an impact and his hitting skills get a bonus. Unlike the Tigers the team does have options and trying to figure out if they want to spend money or try and fix internally.

 

Atlanta Braves: This feels like a long shot but the team could try him out one more time. They might have the money lying around and the team could use a consistent bat in a lineup that had major issues with consistency for the last 3 seasons. While they need the upgrade I question if they DO have the money to make such a deal. With the new GM trying to get the team back in shape he could try and make a splash but we shall see.

 

Cincinnati Reds: Very similar situation to the Braves since the need is there and they really do need Cabrera’s skills in a very big way but the money may not be there. The team has a lot of its budget tied up in players like Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Johnny Cueto so they don’t have a lot of free cap space.

 

San Francisco Giants: We’ve seen him play there once but I question if that bridge was burnt to bad and the team would want him back. He’s a great fit for the team even if the defense would be an issue. Luckily for the Giants Angel Pagan would be able to close the gaps that Cabrera couldn’t reach. The team may not have that much cash lying around since they do have a few key players coming up on free agency soon and they may try to conserve money for them. If they do decide to go after him the second issue would be the scorn he would face from the fans.

 

For more up to date baseball info you can follow me on Twitter at @Jbiesiada

MLB Raises Qualifying Offer

MLB Logo

MLB and the MLB Player Association have come to an agreement to raise the qualifying offer from $14.1 million to $15.3 million. The deal was finalized Tuesday as both groups decided on the 8.5 percent raise. With this raise the offer has gone from $13.3 million to $15.3 in just 2 seasons but considering the price is set by the average of the top 125 contracts in baseball it makes sense. The rules have not changed at all and teams still have 5 days after the World Series to offer a player a qualifying offer and the player still has 12 days after the WS to accept. Both the team and the player have till 5 P.M. ET on the final day to accept. If the player who is offered the deal rejects the offer and signs with another team the previous team will receive a composition in the June amateur draft. Likewise the team that sign said player would lose the first round pick that the pervious team gains. As of now of the 22 qualifying offers made in the last 2 years 0 have been accepted.

 

Fore more up to date baseball info you can follow me on Twitter at @Jbiesiada

Josh Beckett to Retire

Josh Beckett

Current pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers Josh Beckett has decided to call it quits due to injures. Josh Beckett has been pitching quite well this year having an ERA of 2.88 but has had another injury-plagued season and because of this he’s finally decided to call it a career. In an interview with MLB.com Beckett commented about his current rehab “I just don’t see me going through that rehab and coming back to pitch at this point in my life.” Becket is currently recovering from a torn labrum in his left hip that he suffered back in early September. “At some point, you decide, ‘Is this really worth trying to get myself ready for another season when you know the stuff that goes into it.’” Beckett continued during the interview, “It’s not the pitching part that bothers you. I probably felt best the days I pitched. It’s the other days leading up to it.”

Beckett was having a deceptively strong year this year, even throwing a no-hitter against the Phillies. Having both a strong K/9 and BB/9 this year even though 3.03 walks is a little higher than anyone would like. He’s also limited the opposing teams to a modest .223 average and combined with the low amount of walks his 1.17 WHIP is very strong. Now what I mean by him having a “deceptively” strong season is the .257 BABIP that is 30 points below his career average BABIP of .289. Considering his totals have a larger gap than average it could explain the lower BAA and might explain the higher than average left on base percentage of 85.2% when his career total is 72.5%. If the BABIP wasn’t a sign of his luck than the LOB% confirms that he’s stranding far more players than normal. Lastly his very high FIP of 4.33 seals the deal on his luck this season.

Josh Beckett

BB% K% HR/9 BAA WHIP BABIP ERA ERA- FIP FIP- WAR
2014 8.33 3.03 1.32 .223 1.17 .257 2.88 82 4.33 123 0.2
2013 8.52 3.12 1.66 .279 1.50 .323 5.19 145 4.66 129 -0.1
Career 8.34 2.76 1.04 .241 1.23 .289 3.88 90 3.78 88 39.0

 

For more up to date baseball info you can follow me on Twitter at @Jbiesiada

Corey Hart Elects Free Agency

Corey Hart

After being DFA’d earlier this season Seattle Mariner Corey Hart is heading back to the free agency pool. Corey Hart signed with the Seattle Mariners this last off seasons for a 1 year $6 million contract but Hart only played 68 games due to injuries and ineffectiveness. After missing all of 2013 due to injuries Hart was attempting to make a comeback with the Mariners and spent most of the season on the DL and when he did play he only batted .203/.271/.319 in 255 PA’s. Hart will try his luck this off-season and try to make another comeback in 2015.

It really does seem that Hart’s best years are behind him at this point. At 32 Hart is already past the “golden years” for hitters and is starting to start his declining years. The reason this is going to be an issue for Hart is the decline in power numbers that come with age, power is Harts bread and butter. His career .271 AVG is nothing to sneer at but his career .201 ISO and .810 OPS does say he’s hit for power with regularity. This last season though saw a significant drop in all his numbers across the board though this could also be due to the injuries more than lack of talent. A slash line of .203/.271/.319 is well below his career slash line of .271/.330/.425 and the first thing we can look towards is his career low BABIP. Hart has a career BABIP of .309, a respectable total, but this last season he had a .244 and that is a little more than normal regression levels would dictate. This means he either was extremely unlucky or the injuries hampered him even when he wasn’t on the DL. My guess is it’s a little of both since his BABIP has been on the decline since 2010.

Corey Hart

BB% K% AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BABIP wOBA wRC+ WAR
2014 6.3% 23.1% .203 .271 .319 .590 .116 .244 .266 70 -1.2
Career 7.0% 20.6% .271 .330 .425 .735 .208 .309 .349 114 13.7

*While I normally look at the last 2 years numbers and career I felt it was unfair to compare his 2012 to his 2014 after missing a year.

For more up to date baseball news you can follow me on Twitter at @Jbiesiada

Is David Robertson the long-term answer for the New York Yankees?

David Robertson - (Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America)

David Robertson – (Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America)

The New York Yankees are home for a second consecutive year watching the playoffs on television. It’s not the visual they were hoping for at the start of the 2014 season, however it’s the reality they face once again. While team ownership prepares another blueprint with the objective of returning the Yankees back to the playoffs in 2015, the questions surrounding the team’s current makeup are alarming.

The closer position is currently a topic of interest for the Yankees, we knew that would be the case when the great Mariano Rivera retired after the 2013 season. David Robertson just completed his first season as Rivera’s successor in the closer role and the reviews were mixed at best. Roberston happens to be up for a new contract and the Yankees have a decision to make.

Did David Robertson show the Yankees enough to commit to him as their closer for the long-term?

Before that question can even be debated, it’s important to keep in mind Robertson’s predecessor. There arguably will never be another Mariano Rivera, because of that alone, Robertson’s margin for error in 2014 was slim to none. That being noted, Robertson’s numbers weren’t too shabby.

Robertson saved 39 games out of 44 opportunities in 2014, finishing among the top 10 closers in baseball. For the lovers of baseball stats, he had a 1.06 WHIP and opposing hitters were only able to muster up a .192 batting average off of him. However, there still seems to be a sense around the Yankees fan base that Robertson might not be the man for the job.

It’s not just that Robertson isn’t Rivera, that’s just an unfair and silly comparison, the Yankees also have an intriguing option in the bullpen with the younger Dellin Betances. If one was to make the unfair comparison of anyone to Rivera — Betances showed enough in 2014 to make anyone watching imagine him dominating in a way similar to Rivera, arguably more so than Robertson.

Robertson also didn’t help his case down the stretch while the Yankees were fighting just to keep a pulse in the playoffs race. He had a handful of shaky outings including a blown save in what would be Derek Jeter‘s final home game at Yankee Stadium. Jeter would go on and lead the Yankees to an eventual victory, however it won’t be lost on the mind of the fans and the team that Robertson’s struggles set the stage for the ending none of us will likely never forget.

Maybe we are spoiled by the 17 years of greatness by Rivera, I know I am. There just seemed to have been something missing whenever Robertson received the baseball from manager Joe Girardi. Despite the 39 saved ballgames, there wasn’t a point in the season where I felt Robertson would get three outs without a problem. To Robertson’s credit he did show he’s mentally tough enough for the role. Even during those times where he made the fans sweat out the later innings of the game, he managed to escape trouble more times than not like a magician in the Bronx night.

The options this winter are intriguing with Robertson up for free agency. They could buy themselves some time with a one-year qualifying offer of $15 million to Robertson, it would be a considerable pay raise from the $5.21 he made in 2014. The flip side of that isn’t too bad, the Yankees would get a compensatory draft pick should Robertson decline and move on. The other option would be to commit to Robertson with a contract comparable to some of the top closers in the game, officially investing financially in him as Rivera’s successor.

This could come down to one vital question for debate within the Yankees hierarchy. Did Robertson show enough to be considered irreplaceable? My answer to that would be no. Considering that this team arguably has even more pressing needs to address this winter, along with the looming presence and potential of Betances, the Yankees might be better off offering Robertson a qualifying offer for one year and seeing how that plays out instead of committing long-term. I’m sure it’s not what most envisioned when Rivera endorsed Robertson to takeover for him as the closer, however maybe that was the problem all along — ignoring the reality that Robertson isn’t Rivera — he’s David Robertson.

You can follow Anthony Rushing for news, updates, and much more on Twitter@AnthonyRushing_

New York Mets closer Jenrry Mejia undergoes hernia surgery

Jenrry Mejia - (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Jenrry Mejia – (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Jenrry Mejia underwent successful surgery today for a sports hernia, the Mets closer pitched through the injury for most of the second half of the season.

The rehab process is expected to take three weeks for Mejia so he should be good to go with his preparation for spring training (Vorkunov, Oct. 2)

Mejia was a bright spot for the Mets in 2014, he began the season as a starter before being moved to the bullpen where he emerged as the team’s closer. The electric 24-year old went 28 for 31 in save opportunities while posting a 2.72 ERA. It would appear that Mejia found his niche in 2014 and is expected to be the Mets closer in 2015.

You can follow Anthony Rushing for news, updates, and much more on Twitter@AnthonyRushing_

New York Mets to replace hitting coach Lamar Johnson

Lamar Johnson - (Brad Penner-USA Today Sports)

Lamar Johnson – (Brad Penner-USA Today Sports)

The New York Mets are making a change at hitting coach as expected.

According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com / WFAN, hitting coach Lamar Johnson and assistant hitting coach Luis Natera will be replaced (CBS New York, Oct. 2)

Johnson has been with the Mets since 2005, first serving as a roving hitting instructor and then as the minor-league hitting coordinator. After Dave Hudgens was fired on May 26, Johnson was promoted to hitting coach. The Mets finished eighth in the National League in runs (629), ninth in homers (125), fourth in walks (516), eighth in strikeouts (1,264), 13th in average (.239) and ninth in on-base percentage (.308). The club struggled to situational hit all season.

Heyman also reported that bench coach Bob Geren, third base coach Tim Teufel, first base coach Tom Goodwin, and pitching coach Dan Warthen are all expected back on the coaching staff next season. Terry Collins will return for what will be his fifth season as the team’s manager.

You can follow Anthony Rushing for news, updates, and much more on Twitter @AnthonyRushing_

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