Last week’s baseball winter meetings in Las Vegas did not generate the excitement that was predicted my many involved with the game.
The one bit of Vegas news for Mets fans was that their team staged a reunion with their longtime closer, Jeurys Familia, who signed a three-year, $30 million deal.
The Mets traded Familia to the Oakland Athletics in late July for some prospects with the key player being reliever Bobby Wahl who joined the Mets as a September call-up although he didn’t see much action. With the Mets long out of the playoff hunt, and Familia slated to become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, team executives were understandably motived to move him even though they held him in high regard.
Word of the Mets reacquiring Jeurys Familia came as a big surprise because there was no advance buzz about it. After the news broke, some Mets fans who voiced their opinions on social media seemed less than sanguine because they remember the times when Familia had trouble throwing the ball over the plate.
While Familia has provided more than his share of agita to the Flushing faithful over the years, this is a smart move on the Mets’ part. More times than not he came through even if he did make you bite your fingernails. Mets fans can take some comfort knowing that newly acquired Edwin Diaz will be closing games. Familia is being asked to be an eighth-inning setup man for him. It’s also safe to assume that Mets management sees Jeurys Familia as a reasonably priced insurance policy in case Diaz is not available for whatever reason.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, and his Yankees counterpart, Brian Cashman, made up that three-way trade rumor in which the Mets would send pitcher Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees with the Yanks sending third baseman Miguel Andujar to the Miami Marlins and the Marlins dealing catcher JT Realmuto to the Mets.
Everyone knows that the nation’s daily newspapers have been struggling and some like the New York Daily News now rarely send sportswriters on the road. Cashman and Van Wagenen surely realized that floating a rumor like that would be a godsend to the tabloids and help justify their expenses in sending reporters to Las Vegas. Most importantly it was a lot of free publicity for both the Mets and the Yankees during a time when football and basketball rule the sports pages.
Van Wagenen smartly veered away from giving a lot of assets up to the Marlins for Realmuto as he decided to sign talented free agent catcher Wilson Ramos instead. While he may not be as talented as Realmuto, Ramos can hit and handle a pitching staff just fine.
It’s hard to believe how many members of the Baseball Writers Association of America were livid over the fact that the Veterans Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame voted to elect outfielder Harold Baines to the Cooperstown shrine. While he wasn’t Willie Mays, Baines had a terrific 22-year Major League Baseball career.
Not surprisingly, BBWAA members were rather mute about the Veterans Committee also electing relief pitcher Lee Smith for induction. Smith was one of the most dominant relievers of the 1980s, and he should have been elected by the BBWAA when he was on their ballot.