Amidst all the fun that comes with the World Series--the storylines, triumphs, defeats--an unfortunate story was leaked on Tuesday.
New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia was arrested on Oct. 31 due to domestic violence allegations. It is awful to hear about yet another professional athlete doing something like this. It is even worse when realizing Familia had taken part in an ad campaign against domestic violence released just in the past month, where he says, in Spanish, “I am not fan of domestic violence.”
While the news is still developing and details are still becoming available to the public, I ask Rob Manfred, when the time comes, to truly consider the implications of the punishment when it is handed down to Familia.
Manfred has done well, at least I believe he has, so far when handling domestic violence cases. According to MLB policy, it is 100 percent up to Manfred’s discretion when handing down a punishment.
Manfred, thus far during his tenure as commissioner, has had to handle three higher-profile domestic violence cases. And, of course, he has handed down three distinct punishments.
Mets’ infielder Jose Reyes was arrested and charged in Hawaii last October due to a domestic violence complaint. Though, after his wife would not cooperate with authorities, charges were dropped. Manfred’s punishment was a 51-game ban.
Cubs’ reliever Aroldis Chapman was not arrested nor charged in a domestic violence incident last December. Manfred barred him 30 games, but he is pitching in the playoffs for Chicago, generating controversy within itself.
Free agent Hector Olivera was arrested and charged outside Washington D.C. last April. His trial did go through the courts system, and he was found guilty, receiving 10 days of jail time. Manfred passed down an 82-game suspension to Olivera, who looks unlikely to receive another shot at playing in the Major Leagues.
For Familia, though, I am not asking Manfred to hand out a specific punishment. I think I am (we probably all are, at the moment) not informed enough on the subject or even how to develop a suspension to just throw a number out there. That is not what this is about.
I am asking Manfred, however, to begin to develop a precedent for future cases. Sure, he has, to an extent, dealt with that with Reyes’, Chapman’s and Olivera’s issues, but even each of their cases carried different impacts.
Chapman, obviously, is the most known and best player of the three. He also was not charged nor arrested. It makes sense, then, as to why he received the least amount of punishment from that specific angle.
Reyes is still known, but he is well past his prime. The Rockies swiftly parted ways with Reyes after he returned from suspension, where they may have been more reluctant to do so had Chapman been their player. In fact, Chapman was still sought out by teams, first by the Yankees during the same offseason in which the allegations were brought against him, and then by the Cubs who needed a playoff push. It is not against any rule to pursue a player associated with domestic violence, but it is a little sad to think teams are able to overlook that in the name of winning.
And then there is Olivera, who was arrested and charged but is relatively unknown in terms of the baseball world. That, specifically, is why I cannot see him making a return to the big leagues.
With Familia, Manfred is dealing with a player that falls into the same category as Chapman in terms of stardom and will either fall into the same category as Reyes or Olivera in terms of the severity of the legal proceedings.
All I ask from Manfred is that he stays consistent. Sure, I enjoy baseball, but I am also a sports fan. And, I have seen far too much where the National Football League, in particular, has gone wrong in terms of handing out punishments. They are either lenient and then made stricter due to press coverage (look at Josh Brown’s case), causing a whole headache for the league and its fans overall.
Domestic violence is downright gross. It does not have a place in any society. But, commissioner Manfred still (unfortunately) has to deal with it. And my hopes are that he is sincere, consistent and takes all into consideration before dealing with his next challenge.
Who can forget it?
Last postseason, Daniel Murphy took the league by storm as a member of the New York Mets, swatting seven home runs in his first nine games, including home runs six games in a row.
It's hard to know exactly how much his postseason improved his free agent stock, though Murphy cashed in quite nicely, inking a three-year, $37.5 million deal with the Nationals. And he has completely lived up to expectations.
So, who is Murphy-ing this postseason so far?
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
Easily the best example of Murphy-ing this postseason is Blue Jays' slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who has had a phenomenal postseason thus far, having six hits in his first 16 at bats, including three home runs and seven RBI.
Encarnacion was likely going to get a big contract this offseason regardless. However, his great performance in the postseason thus far will only increase the likelihood of him getting a large payday. Some concerns may surround Encarnacion's age, given that he is 33 years old. Despite this, he still played 600 innings at first base during the season, perhaps allowing him to market himself to both American and National League teams.
Middle-of-the-order bats are hard to come by, and Encarnacion is solidifying himself as a great option for teams looking for extra pop in their lineup going forward. He might just get a "clutch" player tag, too, which obviously helps him.
Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
Like his aforementioned Blue Jays teammate, Bautista will hit the free agent market this offseason at the conclusion of a six-year, $78 million contract. I can't imagine anyone but Toronto keeping Bautista, but an extension has not been worked out, and it still seems like he is open to hitting free agency.
Bautista has not been nearly as good as Encarnacion this postseason, yet he has still hit two very important home runs, one of which came in a do-or-die American League Wild Card game. Bautista cooled off during the ALDS, collecting just two hits over the three games, but a strong postseason the rest of the way could make his bat in even more demand than it already projects to be.
Bautista has a natural flare for the dramatic, so I would not be shocked if his price tag is increased due to his ability to carry a team when it matters.
Aroldis Chapman, Chicago Cubs
Every time they watch him pitch, all 29 other Major League teams must wish they have Aroldis Chapman on their team. Chapman, famous for his fastball that easily reaches velocities in excess of 100 mph on the daily, has had a strong showing this postseason that should make him a rich man in a few months.
Granted, Chapman blew a save in NLDS Game 3, but in his other three appearances, he's been lights out, pitching three innings and striking out six. In Game 4, with a chance to clinch the series, Chapman set the Giants down in order by striking out the side. The games will get more important, and Chapman will continue to prove to be a very valuable piece out of the Cubs' bullpen. His value on the free agent market will continue to skyrocket past what already appears to be a record-breaking reliever contract in the making.
Chapman is 28 years old and is set to become a free agent for the first time. He was suspended at the beginning of this season due to a domestic violence incident, which could be a major downfall when negotiating his next deal.
In all, these three players have--to an extent--done this postseason what Daniel Murphy did last postseason. With all the talk that surrounds "contract years," it could just be "contract postseasons" that begin to make all the difference in years to come.
It is officially six weeks away from baseball season. Pitchers and catchers began reporting for Spring Training earlier this week. Now, it is time for my divisional previews, with a new one coming out every Saturday leading up to the 2016 season. Today, I begin with the National League East.
1. Washington Nationals -- 2015 record: 83-79; Projection: 91-71
The best move the Nationals made this offseason was the hiring of Dusty Baker. Baker gives the team an identity. This is something that the Nationals lacked with Matt Williams, and the team crumbled down the stretch. With Baker, I expect the Nationals' chemistry to be improved. And with all the talent on their roster, including reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper, there is no reason to believe why they can't win the division.
Washington had something of a modest offseason but made a few key moves. I really liked the acquisition of Ben Revere. He will give them a presence at the top of the lineup that they truly missed all of last season. Revere is a catalyst and should steal plenty of bases in D.C., while playing a very good center field.
The pitching staff took more of a hit this offseason with the loss of Jordan Zimmermann to the Tigers. Now at the back-end of their rotation is Tanner Roark and Joe Ross, the latter of which posted a 3.64 ERA and a 3.42 FIP in 76 2/3 innings pitched last season. I am expecting the Nationals' pitching staff to hold up, which in turn should lead them to the National League East crown.
2. New York Mets -- 2015 Record: 90-72; Projection: 88-74
The Mets are going to take a small step back this year. Their lineup is not as deep as it was at the end of last season, when they made the run into October, winning the National League. The big offseason move for them was the re-signing of Yoenis Cespedes. Without Cespedes, the Mets' lineup could be an even bigger issue, as they were one of the worst offensive teams in baseball last season before their trade deadline acquisition of the Cuban outfielder.
The loss of Daniel Murphy is going to hurt the Mets more than they thought. Replacing him is Neil Walker, who they got in a trade from the Pirates for Jon Niese. I liked the move, but Murphy has slightly more offensive upside than Walker, posting a .770 OPS to a .756 OPS last season. Walker now heads to an even more extreme pitcher's park at Citi Field, while Murphy heads to a hitter's park out at Nationals Park. Lastly, the Mets cannot expect Cespedes or Michael Conforto to be as good over a full season as they were down the stretch last year.
On the other side of the ball, I love the Mets pitching staff. The only addition they made to it this offseason was the signing of Antonio Bastardo, who is a good seventh or eighth inning guy. Their starting rotation is amongst the best in baseball, boasting the likes of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Bartolo Colon. It will be hard to take two of three from the Mets, but the way to do it is to out-hit them. And that can be done.
3. Miami Marlins -- 2015 Record: 71-91; Projection: 78-84
Every year I look at the Marlins roster and wonder why this team isn't better than they are. They have some of the most exciting young talent in the Majors in Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Dee Gordon, Marcell Ozuna, and Jose Fernandez. But yet this team continues to underperform year after year. So, I can't expect big things out of the Marlins anymore.
If there's one thing that is in their favor, it is the fact that they hired Don Mattingly to be their new manager. Mattingly has experience working with tough personalities in Los Angeles, notably Zack Greinke and Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers never went deep into the postseason, but Mattingly was the glue that held them together. In Miami, he will be expected to do the same.
How do the Marlins succeed this year? They need their rotation to come through. The team added Wei-Yin Chen during the offseason, but Jarred Cosart (4.52 ERA), Tom Koehler (4.08 ERA), and Edwin Jackson (3.07 ERA; no starts) to step it up. If they can, the Marlins might be able to surprise some people this year. But I wouldn't expect it.
4. Philadelphia Phillies -- 2015 Record: 63-99; Projection: 66-96
The Phillies will still be bad in 2016, but they won't be as bad as the Atlanta Braves. Philadelphia's rebuild is still in full swing, and the team should not be projected to do anything special this season other than perhaps see their top prospects begin to make their Major League debuts.
This offseason, the Phillies added three underrated pieces: Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, and David Hernandez. They aren't going to help the team during their next contending phase, but could be dangled as trade pieces at the deadline if they prove valuable. More notably, they subtracted hard-throwing closer Ken Giles to net them four prospects.
This is the first offseason for Philadelphia without Ruben Amaro Jr. since 2007-2008. Andy MacPhail and Matt Klentak have done a solid job thus far as they look to make the Phillies more analytically-friendly and rebuild their core. In 2016, the Phillies may be a bit improved, but the will still be among the worst in the Major Leagues.
5. Atlanta Braves -- 2015 Record: 67-95; Projection: 62-100
The Braves, like the Phillies, are in the midst of a big rebuilding phase. This season will probably be a lost year too. Outside of Freddie Freeman, the Braves lack many top-tier players in both their lineup and starting rotation.
This offseason, the Braves have been focused on subtracting some of their talent. They traded Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels and Shelby Miller to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team brought in Ender Inciarte, Erick Aybar, Kelly Johnson, and Jim Johnson this offseason through trades and signings to provide depth (though Inciarte could be in Atlanta the next time they contend).
For the Braves to beat this projection, their rotation is going to have to step it up. The Braves rotation includes: Julio Teheran (4.04 ERA), Matt Wisler (4.71 ERA), Manny Banuelos (5.13 ERA), Bud Norris (6.72 ERA), and Williams Perez (4.78 ERA). If they want to finish in fourth, that rotation is going to have to outperform its 2015 result. I don't see that happening.
If you think the New York Mets' young left-hander was good last night, just think of what is to come.
In the team's heartbreaking 5-3 loss yesterday in Game 4 of the World Series, a major storyline was blatantly overshadowed: Steven Matz.
Matz pitched five excellent innings last night in a must-win game for the Mets. He allowed seven hits (two in the sixth), allowing two runs, while striking out five and walking none.
He might not be as polished as the rest of the Mets' pitching staff, but that's expected for a player who has just nine Major League starts under his belt. His poise and stuff was great and even Alex Rodriguez, who was commentating for FOX, praised the fact that he's a left-handed pitcher that can throw harder 95 mph.
Even more exciting for Matz and the Mets is that the 24-year-old is from Long Island and grew up rooting for the team.
"This is what you write up in your backyard when you're playing Wiffle ball," Matz said before Game 4 (via CBS Sports). "I always thought about it. I didn't know it was actually going to come to truth or whatever. It's actually amazing. It's pretty big blessing being here, especially my first year being a part of this team."
And while Matz did everything he could to bring that dream to reality, it was the bullpen that soured his performance. But baseball is a team effort and there is nothing Matz could do about it.
One thing is for sure: Matz looked and pitched like the type of pitcher that will be pitching in many more big games to come.
A stellar rotation or a stellar bullpen. Choose one and you'll likely find the key to postseason success.
The ability to shorten games is how teams win in the postseason. Just take a look at our two World Series-bound teams.
The Royals have long been known as a team with a great bullpen, thanks to Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, Greg Holland (until he got injured), and Ryan Madson. The trio of Herrera, Davis, and Madson did not post an ERA above 2.71 this season.
The Mets, on the other hand, might not have as strong of a bullpen as Kansas City, but they more than make up for it in their rotation. The Mets rode Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Bartolo Colon to where they are today.
What's the common theme between these two teams? The ability to shorten games.
The Royals get that ability at the end of games, where they only need six or seven solid innings from their starter in order to win. Kansas City has gone 157-4 when leading after seven innings, including postseason, according to STATS LLC.
Being able to have the confidence in a bullpen to completely shut down the opposing team when the game is at its highest leverage has allowed the Royals to get back to the World Series in back-to-back years.
For the Mets, it's almost the complete opposite. They were able to use their scary starting rotation to limit the amount of innings they needed from their bullpen. This meant that they could get closer to their closer and by far best reliever, Jeurys Familia faster.
In Games 1-3 in the NLCS against the Cubs combined, the Mets only used four relief pitchers that were not named Jeurys.
In Game 1, they used this strategy to almost perfect execution, getting 7 2/3 masterful innings from Matt Harvey. They then immediately turned it over to Familia, who shut the door on the Cubs for a four-out save.
In Game 3, something similar happened. Jacob deGrom went seven strong. Following three outs from Tyler Clippard, the Mets turned the ball back to Familia, who recorded the save once again.
So, you don't need to have an amazing bullpen from top to bottom to win playoff series. What you need to have, however, is a way to shut the door on teams, whether that be early in the game or late in the game. That's what is going to make this 2015 World Series so fun.
See you on Tuesday.