NY Sports Day
Matt Mankiewich

Karpin’s Korner: A Met Named Jed, Yanks’ DJ Spin, the Price of Analytics

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In the past 24 hours, the Yankees and Mets have signed free agent infielders.

Switch-hitter Jed Lowrie makes sense for the Mets. He is a professional hitter and he can play all over the infield, however, the Mets now have a logjam in the infield.

The Mets plan on using Lowrie’s versatility but what’s apparent here is that the current Mets regime does not believe in Jeff McNeil or they’re working on another move involving one of the other infielders.

At this moment in time, how do the Mets line up for the 2019 season?

Amed Rosario will lead off and Robinson Cano will hit third, but who bats second? Lowrie is a candidate for that spot. If Keon Broxton is in the lineup, he could hit second. Michael Conforto should hit clean up (I don’t worry about batting two lefties back-to-back considering who the hitters are) with Wilson Ramos or Todd Frazier at five.

The Yankees reportedly came to terms on a two year, $24 million dollar deal with free agent D.J. LeMahieu who has mostly played second base in recent years. The 30-year old has played some third base and he’s played four major league games at first base. LeMahieu is a right handed batter but he’s the .300 hitter type that the Yankees are lacking in this lineup. He doesn’t strike out a ton and puts his bat on the ball.

I get the impression that the Yankees view LeMahieu as insurance around the infield including first base where Luke Voit and Greg Bird may not be the answer. LeMahieu will serve in the role that Neil Walker filled last season

The signing of LeMahieu would certainly indicate that the Yankees are indeed out of the Manny Machado sweepstakes. The Yankees can win without Machado.

Machado’s camp is reporting that a mystery team has made an entry. Reportedly, Machado’s decision had come down to either the White Sox or Phillies, so this may just be a ploy to get those two to up the ante.

As intimated in my column last week, Miami is “ramping up talks” to move catcher J.T. Realmuto. The Dodgers were a perfect fit but they just re-acquired Russell Martin from Toronto.

LA is not out of the Realmuto discussions but it’s likely he’ll end up with the Astros or Padres.

There’s been talk that the Phillies will wait until Mike Trout becomes a free agent in two years if they don’t sign either Machado or Bryce Harper. The assumption is Trout would gladly sign with Philadelphia because he’s from that area, he’s a big Eagles fan and all things that would lure him to sign with a team close to his South Jersey home. Reportedly, the Phillies are meeting with Harper this weekend.

To be thinking two years down the road is a risky proposition. Remember two years ago when everyone was saying the Yankees were trimming their payroll for a chance at Machado or Harper. Since that time, circumstances changed and now the Yankees may not have either of those two.

Trout has played with a sub-par team for his entire career. I would think that, when he becomes a free agent, the make up of the team would matter more to his decision than just playing in Philadelphia. If the Phillies are not contending by the time Trout hits the market, he will not sign just to be close to home.

The analytical revolution that has engulfed baseball began, in part, because it was a cheaper alternative to employing scouts to travel around the country on a team’s dime. Now that cheaper alternative may be coming back to haunt the owners and could be costly.

The data being provided by analytical analysis has determined that a player’s value severely decreases in most cases at the age of 30 and older. That means if a player does not make his Major League Debut until he is 24 years old, that player would not be eligible to be a free agent until he’s at least 30 years old, which would put him in that “not so desirable” range.

With the free agent market moving at a snail’s pace the past two off seasons, the MLB Players Association is going to want to lower the six years of team control to either 4 or 3 years of control. Stay tuned, the CBA is up after the 2021 season.

HKLooking: Brian Dozier is an underrated signing for the Nationals…..Sonny Gray will be dealt before spring training opens next month. The Reds seem to be the most interested and the Yankees, who say they have multiple suitors, are looking for some top level pitching prospects from Cincinnati….. Milwaukee took care of their catching situation by signing Yasmany Grandal, now their focus shifts to the infield. The Giants are offering 2B Joe Panik as trade bait but Milwaukee could go the free agent route for infielder Josh Harrison who may be ready to accept an offer that is less than he thought he would get when he entered the market. Frankly, I’m surprised Harrison hasn’t signed yet…..Another surprising non-signing is Marwin Gonzalez who was projected to be valuable in this year’s market because of his versatility but, so far, no takers.


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