NY Sports Day
Matt Mankiewich

Karpin’s Korner: There Won’t Be A Captain Unanimous, Mets Wilson Fits Like A Glove

Neil Miller/ Sportsday Wire

One year after Mariano Rivera retired, Derek Jeter retired. One year after Rivera went into the Hall of Fame, Jeter will go into the Hall of Fame. One year after Rivera was a unanimous selection, Jeter will be a…..whoa, slow down, not so fast.

I’m “betting” Derek Jeter will not be a unanimous selection for the Hall of Fame.

While he was playing, there was an undercurrent of “Jets is overrated” sentiment in the press box. I could sense it when I scored games during Jeter’s career. Jeter was 14 hits shy of 3000 hits when I had to make a scoring call that could be considered a “close call” in the scoring vernacular.

On a slow bouncer to shortstop, Jeter busted it down the line and just beat the throw on a bang-bang play. The shortstop was slow in getting to the ball, so he fielded it behind the second base bag and slightly bobbled it before rushing a throw to first. Jeter’s hustle helps earn him a hit because he makes the fielder uncomfortable, however some media members felt there should’ve been an error called. At the same time, there was a narrative that the NY scorers were favoring Jeter on close calls so that he would get his 3000th hit at home.

An unidentified media member offered his unsolicited opinion in the newspaper the next day and took a shot at myself and the other NY scorers when he said something along the lines of, “He’ll [Jeter] get 4000 hits the way they score around here.” That attitude towards Jeter existed among the National media and even some of the local media. In 2006, Jeter, who clearly had a better overall season and was more deserving of the award, finished second to Minnesota’s Justin Morneau for the AL MVP, thanks in part to one local voter who gave Morneau a first place vote and had Jeter second on his ballot. That voter is entitled to his opinion, but one of the National writers had Jeter sixth on his ballot. That means that voter had five players on his ballot who he felt were better than Jeter in 2006, which was a travesty.

Some reporters felt Jeter was a “phony” and you remember the criticism he took for a lack of leadership when it came to Alex Rodriguez. Then, there are some voters who simply feel Jeter was overrated and a product of NY hype while he benefited more from the team around him than vice-versa. Remember, it would only take one voter to “kill” the unanimity.

Next year’s ballot is not that attractive which may pave the way for Larry Walker and other “marginal” Hall of Fame candidates. Names like Josh Beckett, Alfonso Soriano, Bobby Abreu and Cliff Lee are some of the first-timers. I just don’t see a Hall of Famer among that group.

Mets made a smart move by signing LH reliever Justin Wilson. The 31 year old had a solid season for the Yankees in 2015 after being acquired from the Pirates. Wilson gave up 49 hits and struck out 66 batters in 61 IP, while posting a 5-0 record in relief. He also gained a valuable year of experience of pitching in New York. Wilson is very effective against left hand hitters and will be counted on for big moments against some of the left handed threats in the NL East like the Nats’ Juan Soto (and maybe the Phillies’ Bryce Harper?) and of course, the latest in a long line of Met killers, Braves 1B Freddie Freeman. Wilson’s “Achilles Heel” is his control. The left hander can have lapses where he cannot find the plate.

I asked a scout friend of mine, who has watched the Brewers often, about Keon Broxton. The scout told me that he is an exceptional defender in center field but has yet to blossom as a hitter. He pointed out that Broxton really didn’t get enough of an opportunity in Milwaukee and that the Mets may be getting a player who could be ready to realize his potential.

As I mentioned in last week’s column, the Dodgers “closed in on,” and now have finalized a deal with free agent OF and injury prone A.J. Pollock. It’s a good gamble for LA who desperately needed a right handed bat in the outfield after trading Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. Now it’s being reported that the Dodgers have intensified their pursuit of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. LA re-acquired Russell Martin from Toronto but that hasn’t deterred their interest in Realmuto. I still wouldn’t count the Astros out of that mix.

From the “If It Aint Broke, Don’t Fix It Category:” Don’t know why the Red Sox are moving the best lead off man in the game to hit second in the order. According to Peter Abraham, the Red Sox beat writer for the Boston Globe, (who is a terrific read, BTW) the Bosox are planning to flip-flop Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts in the batting order.

Of course, this move is based on analytical data but Boston had a solid 1-2 punch. I don’t think reversing the order is going to make Boston better offensively.

HKLooking: “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.
Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind.”

That may be a memorable lyric from the Tesla (Five Man Electrical Band did the original version) song but it doesn’t categorize baseball’s free agent market unless you quote, “breaking my mind” because of a number of head scratching omissions that have occurred. Free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, who were supposed to break the bank are currently on the unemployment line. Those are the two biggest names without jobs but there’s more value that is currently on the sidelines that would come cheaper than the two superstars. One of those is Marwin Gonzalez, who was supposed to be one of the most coveted free agents. Another is Josh Harrison, a versatile and winning player who has gotten some sniffs but no deal yet. Mike Moustakas, Adam Jones, Neil Walker and Gio Gonzalez also bring value but are waiting to sign…..I’m getting a feeling that the Yankees and Mets spring training rosters today will be slightly different when camps open in three weeks. Just a feeling.


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