Karpin’s Korner: Mets Tried For Hinch Before Beltran

It appears that Carlos Beltran will become the next Manager of the NY Mets, but he may not have been their first choice.

Reports surfaced earlier today that the Mets have decided on hiring their former player to run the team from the dugout, despite the fact he has never been a manager or coach. No matter how well it’s “worked out” for other teams, hiring an inexperienced person to manage a team that has post-season aspirations is risky.

While the Mets were undergoing their lengthy interview process, a report surfaced that there was a “mystery bombshell candidate” and that may have been Astros Mgr. A.J. Hinch.

According to people with knowledge of the situation, the Mets reached out to the Astros with the idea of acquiring Hinch to be their new Manager. The Astros’ skipper is close friends with Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, but Hinch was under contract through 2022 after he signed an extension last year and some kind of compensation (trade) would had to have been worked out between the two clubs. The Mets knew this and were willing to negotiate but the Astros were not.

Those same sources reported Fred and Jeff Wilpon were in Washington, D.C. last weekend to have dinner with Alex Rodriguez, who was working the World Series for Fox. Reportedly, the Wilpons were “picking” A-Rod’s brain on a number of subjects including his interest in becoming the Manager and Beltran’s qualifications. You can make a valid assumption that A-Rod spoke very well of Beltran and that he sold him to Mets’ ownership.

When the Mets hired Mickey Callaway, I wrote that it was imperative that they add an experienced baseball man to be his bench coach. I feel the same about this hire. Beltran needs an experienced baseball man standing next to him when he begins his tenure as the Mets Manager. Some have already suggested Terry Collins, who would be a good choice but who knows if he wants to return to the dugout in that capacity.

Beltran has the utmost respect of his peers and being bi-lingual will be a huge help for his communication skills but until you begin to make those crucial in-game decisions, no one really knows how this hire will go.

It reminds me of when I became an Official Scorer in 1998. I like to say we have 100 scorers in the press box every night as we all like to offer an opinion or two on a scoring call. I was one of those 100 for many nights but it was (excuse the pun) “a whole new ballgame” when I was actually the person who was responsible for making the scoring call.

World Series Post-Script:

Did Hinch take out Zack Greinke too early in game 7? That seems to be the consensus, but if you were rooting for the Astros, were you comfortable with having Greinke face Juan Soto after he gave up the home run to Anthony Rendon? If you were uncomfortable with that match up, then you can’t second guess Hinch.

I thought Hinch would lift Greinke right after the Rendon homer. The mistake was who he brought in to relieve Greinke because Will Harris was gassed.

I understand why he wouldn’t want to bring Gerrit Cole into the game for a “dirty” inning, but the Nationals had life at that point and Houston needed to squash that in a hurry. If he was so concerned about bringing Cole into a situation with men on base, then the AL Cy Young Award candidate should’ve been in there after the home run, because there was one out, nobody on and Houston still had a 2-1 lead.

To me, the difference in the Series was the Nationals’ left hand hitters. The Astros neglected to have a left handed pitcher on their roster and I felt that was a mistake.

If you look at how the Series played out, the Nationals’ left handed bats of Adam Eaton, Juan Soto and even Asdrubal Cabrera were able to have success against the Astros’ totally right handed staff, particularly at Minute Maid Park.

Eaton, Soto and Cabrera (who never had to hit right handed in the Series) combined for a .315 average (23 for 73) with 12 (33) runs scored, 5 (11) home runs and 16 (32) runs batted in. (The numbers in parentheses are Washington’s totals for the entire Series)

Even though the Astros’ pitchers had good numbers against left hand hitters during the regular season, sometimes you need to show the hitters a little different look. That is especially true in a best-of-seven series where familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, but it can be an advantage for a hitter who faces the same pitcher numerous times.

Conversely, the Astros’ left handed hitters, Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez hit a combined .356 for the Series but had only 1 home run and 4 RBI’s and were only 2 for 14 in the final two games.

As far as the controversial call in game six, the umpires went by the rule book (Rule 5.09 (a) (11) in the book) and got the call right.

Trea Turner ran down the line but he was on the left side of the foul line for the entire 90 feet. Some members of the media and the social media denizens who don’t know the rule book (and don’t take the time to look at it before formulating an opinion) were labeling this a “bad call.”

All Turner had to do was be on the right side of the foul line. The rule doesn’t expect the runner to have both his feet in the cut out portion, but the runner is expected to be on the right side of the foul line.

Some were saying that the bad throw caused the interference, unknowingly admitting that there was some sort of interference on the play, but the call was determined before the ball even got to the bag. That rule is in play for those little dribblers that are out in front of the plate where the catcher or the pitcher has to make a throw to first without hitting the runner.

It looks like Aroldis Chapman will opt-out of his contract that has two years and $30 million dollars left on it. Chapman had a full no-trade clause that becomes one with “limited trade protection” for the final two years. If Chapman opts out, (he has until Saturday to make that decision) the Yankees should not look to extend him for big money. The Yankees could extend a qualifying offer but it’s expected that Chapman will turn that down. Teams with resources can always find a closer, even during the season and if the Yankees have a budget that they plan on sticking with, they’re going to need that money to fill other needs, like, perhaps a starting pitcher.

No surprise that the Yanks would decline the option on Edwin Encarnacion’s contract but don’t rule out a return just yet. The Yanks potentially could bring him back on a much lesser deal. His 1 for 18 against the Astros certainly lessened his value on the open market.

Boston may show some interest in Encarnacion, or free agent 1B Jose Abreu who has flown under the radar with the White Sox. J.D. Martinez is expected to opt out of his deal so the Red Sox may be looking to replace his right handed bat. Abreu will be 33 next season but his consistency as a run producer has been off the charts.

Abreu has played six seasons and hit 30 or more home runs four times. He has driven in 100 or more runs five times, he’s scored 80 or more runs four times and would not cost as much as Martinez who three years and $62.5 million left on his current contract.

Karpin’s Korner appears every Friday on nysportsday.com

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