The Morning Report – December 9 – Gil Hodges, Curtis Granderson, Chris Taylor, Jeff Francoeur


There was never anyone bigger in baseball, in my life, than Gil Hodges.

I grew up in a neighborhood of Brooklyn Dodgers fans and lived only one block off of Atlantic Avenue, where you could take the bus all the way down to Bedford Avenue and Ebbets Field.
I also went to J.H.S. 171 for the 7th and 9th grade (I skipped the 8th grade) and a few of us would go straight from school to the stadium when there were home day games. By then, there would be no one standing at the entrances so we could sneak in for the last two or three innings of the game.

The Dodgers were something special to all of us in my household but Hodges and Duke Snider held a special place, ‘The Duke’ was my brother’s favorite player and we would go hours discussing which one was a better player and which one would make it to the Hall of Fame first. My brother won that discussion in 1980.

We thought these guys would never get old and be around forever. Hell, we thought we’d never get old, but all of us did.

On the way there, Hodges became the manager of my next-favorite team, the Mets, which was just bonus time for me.

Hodges died in the arms of one of his coaches, Joe Pignatano, during a golf outing in 1972. He was a lifelong chain smoker and the coroner ruled he had a massive heart attack while riding in the car back to his hotel room that day.

It really never mattered to me that he wasn’t voted into the Hall. I remember to this day that, at the time of his retirement, he was ranked 11th in all-time home runs as a right handed hitter.

Like I said, it didn’t matter to me because he always will be my starting first baseman.

Andy Martino[i] had an interesting idea:

Here’s one idea: Try to move Granderson, clearing payroll and an outfield spot for a Kemp or Upton. Maybe get a third-team involved; there’s a lot of talk about three-way deals lately. In a market starving for offense, the Mets would probably be able to drum up some value for a corner outfielder who managed 20 home runs last year, his first at Citi Field. Then, they could allocate some of the money saved to other hitters.

Hey, look, we’re sick of talking about Niese, Colon, Gee and Daniel Murphy on an endless loop.

Mack – Let’s face it… Martino is probably just trying to invent a new spin until something comes along.

In my opinion, this would take a 3-way trade with someone that could better address the Dodgers need. Is Kemp and his contract better than, let’s say, Granderson and Rafael Montero?   

According to Rotoworld[ii], the Mets continue to look for a new shortstop even though Sandy Alderson keeps telling the New York press that he’s ready to start the season with Wilmer Flores playing there.

This time it’s the Seattle Mariners and either Chris Taylor or Brad Miller:

“Taylor, 24, batted .287/.347/.346 over 47 games as a rookie in 2014. Big things were expected from Miller going into the spring, but he ended up batting just .221 with a .653 OPS while losing his grip on the starting shortstop job” – . 

     Do you want to be a beat reporter? Eno Sarris[i] wrote a great article on this:

So you say you want to be a beat reporter. Do you know what the life is really like?

Are you ready to travel? You’ll have to travel like you never have.

Prepare to spend more than 120 nights in a hotel in your average work year. Prepare to get really used to sleeping in an unfamiliar bed in each of those nights. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans was surprised to find he sleeps better in a double on the road despite having a king at home, and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Hank Schulman has always had insomnia issues, but “they get worse on the road because of sleeping in different beds.”

A very interesting article on the origin of the draft written by Dyan Perry[ii]

However, the manner in which teams acquired free agents was very different in those early years. Vested parties concocted a system called the "re-entry draft," which was designed to prevent certain well-heeled teams from hoarding free agents. In essence, teams could "draft" the right to negotiate with a certain number of players (a number tied to the total number of free agents in a given year, a max of two for that first draft). Free agents, in that first year, could negotiate with no more than 12 teams (source: BizOfBaseball.com), and those teams obviously must have chosen the free agent in question during the re-entry draft. Like most drafts, teams were ordered in reverse order of the standings. A coin toss gave the NL's Expos the top pick rather than the AL's reigning worst team, the White Sox.

This is pretty sad. Joel Sherman reported that one of the reasons ex-Met Jeff Francoeur agreed to a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies was to work on his swing and try and rekindle his career. I know things like this sound pretty pathetic but let’s try to remember what the money is like in this game even at sub-par levels like this. What if Francoeur could wind up with a job here eventually being paid $1mil a year. What other industry is going to pay him a mil a year? A ballplayer’s last contract could wind up being ten times more than anyone ever paid you or I for what we have done all our lives.
I wish Francoeur well. I remember what a positive influence he was in the spring training clubhouse.


Brian Joura said...

In his last 288 PA in 2014, Kemp had a .958 OPS while posting a .317-17-58 line. Sure, the BABIP was really elevated (.365) but it's nice to see a former star with a $20 million per year contract actually produce at that rate over half a season.

If the Mets could afford that contract, I'd definitely give up the two proposed names for him

Thomas Brennan said...

Francoeur was the poster child of what was wrong with the 2009 fences at Citi. Hey, if den Dekker can reengineer his swing and be successful, you're right about giving it a try. Bucks are too big to just slough off a career.

I have a "one more try in your baseball career" article of a different sort coming up in a few weeks, after my 5 part series on the 2010-2014 drafts that I hope is worth a read.

I was just too young to remember Gil the hitter - I do not remember much about the 1962 Mets playing, although I did watch them. I guess 40-120 can do things like that to your mind. But he was a great manager in 1969.

I used to catch the bus to the E or F train to Roosevelt Ave, then the #7 to Shea to sue my Bordens coupons for general admission tickets - life was good, man.

Taylor does look interesting - just curious if he is an upgrade over what Reynolds will be in a year or so. But if they get him, they can trade one of them later. Taylor put up really good minor league offensive #s and if I recall, 69 of 82 in steals over 3 seasons. Might be worth a whirl.

Speaking of travel, I travel about 240 days a year - on the Long Island Railroad, where I've written most of my articles. Never let mass transit time go to waste!

Have a great day, folks.

TP said...

Brian makes good points above and this may sound crazy but I'll stick with Grandy. Yes he is 1 year older but playing LF this year, fences in, and in a less-responsible position in the batting order should produce both better offense and defense, and they may well need that lefty bat should the trade Murphy or if Duda doesn't follow up this season like he played last year. Kemp is very risky - not Tulo risky - but his health scares me a bit too much. Now, if I could count on that .958 OPS...

Thomas Brennan said...

Ture about health, TP. Grandy has been very healthy except for his HBP injuries in 2013. Durability is a real positive.

Interesting stat for you TJ Rivera lovers out there. Both he and Nimmo have the same # of off season official at bats (84). TJ has 13 more hits and 18 less strikeouts. Just thought that was interesting to think about.

Christopher Soto said...

Mets are scheduled to talk with the Royals, Rangers, Giants, and 2 other teams about SP Dillon Gee today.

Mack Ade said...

Thomas -

A very good use of commuting

Mack Ade said...

Brian and TP -

My hopes is we get more return this year from d'Arnaud, Granderson, and Wright

Zozo said...

I would love to trade Gee, Granderson and Montero for Elvis Andrus then call the Dodgers and get Kemp for Murphy, Mejia and Plawecki. I think that would be an extra 10 million dollars over our payroll.
Our lineup would look something like this.
I would love that order

Lew Rhodes said...

Thomas - You can't compare stats in the AFL with the PR leagues - I believe the talent level in the AFL is a lot higher - that's usually where the primo prospects go.

RE Granderson - let's not forget his very positive impact in the clubhouse. Once Murphy is traded, the Mets will be a very, very young team - if you don't think a positive leader in the clubhouse is important, then you deluding yourself.

Yes Kemp is better on the field (if he can stay on the field), but Grandy can help make other players more positive and influence them for the better.

Let's not forget Beltran's first year with the Mets - Grandy was never "the man" with the Yankees - there was a lot more pressure on him last year - I think he will bounce back and be in the 30 HR area next year - shorter fences, his old hitting coach, more comfortable, less pressure - it all will add up to better numbers

Also, Grandy seems to be the type of athlete who will age well - just a guess, but based on his physique, he looks like he will regress slowly

Lew Rhodes said...

Dillon Gee is going to be the one traded - he should bring something ok back.

Niese and Colon will be on Opening Day - Colon will get traded mid-season when some team has an injury and needs and innings eater.

Niese isn't going anywhere - a) we need a lefty no matter what Sandy says and b) Niese is an above average pitcher (ERA+ of 112, 96, 102) which makes him a fantastic #4/5 starter - how many team have better than average back of the rotation starters?

Oh - BTW, Niese is YOUNGER than Gee and just hitting his prime.

Christopher Soto said...


The Arizona Fall League is actually the weakest of the Winter Leagues.

The AFL is a mix of AAA/AA/A+ players only whereas the rest of the Winter Leagues generally have Carribean league all-stars + MLB back-ups + top mlb prospects.

Zozo said...

Also the best option for the Mets is for both the Cubs and Red Sox to lose out on the Lester sweepstakes. They have the surplus of young shortstops and are craving pitching. So we would match up even more if they both fail at signing him.

Mack Ade said...

Well, I'm fine with Flores with Tejada as backup. It's a good one year 2015 plan.

I'd like to leave San Diego minus one starter and plus one LHRP.

Past that, I'm fine for 2015 because I know the Mets are not going to step up and become a big spending team

Thomas Brennan said...

Back to my Nimmo point, and thanks to Lew and Chris for their insights above, I read this today: Mets "Triple-A OF prospect" Brandon Nimmo could be called up to the major leagues in 2015, according to reporter J.J. Cooper (Baseball America, Dec. 8).

Nimmo must have played in AAA under an assumed name then. Last I looked, he struggled in AA and AFL ball.

I am not saying that Nimmo won't be a future solid-to-star OF, but I like to see guys produce first. TJ Rivera does 3 things well: hit, hit, hit.

Christopher Soto said...

I disagree with Mr. Cooper on Nimmo's graduation date.

A) He struggled in AA and in AFL so he is most likely going to open 2015 in Binghamton.

B) He does not need to be added to the 40 man roster until November 2015 when he becomes eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

C) With Cuddyer, Lagares, and Granderson all signed through 2016, there is no rush to promote him to the big leagues.

eraff said...

I'm fending off some depressing "slow News Day" talk regarding the Mets trading Gee for "Salary relief".... a Salary dump on a legitimate MLB SP?....3-5 million?

This is a really bad "rewind button" for me---and I hope it;s just prattle...still...a very depressing "idea".

Mack Ade said...

Eraff -

Try coming up with 1000 words a day in a Morning Report worth reading :)

I don't think there is going to be much more from the Mets during these winter meetings. I really don't.

eraff said...

Hey Mack---that "slow news day" comment was certainly not aimed at you or the other writers here...I find lots of interesting things shared on this blog.

I was trying to minimize (in my own mind) the likelihood that a Gee Trade (any trade...at THIS Point) would begin to echo all of the NON- Baseball machinations of the past 5 years.

Trading a 5 million dollar a year legit backend starter fo Salary Reduction?????!!!!... Say it ain't So!!!!!!!

Mack Ade said...

eRAFF - OH, I know... that's why I had a smiley face at the end of the first line of my comment.

everybody is sick of talking, and writing, about Colon, Niese, and Gee, but one of these guys have to be moved before the season starts.

Two, if you include MOntero in your rotation.

And, they will both be replaced by internal team controlled minimal wage players - thus, a reduction of pay but maybe not a reduction of talent

Anonymous said...

I agree, big rivera fan myself. Actually i believe a lot of top prospects play winter ball in PR along with big leaguers and former big leaguers. I think riveras stats would be the same anywhere he plays. He has proven that so far..

Mack Ade said...

Anon -

where would you pplay TJ on OD 2015, which position, and who sits?

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