Kelly Johnson is returning to his roots once again.
According to a report from MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, the veteran utility player has agreed to return to the Braves on a one-year deal.
The Braves who originally drafted Johnson in the first-round of the 2000 first-year player draft, brought Johnson back on a one-year contract last season before trading him to the Mets on July 24.
He hit /250/.304/.414 with five home runs and 13 RBI with the Mets in 49 games following the deal, and went 1-for-9 in the postseason as well.
Johnson has played in ten big league seasons with the Braves, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Yankees, Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles.
On Tuesday, it was announced Paul DePodesta, the Mets head of player development, was leaving to run the Cleveland Browns in the National Football League.
That left a huge void on the minor league side of the Mets organization, as DePodesta led the re-organization of the Mets minor league, player development and scouting system.
Fortunately, DePodesta has been surrounded by some very smart and experienced people who assisted in their re-organization, including Tommy Tanous, Adam Fisher, Ian Levin, Dicky Scott, and more.
And the Mets appear inclined to promote DePodesta’s replacement from within.
John Harper of the Daily News says the Mets are likely to promote Tanous, their current scouting director, to the head of player development and amateur scouting.
Tanous joined the Mets in 2010 as a scout, and was promoted to scouting director after Chad MacDonald departed the organization in 2011. He has overseen the last four drafts along with DePodesta.
This is probably the most logical move the Mets can make, and certainly going with someone in-house who knows the system that’s in place and the people involved in that system is wise as well.
Tanous has spent his time in the organization essentially being the eyes and ears to DePodesta and the rest of the front office from an amateur talent perspective. He has always been at DePodesta’s side at the various amateur showcases, and obviously spends the bulk of his time scouting around the country looking at all kinds of players throughout the year, playing a key role in the decision making process in their draft strategy.
The results of the 2016 Hall of Fame election will be announced on Wednesday evening at 6 PM ET on MLB Network, with live coverage beginning at 3 PM ET.
And for Mike Piazza, it could be a day long remembered.
According to Ryan Thibodaux, who tracks and counts Baseball Hall of Fame ballots, Piazza has received 150 of 174 votes to receive entry into the Hall of Fame, a total of 86.2 percent.
Candidates need at least 75 percent of the vote to gain entry into the Hall of Fame.
Piazza has failed in each of his first three attempts for Hall of Fame induction. He first appeared on the ballot in 2013 when he received 57.8 percent of the vote. His marks have improved each year since, as he received 62.2 percent of the vote in 2014 and 69.9 percent of the vote in 2015.
Piazza was elected to the Mets Hall of Fame on the final day of the 2013 season. A 62nd-round pick in the 1988 first-year player draft, Piazza was an All-Star 12 times and hit 396 home runs as a catcher, the most in Major League history. He was a lifetime .308/.377/.545 hitter with a total of 427 home runs, 344 doubles and 1335 RBI in 1912 games from 1992-2007 with the Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Athletics and Padres.
He is easily the best and most prolific hitter the Mets have ever had, not to mention the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history.
He said in the memoir he wrote a few years ago he would like to go into the Hall of Fame as a Met. If that happens, he would become only the second player enshrined in the Hall of Fame in a Mets cap.
The other is Tom Seaver, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.
So if Piazza is indeed elected, the next question could very well be how the Mets might honor him in 2016. Such an honor should include retiring his number, something which is long overdue. But that will be up to the team’s committee which is responsible for such decisions.
But an election into the Hall of Fame should make such a decision academic.
There are approximately 450-475 ballots for this year’s Hall of Fame election, so the numbers made public is obviously only a fraction of the electorate. So Piazza will very likely finish a lot closer to the 75 percent threshold than he is at now, but still appears likely to be among the Class of 2016.
If elected, Piazza would become only the ninth catcher voted into the Hall of Fame. The last catcher to be elected was Gary Carter in 2003. Piazza would become the 17th catcher enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame is comprised of 310 elected members, including 215 former major league players, 28 executives, 35 Negro Leaguers, 22 managers and 10 umpires. The BBWAA has elected only 119 candidates to the Hall while the veterans committees have chosen 165 deserving candidates (96 major leaguers, 28 executives, 22 managers, 10 umpires and nine Negro Leaguers). The former “Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues” selected nine men between 1971-77 and the Special Committee on Negro Leagues in 2006 elected 17 Negro Leaguers.
There are currently 68 living Hall of Fame members.
The induction ceremony will take place on Sunday, July 24 at 1:30 PM ET in Cooperstown, New York.
At the beginning of the off-season, Sandy Alderson said one of the areas he wanted to improve upon was the club’s bullpen ahead of the 2016 season in an effort to create less of a dependence on the starting rotation and create shutdown formula with Jeurys Familia at the end of the game.
But so far this winter, the Mets haven’t done much to address their bullpen with the exception of retaining Jerry Blevins and signing Buddy Carlyle and Jim Henderson to minor league deals.
And Blevins comes with question marks of his own, as he’s coming back from a twice broken left arm in 2015, which limited him to seven games and season-ending surgery in August.
As such, in addition to finding another right-handed reliever, the Mets could be looking at shoring up the left side of their bullpen as well, as Buster Olney of ESPN says the Mets have been in discussions with LHP Antonio Bastardo.
Olney says the Orioles have also been in discussions with Bastardo.
Bastardo had an up-and-down 2015 season with the Pirates in 2015, but was stellar in the second half after posting a 4-1 record and a 2.32 ERA in 34 appearances down the stretch. He was dominant in general, holding opponents to a .188 average overall, but he was especially stingy against left-handed hitters, allowing only 17 lefties to reach base all year which was good for a .138/.233/.215 line.
Bastardo is a flyball pitcher with a low-90s fastball. He used it a lot more in 2015 and shied away from his change-up, which could be attributed to his success considering he saw a modest uptick in velocity during the year. In fact, opponents hit under .150 against Bastardo’s fastball in the second half of the season.
He would be an excellent fit for the Mets, but if the Mets sign Bastardo and both he and Blevins stay healthy, there might not be room for Josh Edgin once he returns from Tommy John Surgery. But certainly a tandem of Bastardo and Blevins on the left side of the bullpen would be among the league’s best, giving the Mets a good problem to deal with once Edgin returns.
There is, of course, the issue of what Bastardo might be able to command in free agency. Teams have clearly been willing to pay a premium for relievers this winter as they emphasize strengthen the bullpen and shortening games. As a result, more and more relievers are getting multi-year deals, including Darren O’Day, Tony Sipp, Joakim Soria, and Ryan Madson.
Those multi-year deals should be able to net Bastardo a multi-year deal for himself, and it remains to be seen if the Mets consider going that route – especially for a reliever – after being seemingly reluctant to give multi-year deals to other players not named Ben Zobrist and Asdrubal Cabrera.
And for now, the Mets are unwilling to give Bastardo a multi-year deal, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Original post: January 5, 8:45 am
Updated: January 5, 9:15 pm
The Mets have had one of the highest profile front offices in the industry since Sandy Alderson took over as the club’s general manager following the 2010 season, with John Ricco, Paul DePodesta, and JP Ricciardi serving as his chief lieutenants.
But now it appears Alderson will be losing a key member of his team.
DePodesta will be leaving the Mets – and the industry altogether – to become the Executive Vice President of the Cleveland Browns, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
DePodesta will serve as chief strategy officer for the Browns, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.
DePodesta has served as the team’s Vice President of Player Development and Amateur Scouting, playing a key role in their drafts and associated strategies as well as heading the entire rebuild of the Mets farm system and organization as a whole. He was one of Sandy Alderson’s key set of eyes and ears and an integral voice throughout their rebuild and ascent to National League Champions in the last five seasons.
“Paul completely reorganized the Mets scouting and player development functions and had an extraordinary impact in both areas, but he was also very directly involved in our trade and free agent acquisitions,” Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “His commitment to excellence and his passion for innovation will be missed by the Mets and all of Baseball. I wish him well with the Browns.”
He’s also one of the smartest people in all of professional sports. A graduate of Harvard University, he has served as a front office advisor to Billy Beane in Oakland and Mark Shapiro in Cleveland, as well as General Manager of the Dodgers in 2004 and 2005.
DePodesta was often viewed as the eventual successor to Sandy Alderson as the club’s General Manager.
Said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, “Working with Sandy, Paul put into process a new approach toward player development throughout our organization. Ownership and all of us at the Mets thank Paul for his tireless efforts. We look forward to seeing Paul’s continued success with the Browns.”