So, you might have heard a baseball game was played last night. Matt Harvey nearly brought the Mets from the brink with 8 dominant innings. Headed to the ninth with a two run lead, Terry Collins allowed Harvey to talk him out of bringing in Jeurys Familia, his electric closer who, outside of one ill-timed Alex Gordon home run, had been untouchable all summer and fall. A walk, a double and a horrible throw from Lucas Duda later, Collins was surely regretting letting his gut (or his heart) do the thinking for him.
Of course, none of us really care about this nonsense, right? The biggest story for us is that the baseball season is officially over and we can commence with our second-favorite activity (behind watching baseball): playing armchair GM and obsessively clicking the refresh button on mlbtraderumors.com! Here's your morning links.
Giving Back: The 10th annual Challenger Classic was held at Angels Stadium this weekend, with more than 900 special needs children from 40 different little league teams participating on the field alongside Angel greats Bobby Grich, Garrett Anderson, Clyde Wright and Chuck Finley. "I gave up like 12 home runs today in three innings and was surprised the manager left me in," joked Finley, 52, a five-time All-Star pitcher who retired in 2002 after 17 seasons, his first 14 with the Angels. This year marked the largest turnout ever for the event.
Elsewhere in Baseball
Let the poaching begin: With the World Series officially wrapped up, both participants have several tough decisions ahead of them concerning pending free agents. The champs must decide whether to pony up to bring back career-Royal Alex Gordon, along with trade deadline acquisitions Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. As for the Mets, Daniel Murphy will surely not pass up the opportunity to cash in on his postseason heroics, while Yoenis Cespedes will look to sign this offseason's biggest WTF contract. Any one of those players would look great in red next year. Just sayin'.
Coaching matters: Royals' hitting coach Dale Sveum has been an unsung hero of sorts. After replacing former hitting coach Jack Maloof in May of last year, following his now infamous "There is just no reward here (for us) to try and hit home runs," line, there was a clear change in the Royals approach, one that many around here have compared to the frenzied-hitting Angels of 2002. David Laurila looks into his philosophy: "You get three outs in an inning, and if you strike out for two of those outs, your odds of coming back aren't going to be very good," said Sveum. "But if you put three balls in play, something might fall and you keep the line moving." Later in the article, Laurila gets into the head of former Angel, current D-Back coach Mike Butcher: "We try to stay away from patterns," elaborated Butcher. "And sometimes it depends on who's hot coming into a series. There are guys you don't want to have beat you, and there are certain things you have to do to get them out - part of that is how you set them up - in critical situations. In less critical situations you might pitch them a little differently, so you can save those pitches for when the game is on the line." Anyone want to venture a guess on which of those pitches he wants his guys to save?
But is he available?: Curtis Granderson has been a man of many hats throughout his major league career. With the Tigers he was the five-tool centerfielder every team covets. After being shipped to the Yankees, perhaps enticed by the short porch in right, he became an all-or-nothing slugger. With the Mets he is now seen as the cerebral veteran, working counts and getting on base, the engine to the Mets' offense. Andrew Felper of Baseball Prospectus takes a look inside one of his recent at-bats against Royals flame-thrower/hot-head Yordano Ventura and how he was able to work his way back from an 0-2 count.
*Apologies for the late links this morning. I did not factor extra innings into my responsibilities coming off the bench this week, putting me behind the ball last night. Clearly my time management is at rookie ball level compared to Stirrups' MLB All Star-quality linkage. Have a great week and enjoy the offseason!