Mets move toward becoming Dodgers East; an Angels prospect’s harrowing story


This is a digital version of The Windup newsletter. Sign up here to receive this content directly in your inbox every morning.

Line 636

David Stearns to the Mets? Why, whoever could have seen that coming? I’m Levi Weaver, here with Ken Rosenthal — welcome to the Windup!

Mets hire David Stearns

“For you are mine at last”

Sometimes the obvious match just works.

After the recent (and not-so-recent) suggestions and implications, the New York Mets got their man, hiring David Stearns as the team’s president of baseball operations.

Some quick background: Stearns, a 38-year-old Harvard grad, spent time in the Mets org back in 2008, when he worked in baseball operations. After time with the league office, Cleveland and Houston, he landed the GM job in Milwaukee in Sept. 2015.

Success in Milwaukee didn’t take long. The Brewers had been to the postseason four times in the previous 47 years. Under Stearns, they made the playoffs four straight years, from 2018-2021. He stepped down after the 2022 season but was not allowed to interview with other teams until Aug. 1 of this year.

GettyImages 1343031816 scaled

Willy Adames celebrates winning the division title in 2021. (John Fisher / Getty Images)

He now goes back to run the team he rooted for in his youth, and he inherits a pretty unique situation.

On one hand, the Mets have had a penchant for finding new and creative ways to be the sport’s main character — generally not in a good way — over the last decade or more.

But taking his small-market creative sensibilities to work for the spendiest owner in the sport — well that sounds a lot like another step in the Dodgers blueprint, doesn’t it? They hired wunderkind Andrew Friedman from the Rays in 2014 and have made the playoffs every year since, including a World Series win in 2020.

“When Cohen purchased the Mets in 2020, he set a pair of lofty goals,” Andy McCullough wrote back in April. “He hoped to win a World Series within five years. And he intended to refashion the Mets as the East Coast equivalent of the Dodgers, the industry’s exemplar in terms of dollars and development.”

Speaking of the Dodgers, here’s Ken …

Ken’s Notebook: Can Dodgers’ rotation withstand playoff run?

From my column today:

Think back to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation at the start of the season — Julio Urías, Dustin May, Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard and Michael Grove, with numerous options in reserve.

Tony Gonsolin, who was on the injured list recovering from a sprained left ankle. Top prospects Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot and Gavin Stone, who figured to contribute at one point or another. Walker Buehler, who was pointing toward a possible late-season return from Tommy John surgery.

And now?

The Dodgers’ postseason rotation likely will be Kershaw, who is dealing with a shoulder issue that has diminished his velocity and pushed back his next start five days; Lance Lynn, who leads the majors with 41 home runs allowed; and Miller, who has thrown a career-high 115 innings between the majors and minors and has a 4.78 ERA in his last four starts.

The triumph of the Dodgers’ season is that they will again win the NL West by a wide margin despite the collapse of their rotation and injury-related absences of several key relievers. But with their pitching in such disarray, how long they will last in October is an open question.


• Urías is on paid administrative leave as the league and law enforcement continue their investigations following his arrest on suspicion of a felony charge of corporal injury on a spouse.

• Syndergaard, after joining the team on a one-year, $13 million free-agent contract, flopped and was traded to the Guardians, who subsequently released him.

• May underwent season-ending flexor-tendon surgery in July. Gonsolin had Tommy John surgery on Sept. 1. Buehler announced jointly with the team last week he will be shut down for the rest of the season as he prepares for 2024.

• Oh, and to add literal insult to injury, Tigers left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez blocked a trade to the Dodgers at the deadline and has produced a 3.64 ERA in seven starts since.

The Dodgers also have been without reliever Blake Treinen all season, Daniel Hudson for most of it and Yency Almonte since Aug. 12. And yet, in a season in which they should have been vulnerable, they are counting down to their 10th division title in the past 11 seasons, largely due to an offense that is second only to the Braves in runs. And lest anyone forget, when they finished second to the Giants in 2021, they won 106 games.

Their chances of winning their first World Series in a full season under Andrew Friedman seem rather long, but wouldn’t it be the most baseball thing ever if it actually happened?

The Dodgers are not without pitching possibilities for October. Pepiot, Grove or Emmett Sheehan could start a potential Game 4 in a postseason series. The team also could use openers and Ryan Yarbrough as their bulk pitcher. Still, no matter how their makeshift plan turns out, it will not be what the Dodgers envisioned at the start of the season. Not even close.

Angels prospect’s tragedy

ZKristofak0022 scaled

Once in a while, a story comes along that sticks with you for a long time. I think Sam Blum’s story about Zac Kristofak will be one of those stories.

Kristofak is a 25-year-old minor leaguer in the Angels system, and his goal, as he puts it, is to “rewrite the Kristofak name.”

You see, when Zac was 15, he endured an unthinkable tragedy. Just over a year after his parents’ divorce, his father murdered his mother, Donna.

But while that is horrific, it’s what comes next — outreach from the community and the support of his neighbors (perhaps you’ve heard of them; the Kiebooms, Carter and Spencer, both made it to the big leagues with the Nationals) — that makes this the sort of story that sticks.

It’s a heavy story. There’s no getting around that. But Kristofak’s willingness to share it is brave, and his journey since the murder is inspirational.

“I can put the light into it,” Kristofak says in the story. “Because there is light.”

All-30: Each team’s impact rookie

“We did it when we were young”

We love our pre-season prospect lists, but it’s September now, which means it’s time to look back at which of those prospects has been the biggest contributor for each of the 30 MLB teams. In today’s All-30, Rustin Dodd does just that, listing one per team.

A few notes:

• The first thing I did was scroll down to Cincinnati. After all, they’ve had 16 players make their big-league debut this year, and have an inordinate number of rookies making big contributions to their playoff chase. You could make a case for Matt McLain (3.2 fWAR in 89 games) or Andrew Abbott, who has helped stabilize a shaky rotation, or Elly De La Cruz, who has been electric. Dodd went with Spencer Steer, who has been worth less fWAR (1.8) but has played in 140 games — most on the team.

• Some of the rookies are easy. Corbin Carroll (whom Eno Sarris profiled today) looks like a lock to win the NL Rookie of the Year in Arizona, while Gunnar Henderson in Baltimore should win the AL version — an award that Josh Jung might have won had he not fractured his thumb. All three make Dodd’s list.

• Others weren’t quite so obvious. In Atlanta, where rookies have grown like wildflowers over the last few years, it’s Jared Shuster, who currently has an ERA over 5.00. Why? Because they’ve gotten a total of 24 plate appearances from rookies this year. The youth movement is over — they’re all grown up now.

Handshakes and High Fives

It’s Sam Blum day at The Windup — he writes about Kyle Bradish of the Orioles, who has had a breakout year.

Or maybe it’s Kyle Bradish day at The Windup, since he makes Keith Law’s “Players I Was Wrong About” list.

Tyler Kepner examines the case for Zac Gallen, NL Cy Young winner.

The AL West / AL wild card race thickens. For the second day in a row, the Rangers beat the Blue Jays and the A’s beat the Astros. The Mariners beat the Angels, meaning the Astros have a one-game lead on Texas in the division, 1 1/2 over Seattle. In the wild-card race, the Rangers and Mariners technically passed the Blue Jays since both teams hold the tiebreaker advantage over Toronto.

The Braves — the team that employed no less than Henry Aaron, by the way — have a new shareholder in their single-season home run record. Matt Olson hit No. 51 on Tuesday, tying him with Andruw Jones.

In other exec hiring news, the Nationals announced they’ve agreed to a contract extension with GM Mike Rizzo.

Carlos Rodón’s first season in New York has been an unmitigated disaster. The Yankees’ continued belief in him might be justified.

The Padres have shut down Yu Darvish for the season due to a stress reaction in his elbow. The Blue Jays haven’t officially shut down Alek Manoah for the season, but it’s starting to look that way.

Adam Wainwright is — finally — one win away from 200.

(Top photo of David Stearns: Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top