Mets360 to become a membership site

When Mets360 first launched in January of 2010, the goal was to be the biggest Mets site around. It’s safe to say that didn’t happen. However, we’ve had tremendous growth from that first year, where we could count the readers some days on the fingers of two hands. The last three months of 2020 was our best quarter for traffic in over five years. Without a doubt, enthusiasm is up due to Steve Cohen’s arrival. But it’s my belief our content has been good, too.

My column last Sunday was our most-read piece in over six years.

Since the site began, my byline has been on over 2,300 stories. And the overwhelming number of these articles were meaty topics, not three-sentence updates on stories that we’ve been “writing” for a month or longer. In addition to high-quality pieces that make readers think – this site contains, in my honest opinion, the best comments section of any Mets site out there. If you read any of the big boys and venture into the comments section, you’ll see posts from readers that make you fear for the future of humanity.

There’s an intelligence and a civility in the Mets360 comments section that I’m very proud of, a thing that’s helped keep me going all these years.

In my mind, this is a very desirable community. We have good writers who put effort into their stories, we have readers who have no qualms about either critiquing an article or offering appreciation if they think the piece merits it. And there are no annoying pop-up ads or obtrusive advertising on the site. In short, we’ve been providing value and proving our worth for 11 years now and our 12th year will be our best yet.

Starting today, Mets360 will become a membership site. This will be the last article under the old system. There will be a regular piece published in a few minutes that will be restricted content. As will be the content going forward.

It’s not free for me to run this site and, quite frankly, it would be nice to make a dollar rather than losing 10 for all of the time and effort put into running things here. But even more important than the money issue is the “quality of the community” issue. We all live in the real world and regardless if it’s work or family or neighbors – you have to deal with people who are, in an unkind word, idiots. And there have been more of those unkind people here lately. My hope is that making people pay a small fee to be in this community may help weed out some of the undesirables. Which means fewer deletion and moderation of comments for me and a better reading experience for you.

So, here’s the deal. A one-year subscription to the site will cost $10 and a lifetime subscription – available in 2021 only – will be $50. That seems reasonable to me. Ultimately, you will decide if access to 300-plus articles on the past, present and future of the Mets, along with Game Chatters and recaps, are worth about what you would pay for one pizza or two specialty coffees.

If you want to become a member – click here to sign up and pay via PayPal’s secure platform. Once you do, you’ll be able to read today’s article.

Change is always hard and my expectation is that there will be a few bumps along the way. But hopefully we come out the other side in even stronger shape. If you run into an issue, let me know and I’ll work to fix it as fast as possible.

Thank you.

Mets to hire Carlos Beltran as manager

Reports have the Mets’ managerial search as over, with former Mets star Carlos Beltran, who left the team under less than favorable circumstances, to take over as their new skipper.

When Beltran was traded, the return was a prospect named Zack Wheeler. It’s sort of fitting that now when Wheeler seems primed to leave the club, that Beltran is set to return.

And just for further kicks, it was reported earlier today that Beltran would like to have Terry Collins as his bench coach. Everything old is new again!

Announcing an update to DRS system by BIS

Here’s an email from Baseball Info Solutions:

After a considerable amount of study, we’re releasing the latest update to our Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) metric.

Since 2013, our video tracking has allowed us to chart the pre-pitch infielder positioning. That data allows for the evaluation of defensive performance for individual fielders on shift plays and allows us to break the DRS system into PARTs. PART stands for Positioning, Air Balls, Range, and Throwing.

With this new system, we can isolate each of the individual skills for a player and separate those from positioning, which is largely controlled by a player’s team.

One of the other biggest benefits in this new system is the inclusion of shift plays.

Given the dramatic increases in shift usage in recent seasons, thousands of plays each year had been previously excluded from individual player ratings due to the current system’s inability to separate the player and team’s positioning efforts from the player’s range and throwing contributions on the play. Since the new system accomplishes just that, there’s no longer any need to exclude these plays from individual player ratings.

How does this impact player value? The player who experienced the greatest increase in value in the new system was Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman, who went from 18 DRS to 34. This was a product of both crediting Chapman for his excellent fielding in defensive shifts and accounting for how the Athletics positioned Chapman. In the previous system, Chapman was being penalized for missing balls that he had no chance of reaching given where he was playing. In the PART system, Chapman’s positioning is taken out of his DRS and instead is assigned to the team.

Other players to receive DRS increases of 10 or more runs were Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Dodgers utility man Kiké Hernández (for his play at second base) and Cubs shortstop Javier Báez.

A comprehensive explanation of the methodology that produces the results will soon be available at FieldingBible.com and in the 2020 Bill James Handbook. They will be accessible at other publicly-available resources in the near-future as well.

When it comes to evaluating defense, we’re not yet quite all of the way there, but we’re getting closer. The introduction of the PART system provides a more accurate reflection of defensive performance.

Site update for Mets360

Early next year will be the 10th anniversary for Mets360. When it was my 10th wedding anniversary, a former colleague of mine, an older fellow, congratulated me and said, “The first 10 are the hardest.” Does the same thing apply to baseball blogs? Maybe it does.

While there’s been continuity, there have certainly been plenty of changes along the way for the site. Perhaps you’ve noticed the latest change. If you’ve been looking at the bylines for the articles since Monday, you’ll notice only one – mine.


This past year was a surprisingly difficult one for me running the blog. Things had to be changed and several different scenarios were considered, including shutting down the site altogether. But at the end of the day, my passion for the Mets and interest in writing were too strong for that to be the choice.

It’s always been my belief that there should be multiple voices available at the site. No one has a monopoly on truth and the more people who contributed, the more universal the appeal of Mes360 would be. Unfortunately, it seemed like too many articles at the site were being mailed in. Not enough care, in my mind at least, was being given to the columns. My impression was that too many articles were depending on the readers to supply the interesting points in the comments section.

So, instead of having other people contribute on a weekly basis, from now on they will contribute a monthly piece. The hope is that we trade quantity for quality. In the past, authors were required to write a weekly piece of at least 500 words, with the goal of producing an in-depth piece that readers would enjoy. Now, their monthly columns will be a minimum of 750 words.

It’s never been the goal to have writers count how many words are in their articles. Instead the hope is that by having these minimums, it will force the writers to pick topics that lend themselves to a piece of that length. And if you’re writing a piece that long, you should tell the readers something they didn’t already know or organize the facts in a way to support a conclusion that perhaps hadn’t been considered previously.

We’ve always aimed for an intelligent, engaged audience. My belief is that it’s better to have 1,000 informed readers rather than 10,000 idiots. And part of being an informed reader is recognizing your own biases and shortcomings. My favorite commenters at the site are the ones who have strong opinions but who are able to change their minds if and when the facts dictate that it’s wise to do so.

Longtime reader Chris F. and I have disagreed on many things throughout the years. Sometimes in those disagreements, he’s been right and sometimes he’s been wrong. But on the rare occasions where he’s been wrong, he doesn’t deny it or try to rationalize it away. Instead when new information comes along, he alters his opinions accordingly. My goal is to have an audience where everyone is like that.

Prior to the start of the 2019 season, two readers who commented virtually every day – the kind every site wants to have – were banned from commenting here because they were so inflexible on their opinions. These people are worse to deal with than little children. If you’re eight years old and bring something to the table, you’re welcome here. If you’re any age, lack reading comprehension, know the answer to everything and you’re a pompous jerk about it, go somewhere else.

To me, it’s a wonderful thing to learn something new about the Mets, regardless of how or where it happens.

So, here’s hoping that we’re able to show you something new or different on a consistent basis with our new structure. While there won’t be as many overall submissions from other writers besides me, we will have more people contributing than ever before. Five of the six writers who contributed during the 2019 season will be back. There will also be some writers who contributed in the past returning. Additionally, two guys who were only heard from in the comments section will be writing full-length pieces. And one completely new writer will be contributing as well.

You will see these other bylines appearing soon at the site, as early as next week. Some won’t be joining until next year. Regardless, my hope is that you’ll enjoy what these people write and that you’ll read every piece with the goal to comprehend the points being made rather than just to shoot off a reply. That being said, we love comments! There’s nothing wrong with agreeing with an author and telling him you enjoyed his work. But there’s nothing wrong with disagreeing or pointing out errors, either. Just remember to disagree without being disagreeable.

Thanks for your support throughout the years and my hope is that these latest changes make you want to continue to visit Mets360 in the years to come.

Mets360 on The Legend Sports Network

If you’re into fantasy baseball, you undoubtedly know about Lenny Melnick, one of the pioneers in the industry. My first dealings with Lenny came about 10-12 years ago, when we were both members of a group called FantasyPros911. Lenny was very generous, both with his knowledge and his time. And I found out what a great podcast guest he was. Since then, he’s been on the podcast numerous times, always bringing tremendous energy and strong opinions – pretty much an ideal combo.

Midway through the 2018 season, Lenny approached me about joining him in a new venture. He was looking to get correspondents and podcasters for each club, starting with baseball but moving on to other sports as well. He wanted the correspondents to live in the city of the team, which eliminated us from consideration on the writing part. But there was no such restriction on the podcast side.

So, now the Mets360 podcast is a proud member of The Legend Sports Network. Our regularly scheduled slot is 9 p.m. Eastern. The nice thing about this is that there is an active chat room of listeners who are interacting with the show in real time. Last week we had 18 different people in the chat room and I got to see how they were responding to what Tim, my guest for the week, and I were discussing almost immediately.

Lenny does several podcasts for the network and he’s extremely good about conducting his show and incorporating comments from the chat room. For me, it’s much more of a work in progress. Felt like there was a lot of improvement last week on my end in this regard. But there’s always the possibility I’m just kidding myself.

Now, the people in the chat room are not Mets fans so it wasn’t necessarily the “cream of the crop” as far as comments to respond to live on the podcast for me. But that’s where you come in. Tonight, David Groveman is the guest and we’ll be discussing the Mets’ farm system. We’ll need to focus on the guys that people have heard of, primarily Andres Gimenez and Peter Alonso. But, if you’re interested in hearing about someone else, if you join us in the chat room you can make a request.

The URL for the chatroom is – https://lennymelnickfantasysports.com/recent-posts/live/ – Now this is not unique for the Mets360 show. If you click on it right now, you’ll hear a podcast called “Fantasy Fever,” and it has 20 people in the chat room. Next show is 2 p.m. which is JJ’s Sports Talk. Again, we’ll be on at 9 p.m. Eastern tonight.

You’ll need to register to participate in the chat room. But if you’re morally opposed to registering, you can still listen live at that link. It would be great to have some knowledgeable Mets fans participating in the chat room. So, my hope is that you’ll join us tonight.

Thanks!

Wanted: New writer for Mets360

Ever read one of our articles and think, “I could do that!” – Well, here’s your chance!

We are looking for someone to write a full-length article once a week, on either Wednesdays or Thursdays. Additionally, this person will need to become part of our game recap crew, writing once or twice a week a quick wrap-up of that night’s game, with the goal of having it published 15 minutes after the game is over. This part will have much greater flexibility. One week you may do the Tuesday and Thursday recap and the next week you may do the Sunday recap.

This is a labor of love and not a paid position.

You’ll have the freedom to write on any Mets-specific topic you wish. If you think Mickey Callaway is a genius, you can write about that. If you think Robinson Cano will lead the Mets to the World Series, tell us how. If you think Michael Conforto is overrated – make your case. We’re passionate fans here and we want to read articles by people who care as much as we do.

If you’re interested in joining us, please send an email to mets360@ outlook.com (eliminate the space between the “@” and the “o” in outlook. I’ll respond to all serious inquiries about the writing position within 24 hours.

The return of the Mets360 podcast

About 19 months ago, I re-started the Mets360 podcast. After some initial experimentation, it settled into a weekly show on Wednesdays at 11 p.m. Eastern. Now, the time was less than ideal but my hosting company, BlogTalkRadio (BTR), restricted free accounts from recording during prime time hours and that was the best time slot that was available to me.

The podcast had a tremendous collection of guests, ranging from writers at the site, to people in the Mets blogosphere to nationally known figures. Perhaps the most exciting guest was when official MLB historian John Thorn dropped by. Other noteworthy guests included Peter Golenbock, John Sickels and Mike Vaccaro.

Recently, I was thrown a curve when I started to host an episode when BTR announced I was no longer eligible for their free account. That was my plan for years and certainly it was not a surprise that this day came. What was a surprise is when they asked me for $39 per month for what I had previously received for free.

Long story short, I’m no longer with BTR. The Mets360 podcast is now recorded and hosted with Cast, for about one-fourth of what BTR was asking. On top of that, there are no longer any time or length restrictions. This should enable me to bring in guests who previously were not available, so that’s exciting.

The downfall with Cast is that it’s done through the Chrome browser and the cloud, rather than the phone lines like with BTR. You need to have a headphones with a microphone in order for it to sound good. The second podcast in the new format, one with show favorite Tim McLeod, was recorded with the microphone from his computer and the sound was, well, horrible.

Last night Matt Netter joined me and we had a good conversation about the team. I posted the links to the right sidebar earlier today but those of you who view on the mobile site may have missed it. You can download the episode with Matt at http://cast.rocks/hosting/13288/Matt-Netter.mp3 and you can subscribe to the podcast at https://tinyurl.com/ybrrwjo7. Additionally, if you’re an iTunes user, you can find us there, too. Just search for Mets360. There will be multiple ones to choose from, with the current podcast feed being the one with a full header image from the site, instead of just the 360 favicon.

For those of you who view the site on mobile, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click on “View Full Site,” which takes you to a format much more like what it looks like on a desktop/laptop. The information on the right sidebar is now viewable, although it comes at the bottom of the page. There will be a link to download the latest podcast, as well as one to subscribe.

The first podcast with Cast was with David Groveman, where we discuss the team’s prospects. You can download that one at http://cast.rocks/hosting/13288/David-Groveman-6-13-18.mp3 as well as find it in the list of shows available on iTunes.

The podcasts are fun to do but more importantly I think they are an informative listen for the audience. If you have already listened in the past – thank you. And if you haven’t, this is a great time to check it out and hear for yourself.

Come write for Mets360

Are you a passionate Mets fan? Can you follow style directions? Are you a team player? If so, we’d like you to become a writer here at Mets360. Want to express your admiration for Mickey Callaway? Go for it! Want to explain why Jose Reyes should not be released? Make your case. I want you write what you believe as we’re not interested in publishing click-bait pieces.

This is not a paid position.

If you’re interested – send me a note at mets360@outlook. com (leave out the space) and we’ll discuss things in more detail. I will get back to you within 24 hours.

So, what do you do when the Mets don’t play?

Editor’s Note – Before leaving a comment for this story, make sure you have read our new comment policy.

If you’re not a front runner, it’s hard to have all of your teams clicking at the same time. My guess is that most fans are satisfied if they have at least two teams going good simultaneously. I’m a baseball-basketball-football guy and right now my football teams are carrying the banner for my sports fandom.

I’m not much of a college football fan and I very rarely watch a game that doesn’t involve the NC State Wolfpack. My first three years at State, the team went 3-8 each year and that kind of set the tone for everything. Well, this year was pretty good, a nine-win season culminating with a convincing bowl win. The program is heading in the right direction and recruiting might be better now than at any time in school history. And now we received news that QB Ryan Finley will be back for his senior season.

Remarkably, NC State has developed into a QB school. There’s Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon and Jacoby Brissett playing currently in the NFL. If Finley had come out this year, he would have been a late 2nd or early 3rd-round pick. He makes good decisions and is a classic pocket passer. I get the sense the coaching staff would rather have a more athletic QB but Finley is so good that his lack of running skills really doesn’t hurt very much.

While the team loses all-everything performer Jaylen Samuels, with Finley returning the offense could be even better than it was this past season. A strong senior season and Finley could play himself into the first round. And the first round is where all-world defensive lineman Bradley Chubb will land, possibly a top 10 overall selection.

The only black mark against the football team is that it plays in, by far, the tougher of the two ACC divisions. It has to battle both Clemson and Florida State on a yearly basis. And Louisville, too. This past year they beat the latter two teams but were unable to get past Clemson. It will be a perennial uphill battle to sweep those three teams.

On the pro side, the Vikings, predicted by many for a .500 season, instead went 13-3 in a year where they lost their starting QB and top RB by week four. Offseason acquisition Case Keenum became a dark horse MVP candidate while the WR tandem of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen might be the most dangerous receivers in the league. But the unsung heroes of the team is an offensive line that has handled numerous injuries yet still kept Keenum from getting killed and also done a fine job of opening up holes for the running game.

But the defense is what makes the team go. They led the NFL in both fewest points and fewest yards allowed. Their front four gets pressure without blitzing, the linebackers are young and athletic and the secondary features both great cover guys and big hitters. They did not excel in getting turnovers but when you lead the league in shutting down third-down conversions, you don’t need to rely on interceptions or fumble recoveries.

The Vikings tied for the best record in the conference but took the second seed, as the Philadelphia Eagles had a win over a Carolina Panthers team that the Vikings lost to when they were playing without four of their five starting offensive linemen. In the Wild Card round, the Vikings played all four of the NFC teams and went 3-1, as they earned wins over the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons knocked off the Rams on Saturday, meaning the Vikings will face the winner of the Saints-Panthers game in the divisional round. Before the playoffs started, the one team I didn’t want to face was the Saints. The Vikings beat them in the first game of the season, before the Saints got their defensive woes straightened out.

In Sunday’s game, I’ll be pulling for the Panthers. Playing Carolina at home with a much healthier offensive line should make a big difference for the Vikings. Of course, the Saints won both regular-season meetings against the Panthers. You’ll hear someone talk about how it’s tough to beat a team three times in one year but the actual results don’t show that at all. In fact, of the last 20 times that teams met for the third time, the team that won the previous two matchups went on to win the third game 13 times.

The Vikings have been the most successful of the teams that I root for but they’ve also provided, by far, the most stomach-punch losses of any of my teams. The last time they were in the playoffs, they lost by a single point after missing a chip shot field goal as time expired. It was a brutal way to lose a game and it probably doesn’t even make the top five of painful losses the team has suffered since I started following them.

Yet things are lined up almost perfectly for them this year. While they didn’t get the top seed, they got the extra week off to get healthy. And the Eagles have to play without Carson Wentz, which will make their road to the Super Bowl much tougher than what the top seed usually has. And the Super Bowl will be in Minnesota this year.

With another team, I might be cocky. But the Vikings have taught me humility.

In basketball, NC State had very low expectations coming into the year and they’ve already produced two signature wins over teams ranked #2 in the country. First they beat Arizona and then Saturday they beat Duke. Of course, this team also lost to UNC-Greensboro and fell by 30 points to a Notre Dame team playing without its top two players.

State has a new coach, trying to introduce a new system, which is why the expectations aren’t there this season. And to make matters worse, they’re forced to play without their starting point guard, Markell Johnson, who is currently suspended for violating team rules. During break from classes, Johnson went home to Cleveland and got into an altercation. It seems like he was a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, being the most notable person when a fight broke out. While other programs might wait for the legal system to play out before handing out discipline, State was proactive. That’s the correct way to handle things and while it makes it difficult in the short term, it sets a necessary tone for the long term.

On nights when they shoot well, State can play with anyone. However, they’re just not a very good shooting team. And when the shots don’t fall, the defensive intensity drops off noticeably. Against Duke, State shot 50.7% from the floor and 92% from the line and scored 96 points. In their previous game against Notre Dame, they shot 36.7% from the floor and 53.3% from the line. Against Duke, they moved the ball well in the half court and ended up with a lot of dunks and layups. However, too many times they settle for passing the ball around the perimeter and taking a contested long distance jump shot.

This season is almost like playing with house money since the expectations are so low. The wins over Arizona and Duke were exhilarating and the losses are accepted with a shrug. Last year was so different because the expectations were so high. It was those unmet expectations that led to a coaching change. And it’s that coaching change that leaves fans optimistic about the future.

NC State will have three transfers next year, along with four four-star freshman recruits. New coach Kevin Keatts will have his players and should be able to run his system much more so than he can this season. This year becomes about getting experience for guards Braxton Beverly and Lavar Batts, both who played well against Duke. Hopefully Johnson will be cleared of wrong doing and can contribute both this season and the next two. Next year we can watch a team that’s legitimately 10 deep and can aggressively press all game long.

On the pro level, the New York Knicks are exceeding expectations and have a shot to make the playoffs this year. They’ve developed into a solid home team. And while the road record right now is awful, the losses now are competitive ones. They’ve successfully moved on from Carmelo Anthony and they’ve received unexpectedly strong seasons so far from Enes Kanter and Michael Beasley, who both have provided solid offensive performances.

The Knicks have gotten such good production from those two that most nights big men Joakim Noah and Willy Hernangomez don’t even get into the game. Kyle O’Quinn gives great effort and Kristaps Porzingis is the team’s unquestioned star.

The Knicks’ problems are typically in the backcourt. Point guard is a trouble spot with rookie Frank Ntilikina still trying to get established in the league. While the Knicks passed on taking Dennis Smith Jr. who is currently in the running for Rookie of the Year honors to pick Ntilikina, hopefully it’s a choice that pays off in the long run. You can see the talent that the French youngster possesses. Perhaps with experience he can develop into a top notch point guard. But he’s not there yet and his offense seems far off.

Veteran Jarret Jack has brought some stability to the position but when Jack is your answer, you know the problem is a big one. Courtney Lee has had a solid year at the two guard and has been a near automatic from the free throw line. The Knicks started the year playing Lee and top free agent signee Tim Hardaway Jr. on the wings but Hardaway has been sidelined and the Knicks have struggled to replace him.

While Beasley has picked up a lot of the scoring slack, the Knicks have been forced to give extended minutes to Ron Baker and Doug McDermott and neither one should get double digit minutes on a good team. Hopefully Hardaway returns later this month and helps to shore up the wing rotation. With Hardaway relegating those two to the bench, hopefully some of those close road losses can turn into wins.

After the Anthony trade, some doubted that the Knicks would win 20 games this year. So a season where they made the playoffs, even as a #8 seed that gets swept in the first round, would have to be viewed as a success. As for the future, a core with Porzingis, Kanter, Lee, Hardaway and Ntilikina seems promising. But will they be able to keep Beasley (unlikely) and can they continue to add to their core through the draft without Phil Jackson?

So, two football teams who seem to be peaking and two basketball teams exceeding low expectations. It could be a lot worse. But there’s been enough good things to help pass the time until baseball returns. And hopefully the Mets get 130 starts from their preferred five starters in 2018, which will go a long way to turning around a 92-loss team.

Editor’s Note – Before leaving a comment for this story, make sure you have read our new comment policy.

Site update

They say that one of the definitions of insanity is doing the exact same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

I’ve been repeatedly asking for people to be less negative and it hasn’t worked. So, it appears there are two choices. Option A is to suffer through your negativity. Option B is to stop subjecting myself to your negativity.

I’m choosing Option B. We will cease posting new content for the next little bit. I can’t give you a firm answer as to when we will return. It could be two weeks, it could be five days, it might be two months.

In addition to no new content, commenting has been turned off for all articles. This will be in place until we resume operations. You’ll still be able to access the content should you wish – you just can’t leave any new depressing comments.

When we do return, there will be an updated Comment Policy. Much like when we made the switch to outlaw posting in capital letters, I expect there will be a backlash. But I assure you that if you approach it with an open mind, you’ll find that the changes make sense and have the ability to improve the level of discourse at the site.

Until we return, if you’re looking for Mets news beyond the mainstream sites, please visit my friend John Coppinger over at the Metstradamus Blog. John’s been a guest on the podcast, has been wonderful to me and is a good writer, too. Check him out.

I hope everyone reading this has a great New Year and we’ll see you in 2018.

GM Project 2017-18 report card

For the past few years I’ve offered to follow up the GM Project by publishing a “Report Card” on the armchair GMs who took part. Each year I have someone else grade my team and I would like to thank Joh Fox for doing that this year. I have gone through and done a review on all 30 teams, including those who took a pass on participating or a pass on sending in their final rosters. I’m not Sherlock Holmes, so I did my best in these last two cases.

Please let me know how off-base you think my rankings are in the comments section, and enjoy.

A +

Atlanta Braves – Eric Stashin: In any type of game or simulation there needs to be a winner and while I can’t say that these Braves are, far and away, the favorites to win the World Series, I can say that Eric made some devilishly good moves to make his team much, much better. There are free agents like Neil Walker, Logan Forsythe, Jamie Garcia and, of course, Jonathan Lucroy. There are trade targets like Alex Bregman, Aaron Nola and Marcus Stroman. The Braves, Marlins, Phillies and Mets all got much better in this exercise of ours but it’s hard for me to argue with a lineup (not to mention bench and rotation) that Eric put together.

A

Miami Marlins – David Groveman: (By John Fox) The trade of the generational talent Giancarlo Stanton (along with the useful Dee Gordon) was clearly the centerpiece of the Marlins offseason, and they hit a homerun in acquiring the four solid starters/prospect. Gary Sanchez has had a great start to his career and may well be the kind of slugging catcher who is the foundation of a dynasty, ala Johnny Bench or Yogi Berra. Clint Frazier won’t duplicate Stanton in the outfield but he will be a solid starter and indications are Torres has a long and successful career ahead of him at shortstop. The GM made a clever move in signing utility infielder Derek Dietrich at a bargain price, and he may be needed with the aging Brandon Phillips penciled in as second base. The GM followed his plan of focusing on younger high ceiling starters and prospects. He may be a little over-optimistic in thinking the Marlins could threaten the Nationals in 2018, but all in a solid plan was developed and executed.

A –

Chicago Cubs – Tim Mester: The Cubs are doing this exercise on easy mode. The team is young and talented which means that, while they have expensive contracts, they don’t have a ton to do. What they managed to do was pretty impressive. They replaced their departing Ace with a younger model, nabbing Gerrit Cole from the Pirates and they managed to sign some useful depth in free agency. I’d rank them higher if they actually had to do much to make their team a success.

B +

Boston Red Sox – Joe Barbieri: They have a high budget but they also have some nasty contracts to contend with. David Price was basically untradeable but it was going to be telling to see if this team could improve their pitching on budget. The deal for Zack Grienke was a boon and basically made their offseason a win. They would have been even higher if they didn’t make a confusing deal for Jed Lowrie.

Cleveland Indians – Brian Kobil: Sometimes you have an offseason where the best thing you can do is sit tight. The Indians didn’t do anything too fancy. They are rolling the dice on an Anibal Sanchez rebound and made some savvy moves to acquire Justin Smoak and Manuel Margot. Overall, they didn’t make any big splashes but this Indians team looks to have another playoff run in their future which I’d count as a win.

Minnesota Twins – Peter Kreutzer: The Twins made a handful of moves and some were better than others. Their deal for J.T. Realmuto was a wash as they got a good young player but gave up three talented pitchers to get him. The trade of Castro for Tony Wolters was huge as it saved tons of money on a player going to waste. They also signed J.D. Martinez and a few names off the final free agent list. It wasn’t a badly run offseason and this team should be competing for a playoff spot.

B

Cincinnati Reds – John Fox: I think that John did a good job with some pretty steep handicaps. Trading Homer Bailey or Devin Mesoraco was a pipe dream and it is what separates his offseason from being an A. The Reds improved their starting rotation with Steven Matz, improved their farm by adding Christian Arroyo and improved their reliability of their outfield with Ender Inciarte. The team is better and will improve as prospects develop, just like the real Reds.

New York Mets – Brian Joura: There was a lot to like about the Mets offseason. They picked up one of two bonafide aces available, in Jake Arrieta, and they improved their defense and bullpen. The problem here was that the Mets improved their pitching and defense but let their offense rest, more or less, stagnant. Having Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes and Dominic Smith in the middle of the lineup is fine but more should have been done.

B –

Baltimore Orioles – Greg Jarvis: Some teams don’t do very much at all and they get pummeled for it. The Orioles get a gentle but nervous pat on the back. The only move they made was to add Yu Darvish (done at a good price) and it improved their team from 2017 to 2018. It does leave their 2019 team further into doubt but they should at least have plenty of money to address those issues.

Philadelphia Phillies – Dan Spiro: Despite making a suspect deal for a thirteen million dollar pitcher, past his prime, the Phillies join the Marlins in looking to challenge the Nationals for the top spot in the division. The additions of Rick Porcello and Julio Teheran give them a strong rotation though I would weep to ever lose a pitcher like Aaron Nola. The outfield of Carlos Gonzalez, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Odubel Herrera is elite but the team could have used some money to improve the bullpen or improve the infield offense.

Detroit Tigers – John Coppinger: The Tigers made a few good trades and I liked what they did in acquiring Kolten Wong and Sean Newcomb but this is not a team that is likely to be in direct competition for the playoffs. That’s okay. The idea behind the GM Project is to make a plan and follow through. These Tigers won’t make the playoffs but they will be much better poised to craft a winner in 2018/19.

C +

Oakland Athletics – Matt Bruce: The team wasn’t particularly active in the offseason which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. They spent some serious money on Alex Cobb, who is a great pitcher but wasn’t worth the amount he got. Their best trade (only trade) netted a useful utility player and a prospect and saved them money. The big bargain for the team was Carlos Santana but, in the end. This team looks to have only maintained their status from the previous season without making major strides.

Kansas City Royals – Ray Kuhn: There is a lot to like in how the Royals spent their offseason. Some savvy free agent moves nabbed them Logan Morrison and Asdrubal Cabrera for affordable contracts. What held them into the C range was that they acquired eighteen million dollars of backup outfielder between Rusney Castillo and Juan Lagares. Add the risky moves of A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin and this team did some things right and others wrong.

C

Colorado Rockies – Paul Festa: The team had good plans and good intentions but this team looks to have taken a step back from contention. Yonder Alonso made a lot of sense and wasn’t a bad pricing move considering his upside. The problem is that they failed to improve their pitching. I would even argue that the pitching got worse.

Tampa Bay Rays – Josh Lerner: The team didn’t really do anything after selecting their non-tenders which would usually have landed them lower on the list but the team’s goal was not to become a playoff team. This team needed to let their players develop another year and then look to make their big moves in 2018/19. In this owner’s defense, he tried to make moves… he just didn’t succeed.

C –

Los Angeles Dodgers – Robert Lowe: On one hand, the dodgers came in severely under budget but on the other you might be confused why this team did not make significant improvements with that money. They moved Scott Kazmir to the Yankees and shed an unsightly payroll hit who is coming off injury but they left lots of talent on the board when they had money to do otherwise.

D +

Arizona Diamondbacks – Dan Capwell: So, during the process it seemed to me that the Diamondbacks were doing very well, but when things were said and done the team appeared to take a full step back from their gains of 2017. They hadn’t become a bad team and their rotation which includes Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker was still impressive but the team’s need to cut salary left them forced into a ground of mediocrity.

Toronto Blue Jays – Joe Vasile: Things didn’t start poorly but once this team locked in twenty two million on Chris Tillman their offseason was going to be panned. The bullpen isn’t very good, the rotation is thin and the team is not exactly “better” than it was when this began. I like Dansby Swanson and how they attempted to use Josh Donaldson to fill their multiple gaps in the team but I look at the final product and can’t help but thing it’s $164.5 poorly spent.

D

Milwaukee Brewers – Matt Netter: The Brewers start in a bad spot so I might be being harsh again. The starting lineup is potent and the bench isn’t thin but this team is not good. The pitching is bad and the bullpen fails to bail them out. If this team had spend their twenty million dollars of payroll on any of the cheap and talented options in the final round of free agency, they would have done much much better.

San Diego Padres – Scott Ferguson: Why so low? The answer is in Scott’s own recap. He knew the goal was not to create a winning club but to build out a foundation. This is what makes the Manuel Margot for Danny Salazar trade confounding. Then the Arizona trade brought in prospects and more money to players who could not play. Finally trading A.J. Pollock for Kelvin Herrera was the final nail in the coffin. You gave up a arbitration eligible player who has a high ceiling for a closer who will be leaving town at his first opportunity. They didn’t trade their “prospects” so they didn’t get ranked lower, but I considered it.

Washington Nationals – John Caputo: Some teams do very little but occasionally a team does absolutely nothing. The GM Project is intense. It’s one week of wheeling and dealing where you need to make a plan and execute. Unfortunately, every year there’s a few people wo volunteer to help and then don’t do anything. For this reason the Nationals are in jeopardy of losing the National League East to the Marlins and Phillies and could even finish in fifth because they just sat idle. The sad thing is… They could still have the best roster in the division even after doing absolutely nothing.

Los Angeles Angels – Will Morin: Another owner who did nothing. The Angels are a team that I truly believe could be run agressively in either a win-now or rebuild mode and the owner just sat out. The owner didn’t go over budget or make any terrible moves so I guess… that doing nothing isn’t the worst thing you could do.

Seattle Mariners – Dan Kolton: Like the Nationals, Angels and a few others, the Mariners took a pass on the exercise. Why you would sign up for something like this only to skip out is anyone’s guess. Because of their inaction the Mariners continue to dwindle towards irrelevance but don’t come away with any new glaring mistakes.

D –

Houston Astros – Brian Mullen: The team needed to make moves because of salary cap concerns but it seems like the budget got away from them. The salary cap infraction drops the team by a full grade. Now you might argue that this team is still a playoff team but I am looking at that Alex Bregman trade with open astonishment. Why the trade was made, I cannot say. Spending $23 Million on Todd Frazier to replace him, just looks bad.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Brian Cartwright: While it’s possible to love a trade that both team wins on, they don’t come around too often. The Pirates spent a lot to bring in Ian Happ and I don’t hate the idea of the Pirates getting him but this team could not afford to lose. The Pirates are a team with not enough offense to win games with their bats and not enough pitching to rely on their arms.

F +

New York Yankees – Mark Healey: I feel like I’m being a little overly harsh with Mark but again, he blew past his substantial budget and turned the Yankees into the bloated budget Yankees of the late 90s. They traded away much of their best youth and have put together a murderer’s row of sluggers that will hit a ton of home runs but the pitching got worse and the lineup can only do so much.

Texas Rangers – Julian McCarthy: The rangers only did a handful of things so the fact that I cannot see their payroll doesn’t make me too worried. The trade they made for Kyle Barraclough and Wei-Yin Chen was not particularly wise as it took on a salary that will only go up after this year. The signing of Seth Smith for eleven million also smacks of poor money management.

F

San Francisco Giants – Steve Hoeffler: For one thing, they went over budget. For another, they didn’t really improve their team or their future. It appears that the owner for this club went into the offseason with a goal of treading water. They brought in a pair of outfielders who could boost the offense, in Jayson Werth and Austin Jackson but I wouldn’t bank on it. If they get lucky and Los Angeles and Arizona implode they could successfully make the playoffs but I see this team missing the postseason.

F –

Chicago White Sox – Todd Gallagher: Regardless of their moves they were getting a pretty steep deduction for their absurd budget infraction. It makes me pose the question, “Can a team blow twenty five million dollars beyond their payroll and still produce a team that doesn’t reach the playoffs?” Sure, Jose Altuve is a great player. Sure, the bullpen featuring Dellin Betances, Ken Giles, Addison Reed, Greg Holland and Wade Davis is absurd. However, the owner projects 120 wins for a team that only has three starting pitchers and a mediocre offense.

N/A

St. Louis Cardinals – Jon Williams: The Cardinals made multiple moves but submitted no roster so their team is too complicated to judge. They trade Kolten Wong and Delvin Perez for Ian Kinsler, which seemed short-sighted, and they traded an army of players for Josh Donaldson. They then traded away even more prospects and pitching for A.J. Reed and Tyler White. I would doubt that this team would score above the D range if they submitted a roster.