Latest on Mets GM search: Levine, Cherington decline interviews; four candidates known

Latest on Mets GM search: Levine, Cherington decline interviews; four candidates known

The New York Mets are in the market for a new general manager, and the first week of their search has yielded a number of notable developments.

Let’s break down the most significant of those for posterity’s sake.

Levine turns down interview

The Minnesota Twins, like the Mets, are coming off a disappointing season. Yet that didn’t stop the Mets from inquiring about Twins GM Thad Levine’s availability.

Levine, for his part, declined to interview:

Keep in mind that Levine is not the highest-ranking baseball operations official in Minnesota — that honor belongs to chief baseball officer Derek Falvey. Nonetheless, he seems to prefer where he is to where he could be for reasons that have not been stated. One can guess that ownership groups probably came into play, with the Twins job offering fewer headaches.

Cherington out, too

As with Levine, Toronto Blue Jays exec Ben Cherington withdrew from the process, too:

Cherington won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox, making him an attractive name for any team seeking a new point guard. Cherington has also passed on interviewing with the San Francisco Giants, however, suggesting he’s going to be picky about his return to the GM gig.

Watson, others will interview

So, if Levine and Cherington are out, who’s in? There are certain to be more names than those reported interviewing for the gig, but the New York Post’s Mike Puma offered four names:

  • Doug Melvin — former GM of the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers. Possessor of an all-world mustache.

  • Gary Larocque — longtime executive with the St. Louis Cardinals who specializes in scouting and player development.

  • De Jon Watson — a special assistant with the Washington Nationals who used to be a hot GM candidate during his time running player development with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

  • Kim Ng — another former Dodgers executive who has more recently worked for the league offices. Ng would be the first woman hired as GM in MLB history.

Again, more names are likely to surface in the coming weeks. But the previous reports about the Mets wanting an old-school GM seem true — even if it’s true in part because the newer model of GM refuses to interview with the club.

Jacob deGrom and some of the younger Mets get high marks for their 2018 season

Jacob deGrom and some of the younger Mets get high marks for their 2018 season

The Mets entered the 2018 season with high hopes, and through 12 games, it seemed those high hopes were warranted. Unfortunately, there were still 150 games to go, and the Mets faltered, finishing in fourth place for the second straight year.

Here are the final grades after a 77-85 season:

Team MVP-RHP Jacob deGrom

DeGrom produced one of the best seasons in MLB history, finishing 10-9 with an MLB-best 1.70 ERA. He is likely going to win the Cy Young Award, and provided Mets fans with something to look forward to every five days. It truly was a season for the ages.

Team LVP-RHP Anthony Swarzak

There were quite a few candidates for this category, but Swarzak brings home the hardware after posting a 6.15 ERA in only 29 appearances. The Mets signed Swarzak to a two-year deal worth 14 million, and they did not receive much from their investment.

Rookie of the year-2B Jeff McNeil

The Mets held off on promoting Jeff McNeil until after they traded Asdrubal Cabrera, and it’s fair to wonder if they would have played better had he arrived earlier. McNeil was one of baseball’s best hitters in the second half, hitting. 329 with an .852 OPS.

The A’s

Third baseman David Wright: Wright appeared in only two games, but he gets the high mark for ending his career on his own terms.

Outfielder Brandon Nimmo: Nimmo is looking like quite a good first-round draft pick after finishing with an .886 OPS in his first full season as a starter. 

Starter Zack Wheeler: Wheeler started slow but was one of the best pitchers in baseball in the second half. He’s finally living up to his potential.

Reliever Seth Lugo: Lugo shined both as a starter and a reliever, mostly in the latter role, and he provides the Mets with needed versatility. 

The B’s

Outfielder Michael Conforto: Conforto started slow after undergoing shoulder surgery last year, but produced like an All-Star in the second half.

Shortstop Amed Rosario: Rosario’s numbers don’t warrant this high a rating, but he gets a B since he developed and improved from the start of the year.

Starter Noah Syndergaard: Syndergaard led the Mets with 13 wins and posted a 3.03 ERA, but even he said he did not meet his expectations.

Reliever Robert Gsellman: Gsellman produced a fine season in his first year as a reliever, and will enter next season as one of the back-end relievers.

Reliever Drew Smith: Smith impressed the most out of the team’s young relievers, and figures to be in the mix for a bullpen spot next year.

Reliever Drew Zamora: Zamora did a fine job in his late audition, and could make the team next year as the second lefty.

The C’s

Third baseman Todd Frazier: Frazier missed time due to two stints on the disabled list, but provided solid defense and power.

Manager Mickey Callaway: Callaway deserves credit for how the Mets played in the second half, but he couldn’t stop the first-half swoon.

Starter Steven Matz: Matz started fast before enduring some midseason struggles, and he finished on a strong note. He also stayed on the active roster for most of the year.

Catcher Devin Mesoraco: Mesoraco played relatively well after being acquired in May, and deserves credit for his work with deGrom. 

Catcher Kevin Plawecki: Plawecki could not build off last year’s solid offensive season, but he’s shown enough that he deserves a spot on next year’s team.

Infielder Wilmer Flores: Flores was not the lefty killer he was in previous years, and the Mets will have to make a call on his roster spot since he’s due a raise in arbitration.

Outfielder Austin Jackson: Jackson did a nice job after signing with the team in late July, which could give him a shot with a team next season.

Starter Corey Oswalt: Oswalt did a nice job serving as the Mets’ sixth starter, and figures to enter camp as one of the top reserve pitchers.

The D’s

Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes: Cespedes produced when healthy, but he again missed most of the season and may not play in a meaningful game in 2019.

General manager Sandy Alderson: Almost all of Alderson’s offseason signings did not pan out although holding onto Nimmo was a smart move.

First baseman/outfielder Jay Bruce: Bruce did not produce like normal this year due to injury, and missed a significant stretch due to a hip injury.

First baseman Dom Smith: The Mets should have given Smith more playing time this year, but he did not do much with his chances. 

Reliever Jerry Blevins: Blevins could not get lefties out this season, and the Mets need to find a more reliable lefty specialist next season.

Reliever Paul Sewald: Sewald started fast before fading in the second half, and the Mets hope he’ll improve with his new arm slot.

Starter Jason Vargas: Vargas finished the year with a 5.77 ERA, but he did not provide the consistency or gobble up innings as the team had hoped he would.

Reliever Jacob Rhame: Rhame had his moments, including an early save against the Nationals, but has struggled with consistency.

The F’s

Infielder Jose Reyes: Reyes has surely played his last game with the Mets, ending one of the best careers of any player in team history.

Incomplete

Catcher Travis d’Arnaud: d’Arnaud only played in four games before undergoing Tommy John surgery, and his time with the Mets may be over.

Outfielder Juan Lagares: Lagares again missed significant time due to injury, and he’s due to make a hefty $9 million next season.

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Syndergaard gets 1st shutout, Mets top Marlins 1-0 in finale

Syndergaard gets 1st shutout, Mets top Marlins 1-0 in finale

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New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard takes off his batting gloves after hitting a single in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

NEW YORK (AP) — Noah Syndergaard pitched his first major league shutout and the New York Mets wrapped up a disappointing season Sunday with their second consecutive 1-0 victory over the Miami Marlins.

Todd Frazier hit an RBI double for the Mets, who finished fourth in the NL East at 77-85 under rookie manager Mickey Callaway – a seven-win improvement over last year. After beginning the season with playoff aspirations, they jumped out to an 11-1 start before going 5-21 in June as injuries once again took a heavy toll.

New York rebounded a bit to win 33 of its last 55 games, but it was way too late by then.

Promising rookie Sandy Alcantara (2-3) struck out a career-high 10 over seven innings in his sixth major league start for the Marlins. After trading Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon in an offseason payroll purge, Miami ended up with the worst record in the National League at 63-98 in Derek Jeter’s first year as chief executive officer. The Marlins were scoreless over their final 24 innings.

Looking to have some fun at the finish line, manager Don Mattingly appointed All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto to pilot the team Sunday. Jeter indicated this month that Mattingly will be back next year.

Syndergaard (13-4) allowed five hits and fanned six in a fast finale that took just 2 hours, 10 minutes. He walked none and threw 101 pitches for his second career complete game. The other one came on Sept. 2 in San Francisco, and the big right-hander completed the season by tossing a career-best 15 straight scoreless innings.

Syndergaard’s complete-game shutout was only the 19th in the majors this year, fewest in a season since 1874, when there were only eight teams. There were 27 such outings last season.

Alcantara struck out five straight before Jeff McNeil opened the fourth with a single for New York’s first hit. McNeil scored from first when left fielder Isaac Galloway misplayed Frazier’s hard-hit double.

One day after David Wright‘s emotional goodbye at Citi Field, the Mets gave Jose Reyes another ceremonial start at shortstop. The 35-year-old Reyes, who batted .189 in a bench role this season, was lifted after grounding out leading off the bottom of the first.

He hugged teammates in the dugout and received a warm ovation while coming out for a curtain call for the crowd of 28,346.

”I just thought he deserved to be on the field one more time,” Callaway said.

HOW’D THAT HAPPEN?

Syndergaard’s bat broke off just above his hands as he started to swing – and obviously miss – at a third-inning pitch. Teammates cracked up in the dugout as Syndergaard stood dumbfounded in the batter’s box. After getting some new lumber, the pitcher struck out but then lashed a sharp single in the fifth.

NEW KID IN TOWN

McNeil had two hits to give him 36 in September, breaking the club record for rookies set by Gregg Jefferies in 1989.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: LF Yoenis Cespedes is scheduled for his second heel surgery Oct. 23 – this time on his left foot – but said he can’t yet predict how much he’ll be able to play next season. The oft-injured slugger had surgery Aug. 2 to remove bone calcification in his right heel, the first of two operations expected to sideline him for eight to 10 months.

UP NEXT

Marlins: Pitchers and catchers report to spring training Feb. 13, and Miami opens the 2019 season March 28 against Colorado.

Mets: Begin next season at NL East rival Washington.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Marlins' Realmuto to manage against the Mets

Marlins' Realmuto to manage against the Mets

NEW YORK — Catcher J.T. Realmuto played in his last game of the season Friday. He wasted absolutely no time preparing for his next task: managing the Miami Marlins in the season finale on Sunday.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly is handing the reins to Realmuto when Miami closes out 2018 by visiting the New York Mets in a battle of the National League East’s fourth- and fifth-place teams at Citi Field.

The Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara (2-2, 4.00 ERA) is scheduled to oppose the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (12-4, 3.22 ERA) in a matchup of right-handers.

The Mets posted a 1-0, 13-inning victory Saturday night when Austin Jackson‘s walk-off RBI double ensured David Wright would exit a winner in his final big-league game. Wright, whose pinch-hitting appearance Friday was his first major league at-bat since May 27, 2016, went 0-for-1 with a walk before leaving to a standing ovation in the top of the fifth inning.

Wright, who has undergone neck, back and shoulder surgeries since 2016 and is battling spinal stenosis, said earlier this month that he can no longer physically play baseball. It is believed he and the Mets (76-85) will negotiate a settlement on the remainder of his contract, which runs through 2020.

“I’m at peace with the work and the time and the effort and the dedication that I put into this,” Wright said afterward. “I’m certainly not at peace with the end result, but tonight was special.”

The Marlins (63-97) are hoping for a memorable afternoon when Realmuto slides into Mattingly’s spot on the bench. Mattingly tries to let a player manage the season finale when the game has no playoff implications, a tradition he learned while serving as a coach with the New York Yankees under Joe Torre.

Infielder Martin Prado was the Marlins’ manager in the season finale last year, which Mattingly said was an eye-opening experience for the player.

“Prado’s like ‘I’m never going to question you again,’ there was so much stuff going on in that game he managed,” Mattingly said with a grin Saturday afternoon. “It’s good for them to see the other side a little bit.”

Mattingly said Realmuto jumped right into managerial mode after the Marlins’ 8-1 win Friday night.

“He told me (Friday) night that we had to talk about who I used out of the bullpen (Saturday), because he wanted to keep certain guys available for (Sunday),” Mattingly said. “He was taking over. He took over as soon as the game’s over (Friday) night.”

Alcantara took the loss in his most recent start last Monday, when he gave up six runs in four innings as the Marlins fell to the Washington Nationals 7-3. Syndergaard didn’t factor into the decision Tuesday, when he allowed three hits in six scoreless innings as the Mets lost to the Atlanta Braves 7-3.

Alcantara is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two career starts against the Mets. He beat the Mets on June 29 when he gave up one run in five innings and allowed two runs in seven innings of a no-decision on Sept. 13.

Syndergaard is 5-0 with a 1.96 ERA in seven career starts against the Marlins. This season, he’s 2-0 against them and has allowed four earned runs in 13 innings.

Mets Video Recap from Saturday's win over the Marlins

Mets Video Recap from Saturday's win over the Marlins

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The only time I’ve cried about baseball as an adult was on a Saturday night earlier this month. A few days before, David Wright had sobbed through a news conference announcing that he was medically unable to play baseball. After a busy week, I finally had a few minutes to tell my wife about it.

She remembered me coming home from Shea Stadium in May of 2008, after my first assignment as an intern in the sports department at the New York Daily News. There were some tough old veterans on that Mets team, from Pedro Martinez to Carlos Delgado, and my stomach churned through the whole experience.

After the game, Adam Rubin, the beat writer for the News, introduced me to Wright. I was 27, Wright was 25, and he reminded me of a friend’s amiable little brother. “Oh you’re at the Daily News! Congratulations!” he said. He had an excitable manner that made him sound at times like he was chirping.

Tags: David Wright, Andy Martino

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Mets captain Wright says goodbye, walks off to long ovation

Mets captain Wright says goodbye, walks off to long ovation

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New York Mets’ Brandon Nimmo (9) talks with first base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. (20) and a trainer after getting injured running out a single during the seventh inning of a baseball game as Miami Marlins first baseman Peter O’Brien, left, looks on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

NEW YORK (AP) — Much like the last few years of his truncated career, David Wright‘s finale was no fairytale at the plate.

Adoration, appreciation, respect. Those were the tokens he took home.

Wright left to a long standing ovation before a sellout crowd at Citi Field in his farewell game for the New York Mets on Saturday night.

The team captain went 0 for 1 with a walk against the Miami Marlins during New York’s 1-0 victory in 13 innings. He was removed after two plate appearances as planned, and on defense he handled a one-hopper to third base with no problem.

Wright joined teammates as they ran onto the field to swarm Austin Jackson, who hit the game-winning double, and then watched as the Mets played a postgame tribute on the ballpark video board. After that, Wright addressed the crowd in a postgame speech that lasted about 2 minutes, 20 seconds.

”I think I’m all out of tears, so I think we’re good to go with that,” he said. ”This is love.”

Wright, who fouled out to first base his final time up, took his position before the top of the fifth inning. Mets manager Mickey Callaway then came out of the dugout to make a lineup change, and Wright began his slow walk off the field.

As fans chanted his name and cheered for about 3 minutes, 15 seconds, Wright saluted them by touching the bill of his cap and patting his chest repeatedly. He went down the line and hugged all his teammates just in front of the Mets’ dugout, with Marlins players standing and applauding from across the field.

With watery eyes, Wright took a bow, blew a kiss to the crowd of 43,928 and came out of the dugout for a curtain call before heading up the runway toward the Mets’ clubhouse, followed by several teammates.

Once he was out of sight, fans chanted ”Thank you, David!”

After heading up to the television and radio booths for interviews, Wright was back on the bench.

His stellar career cut short by neck, back and shoulder injuries that required surgery, the 35-year-old Wright completed an arduous comeback by returning to the majors this week for the first time since May 27, 2016. Unable to fully overcome his physical setbacks, he said he expects Saturday to be his last major league appearance even though his contract runs through 2020.

Wright was reinstated from the disabled list Tuesday and finally made it back into a big league game Friday night as a pinch-hitter. He grounded out on the only pitch he saw in his first plate appearance in nearly 2 1/2 years, then batted third in a ceremonial start Saturday that was in the works for weeks.

With family and friends on hand, the seven-time All-Star crouched behind home plate to scoop up an honorary first ball tossed by the oldest of his two daughters, 2-year-old Olivia, who wore a Lil Wright jersey with his No. 5 on the back.

Highlights of Wright’s career played on the ballpark video board just before the first pitch. He bounded out to third base alone, followed by longtime teammate and buddy Jose Reyes, who started alongside Wright at shortstop for the first time since Sept. 28, 2011.

The pair embraced several times on the field and soaked in applause during their 878th start together, most by any two players in team history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Tugging at heartstrings all night, the Mets accompanied a video montage of Wright’s finale with music from ”The Natural” a few innings later.

Reyes doubled leading off the first and reached third on Jeff McNeil’s sacrifice bunt, setting up an RBI opportunity for Wright. With the Marlins playing their infield in, Wright fouled off a 91 mph fastball and drew a full-count walk from rookie Trevor Richards.

Wright was immediately erased on a double play. He fouled out on the second pitch he saw leading off the fourth, with first baseman Peter O’Brien making a not-so-easy catch near the retaining wall that turned him into the target of loud boos all night.

Still grinning a bit, a disappointed Wright walked slowly back to the dugout.

Wright’s big night was big news in New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio in a morning tweet proclaimed it David Wright Day ”in honor of (hashtag)OurCaptain.”

SNY, the television home of the Mets, programmed Wright highlights, interviews and features that ran all day beginning at 10 a.m.

Even the crosstown rival Yankees took out a full-page ad Friday in the New York Post congratulating Wright on ”a distinguished career.”

The Citi Field gates opened early at 4:30 p.m. so fans could watch Wright and the Mets take batting practice. The star of the show knocked a few balls over the fence, waved to the crowd and signed autographs.

The club’s career leader in hits, RBIs, runs and several other categories, Wright was drafted by the Mets and has spent his entire career with them. For years he’s been the face of the franchise – and sometimes its most visible spokesman – for a team that often sorely needed the positive image he always portrayed.

If there’s ever been a Mr. Met without the big head, David Wright is it.

”His grind just to get back to this spot has been unbelievable – and most people wouldn’t do it,” Callaway said. ”We’re doing something special for David not because of the numbers he put up, but because of the person he is.”

Former teammates Michael Cuddyer and Cliff Floyd, two of Wright’s best friends in baseball, came out for the festivities.

Over in the opposing dugout was this neat full-circle connection: Marlins catching coach Brian Schneider was behind the plate with the Montreal Expos for Wright’s first at-bat on July 21, 2004, and recalled tumbling head over heels at the dugout railing to make an acrobatic grab of Wright’s foul popup.

Asked if he would instruct Richards to groove a pitch to Wright, Marlins manager Don Mattingly cracked: ”That young kid of ours? He may groove one by mistake. He won’t try to groove one.”

Jackson doubled home Michael Conforto with the winning run on the first pitch from reliever Javy Guerra. Conforto singled off Jarlin Garcia (3-3) to start the 13th and advanced when Jack Reinheimer walked.

Daniel Zamora (1-0) worked a hitless inning for his first major league win.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: The crowd groaned when OF Brandon Nimmo grabbed his right hamstring after rounding first base on a leadoff single in the seventh. In obvious pain, Nimmo was removed from the game.

UP NEXT

Marlins: All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto will manage the team in its season finale Sunday, according to Mattingly. Rookie RHP Sandy Alcantara (2-2, 4.00) gets the start.

Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (12-4, 3.22 ERA) is on the mound for New York.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports