Why America Is Getting Tough on Trade

N.Y. Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 16:00
Trump huffed and puffed; Biden is rewriting the rules.
Categories: Local News

Putin Skips Annual News Conference, Avoiding Possible Questions on War

N.Y. Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 16:00
The December event has offered reporters rare — albeit stage-managed — chances to pose hard questions. With the war going poorly for Russia, that could have been awkward.
Categories: Local News

Letters: Tax Stanford | Church politics | COVID precautions | Canning Cabrillo | Dishonorable Trump

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 16:00

Submit your letter to the editor via this form. Read more Letters to the Editor.

Stanford should pay
for Palo Alto services

In his timely article (“Stanford urged to pay more in taxes,” Page B1, Dec. 8), Alex Toledo summarizes the discussions of the Palo Alto City Council regarding efforts to get Stanford University to pay more of the costs borne by Palo Alto for providing services to Stanford.

In my neighborhood (College Terrace) and elsewhere in Palo Alto, Stanford has bought a significant number of residential properties and built housing for “eligible Stanford employees.” This results in fewer houses available to the general public, including non-eligible Stanford employees. For housing on Stanford-owned land, purchasers only buy the dwelling, not the land. According to Toledo, “As a tax-exempt institution, Stanford University doesn’t pay property taxes on most of its properties.”

Besides practicing housing discrimination on its properties in Palo Alto, Stanford apparently does not pay its fair share of costs to the city for its operations. This unfair situation needs to be addressed.

Zelek Herman
Palo Alto

Church politics have
driven away congregants

Re. “A shift in faith?” Page A1, Dec. 4:

Another reason for empty pews is the conscious decision by church leaders to mess around in public policy on both sides of the political spectrum.

I was an active Unitarian — for almost 50 years — but a recent book detailing how one of the most liberal religions in our country became so illiberal explains why we left the church. Churches are not competent to take public policy positions on any side of the political spectrum. Public policy by definition involves a trade-off of interests — and our former church became dumber and more divisive with every political decision they articulated.

Principles unite congregations while taking numerous public policy positions becomes authoritarian from the pulpit whether conservative or revolutionary. Separation of church and state is necessary for the survival of churches as well as democracy.

Deborah Donovan
Pleasant Hill

We still must take
COVID precautions

Re. “COVID cases continue to spike,” Page A1, Dec. 9:

It was sad and amusing to see front-page news that COVID cases are spiking. What do we expect?

So many people have declared, “I’m so over this virus,” or some other inane version of the same and don’t wear a mask or take other precautions. There are multiple diseases out there: COVID, RSV, flu, and we are getting hit hard. Masks are not a panacea, but they offer some level of protection as we congregate indoors. Getting vaxxed and boosted, hand washing and being cautious also help.

Don’t want to take precautions? Then we, unfortunately, get what we get. It’s not rocket science. It is indeed a shame though, for those of us taking precautions; who work with vulnerable populations, immune-compromised or who are older. People being “over it” can put these folks in the hospital. Let’s try to take better care of each other by doing our part.

Tina Morrill
San Jose

Losing Cabrillo name
is the right move

I am happy to announce that at our regularly scheduled board meeting on Nov. 14, our board voted 6-1 to remove the name of our college. Starting in July 2024, we shall have a new name. Public input is desired in selecting a new name.

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was an evil, genocidal human trafficker who brought misery to the Ohlone and other indigenous peoples of California in the 1540s.

This was a two-year process. It was a campaign issue for me in 2020 when I ran for this office.

I am proud of my fellow board members. Mark Twain said: “There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.” We just did.

Steve Trujillo
Member, Cabrillo College Board of Trustees

Rethink your fealty
to dishonorable Trump

“On Saturday, the former president called for the termination of the Constitution in order to overturn the 2020 election results. In (Donald) Trump’s latest rant on Truth Social, he referred to himself wrongly as the ‘rightful winner’ and called for his installation as leader of the free world.” (From an article in Rolling Stone Magazine, Dec. 3)

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Please recall the presidential oath of office found in Article II of the Constitution:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

I think Donald Trump has clearly stated his view of the oath. If you consider yourself a loyal American, I suggest that you reconsider your support of Trump.

Daniel Lee
San Jose

Categories: Local News

Inside the Battle for Control of the Republican National Committee

N.Y. Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 16:00
Ronna McDaniel, the longtime chair of the committee, has become a vessel for discontent over the party’s losses in 2022.
Categories: Local News

FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried Said to Be Arrested in the Bahamas

N.Y. Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 15:55
A statement by the government of the Bahamas said Mr. Bankman-Fried was arrested after prosecutors in the United States filed criminal charges.
Categories: Local News

Project Veritas Says It Provided $20,500 in ‘Excess Benefit’ to Its Founder

N.Y. Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 15:55
The conservative nonprofit said it had paid for staff to accompany its founder, James O’Keefe, when he starred in a 2021 production of “Oklahoma!”
Categories: Local News

EXPLAINER: Why fusion could be a clean-energy breakthrough

Seattle Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 15:55

The Department of Energy is planning an announcement for Tuesday about a “major scientific breakthrough” at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Categories: Local News

Two Groups Quietly Spent $32 Million Rallying Voters Behind Voting Rights

N.Y. Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 15:50
The money largely went to state and local organizations that often focused on turning out young voters and people of color, including with messages about threats to freedom and democracy.
Categories: Local News

Iowa judge blocks effort to ban most abortions in the state

Seattle Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 15:44

A state judge has blocked an effort to ban most abortions in Iowa by upholding a court decision made three years ago.
Categories: Local News

Angelo Badalamenti, Composer for ‘Twin Peaks,’ Is Dead at 85

N.Y. Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 15:39
The filmmaker David Lynch turned to his haunting work again and again, for “Blue Velvet,” “Mulholland Drive” and other neo-noir films.
Categories: Local News

Crumbling new Highway 520 ramp support to be rebuilt soon

Seattle Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 15:36

After the column top was built this summer, the concrete cracked and broke away from several corners, exposing the steel rebar.
Categories: Local News

Dolphins searching for answers and lessons from back-to-back losses as they prepare for frigid Buffalo

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 15:27

Now things get interesting.

As the Dolphins (8-5) prepare for Saturday’s game at AFC East leader Buffalo (10-3), a game that’s forecast to be played in frigid temperatures and snow, conditions not ideal for a team that can’t run the ball, they’re staring at the possibility of a three-game December losing streak.

All of a sudden, a season that had so much promise a few weeks ago is dangling precariously on the edge of a pressure-packed finish that could be decided by a winner-take-all season finale against the New York Jets.

That’s what happens when you lose back-to-back games at San Francisco (33-17) and the Los Angeles Chargers (23-17), such as the Dolphins.

The challenge for coach Mike McDaniel, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is coming off arguably the worst game of his career, and the rest of the team leaders is getting everyone ready for the Bills and quarterback Josh Allen.

Coach Mike McDaniel is finding reasons for the 49ers and Chargers losses.

“I think part of where we’re at, sitting on a two-game losing streak, has to do with certain guys possibly pressing, playing outside of the scheme to a degree to try to make plays,” McDaniel said.

No names were mentioned.

McDaniel didn’t make it sound like a careless thing, rather something done out of an accelerated sense of urgency. But also something that must be corrected.

On another matter, McDaniel didn’t make it sound as though philosophical changes were coming on either side of the ball, or that he was about to overreact to the back-to-back losses. He sounds as though the Dolphins need to be better at what they’ve been doing.

“I’d be very worried if within the framework of the things that we’ve been working on since August, if there wasn’t answers through technique,” McDaniel said.

The Dolphins, of course, defeated the Bills, 21-19, earlier this season in a game that saw Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, the former University of Miami quarterback, throw a fit, as well as a headset, at game’s end.

McDaniel said weather (temperatures could be in the 30s with snow on the ground) won’t be a factor.

“If we’re trying to win a divisional game we’re going to have to deal with elements in that,” McDaniel said. “That comes with the mindset. And everyone’s going to be experiencing the same temperature. So I don’t plan on using that as an excuse in the slightest.”

It would help if the Dolphins could run the ball if there are snowy conditions in Buffalo. The Dolphins are 29th in rushing at 89.8 yards per game; Buffalo is eighth at 133.7 ypg.

The Dolphins rushed for 92 yards against the Chargers, their best output since rushing for a season-high 195 yards against Cleveland four games ago. But it wasn’t good production.

“That was tough film to watch,” McDaniel said, noting the missed opportunities.

The Dolphins will be hard-pressed to win at Buffalo for a number of reasons, one of the primary reasons being they don’t play well against teams .500 or better.

The Dolphins’ last road win against a team currently .500 or better, was against Baltimore, the second game of the season.

The Dolphins’ last victory over a team currently .500 or better was against Buffalo, the third game of the season.

The Dolphins’ only remaining game against a team .500 or worse is against Green Bay (5-8) on Christmas. Of course, that could change depending on what New England (6-6) does against Arizona on Monday Night Football.

As things stand now, Green Bay is just short of a must-win home game.

But that’s getting too far ahead of things.

The focus right now is on Buffalo, and getting ready for one of the NFL’s best teams on a short week with lots of corrections to make from the previous two weeks. McDaniel said it’d be nice if the Dolphins could get on some type of late-season roll. McDaniel is hoping these recent losses can turn into momentum for the, ahem, playoffs.

“If you’re able to make the playoffs you don’t want to be going in there limping into the tournament,” McDaniel said. “It’s been very, very valuable experience, specifically the last two weeks against some playoff-caliber teams. Whether or not that benefits us moving forward is for the team to determine.”


Categories: Local News

FBI Reports Drop in Hate Crimes, but There’s Doubt Around the Data

N.Y. Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 15:16
Only about two-thirds of local departments reported hate crimes last year, down from more than 90 percent the year before.
Categories: Local News

A five-block run tracking down Steve Nash

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 15:01

“Kris, where you at? Steve Nash just passed me!”

I’m five minutes behind schedule, meeting my trainer to work out at a gym in downtown Brooklyn when I get a call I wasn’t expecting. Steve Nash, the former Brooklyn Nets head coach, just walked out of a juice bar next to my gym.

“He’s wearing a Black hoodie,” my trainer, Ahmad Curry, says. “He just turned up the block.”

”I’m around the corner,” I respond. “Let’s go after him.”

Of course I’m not right around the corner.

In fact, I’m a block-and-a-half away when I get the call and instantly hit a 6.5 mile-an-hour jog when I hang up. It’s 37 degrees outside and 12 hours removed from the first snowstorm, albeit a light one, the city’s seen this winter. I can see my breath with every huff and puff. I’m wearing a bubble jacket and a hoodie with some sweats and some running shoes.

I turn the corner and see my trainer.

“He went that way,” he says.

And off we go — on the hunt for one of the more polarizing figures in New York City sports. And the trail is fresh, though he almost lost us.

A block into the jog, Nash shook us — like a getaway driver hitting an intersection after a bank heist.

A UPS delivery man is loading packages into his trunk. I ask him if he saw Nash walking by.

“I did,” the delivery man responds. He is of little help otherwise. He doesn’t know which way Nash went.

“There he is,” my trainer said. “I see that black hoodie.”

I start running. Something like 8.5 miles an hour on a treadmill. I’m careful not to scare him. I’m on the opposite side of the street catching my breath before I approach.

It’s undeniably him. Nash is wearing a peacoat with a black hoodie under. He’s also wearing sweats and sneakers, like he could go play pickup — basketball or soccer — any moment.

And he’s scarfing down an acai bowl while on the move, the most relatable moment the coach and I — a proud mobile eater — have had since he took the Nets job in 2020.

“Coach, can I get an autograph?” I yell from 10 yards back.

He turns around, and sees me. He’s shocked, and surprised. And he’s not talking on the record.

In truth, he doesn’t need to. Nash misses coaching. He misses the assistants he left after he and the Nets parted ways seven games into the season. He’s living the happy life, caring for his family and his children, who are each into sports.

He’s happy I’ve started working out. The pandemic pounds piled, but they’re noticeably coming off.

And just like that, he’s gone. Into the wind. An encounter with one of the best point guards in NBA history, whose stint as head coach of the Nets may be the only blemish on an otherwise pristine basketball resume.

Nash for sure lost the Nets locker room. The record speaks for itself: Brooklyn started the season 2-5 under him but the team has gone 14-7 since Jacque Vaughn took over.

Could Nash someday return to coaching? Maybe as an assistant? I’m not sure. I didn’t ask, though he sure sounded like he missed coaching and missed the daily challenge of working in basketball.

I’m sure I’ll see him again sometime. Then again, Nash now knows specifically which gym I frequent.

He’s probably had enough of New York City reporters poking around in his business.


Categories: Local News

Your Monday Evening Briefing

N.Y. Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 14:50
Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.
Categories: Local News

3 things we learned from the Chicago Bears, including Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker returning to the secondary

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 14:39

The Chicago Bears returned to Halas Hall on Monday after their bye week to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field.

Here are three things we heard from coach Matt Eberflus and his players.

1. Cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker are out of concussion protocol.

The rookies each missed two games after suffering head injuries against the Atlanta Falcons, but Eberflus said they should be set to return to practice Wednesday.

He said the Bears strength staff will ramp up their workload this week to prepare them for a return to game action.

Gordon and Brisker were second-round picks in the spring, and getting them more experience over the final four games would be a positive for the Bears as they look toward the future.

“Having Gordon there as the nickel, that’ll be a big piece for us going forward,” Eberflus said. “A lot of teams play 11 personnel (three wide receivers), so we’ll be in that group a lot. And obviously the impact Brisker has with his hitting and ballhawking skills — we’re excited to get both of those guys back.”

Brisker has 73 tackles, five tackles for a loss, three sacks, an interception, a pass defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 11 games. Gordon has 55 tackles, two tackles for a loss, an interception, four passes defended and a forced fumble.

“(Gordon) has done a lot of good things with the various skill sets that he has,” Eberflus said. “(It’s) just consistency. He’s had games in which he’s tackled really well and then games when he’s had opportunities where we wish he’d been better. I’d really say (we want him) to be more consistent the last four games.”

2. The Bears expect running back Khalil Herbert to return next week.

Herbert has been on injured reserve with a hip injury since mid-November, and Eberflus said the Bears expect him to return once he’s eligible after sitting out his fourth game Sunday.

Herbert had 108 carries for 643 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games before he was injured.

“We’re excited about getting him back next week,” Eberflus said. “He’s been working. In fact, I just talked to him in the hallway here a little bit ago, and he’s getting ready to go. He’s been hitting his max speeds and his jumps look good and his power in his legs looks great.”

The Bears have relied on starter David Montgomery — and Darrynton Evans the last two games — to pick up the workload with Herbert out.

3. In the next two weeks, the Bears face two of the top four teams in yards and points per game.

The Eagles average 392 yards (third in the NFL) and 29.7 points (first). The Buffalo Bills, whom the Bears host at Soldier Field on Dec. 24, average 397.1 yards (second) and 27.2 points (fourth).

Even with the Bears getting healthier with the return of Gordon and Brisker, facing those opponents in back-to-back weeks looks like a mighty test for a defense that hasn’t held an opponent to fewer than 27 points during the team’s six-game losing streak.

“We look at it as an opportunity and a great challenge to be able to see our guys match up individually and also as units against these guys,” Eberflus said. “We’re going to play two of the best defenses in the league over the next couple of weeks and obviously two of the best offenses.

“Both really good quarterbacks. Both are really solid and really good on special teams. So it’s going to be a big challenge for our football team.”

First up is Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who has thrown for 3,157 yards and 22 touchdowns with three interceptions and has run for 686 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has a 108.4 passer rating on top of being third in rushing yards by a quarterback behind the Bears’ Justin Fields and the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson.

Watching Fields daily should help Bears defenders understand what they’re up against with Hurts.

“He’s super athletic and he can improvise on the run and go off script similar to Justin,” linebacker Jack Sanborn said. “So it’s definitely going to be a challenge. They have a lot of different designed runs to help him get involved in the run game, so it’s going to be everybody focused on their keys, knowing their rules and playing good football.”


Categories: Local News

Detached house in San Jose sells for $1.8 million

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 14:30
1196 Carla Drive - Google Street View1196 Carla Drive – Google Street View

The property located in the 1100 block of Carla Drive in San Jose was sold on Nov. 22, 2022. The $1,750,000 purchase price works out to $960 per square foot. The house built in 1968 has an interior space of 1,823 square feet. The property features four bedrooms, three baths, a garage, and two parking spaces. The unit sits on a 9,576-square-foot lot.

These nearby houses have also recently been purchased:

  • A 2,274-square-foot home on the 1100 block of El Prado Drive in San Jose sold in September 2022 for $1,805,000, a price per square foot of $794. The home has 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.
  • On Bose Lane, San Jose, in July 2022, a 1,754-square-foot home was sold for $2,134,000, a price per square foot of $1,217. The home has 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
  • In August 2022, a 1,919-square-foot home on Camden Avenue in San Jose sold for $2,200,000, a price per square foot of $1,146. The home has 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.


Categories: Local News

Sharks’ rookie goalie might get another shot after his stellar NHL debut

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 14:11

SAN JOSE – Goalie James Reimer could be activated off of injured reserve as soon as Tuesday when the Sharks host the Arizona Coyotes, looking to win back-to-back games for the first time in close to a month.

But if Reimer isn’t available to play, then Sharks coach David Quinn would be just fine with starting Eetu Makiniemi again.

Makiniemi impressed Quinn and his Sharks teammates Friday when he made 23 saves in their 6-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks, snapping San Jose’s four-game losing streak. With the victory, Makiniemi, 23, became the youngest Sharks goalie to win his first NHL start since Miikka Kiprusoff did the same as a 24-year-old in April 2001.

“I liked what I saw,” Quinn said of Makiniemi. “You are what you repeatedly do.”

Reimer has been on injured reserve with a lower-body ailment since Nov. 27 but was a full participant in Monday’s practice with Makiniemi and Kaapo Kahkonen.

To activate Reimer, who hasn’t played since Nov. 25, the Sharks (9-16-5) would need to clear a spot on the 23-man roster, with Makiniemi likely being reassigned to the Barracuda to make room.

Makiniemi was first recalled from the AHL on Dec. 6 and replaced Kahkonen the next night in the third period for what became a 6-5 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

“I learned that (Makiniemi) doesn’t let a moment affect him, and I thought he had a real strong game,” against Anaheim, Quinn said Monday.

“He was solid, he was confident. There’s a calmness to him, I think, which is good from a team standpoint, a coaching staff standpoint. He embraced the challenge that he had and he met it head-on and had a really good night.”

The Sharks haven’t won consecutive games since they won three in a row from Nov. 11-15, beating Dallas, Minnesota, and Vegas to improve to 6-9-3 at the time. Since then, San Jose has gone 3-7-2 and entered Monday 14th out of 16 teams in the Western Conference with a .383 points percentage.

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PERSONNEL UPDATE: Forward Alexander Barabanov did not practice Monday and is questionable to play against Arizona as he continues to deal with a lower-body injury. Barabanov sat out other practices late last week but did not miss a game, as he has two goals and five assists in his last nine games.

Center Nico Sturm and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic also sat out Monday’s practice. Both will “for sure” play Tuesday. Vlasic was away on a personal matter, Quinn said.

Quinn said defenseman Mario Ferraro and forward Matt Nieto, both out with lower body injuries, are feeling better but still not skating. Ferraro hasn’t played since Nov. 25 and Nieto has missed the last two games since he was hurt on Dec. 4 against Buffalo.

Categories: Local News

Stanford taps former Cal QB Troy Taylor to revive struggling football team

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 14:01

STANFORD — The last time Stanford’s football program was searching for a coach to get it out of a rut, tapping the FCS ranks proved to be the right path.

Sixteen years after Jim Harbaugh arrived and helped build the Cardinal from a one-win team into a national power, Troy Taylor will try to do the same.

Stanford officially introduced Taylor as the replacement for David Shaw on Monday, hoping an innovative offensive coach with infectious energy can revive a program coming off back-to-back nine-loss seasons for the first time in school history.

“The potential here at Stanford is huge,” Taylor said. “They’ve done it. They’ve had great success here. I think you got to adapt and adjust.”

The job for Taylor is perhaps more challenging than the one Harbaugh faced when he took over for the 2007 season.

After a six-year run under Harbaugh and Shaw from 2010-15 that included three Rose Bowl trips and two other major bowl bids, the Cardinal have fallen off dramatically.

Stanford went 4-8 in 2019 and then had back-to-back 3-9 records the last two years after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

The recent downfall coincides with the loosening of transfer rules across major college football. The elite academic school has not been able to add to its roster through transfers as easily as most of its competition in the Pac-12 and nationally.

Taylor said he’s been given assurances that Stanford will loosen its restrictions on transfers and he will be able to supplement his roster with a handful of transfers each season as long as they are academically qualified.

“There’s players out there that fit that bill,” Taylor said. “You just got to reach out a little bit further and travel a little bit more miles and all those things. I’ve been assured that they’re open to bringing players in through the transfer portal as long as they fit the identity of Stanford.”

Taylor spent the last four seasons as head coach at Sacramento State, leading the Hornets to the FCS playoffs three times. Sacramento State did not field a team during 2020 because of the pandemic.

Sacramento State went 30-8 with a 23-1 record in a tough Big Sky Conference under Taylor. The Hornets lost a wild quarterfinal playoff game Friday night, 66-63 against Incarnate Word.

Athletic director Bernard Muir referenced the success of Harbaugh and Bill Walsh as past great Stanford coaches without a pedigree of high-level head coaching success when they took over.

He believes Taylor has the attributes to forge a similar path.

“His name kept coming up,” Muir said. “The more research you did and then when you actually got the chance to get in front of them, you realize his passion and his energy is exactly what we needed in order to take the program, hopefully back to where we once were and hopefully even beyond.”

Taylor was offered the job late last week but didn’t want it announced until after Sacramento State’s FCS playoff game on Friday night.

He then said goodbye to his Hornets players on Saturday morning before taking over that day at Stanford, where he spent most of the past two days meeting with the remaining players and assistants.

Now it’s off to recruiting before the early signing period next week. Taylor said he already told every player on the team and recruit who had verbally committed to Stanford that they have a place on the roster.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” he said. “It’s been one of those things that you get a little bit of sleep and then you get up and I’m raring to go right as my eyes open up. I can’t wait to get to work.”

Taylor had a short NFL career in the early 1990s and coached as an assistant at Cal from 1996-99 before returning to the high school ranks near Sacramento. He was at Folsom High School when Beau Baldwin offered him the co-offensive coordinator job at FCS power Eastern Washington in 2016.

It’s been a rapid rise from there, with Taylor spending one season at Eastern Washington before becoming offensive coordinator at Utah for two years and then taking over Sacramento State in 2019.

Now he has his first shot at a Power Five head coaching job at age 54.

“It’s definitely been the road less traveled,” he said. “If you look at kind of where I’ve been, it’s pretty clear it had nothing to do with money or contracts. That’s pretty clear. I’ve never chased that. For me, it’s been following my bliss. I love working with student-athletes. I love coaching football. I love competing.”


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Categories: Local News

Mets look to address outfield, offense after busy week

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 14:00

The Mets used the Winter Meetings and the days that followed to revamp the pitching staff and shore up the outfield. The club’s projected payroll will be around $350 million and with luxury tax penalties it will go above $400 million.

But the Mets aren’t done yet. They can’t stop now considering the lack of outfield depth, and there is still an argument to be made for adding another home run hitter to the lineup.

Getting Brandon Nimmo back solved the center field problem but the Mets still only have three outfielders under contract for next season. Jeff McNeil could be considered the fourth but he’s primarily an infielder. This doesn’t leave any room for error or injuries.

The club had hoped Jake Mangum would compete for that fifth outfield spot in spring training after he was passed on in the Rule 5 Draft last week, but shortly after the completion of the draft, he was sent to the Miami Marlins as the player to be named later in the Jeff Brigham-Elieser Hernandez trade.

The Mets could kill two birds with one stone by bringing in a power-hitting outfielder. However, it’s far more likely they will bring in a defensive outfielder and address the power internally with top prospect Francisco Alvarez.

Following the end of the season, general manager Billy Eppler sort of demurred on the question of whether or not the Mets needed more power in the lineup. It’s clear he views on-base percentage as a priority and noted the club’s strong on-base numbers in 2022. The Mets had the second-highest on-base percentage in the league last season (.332), right behind the 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers, and the sixth-highest OPS (.744).

But the lineup only hit 117 home runs, tied for 15th with the Baltimore Orioles. Statistics have shown that the teams that hit the most home runs tend to do the best in the postseason.

When asked about the lack of home runs during Winter Meetings, Eppler still continued to stress offensive balance.

“If the overall production is there, that’s what matters at the end of the day,” Eppler said last week in San Diego. “You can place some arguments on, should you try to hit the three-pointer? I prefer ways where you can beat teams, whether you beat them through contact, maybe you beat them through some speed and baserunning element, or you can beat them through power. I kind of like to serve all of those if possible and really create balance because you never know who you’re going to face on a particular day and the venues that you’re going to play in can change.

“Sometimes those certain characteristics can be enhanced in certain venues or they can get mitigated in certain venues. I think balance is kind of the way I like to travel the most.”

Whether it be balance or power, the Mets do have some options.

They could sign free agent slugger J.D. Martinez. Having not played in the outfield at all in 2022, the 35-year-old Martinez is primarily a DH at this point in his career, but could still spell someone like Mark Canha in left field on occasion. This would be similar to the way the Yankees use Giancarlo Stanton.

If the club wants to go younger, they could see what Michael Conforto has left in the tank. Conforto did not play last season, going unsigned last winter and suffering a right shoulder injury during offseason training in January. The Mets’ first pick in the 2014 MLB Draft underwent his second shoulder surgery last year, this time on his throwing shoulder. Conforto previously had his left shoulder operated on in 2017 after dislocating it during an at-bat late in the season.

The current DH tandem is Daniel Vogelbach and Darin Ruf. The former has good numbers against righties but not against lefties and the latter was acquired to hit lefties but posted dismal numbers after being traded to the Mets. The club could look to unload Ruf in search of outfield help and use Alvarez as the primary DH against left-handed pitching.

But for what it’s worth, Martinez, a right-handed hitter, has a career average of .306 against left-handers and a .957 OPS with 87 home runs. It might not be a bad idea to sign him to a one-year contract while Alvarez continues to develop.

There is also the possibility of trading catcher James McCann and possibly even right-handed starter Carlos Carrasco in the search for outfield help. David Peterson and Tylor Megill could compete for the No. 5 starter spot in spring training. But Eppler values starting pitching depth, knowing injuries will take their toll throughout the season, so trading McCann makes more sense.

The one argument for keeping McCann could be that he has familiarity working with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, having played with both of them on the Detroit Tigers. Bringing Alvarez up slowly on the catching side is preferable in order to prevent overloading their most important young prospect at the big league level.

But if trading McCann and eating some of the $24 million left on his contract is what it takes, then the Mets might be apt to do it.

There are several ways the Mets could address the last two items on their to-do list this winter. It’s been a busy winter already and it’s only going to get busier.


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