Andy Martino

Andy Martino is SNY's MLB insider.

New York Mets' David Wright watches his two-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning of a baseball game in New York, Sunday, April 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill) (Paul J. Bereswill/AP)
New York Mets' David Wright watches his two-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning of a baseball game in New York, Sunday, April 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill) (Paul J. Bereswill/AP)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Everything that follows is true and right, because it is my opinion.

In recent months, a troubling trend has emerged, and it's time we addressed it. Several prominent Mets players and many fans have spoken up in favor of a return to the black jerseys that the team wore as their alternate uniforms from 1998-2011.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Andy Martino
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Mar 26, 2020; New York City, New York, USA; A general view of Citi Field. The season opener between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets has been postponed due the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Mar 26, 2020; New York City, New York, USA; A general view of Citi Field. The season opener between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets has been postponed due the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Major League Baseball and the Players Association are willing to consider just about any idea that will enable them to salvage a piece of the 2020 season, including playing games at neutral sites.

That would seem especially relevant to the Mets and Yankees, who play their home games in a city that has become the country's worst hotspot for coronavirus. But there have not yet been serious discussions about moving New York games to other locations, according to people familiar with MLB's thinking.

As of Thursday morning, New York state had 92,381 confirmed cases of coronavirus discovered with more than 51,809 in New York City. The state had approximately 38 percent of the cases in the entire United States.

Tags: Zack Britton, Andy Martino
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Jul 2, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Michael Conforto (30) follows through on a two run RBI double against the New York Yankees during the eighth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jul 2, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Michael Conforto (30) follows through on a two run RBI double against the New York Yankees during the eighth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

With the 2020 MLB season paused, let's dip into the mailbag and answer some Mets and Yankees questions...


@NYCsporty: Have the #Mets officially recognized that @Noahsyndergaard had sucessful Tommy John surgery considering no PR about it yet??

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Jacob deGrom, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, Andy Martino
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Mar 6, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Deivi Garcia (83) throws a pitch against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Mar 6, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Deivi Garcia (83) throws a pitch against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

A series of Yankees roster moves Thursday brought one surprise, when the team sent top pitching prospect Deivi Garcia all the way down to Double-A Trenton.

Garcia struggled in spring training, going 0-2 with a 7.46 ERA. But it turns out that the demotion had nothing to do with his performance -- "zero," according to a source -- and does not preclude Garcia from starting the season in New York, which is still in play.

As a source explained the move, rosters were frozen and the Yankees only had three spots at Triple-A Scranton. Those went to players with major league service time -- pitchers Michael King and Ben Heller, and infielder Thairo Estrada. With Scranton full, Garcia went to Trenton. But that was only because of the service-time seniority issue.

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Sep 11, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; A general view of third base with a commemorative logo for 9/11 at Marlins Park prior to the game between the Miami Marlins and the Milwaukee Brewers. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Sep 11, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; A general view of third base with a commemorative logo for 9/11 at Marlins Park prior to the game between the Miami Marlins and the Milwaukee Brewers. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

With the COVID-19 pandemic pushing back the start of the MLB season, it's naturally possible that the July 31 trade deadline will be pushed back.

MLB would like to start the season in late May, though those plans are tentative and dependent on the virus slowing its trajectory by then. Per sources, the league will try to play as many games as possible, could expand the playoffs, and hold a World Series in November or even December.

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Yankees hitting coach Rachel Balkovec (Photo Courtesy of the Yankees)
Yankees hitting coach Rachel Balkovec (Photo Courtesy of the Yankees)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Earlier this month, when two players in the Yankees organization tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the team recommended that players and staff working at the minor league complex self-isolate.

That left hitting instructor Rachel Balkovec with plenty of time to consider how she could help those in worse situations than hers. Motivated by her social conscience, she quickly hatched a plan.

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Sep 24, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the second inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the second inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

With the 2020 MLB season paused, let's dip into the mailbag and answer some Mets and Yankees questions...


@parthsrule: What do you think about doing something unorthodox and offering Syndergaard a club friendly (and now player security friendly) multi year extension?

It's not a bad idea, but the Mets are right up against the luxury tax and are unlikely to exceed it. That makes any contract extension tricky. Plus, they've never shown a desire to keep Syndergaard beyond next year.

Tags: Dellin Betances, Jacob deGrom, Jordan Montgomery, Michael Conforto, Miguel Andujar, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Steven Matz, Andy Martino
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Sep 29, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Sep 29, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

If you're a Mets fan looking for context to help process the news that Noah Syndergaard needs Tommy John surgery, consider this: The season that Syndergaard will miss will be shorter -- and weirder -- than just about any other in history.

It's the same silver lining that the Yankees stumbled into with Luis Severino, whose elbow also needed surgical reconstruction this spring. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, no one knows when baseball will return, or how long the season will be. According to major league sources, MLB is determined to salvage some sort of baseball in 2020, and is still figuring out how that will look. 

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Luis Severino, Noah Syndergaard, Andy Martino
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Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

It's not that Matt Harvey minded the comparison. In fact he texted to say the opposite, after I wrote a column on Aug. 1, 2014 saying that he could be our generation's Joe Namath.

Broadway Matt. Who wouldn't like the sound of that?

Tags: Matt Harvey, Andy Martino
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MLB announced on Thursday that it was suspending operations and would delay the regular season by at least two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. A day later, the key phrase in that announcement was clearly "at least."

Team executives and employees are scrambling to formulate plans, but conversations over the past 24 hours with multiple club officials revealed a common thread:

No one in baseball seems to expect games in April. The state of Illinois has already banned large public gatherings until May, and it stands to reason that more states could follow. No one knows how long the pandemic will disrupt everyday life, and the league hasn't made any concrete plans for how to move forward.

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General view of a tarp on the field as the scoreboard at Yankee Stadium informs fans of a rain delay before a game between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
General view of a tarp on the field as the scoreboard at Yankee Stadium informs fans of a rain delay before a game between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

With details about the coronavirus pandemic evolving every day, it is difficult to say if the Major League Baseball season will begin as scheduled on March 26, or if fans will be allowed to attend games.

But as of this moment, neither the Yankees nor Mets have altered their plans. According to a team spokesperson, the Mets currently expect to proceed with Opening Day on March 26 and play all subsequent home games at Citi Field with fans in attendance -- unless told otherwise by MLB or government authorities.

The Yankees open in Baltimore and Tampa Bay before returning to Yankee Stadium on April 2. According to a spokesman, the team is "taking direction from MLB and health officials on all coronavirus-related protocols."

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Jun 23, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; A general view of the field prior to the game between the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Jun 23, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; A general view of the field prior to the game between the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

With details about the coronavirus pandemic evolving every day, it is difficult to say if the Major League Baseball season will begin as scheduled on March 26, or if fans will be allowed to attend games.

But as of this moment, neither the Yankees nor Mets have altered their plans. According to a team spokesperson, the Mets currently expect to proceed with Opening Day on March 26 and play all subsequent home games at Citi Field with fans in attendance -- unless told otherwise by MLB or government authorities.

The Yankees open in Baltimore and Tampa Bay before returning to Yankee Stadium on April 2. According to a spokesman, the team is "taking direction from MLB and health officials on all coronavirus-related protocols."

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Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

In the top of the fourth inning of Tuesday's Yankees/Red Sox Grapefruit League game, Aaron Boone made a subtle but interesting decision -- he summoned Clarke Schmidt from the bullpen instead of Jonathan Loaisiga.

The earlier you pitch in a spring training game, the better the competition will be. Later on, mostly minor leaguers are taking the at-bats. When a team brings a rookie into a game in the fourth, it usually means that the rookie is getting a long look.

It wasn't until the eighth inning of the same game that Boone called for Loaisiga, who on the surface appears to have a much better chance of making the rotation.

Tags: Deivi Garcia, Jonathan Loaisiga, Andy Martino
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Yankees GM Brian Cashman
Yankees GM Brian Cashman

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

We're not in the business of guessing what motivates people, so who knows what strategy the person who floated a Steven Matz-to-the-Yankees idea was employing.

But if the idea was to push Brian Cashman into overreacting to the injuries decimating the top end of his roster, it was never going to work. 

Tags: Clint Frazier, Deivi Garcia, Giancarlo Stanton, James Paxton, Luis Severino, Miguel Andujar, Steven Matz, Andy Martino
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Feb 25, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA;New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) smiles during the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Feb 25, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA;New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) smiles during the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Just over a year ago, when word spread through the Yankees spring training complex in Tampa that the team had agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract extension with Luis Severino, the first blush of criticism fell on the pitcher and his agents.

Agents, rival executives and some players wondered how the young ace could settle for such a below-market deal. 

Tags: Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Andy Martino
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Feb 21, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar (41) looks on during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports (Douglas DeFelice)
Feb 21, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar (41) looks on during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports (Douglas DeFelice)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Days before Miguel Andujar decided to have season-ending shoulder surgery last May, the team was preparing to option him to Triple-A Scranton.

Andujar had finished in second place the year before in American League Rookie of the Year voting, but was not performing after a return from the disabled list. The Yankees couldn't carry him anymore. 

Everyone involved concluded that the issue was injury, not talent or skill, so Andujar made the difficult decision to shut it down for the year.

Tags: Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, Giancarlo Stanton, Gio Urshela, Miguel Andujar, Andy Martino
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Sep 23, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

PORT ST. LUCIE -- The competition between Steven Matz and Michael Wacha for the final spot in the rotation represents one of the few unsettled questions in Mets camp. If all six starters remain healthy, and if Rick Porcello performs competently, either Matz or Wacha will have to move to the bullpen.

Despite their need to win a job, both pitchers are tasked with the typical spring training project of prioritizing process over results, especially in their early appearances. They won't be judged exclusively on performance, but on their adherence to personal goals set with new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner.

If you're watching closely enough, you can find clues to how each is progressing. Here's a guide for what to watch, based on a chat with both Matz and Wacha.
 

Tags: Steven Matz, Andy Martino
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Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

PORT ST. LUCIE -- The voices pushing MLB to strip the Houston Astros of their 2017 championship have grown louder this week, with the Yankees' Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton joining the chorus.

Baseball players, executives and fans are angry and unsatisfied, wanting the Astros to face stiffer consequences for their cheating. According to two high-ranking rival executives, many owners are far more angry about the scandal -- and at Astros owner Jim Crane personally -- than the league anticipated they would be.

MLB understands all this, but remains unlikely to take the aggressive step for which many are calling.

Tags: Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Andy Martino
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Carlos Beltran (Treated Image by SNY)
Carlos Beltran (Treated Image by SNY)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

TAMPA -- On Wednesday morning, when one good friend of Carlos Beltran's saw the back page of the New York Post, which labeled Beltran "The Godfather," he felt physically ill.

"I almost threw up," the friend said.

Many people around the game maintain a strong affection for Beltran. Even Yankees officials, who have been annoyed about Beltran's role in the Astros' 2017 sign-stealing scheme, have felt that the demonization of their former employee has gone too far.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Andy Martino
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Carlos Beltran (Treated Image by SNY)
Carlos Beltran (Treated Image by SNY)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

TAMPA -- On Wednesday morning, when one good friend of Carlos Beltran's saw the back page of the New York Post, which labeled Beltran "The Godfather," he felt physically ill.

"I almost threw up," the friend said.

Many people around the game maintain a strong affection for Beltran. Even Yankees officials, who have been annoyed about Beltran's role in the Astros' 2017 sign-stealing scheme, have felt that the demonization of their former employee has gone too far.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Andy Martino
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Mookie Betts (Adam Hunger)
Mookie Betts (Adam Hunger)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Sports fandom gives you painful moments, and delicious ones. For those who love the Yankees, the sting of October 2004 will never quite heal, nor will the initial hurt and ultimate suspicion of Jose Altuve's ALCS walk-off last October.

Those are horrible days. 

But then there are winters like this. Since last fall, Yankee fans have watched the Red Sox lose a beloved manager in Alex Cora because of the electronic sign-stealing scandal. Now, with the equipment truck already en route to Fort Myers, the Sox are in the extraordinary position of staring down a February managerial vacancy.

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Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

When Major League Baseball investigated the Yankees and Red Sox for electronic sign stealing in 2017, the league interviewed outfielder Chris Young multiple times.

According to two people briefed on those interviews, MLB concluded that Young and the Red Sox were using Apple Watches to convey sequences during games that year -- and that there were no credible allegations about the Yankees doing the same when Young and Carlos Beltran were on the team.

It's important to note that before commissioner Rob Manfred warned teams about electronic sign stealing in a memo issued on Sept. 15, 2017, these behaviors were not explicitly illegal.

Tags: Chris Young, Andy Martino
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Mets manager Carlos Beltran and Brodie Van Wagenen (SNY)
Mets manager Carlos Beltran and Brodie Van Wagenen (SNY)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Here's a weird question. Was Carlos Beltran ever the Mets manager?

What we mean is, when the franchise lists its all-time skippers, will Beltran be included despite the fact that the team hired and parted ways with him before he ever saw game action?

The question has implications both trivial and meaningful for Luis Rojas. Is he about to become the 22nd or 23rd manager in franchise history?

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Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

With the wildly different takes on Luis Rojas that have surfaced during a week of reporting rolling around in my head, it was hard to form an opinion on the Mets' managerial choice. 

Then, during SNY's breaking news coverage, Keith Hernandez summed it up in a way that finally made sense: "I'm going to need at least 24 hours to digest this."

Keith was on the right track there. Our only amendment to his take is that we might need even more time -- 24 weeks maybe? -- to formulate an informed take on the news.

Tags: Dominic Smith, Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Andy Martino
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Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal YouTube
Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal YouTube

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

No baseball team wants to find itself searching for a manager in late January, but that's where the Mets find themselves, after baseball's massive electronic cheating scandal swallowed Carlos Beltran.

The team did at least conduct an exhaustive search last October. The Mets will now lean on that work -- which began as two sets of lists on a white board in their offices, and continued on to include many in-person interviews -- as they try to make a quick but thoughtful decision on who should lead the club this year.

GM Brodie Van Wagenen declined comment on the process. Other indications are that the Mets would like to have a new manager by the end of next week.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Andy Martino
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Carlos Beltran (Treated Image by SNY)
Carlos Beltran (Treated Image by SNY)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

As he did his work on the field in Port St. Lucie on Wednesday, charming fantasy campers and huddling with staff, Carlos Beltran carried around a sadness perceptible to others. His friends in the organization felt it, too -- bummed, perhaps angry, and in disbelief that a promising career was about to end before it started.

There was a path forward for the Mets and Beltran. He could have held a news conference to apologize for his role in the historic Houston Astros cheating scandal. The team could have noted that Beltran was a player in 2017 -- not a team official like GM Jeff Luhnow, manager A.J. Hinch, and bench coach Alex Cora.

The only development that would have made it truly necessary to fire Beltran would have been if he lied to the team. But, according to the Mets' statement, " We believe that Carlos was honest and forthcoming with us. "

Tags: Dellin Betances, Andy Martino
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Now-fired Astros manager AJ Hinch (Treated Image by SNY)
Now-fired Astros manager AJ Hinch (Treated Image by SNY)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Brian Cashman spent several years constructing what he hoped would be the next great Yankees team. He took a step back in the standings, traded away stars and focused on his farm system.

Those efforts created a championship window, which opened in 2017 -- also now known as the year that the Houston Astros initiated one of the most significant cheating scandals in the history of the game.

Over the next three Octobers, the Yankees lost to Houston, then to Alex Cora's Boston Red Sox, and then to Houston again. They saw a significant chunk of their window wasted by unethical opponents.

Tags: Aaron Judge, Aroldis Chapman, Luis Severino, Andy Martino
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Yankees manager Aaron Boone (David Butler II )
Yankees manager Aaron Boone (David Butler II )

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

On Sept. 15, 2017, Major League Baseball fined the Boston Red Sox an undisclosed amount for using Apple Watches to convey signs stolen from the Yankees.

MLB also fined the Yankees a lesser amount, leading to a common misconception that both teams engaged in espionage at that time.

At the time, the league announced that the Yankees had "violated a rule governing the use of a dugout phone." What MLB didn't say was that no one had accused the Yankees of cheating.

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Mets manager Carlos Beltran
Mets manager Carlos Beltran

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

As Major League Baseball enters the final stages of its investigation into allegations of sign stealing against the Houston Astros, all indications are that Carlos Beltran will not face a suspension, and will manage the Mets on Opening Day.

Beltran played for the Astros in 2017, when the team engaged in a high-tech sign stealing scheme. As SNY and others have been reporting for months, Houston used a feed from a camera in center field to decode signs, and various audio cues to convey those stolen signs to hitters.

MLB's department of investigations interviewed Beltran in November. According to a person familiar with the process, he was forthcoming and cooperative.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Andy Martino
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Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

In an unexpected Christmas gift to fans, the team has agreed to sign reliever Dellin Betances. SNY was first to report the deal.

The agreement, which is for one year with a player option for 2021, guarantees $10.5 million. Betances had the opportunity to sign for more money elsewhere, according to sources, but several factors pulled him toward the Mets.

As a native New Yorker, Betances liked the idea of remaining in his home city. He also wanted to play for his former Yankees teammate Carlos Beltran.

Tags: Dellin Betances, Andy Martino
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Jul 13, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros center fielder George Springer (4) celebrates with center fielder Myles Straw (26) and hitting coach Alex Cintron (37) after scoring during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports  (Raymond Carlin III)
Jul 13, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros center fielder George Springer (4) celebrates with center fielder Myles Straw (26) and hitting coach Alex Cintron (37) after scoring during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports (Raymond Carlin III)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Believing that other teams used technology to decode signs, a group of Houston Astros asked the organization for access to a live feed from a centerfield camera in 2017. 

They did not install a new camera for sign-stealing purposes, and the players and coaches involved did not even know which camera the feed was coming from. They wanted a monitor closer to the dugout, because their video room was too far away. They considered their actions to be in line with industry standards.

The above narrative represents the picture painted by some of the interviews conducted by MLB investigators this fall, according to sources with direct knowledge of the investigation. The league has already spoken with nearly 60 people, and SNY can now report some of what they have learned.

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D.J. LeMahieu/James Paxton
D.J. LeMahieu/James Paxton

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

SAN DIEGO -- The Yankees had agreed to a deal with Gerrit Cole hours earlier, but the world didn't know it yet. A few minutes past eight on Tuesday night, Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone and most of the front office left the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego for some fresh air and dinner at Seasons 52, a restaurant next door.

The group was happy, of course, but somewhat subdued, given the magnitude of the news -- save for Boone, that is, who quietly pumped his fist several times during the short walk, much to the amusement of his co-workers.

Cashman and Co. have been doing this way too long to hoot and holler and act like they'd won anything. Sure, they'd landed their top free agent target, but they still haven't seen the World Series in ten years, and still haven't turned the "Baby Bombers" brand into another generation of Yankee champions.

Tags: Brett Gardner, DJ LeMahieu, James Paxton, Andy Martino
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Oct 10, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) reacts after a strike out during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays in game five of the 2019 ALDS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Taormina)
Oct 10, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) reacts after a strike out during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays in game five of the 2019 ALDS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Taormina)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

SAN DIEGO -- Soon -- perhaps very soon, according to people in the know -- the Yankees will know if Gerrit Cole wants to play for them. Until then, the team's strong focus is on the free agent pitcher, and they'll deal with other concerns later.

For example, the Yankees seemed unfazed by the news that Didi Gregorius signed a one-year, $14 million contract with the Phillies. People familiar with the team's thinking believe that the front office decided as far back as September to part with Gregorius. 

Though the team loved Gregorius' production, clubhouse presence, and ability to replace an icon in Derek Jeter, they appeared to believe that they simply had enough in-house coverage at shortstop to let Gregorius walk. 

Tags: Didi Gregorius, Gleyber Torres, Andy Martino
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Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The Yankees liked Zack Wheeler, and they like Madison Bumgarner well enough.

But in the wake of Wheeler's five year, $118 million agreement with the Phillies -- and in the face of an intensifying market for Bumgarner -- it is clearer than ever that the team's square focus is on the two big fish, Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg.

Of the two, Cole is the primary target, but the Yanks consider Strasburg elite, too. And that's the entire list of elite starters available via free agency. Bumgarner is no longer in that top tier.

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Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner and Gerrit Cole (SNY)
Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner and Gerrit Cole (SNY)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Since the beginning of the offseason, the Yankees have made Gerrit Cole their top free agent target, without knowing if Cole wants to play closer to his West Coast roots.

While many in the industry believe that Cole prefers California, the Yankees don't have any information to that effect from the agent, Scott Boras, or the player. They are left to prepare to meet with Cole this week, as The Athletic first reported they would.

According to people familiar with the Yankees' thinking, the team is trying to balance the Cole pursuit with engagement in at least two other free agent starting pitchers, Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler. They see flaws and concerns with both, but they see upside, too, and will stay engaged.

Tags: Zack Wheeler, Andy Martino
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Oct 21, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New York Yankees players look on from the dugout in the ninth inning during game seven of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports (Thomas Shea)
Oct 21, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New York Yankees players look on from the dugout in the ninth inning during game seven of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports (Thomas Shea)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Imagine if you took the virtually unprecedented step of initiating a partial rebuild in the Bronx, trading major league players for prospects. Then you resisted all temptation to move your own young players.

You cultivated a core of homegrown stars, and they started winning. You did what a responsible team is supposed to do … and then you found yourself defeated in the postseason twice by a team caught in the worst cheating scandal the game has seen in more than a decade.

You would probably feel like you got screwed by an opponent acting in bad faith, and that you had lost opportunities you could never get back.

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 (David Kohl)
(David Kohl)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Jon Updike, the scout responsible for making Pete Alonso a Met, has left the organization, SNY has learned.

Updike was the area scouting supervisor in North and Central Florida. He signed both Alonso and Mathew Allan, a high-ceiling pitcher who the Mets drafted in the third round this year.

The Mets named Updike their scout of the year in 2018 -- and that was before his signature pick won Rookie of the Year and set a home run record.

Tags: Pete Alonso, Andy Martino
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Apr 1, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland (58) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Apr 1, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland (58) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

In a story published Thursday about trends that are bringing dramatic changes to the pitching coach position, we reported that former Yankees and Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland was seen by some as less than receptive to analytics and technology.

Eiland is pushing back against that perception.

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Feb 22, 2019; Lee County, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner (45) poses for a photo on photo day at Hammond Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Feb 22, 2019; Lee County, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner (45) poses for a photo on photo day at Hammond Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

When the Yankees fired longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild last month, they did not do it because Rothschild lacked knowledge of his craft, or work ethic, or a connection to his pitchers. In fact, the front office largely believed that Rothschild was performing well at his job.

Unfortunately for Rothschild, the job itself had changed.

The Yankees wanted to push to the edge of contemporary trends, and hired 34-year-old Matt Blake out of the Cleveland organization. Last season, the Mets fired pitching coach Dave Eiland for similar reasons, and are soon to make their own leap into the future.

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Sep 15, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) pitches in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 15, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) pitches in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

After signing catcher Yasmani Grandal on Wednesday, the White Sox are expected to pursue free agent pitcher Zack Wheeler, according to major league sources.

Wheeler, who has spent his entire big league career with the Mets, is also on the Yankees radar -- though the team seems initially lukewarm on him, at least compared to the big prize of the pitching market, Gerrit Cole.

Tags: Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Andy Martino
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 (Thomas Shea)
(Thomas Shea)

After the Yankees asked Major League Baseball to investigate the Houston Astros for whistling to convey signs in this year's American League Championship Series, the league announced that it found no evidence of wrongdoing, and left it at that.

As it turns out, the reality of the situation was a bit more complex.

A league official sitting on the dugout level did not report whistling. But when MLB reviewed video of Game 1 in Houston, officials did hear frequent loud whistling on the footage, sources told SNY. However, the league could not conclusively determine if the sounds were coming from the Astros dugout or the crowd.

Tags: Aroldis Chapman, Andy Martino
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Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

As MLB investigators intensify their probe into allegations of high-tech cheating against the Yankees, Mets and other clubs, a key element of their process will be comparing the accounts of interviewees, and searching for inconsistencies in the various testimonies, according to people familiar with the investigation.

As SNY reported, Mets manager Carlos Beltran and Red Sox manager Alex Cora will be interviewed but appear unlikely to be suspended. The Athletic reported that MLB has also contacted former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, who alleged that the Astros used cameras to steal signs in 2017.

However, if the accounts offered by Beltran, Cora or any other witness contain inconsistencies or falsehoods, they and any other witness could end up facing harsher discipline.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Andy Martino
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Yankees manager Aaron Boone (Troy Taormina )
Yankees manager Aaron Boone (Troy Taormina )

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

During the first game of this year's American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park, as the Yankees started jawing at the Houston dugout about sign stealing, Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron raised his middle finger and directed the gesture toward the opposing bench.

This infuriated New York's third base coach Phil Nevin, who yelled at Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, "Tell your f--king hitting coach I'm going to kick his f--king ass."

Managers A.J. Hinch and Aaron Boone also exchanged words, and the Yankees ultimately asked Major League Baseball to investigate the Astros for using whistling to convey pitches to their hitters (MLB said they found no evidence of wrongdoing in that instance).

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Andy Martino
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Although Major League Baseball will interview Carlos Beltran and Alex Cora about sign-stealing allegations involving the Houston Astros, the league does not have either accusations or evidence that would point to severe discipline for either, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Beltran was a member of the 2017 World Series champs, and Cora was the bench coach. The Athletic this week quoted former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers confirming longstanding allegations that Houston uses cameras and audio signals to cheat.

The story came less than a month after SNY reported that the Yankees believed the Astros were whistling to convey signs during this year's American League Championship Series.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Andy Martino
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Gerrit Cole (Thomas B. Shea)
Gerrit Cole (Thomas B. Shea)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brian Cashman confirmed on Tuesday that the Yankees will engage with free agent starter Gerrit Cole. That pursuit is likely to take months, but early word is that another potential Yankee target might choose his next team sooner than later.

According to industry sources, agent Scott Boras has indicated to teams that Cole is unlikely to sign anywhere before January, but the markets for Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon should move faster than expected.

The Yankees will also pursue Strasburg, at least to some extent. They are almost certainly not interested in Rendon because of their belief in the futures of Gio Urshela and Miguel Andujar.

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Free agent reliever Daniel Hudson (Troy Taormina)
Free agent reliever Daniel Hudson (Troy Taormina)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Brodie Van Wagenen suggested last week that Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman might be in the 2020 rotation, he appeared to telegraph that the Mets were more likely to play in the free agent reliever market this offseason than sign a starter.

That makes sense, when you consider that a better bullpen would likely have delivered the team to the postseason.

That bit of context helps to inform our understanding of the first li'l nugget of the team's post-managerial search offseason, that the front office met Monday morning with the agency that represents both Zack Wheeler and World Series champion reliever Daniel Hudson.

Tags: Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Zack Wheeler, Andy Martino
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Oct 7, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius (18) hits an RBI single during the ninth inning of game three of the 2019 ALDS playoff baseball series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports (David Berding)
Oct 7, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius (18) hits an RBI single during the ninth inning of game three of the 2019 ALDS playoff baseball series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports (David Berding)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Not long ago, it seemed assured that Didi Gregorius would remain a member of the Yankees' new core, not a homegrown player but one essential to their culture.

He had already effectively replaced an icon in Derek Jeter. Fans liked that he tweeted emojis. The front office liked his personality and production.

After a tough season returning from Tommy John surgery, Gregorius' future is far murkier. There are signs that the player and team are apart on value, and that other clubs are more likely to pursue him in free agency.

Tags: Didi Gregorius, Andy Martino
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Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Perhaps the most telling detail about Carlos Beltran's ability to relate to all factions of a major league clubhouse is that he is close friends with both Carlos Gomez … and Brian McCann.

The two players who famously jawed at home plate in 2013 over old school/new school baseball etiquette both consider Beltran a confidant and mentor.

On many occasions during Gomez's career, after he angered an opponent over some perceived violation of the game's unwritten rules, he would wake the following morning to a text from Beltran gently explaining what had happened and how to make it better.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Andy Martino
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Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Somewhere in the offices at Citi Field, there is a whiteboard, and on that whiteboard are the names of well over a dozen managerial candidates.

During the Mets' broad search for a new skipper, names that haven't surfaced publicly, from John Gibbons to Dusty Baker to Robin Ventura, have appeared on this board. A section of this board was used for a secondary list of sorts, intended as a backup if none of the interviews yielded a fit.

A few weeks ago, a person involved in the process warned us of a potential "bombshell" candidate whose name was not only on the board but about whom the Mets were doing extensive research.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Andy Martino
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