Eric Chavez To Join New York Mets as the Team’s Hitting Coach

Eric Chavez is headed crosstown…

The New York Mets have reportedly agreed to hire the 44-year-old Mexican American professional baseball coach and former third baseman as their hitting coach, just weeks after he joined the New York Yankees as an assistant hitting coach, according to ESPN.

Eric Chavez

Neither team has spoken publicly on the matter, but the transition, while uncommon, was said to have been executed in good faith.

Chavez, who was announced as part of Aaron Boone‘s staff with the Yankees on December 20, now will help make up the burgeoning staff of longtime manager Buck Showalter and join Mets general manager Billy Eppler for the third time.

Chavez, a six-time Gold Glove third baseman during a playing career that spanned 17 years, was hired by the Yankees as a special assignment scout in 2015 when Eppler served as assistant GM.

When Eppler presided over the Los Angeles Angels‘ baseball-operations department shortly thereafter, he hired Chavez as a special assistant and later named him manager of the team’s Triple-A affiliate.

The Mets have also brought in Joey Cora to be their third-base coach and will reportedly add Wayne Kirby as first-base coach.

Bartolo Colon Signs with Mexico’s Monclova Acereros

Bartolo Colonis headed south of the border.

The 46-year-old Dominicanprofessional baseball right-handed pitcher has signed with the Monclova Acereros of the Mexican Baseball League.

Bartolo Colon

The Acereros, defending champions of the Triple-Acircuit, announced the signing of Colon on Friday. The team didn’t provide details of the contract.

“Bartolo Colon would be an important piece of the pitching staff of the current champions, becoming one of the bigger signings in our baseball history,” the team said in a press release. “The ‘Big Sexy‘ show would be something the Monclova fans will be able to enjoy.”

Colon hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2018 with the Texas Rangers. He became the top winning pitcher born in Latin America, getting his 246th career victory on August 7, 2018, against the Seattle Mariners.

Colon is 247-188 in 565 games — 552 as a starter — since his MLBdebut with the Cleveland Indians in 1997. He also was the 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner while with the Los Angeles Angels.

New York Mets’ Slugger Pete Alonso Named National League Rookie of the Year

Pete Alonso is living proof that persistence pays off…

The 24-year-old part-Spanish American Major League Baseball player began the 2019 season fighting just to make the New York Mets‘ Opening Day roster. But he ends it as the National League Rookie of the Year after slugging a rookie record 53 home runs, driving in 120 runs and becoming a cult hero for Mets fans for his energy and enthusiasm and one memorable bare-chested postgame interview.

Pete Alonso

Alonso was a near unanimous selection of the award’s 30 voters, getting 29 first-place votes. Atlanta Braves starter Mike Soroka received the other first-place vote and finished second, with San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jrfinishing third.

Soroka posted a 2.68 ERA and won 13 games as the ace of the division-winning Braves. Tatis slashed .317/.379/.590 and dazzled fans with his defensive plays in the infield, but an injury ended his season at 84 games.

“To just win the award, doesn’t matter if it’s unanimous or not,” Alonso said on Monday night. “It’s still such a blessing.”

Alonso’s 53 home runs broke Aaron Judge‘s rookie record of 52 set in 2017, as Alonso became the sixth Rookie of the Year in Mets history, the first since Jacob deGrom in 2014. 

He joins Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Chris Davis as the only active players with 50 home runs in a season and he’s just the 30th player in MLB history to reach that mark. 

His 120 RBIs are the seventh most for a rookie in major league history and the most since Albert Pujols had 130 in 2001.

Alonso’s storybook season was no sure thing back in spring training, however. Although he led the minors with 39 home runs in 2018, the Mets had a glut of infielders with Robinson CanoJed LowrieTodd Frazier and Dominic Smith all in the mix at first, second and third base along with Alonso. There were also concerns about Alonso’s defense, and many teams start their top prospects in Triple-A for a couple of weeks to manipulate the player’s service time.

Alonso, however, earned a roster spot after hitting .352 with four home runs in spring training. It also helped that Lowrie and Frazier began the season on the injured list.

Alonso, a second-round pick in 2016 out of the University of Florida, ran with the opportunity, hitting .378 with six home runs in his first 12 games. He said he was challenged by first-year general manager Brodie Van Wagenento “show up in shape and earn your spot.”

“I felt like I answered the bell,” Alonso said.

He finished April with nine home runs, bashed 10 more in May and entered the All-Starbreak with 30 home runs. In Cleveland, he took home the $1 million prize for winning the Home Run Derby, upstaging fellow rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr.in the final round with a 23-22 victory after Guerrero had bashed 40 home runs in the semifinals.

“It’s survive and advance,” Alonso said after his win. “You’ve got to go in with kind of a killer instinct. It doesn’t matter how many you hit; you just need to have one more than the guy you’re facing.”

Alonso also won over fans when he pledged 5% of his winnings to the Wounded Warrior Projectand another 5% to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

Along the way, Alonso became a fan favorite, not just for his prodigious home runs — he hit 15 of at least 430 feet — but also for his infectious joy and his ability to win over New Yorkers. When the Mets began surging back into the playoff race in early August, he issued a not-safe-for-work rallying cry playing off the “Let’s go Mets!” chant. After a walk-off bases-loaded walk beat the Philadephia Phillies on September 6, Mets teammates ripped off Alonso’s jersey and he conducted interviews on SNY and MLB Network bare-chested.

“I’m not taking my shirt off for this one,” Alonso joked on MLB Network’s broadcast while accepting the award.

He wore custom-made cleats on September 11 to honor the victims of 9/11, even ordering a pair for each of his teammates. “For me, I just come from a place where I want to show support, not just for the victims but their families as well, because no one really knows how deep those emotional scars can be,” Alonso said at the time.

He smashed his 42nd home run on August 27, breaking the Mets’ team record shared by Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley. With three games remaining in the regular season, Alonso was one homer away from tying Judge. He matched him with a home run at home against the Braves in Game 160 and then surpassed Judge in Game 161 with a third-inning home run off Mike Foltynewicz, a towering shot to right-center. Alonso raised both arms over his head in triumph, received hugs from teammates and a standing ovation from the crowd, and then he wiped tears from his eyes while playing first base the following inning.

“To me, it just means so much,” Alonso said after the game. “I didn’t know I was going to be overcome with all that emotion. At that point, I might as well just let it out.”

Ronald Acuna Jr. Named MLB’s National League Rookie of the Year

Ronald Acuna Jr. has kicked off his Major League Baseball with a bang, and now he’s got the title to prove it.

The 27-year-old Venezuelan Atlanta Braves outfielder has been named the named National League Rookie of the Year.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Acuna received 27 first-place votes and three seconds for a total of 144 points. Fellow international phenom Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals got two firsts and 89 points, and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler was next with one first and 28 points.

“First of all, I would like to give thanks to God, my family, my parents and to all my teammates who’ve always supported me from the first day that I got the call to the big leagues,” Acuna said in a statement. “This award represents all our hard work as a team this season.”

A Venezuela native, Acuna signed with the Braves as an international free agent in 2014. After hitting .325 with 21 home runs across three different minor league levels in 2017, he entered the 2018 season ranked as the top prospect in baseball by ESPN‘s Keith Law.

Acuna is the eighth Braves player to win Rookie of the Year and first since Craig Kimbrel in 2011. He’s the first Braves position player to win the award since Rafael Furcal in 2000.

Despite hitting .432 with four home runs in 16 spring training games, Acuna was optioned to Triple-A to start the season, a move that was criticized by those who believed the Braves demoted the young star for contractual reasons. Acuna was called up April 25 and made his big league debut against the Cincinnati Reds later that day, going 1-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts. At the time of his promotion, Acuna became the youngest player in the majors, a title he would soon cede to Soto.

After the All-Star break, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker moved Acuna into the leadoff spot, where the rookie outfielder was a catalyst for a surprising Braves team that won the National League East. Batting exclusively at the top of the order, Acuna thrived, hitting .322 with 19 home runs in 68 games during the second half of the season; his eight leadoff home runs were the second-most by a rookie in a season in MLB history.

Acuna’s 1.028 OPS after the All-Star break ranked third in the National League behind the Milwaukee Brewers‘ Christian Yelich and Los Angeles’ Justin Turner.

In August, Acuna became the youngest player ever to homer in five consecutive games, and was named NL Rookie of the Month. Soto, his main competition for Rookie of the Year, won the monthly award in June, July and September.

Although the speedy Acuna is widely considered a better defender than Soto and a more complete player, the two international phenoms put up nearly identical offensive numbers in their debut seasons, creating one of the tightest Rookie of the Year races in recent memory.

In 111 games, Acuna hit .293 with 26 home runs and 64 RBIs, while posting a .917 OPS. In 116 games, Soto batted .292 with 22 homers and 70 RBIs, with a .923 OPS. According to FanGraphs, both players had an identical 3.7 wins above replacement.

Buehler, a 23-year-old right-hander, was 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA in 23 starts and one relief appearance.