Meet the newest member of the Mets' Hall of Fame

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Meet the newest member of the Mets' Hall of Fame

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Closer John Franco will be inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame before the June 3 game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Franco saved a Mets-record 276 games from 1990-04 and finished with 424 saves overall, the most by a left-hander. He becomes the 26th member of the Mets' Hall and the first to join since Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Davey Johnson and former general manager Frank Cashen in 2010.

Joe Maddon on Dodgers' laser show: 'They can put bull's-eyes out there'

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Joe Maddon on Dodgers' laser show: 'They can put bull's-eyes out there'

Joe Maddon checks the websites for the New York Post and Daily News as part of his morning routine, so the Cubs manager had seen how the city’s tabloids covered the latest incident involving Major League Baseball’s endless fascination with technology and obsession in finding even a 1-percent competitive advantage. 

“Mets accuse Dodgers of cheating with lasers,” read one digital headline from the Post, a follow-up angle to Saturday’s Fox Sports report that the Mets contacted MLB about the Dodgers using a laser rangefinder to position their outfielders and requesting to put markers on the Citi Field grass.

The Mets-said, Dodgers-said stories would be overshadowed that night by Noah Syndergaard getting ejected for throwing a 99-mph fastball behind Chase Utley as payback for the takeout slide that knocked Ruben Tejada out of last year’s playoffs. 

But instead of becoming paranoid, Maddon will maintain his laissez-faire attitude on Memorial Day when Los Angeles begins a four-game series at Wrigley Field that won’t feature Clayton Kershaw.  

“If they’re putting markers on the field, that doesn’t bother me,” Maddon said Sunday. “They can put bull’s-eyes out there. I don’t care. It doesn’t really matter. There’s other ways to do exactly the same thing without that method of technology just by preparation before the game. 

“So when you read something like that, to me, it’s a little bit overblown, regarding both its importance and the fact that you should not permit somebody to do it. It really doesn’t matter, because there’s other ways to do exactly the same things without using a laser.”    

The Cubs lucked out when the Dodgers lured Andrew Friedman away from Tampa Bay to run baseball operations after the 2014 season, triggering an escape clause in Maddon’s below-market contract with the Rays.

Depending on your viewpoint, the Dodgers are either a cutting-edge organization flush with intellectual capital, or a cluttered franchise that leads the league in inflated titles and too many cooks in the kitchen.  

Beyond Friedman at the president’s level and an ownership group that includes Magic Johnson, there’s a heavy-hitter CEO (Stan Kasten), an MIT-/Cal-Berkeley-educated general manager (Farhan Zaidi) and a cabinet of advisors filled with former GMs (Josh Byrnes, Alex Anthopoulos, Gerry Hunsicker, Ned Colletti).  

“Most of the defenses are being set up today more in a generic sense,” Maddon said. “Whatever you think in your group, if you’re the Dodgers or the Cubs or whatever, just go ahead and do it. And if you had to put a mark on the field to indicate that, I have no problem with it.”

Run prevention became a top priority for the small-market Rays, who couldn’t afford big-name, top-of-the-market free-agent hitters. The Cubs and Dodgers are now ranked first and second in the majors in defensive efficiency. FanGraphs ranked those two teams second and third in Defensive Runs Saved. 

As much as Maddon listened to Friedman’s Wall Street insights and embraced Big Data, he had already applied some of those concepts in rudimentary ways during his 30-plus years in the Angels organization.  

“I used to be in charge of setting up defenses with the Angels,” Maddon said. “I would go out before the first game of a series and I would stand in my spot in the dugout – and I would have somebody go stand at each position – and I would find out where straight-up was.

“I’d stand in that corner – and then you would go stand at third base straight-up, shortstop straight-up. I would put a marker behind you – like a sign on the wall or whatever – that would indicate to me where you’re standing straight-up. So I could move you to the pull (side) three or four steps, or to the soft side three or four steps.” 

In the end, Maddon doesn’t care what the Dodgers do with their Department of Lasers. 

“They’re going to attempt to utilize all of that,” Maddon said. “I really like the idea of utilizing that stuff just to chart initially, to be able to use GPS (and) try to be really exact where the ball is hit. So then when you compile your information, you’re not getting negative noise. 

“We used to do the thing where you had a book in the dugout and you had different colored pencils and somebody would draw a line (to) where the ball is hit.

“(Now) you’re getting actual results. You know this is true. The dot is there. The dot is accurate.” 

Miguel Gonzalez has bolstered back of White Sox rotation

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Miguel Gonzalez has bolstered back of White Sox rotation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Overshadowed in a weekend’s worth of bungled games is the fact that Miguel Gonzalez has strengthened the back end of the White Sox rotation.

Signed to a minor-league deal on April 3, Gonzalez has delivered the kind of consistency the White Sox have hoped for from the fifth spot in the rotation. He only has one win to show for it because of two blown saves, but Gonzalez has a 3.57 ERA in his last four starts with an average of 5 2/3 innings per turn. While the White Sox continue to explore outside options, including San Diego’s James Shields, Gonzalez has to have them feeling more secure about the guys behind Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.

“He’s come in and given us a chance,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Every time he pitches, it seems like we have a chance to win that game. (Friday) it started out a little rough and after that he did a very good job of getting us to the seventh and doing his job. He looks in control as well as mannerisms and his personality, it's his stuff. He’s not walking people, he’s not getting himself in trouble, making guys swing the bat.”

Gonzalez has made five starts for the White Sox and has a 4.50 ERA. He made one start April 25 and went back to Triple-A Charlotte. But after returning, Gonzalez has since remained in the rotation each of the last four turns.

Whereas Gonzalez walked five batters in a May 15 contest, he has since walked none in 12 1/3 innings and struck out 13. Gonzalez has been happy to have consistent work and to be able to make adjustments in between starts with pitching coach Don Cooper.

“I’m getting to feel a little better with all my pitches, command and changing speeds,” Gonzalez said. “We’re doing the best we can to minimize the damage and that’s what it’s all about.”

Unsure what they’d receive from Mat Latos or John Danks, the White Sox saw a fit in Gonzalez, who was waived by the Baltimore Orioles in late March because his velocity hadn’t returned and if he were kept they owed him $5 million. Rick Hahn said that Gonzalez’s velocity began to return late in spring and they liked the potential of a pitcher who went 30-21 with a 3.45 ERA from 2012-14 before he struggled last season.  

Essentially, the White Sox didn’t see Gonzalez as a scrap heap project.

“We knew that even when it happened to him at the end of spring training,” Ventura said. “That was our first conversation of guys that you’ve either played against or you see and think something’s there and can help you. He was definitely that guy.”

89 Days to Kickoff: Yorkville

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89 Days to Kickoff: Yorkville

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26.

School: Yorkville Foxes

Head coach: Dam McGuire

Assistant coaches: Mike Guzaldo, Ben Graham, Tom Regnier, Matt Williams, Shawn Schumacher, Joe Nauman

How they fared in 2015: 4-5 (1-3) Northern Illinois Big 12 East. Yorkville failed to qualify for the 2015 IHSA state football playoff field.

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Foxes bring several inexperienced starters up to speed sooner rather than later this fall?

Names to watch this season: TE Austin Avery, DE Sean Kuhn

Biggest holes to fill: The Foxes will need to find help in several spots but none will be as vital than in the offensive skills with just senior tight end Austin Avery the lone returning starter. 

EDGY's early take: Yorkville will have a ton of youth and inexperience this season and that can be a very dangerous proposition in the rugged NIB12 conference. If the Foxes can get off to a good early start they have a chance at getting back to the IHSA state playoffs.