Quick Hits: Mets, Watson, Ng, Twins, Rowson, Cubs

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Few days on the sports calendar are better than the day when all four Division Series have games scheduled, and today was no exception.  We saw a pair of shutouts in both NLDS matchups, as the Brewers took a 2-0 series lead over the Rockies after a 4-0 win, while the Dodgers blanked the Braves on eight innings of two-hit ball from Clayton Kershaw.  (Incredibly, the Braves are still looking for their first run in the series as they head back to Atlanta in a 2-0 hole.)  The Astros began their World Series title defense in strong fashion with a 7-2 rout of the Indians in Game 1, while the Red Sox jumped out to an early lead and then held on to win a 5-4 nail-biter to win the first game of their showdown with the Yankees.

Here’s more from around the baseball world as we look forward to more ALDS action tomorrow…

  • The Mets will interview Nationals special assistant De Jon Watson as part of their GM search on Wednesday, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (via Twitter).  Still just 52 years old, Watson has a wealth of front office experience dating back to the early 90’s, working as a scout, scouting director, assistant GM (with the Dodgers) and senior VP of baseball operations (with the Diamondbacks) before spending the last two seasons in Washington’s front office.
  • Watson joins Gary LaRocque and Doug Melvin as known candidates reportedly set for interviews with the Mets in the coming days, and Mike Puma of the New York Post adds that Kim Ng is also expected to be interviewed this week.  Ng, a former assistant GM for the Dodgers and Yankees, was recently mentioned as a potential candidate.
  • While the Mets are lining up interviews, Puma notes that some candidates have declined to be involved due to the twin perceptions that the next GM won’t have full autonomy under the Wilpon family, and that the team isn’t open to embracing analytics.  For instance, Jeff Wilpon has “indicated” the new GM will have the power to replace returning members of the front office braintrust (i.e. Omar Minaya, John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi), though “there is heavy skepticism throughout the industry” that this would be the case.  As past reports have indicated, Fred Wilpon would prefer hiring a GM from a scouting and player development background, with one source telling Puma that “Fred would go out of his mind” dealing with an analytically-inclined GM.  Though the elder Wilpon will ultimately make the hire, however, he won’t enter the process until the final list of candidates has been determined, as Jeff Wilpon and Ricco will conduct the first round of interviews.
  • The Twins interviewed hitting coach James Rowson for their managerial vacancy today, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.  The team also has interest in Mark DeRosa and David Ross, a pair of former players-turned-TV analysts who have often been mentioned as potential future managers.  DeRosa could be on the Rangers’ radar as well this winter, and he has interviewed with the Mets and Marlins for past managerial openings in recent years.  None of the trio has any previous pro experience as a manager, as Rowson has previously only worked as a hitting coach (with the Twins and Cubs) and minor league hitting coordinator (with the Cubs and Yankees).
  • The Cubs project to be very deep in starting pitching options in 2019, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, with the obvious caveat that several of those arms will have to rebound from injury-filled or just ineffective seasons.  “We’re not looking to get rid of starting pitchers,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said.  “We’re looking to have as much depth as possible so we can withstand multiple injuries.”  As the team is expected to exercise their club option on Cole Hamels, Chicago will have Hamels, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, swingman Mike Montgomery, Yu Darvish looking to get healthy, Tyler Chatwood looking to improve on his brutal 2018 numbers, and Drew Smyly in his first full season recovered from Tommy John surgery.  It makes for quite a surplus if all those arms are healthy and productive, though that would be a problem the Cubs would certainly be happy to face if it occurs.

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