At long last, the New York Mets have reported for Spring Training. With that comes stories you’d expect about players being in the best shape of their lives (Daniel Vogelbach looks great) and pitchers tinkering with their pitches (Adam Ottavino added movement to his sinker, according to Pete Alonso). Here’s one you definitely didn’t expect:
Phil Regan is suing Sterling Mets LP (the former majority owners) and Brodie Van Wagenen (former general manager) for age discrimination
During the 2019 season, Dave Eiland got fired and Regan stepped in as interim pitching coach. He was not retained in the offseason, and he alleges that the only reason Van Wagenen let him go was to hire someone younger (Regan was 82 at the time). That someone younger turned out to be Jeremy Hefner, who has become one of the most respected pitching coaches in the game in the meantime.
If I had to guess, I’d say that letting Regan go was more about his coaching philosophies than his age. He comes from a generation that is not analytically or technologically inclined, which is problematic when you coach in an increasingly analytic and technological sport. The blunt truth is that he probably wasn’t fulfilling the requirements of the pitching coach position in today’s game. I have a hard time believing he was setting up Rapsodos and scrolling through Baseball Savant... at 82 years old, he had to know that his best days of coaching were behind him.
I don’t know what Regan’s goal is through this lawsuit. Is it just money? Or is he still trying to coach at 86 years old? The end goal wasn’t stated in the articles I read. All it says is that “the hurt from the conversation he had with Van Wagenen continues to haunt him to this day.” That sounds like lawyer-created drama to me, especially since that conversation was four years ago, but he is going through with the lawsuit, so there are obviously some hurt feelings.
Back to normal spring training stories…
Mark Vientos is willing to play anywhere
Abbey Mastracco of the NY Daily News reported that Mark Vientos arrived at Spring Training with three distinct gloves - third base, first base, and left field. He has the most experience playing third base, but he’s blocked there by Bretty Baty and he’s not considered a good defender there anyway. He’s played a lot of first in the minors over the last couple of years, but he’s blocked there by Pete Alonso. He’s played a little left field in the minors too, but he didn’t get rave reviews there either.
With all that said, there is value in versatility. He’s hoping to make the Opening Day roster, and the ability to play three positions and hit for power could help him. I still think he’s most likely destined for Triple-A Syracuse, but if someone gets hurt or if the Mets decide to part ways with Darin Ruf early in the season, Vientos could get called up sooner than later.