Opinion: Trevor Bauer happy with Dodgers, and Mets happy without Bauer

PHOENIX — Trevor Bauer stood behind the mound for several moments Monday afternoon at Camelback Ranch, stepped on the pitcher’s rubber, kicked the dirt with his left foot and at 1:06 p.m. MT threw his first pitch as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

One hour later, he was showing up to his press conference bringing his own video camera and microphone, wearing a T-shirt that read, “My hobby is getting better."

And proceeded to say that he’s in the prime of his career, vowing to remain one of the elite pitchers in all of baseball, and proving to everyone that his 2020 National League Cy Young award in a shortened season was no fluke.

It was a typical day in the life of Bauer. Earlier New York Mets president Sandy Alderson said that the Mets may be better off that Bauer chose the Dodgers over the Mets, with the Dodgers countering in the afternoon that they’re grateful they spent $102 million on him.

Trevor Bauer pitched two scoreless innings in his first spring training appearance of the Dodgers. (Photo: Ross D. Franklin, AP)

The Mets say they were wary of Bauer’s strong but sometimes poloarzing presence on social media, and considering that Mets pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman have recently feuded with Bauer on Twitter, Alderson wondered aloud if perhaps it could have been a problem in New York.

“I’m not here to say, wow, we dodged a bullet," Alderson said. “I’m here to say we made an effort. We thought he would help our team. We’re in a good spot. I’m happy with the way the offseason went generally, and not unhappy about losing out on Bauer or others.

“I think that he would have added a dimension to our team, maybe a third or fourth dimension. Hard to know how that would have turned out. But we thought we could manage it. And maybe that was naive. We’ll see."

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It’s early, of course, but the Dodgers and Bauer say everything is going smooth, with the Dodgers not trying to stifle Bauer’s personality, and Bauer saying he wants to develop leadership skills.

“You always get better," Bauer said. “Leadership is a big one that I'm that I'm working on with young guys, and companies outside, trying to lead people."

Certainly, if Bauer performs the way he did in his Cactus League debut against the Colorado Rockies, he’ll have a whole lot of fellas in the Dodgers’ clubhouse letting him lead the way.

Bauer, throwing primarily a 92 mph to 94 mph fastball in the first inning, and a 78 mph to 81 mph curveball in the second inning, gave up a leadoff single to open the game, and retired the next six batters in his two-inning performance. He threw 21 of his 28 pitches for strikes, saying his command is exactly where he it to be wanted in the first start of the spring.

It was just a glimpse of what Bauer expects to show the Dodgers this year and beyond, leading them to another World Series title and a few more Cy Young awards.

“I know what kind of pitcher I am,’’ Bauer said. “I know how hard I work. How much knowledge I’ve amassed. How far I’ve come.

“If I have something to prove, it’s to myself, always. I hold myself to a much higher standard that anyone else hold me to.’’

So go ahead, he says, bring up his career 3.90 ERA. Talk about the fact that he faced teams with winning records only twice during last year’s 60-game schedule. Talk about his contract, making him the highest-paid player in baseball this year and in 2022.

He’s not going to apologize for winning the Cy Young, the contract or anything else on the baseball field.

“People can say what they want to say,’’ he said. “It doen’t really matter. Everybody plays the same amount of games. We showed up last year under an agreed upon set of rules, and you crowned the best under those rules.

“Just like people say the Dodgers’ World Series wasn’t legitimate. Everyone had the same opportunity. In a given year, under the same set of rules, the Dodgers were the best team last year.

“Just as I was the best pitcher in the National League last year."

And he expects to be even better.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says he loves Bauer’s curiosity, and pitchers like three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw constantly pick his brain, not interfering with his personality.

“You know what you’re getting and so I don’t really worry about it. It doesn’t bother me," Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts told reporters. “He goes out there and competes, he gets wins and those types of things. I don’t know what more you can ask for. You know what you’re getting.

“He’s got to be Trevor Bauer, you can’t try and turn him into someone else.”

Maybe the Mets would have echoed the same sentiments if Bauer had signed with them.

“We understood what the risks were associated with some of the social media stuff,’’ Alderson said. “We did spend a lot of time on it and felt that, look, we weren’t being naive. We did a lot of homework on his social media. We had internal discussions, talking about his social media presence, how that might differ from others and their social media presence, whether that presence was directed towards a particular group of people or was generally aggressive. We went through a lot of that.

“That’s not to say there still weren’t risks. We talked extensively to the agent. We talked about what would be necessary at the outset, about in taking responsibility for what had happened in the past, and taking some responsibility for what might happen in the future.

“It’s not foolproof. We weren’t being naïve in that, 'OK, we turn this guy around on a dime and turn him into something that that he wasn’t before.’

“We felt we could manage it. It’s possible we wouldn’t be able to, but at this point, we don’t have to worry about it.’’

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