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ATLANTA — The Mets bats have gone cold and they’re running out of time to heat them up.
They failed to capitalize on a late rally Friday night in a 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves. They needed a late rally to beat the Miami Marlins on Wednesday and they got no rallies in the first game of that series.
But this trend goes back even further. A shutout in Milwaukee last week. A sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs earlier in September and only five runs over three games against the Washington Nationals.
Overall, the numbers haven’t been terrible. The Mets actually own the second-highest OPS in the league over the month of September (.770). But there have been some key losses in which the offense didn’t really show up, much like the one Friday night at Truist Park.
The question is whether or not this is indicative of what’s to come in the last five games of the season and in the postseason. Will it cost them the NL East and force them into a Wild Card round?
The problems started when Starling Marte was injured earlier this month. The All-Star outfielder was hitting .292 this season with an .814 OPS and 16 home runs before he got hurt. But Marte is not exactly the engine that makes the Mets offense go. Missing one player like that shouldn’t crater the rest of the offense.
“Without Starling here, we have to force some things we might not normally have to,” manager Buck Showalter said.
The lack of production at the DH position doesn’t help either. With the Mets facing two right-handers this weekend we can probably expect to see Daniel Vogelbach back in the lineup, but he’s had some questionable at-bats as of late. Darin Ruf was placed on the injured list with a neck strain Friday and his struggles have been magnified as the team’s offensive woes have continued.
The Mets don’t seem to have an answer as to why Ruf, who was brought in to hit against left-handed pitching, has been so bad in New York (.152 with a .413 OPS).
“Could be a number of variables,” general manager Billy Eppler said Friday at Truist Park. “Could be timing, could be something material in the swing. Could be a small sample, could be a number of things. So it’s up to us to uncover and that’s some of the questions that we are asking.”
Francisco Alvarez was called up to take Ruf’s spot on the roster. The 20-year-old catcher is one of the top prospects in baseball, even ranked No. 1 overall by MLB Pipeline, and has been absolutely crushing left-handed pitching in Triple-A. He wasn’t the hero the Mets needed Friday night, but they needed much more than a rookie making his debut to come through with so much on the line.
Alvarez faced Kenley Jansen in a key moment in the ninth, with the bases loaded and one out. He struck out on three pitches — all cutters — fouling one off and swinging through two of them. This might not be the same Jansen as five years ago, but that cutter still cuts.
Eppler and Showalter talked about not overwhelming him in his major league debut, but they kept him in because they liked the matchup against Jansen. Showalter called Jansen a “neutral split,” meaning the right-hander has similar results against right- and left-handed hitters, but lefties have had a better results against him this season (left-handed hitters have a .725 OPS against Jansen, while right-handers have a .550 OPS).
“He’s getting close, we thought, on some balls and he’ll learn from it,” Showalter said. “He’s an impressive young man we’re glad he’s on our side.”
Zack Britton’s comeback has fallen short. The left-hander who exited Friday night’s game with “arm fatigue” was placed on the injured list Saturday and likely will not pitch for the Yankees again. The 34-year-old had hoped to come back from 2021 Tommy John surgery to pitch in the postseason.
“I think basically it’s just something that we’re kind of running out of time here,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, “and having a little bit of fatigue last night, it’s like one of those things you don’t want to power through and reach for more and then do some damage as you’re coming back.
“But he’s in a good spot heading into the offseason.”
Britton had the updated version of Tommy John surgery, which places a protective brace or sleeve around the ulnar collateral ligament. That had him and the Yankees hoping he could make a faster comeback. He made his big league debut this season on Sept. 24, just 12 and a half months after the surgery.
‘I’m just appreciative of how hard he’s worked to get to this point and to give himself a chance,” Boone said. “The rehab is going really well. I feel like a lot of things are lined up. It’s just that final sharpness and at this point in the season just got up against it there. But, yeah, he worked his tail off to put himself in this position and give himself an opportunity and certainly admire that.”
Britton is in the final year of his four-year, $53 million deal with the Yankees. An elite closer with the Orioles, the Yankees acquired him at the trade deadline in 2018. Britton made 136 appearances for the Bombers, mostly setting up for Aroldis Chapman, and pitched to a 2.75 ERA with 15 saves.
Britton made it very clear when he returned that he was not worried about pitching to prove he was healthy for another contract.
“I mean it doesn’t impact my future. I’m healthy. I know if I’m healthy, the future for me will be fine. The reason why I kind of push things is because I want to pitch this year for this team to help them win and for no other reason,” Britton said when he returned. “So there’s no benefit for me personally, other than the fact that maybe I can have an impact on a World Series championship team. That’s really the only goal for me at this stage of my career. I’ve gotten my contract. I am 34 years old. My reasons are much different now than when I was younger. I want [a] ring, that’s why I pushed this hard to come back and be an option for the team.”
With Clay Holmes down because of rotator cuff inflammation, a doubleheader on Tuesday and rain putting the Yankees final two games of the regular season at Yankee Stadium in doubt, the Bombers just needed an arm. They called up Jacob Barnes, a veteran of parts of seven seasons in the big leagues with the Brewers, Royals, Mets, Angels and Tigers and a 6.10 ERA this season.
“He’s got good stuff. Good arm,” Boone said. “We just wanted that coverage today, with what we’re entering into as far as doubleheaders coming up and some roster situations.”
Frankie Montas was on the field throwing for the first time since he was shut down earlier this month. The right-hander played a very limited catch at about 25 to 40 feet, another indication that he will not be pitching at least in the first round of the playoffs.
And when he does pitch in the playoffs, it very well could be out of the bullpen, Boone confirmed Saturday.
“I don’t know about the Division Series. I don’t know if that’s gonna be in play,” Boone said when asked if there was enough time to ramp him back up. “We feel like there’s time to where he could get to a point where he could be an option for us. Maybe not in the Division Series, but more likely beyond.”
Montas is on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, the same issue that had him miss time in Oakland before the Yankees traded for him. The Bombers targeted Montas specifically for the playoff with his past success against potential playoff foes the Astros and Rays. He struggled once he got here, however. Montas has a 6.35 ERA in eight starts with the Bombers.
The Yankees dealt minor league pitching prospects Luis Medina and Ken Waldichuk along with J.P. Sears, who had already contributed to the big league club, for Montas and reliever Lou Trivino (who coincidentally is the only one of the Yankees’ deadline acquisitions who has not been injured).
The Gophers had a big, surprise absence during its Homecoming game against Purdue on Saturday.
Star running back Mo Ibrahim was dressed in uniform and participated in some of pregame warmups but did not play against the Boilermakers at Huntington Bank Stadium. Instead, Trey Potts and Bryce Williams stepped into bigger roles.
Ibrahim appeared to injure his left ankle during the 34-7 win over Michigan State last week, but returned to the game in East Lansing, Mich. He also practiced during the week, head coach P.J. Fleck said on KFXN-FM show Tuesday.
Ibrahim had 89 carries for 567 yards and eight touchdowns in four games this season.
This has been a crazy year for the economy and markets, with inflation rising as the highest rate in 40 years. But as we advise our clients, you need to control what you can control and forget everything else. By sticking to a well-conceived plan, you remove a lot of market-related stress from your decision making. This quarter we’re focusing on tips for increasing your savings, planning for long-term care and giving to charity.
INCREASING YOUR SAVINGS
The IRS usually announces changes to tax brackets, 401(k) plan contribution limits, estate- and gift-tax thresholds and Social Security payouts in mid-October. Since these limits are indexed to inflation, the adjustments could be the biggest in decades. They’ll affect your 2023 taxes in the following areas:
Lower tax liability. An odd gift of inflation may actually be lower tax bills. Most Americans’ income will be taxed at lower rates next year, when the thresholds for income-tax brackets and the standard deduction will be raised. The top federal income-tax bracket could climb $50,000 for married couples next year. The 37% bracket may kick in at $693,750 (couples) and $578,125 (individuals). Consensus estimates are that other tax-bracket break points will rise about 7% from 2022 levels, more than double the previous year’s increase. Unless you expect your wages to rise significantly higher than inflation, you may pay less in taxes for 2023, and be able to sock away more savings.
Retirement plan contributions. Maximum contribution amounts for a traditional or Roth IRA are expected to increase to $6,500 for 2023, up from $6,000 (where they’ve been stuck since 2019). According to benefits consultant Milliman, maximum contribution amount for a 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan could rise from $20,500 this year to $22,500 in 2023, with catch-up contributions for workers aged 50+ bumping up from $6,500 to at least $7,500. This is a good time to consider increasing your deferrals during your company’s open enrollment season, especially if you’re not already taking advantage of the maximum employer matching contribution.
Estate and gift taxes. Lifetime estate and gift-tax thresholds could increase next year. An individual’s federal estate-tax exclusion amount may increase from $12.06 million this year to $12.92 million in 2023 (nearly $26 million for couples, allowing them to shelter nearly $2 million more from estate and gift taxes). In addition, the annual limit on tax-free gifts could rise from $16,000 to $17,000. This could benefit wealthy families, who will be able to give away more without gift or estate tax consequences.
Social Security COLA. Social Security is likely to see the biggest increase in benefits payouts from mandated cost-of-living adjustments (COLA). Social Security payouts are expected to be 8.7% higher in 2023 — the largest bump in benefits in decades.
PLANNING FOR LONG-TERM CARE
November is National Long-Term Care Awareness Month. About 60% of us, at some point in our lives, will need some help with things like getting dressed, driving to appointments or making meals. Fully 78% of adults receiving care at home rely on family and friends as their only source of care and the average caregiver is a 46-year-old woman, who spends 21 hours a week caring for a loved one.
Many people think Medicare or Medicaid will pick up the tab for this, but this isn’t the case. That’s why considering the possibility of needing long-term care (LTC) at some point in your life is a key element of financial planning. LTC insurance (LTCI) is designed to provide funds for you to live on when you’re not able to care for yourself. More specifically, LTCI may help keep you from having to go into a nursing home. Indeed, some policies allow you to pay a family member to provide care in your home, giving you more control and choice over the type of care you wish to receive.
There are many types of policies, designed for multiple purposes, such as supplementing your retirement, paying for in-home or nursing home care, providing a death benefit to your loved ones. One caveat: LTCI tends to be expensive and complicated. Talk to a financial adviser before you buy.
GIFTING/GIVING TO CHARITY
As the end of the year approaches, you may want to share your good fortune with the people and causes you care about. Giving cash is your simplest option. However, if you are giving to family members, you need to consider tax implications. Lifetime exemptions are higher than they have ever been, but if future tax laws reduce that exemption amount, it could affect your gifting plans.
Gifts to charity. You can give cash to charities and still claim a deduction. For any gifts over $250, you must have a written acknowledgement in order to earn a deduction. You also have the option to gift appreciated securities that may have some imbedded long-term cap gains. You can donate these shares to a nonprofit and you and the charity will both avoid paying a capital gains tax. But if you are thinking about gifting stocks that have lost money, it might be smarter to sell them and donate the cash.
Donor Advised Fund (DAF). A DAF is a good option if you know you want to give to a 501(c)(3) charity, but aren’t sure which one, or want to make a gift anonymously. You get an immediate tax deduction for any assets you transfer to the fund, and you free your estate of any cap gains those assets have accumulated or will accumulate in the future.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Wealth Enhancement Group and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or tax services. Please consult your legal advisor or tax advisor regarding your specific situation.
Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb are financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings. Email Bruce and Peg at [email protected] Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Wealth Enhancement Group and Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services are separate entities from LPL Financial.
Amazon launches epic sale with up to 59% off Echo, Fire TV, Fire Tablets and more – CNET – ApparelGeek
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Jared Di Pane
Jared DiPane is Commerce @ CNET’s editor, helping find and deliver all the best deals on the products you love and some you’ve never heard of. Previously, he managed content and commerce initiatives for Digital Trends, Mobile Nations and Future PLC. When he’s not working, he’s probably spending time with his family, building something, or analyzing his next purchase.
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We are just over a week away from Amazon Prime Early Access Sale, but that hasn’t stopped the company from launching a huge sale with up to 59% off a bunch of its best hardware. Amazon recently hosted an event where it announced a bunch of new devices like Fire TVs, Kindle Scribe and more, but they are not yet available. If you’re looking to get your hands on some Amazon devices like the Echo, Fire TV, Ring Doorbell and more, now’s your chance to save big.
With this sale, you can get some of the best prices of the year on Amazon’s Fire TVs, Fire tablets, Echo hardware, and more.
The sale covers a lot of devices, so you’re going to want to take a few minutes and sort through them all to see which ones interest you the most. As we learned at its event, Amazon will be bringing some of its new features, such as Eero support, to older devices such as the 4th Gen Echo Dot, which makes these discounts even better. We’ve highlighted some of our favorite deals from the sale below, so be sure to check them out now.