Cespedes Could’ve Been the MLB MVP

There has been a lot of discussion for Yoenis Cespedes as an NL MVP candidate. I understand the discussion even if I do not believe there is much merit to these discussions. The reason is Cespedes will have only played 36% of the season in the National League. Furthermore, with an NL MVP, you can only take his NL stats into consideration. 

However, Cespedes is neck and neck with Josh Donaldson for the MLB MVP Award right now. The reason why Cespedes’ candidacy improves here is you can now look at the totality of his stats, which are impressive. He is hitting .296/.332/.558. This includes 35 homeruns and 103 RBIs (he’s Top 10 in both categories). His 6.9 WAR ranks fifth in MLB. He’s a viable candidate. 

The only problem is the award doesn’t exist. While there were predecessors to the MVP award, the awards as we know them now started in 1931. At that time, there was a separate award given for the NL and the AL. This has continued until the present day despite the fact that Interleague Play started in 1997. With Bud Selig forcing the Astros into the AL, Interleague Play runs throughout the schedule, by necessity. 

Right now, MLB is the only sport that doesn’t have one unified MVP. In the NFL, a team plays 25% of its schedule against the other conference. In the NBA, a team plays 34% of its games against the other conference. In the NHL, a team plays 34% of its games against the other league. In MLB, it’s only 12% of their games. 

So yes, the other sports play a larger percentage of their games against the other league. However, that’s not the reason why there won’t be one unified MLB MVP. The reason mostly boils down to the fact that there are contract incentives tied to MVP vote results. There is no way the Player’s Association would ever permit fewer awards because that means less bonus money available to its players. 

Honestly, I like the idea of baseball having two separate leagues with their own rules.  I’m not a fan of the DH, but it does create a separation between the NL and AL. That separation is a key reason why I believe MLB can justify having two MVPs. Unfortunately, that means Cespedes won’t win an award he may very well could have earned. 

How Serious is the Cespedes MVP Talk?

I remember Opening Day in 2006. The Mets fans entered this season with a lot of hope, more hope than they’ve had in a long time. Much of it was fueled by their budding young stars, Jose Reyes and David Wright

When Wright hit a sixth inning homerun, I remember the fans starting an MVP chant. I joined in on it. It wasn’t serious. It was just fun. I remember chuckling afterwards. I also remember Mike & Dog blowing a gasket over that and Billy Wagner‘s entrance music. I was reminded of that day when I saw this last night:

These fans seem to be having the same fun we did in 2006. If it’s all in fun, I’m on board. If it’s to show Yoenis Cespedes some love, I’m on board. If the fans are serious, you’ve lost me

Look, I love things that are fun for the fans. However, if this is a real push, you’ve lost me. He’s not the MVP of the National League or the Mets. Instead, he’s an amazing story that can lead the Mets to more amazing stories in the playoffs. 

Maybe then I’ll agree with the MVP sentiments. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the shortstop, Wilmer Flores!

Magic Number is Still 10

With the Mets losing and the Nationals winning, there is no change in the Mets magic number. However, I’ve been having some fun doing these, so I figured I would take another crack at 10. Today, I’m looking at the 2004 season and Joe Hieptas:

  

 

During the Mets 2004 season, when they finished 71-91, they would call up Hieptas in September to become the Mets third string catcher. On October 3, 2004, his dreams would come true, and he would play in a big league game catching one inning in an 8-1 win over the Montreal Expos. Unfortunately, Hieptas did not get a chance to bat making him a modern day Moonlight Graham

Hieptas tried all he could to get back to the majors. He would convert to a pitcher at the Mets suggestion in 2007, but he would never make it back to the big leagues. Much like the 2004 Mets, he never really had a chance, but he still went out there anyway. I know at times it must be frustrating for him, but he can sleep at night knowing he gave it his all. 

Hieptas’ story reminded me of Mets fans’ favorite punching bag, Eric Campbell. I’ve seen a number of things written about him. I believe most of it is unfair and sometimes just wrong. 

He’s a guy who plays hard and hits the ball hard. He’s doing everything he can do to be a big leaguer. It’s just ironic that Campbell sees his salvation in a position Hieptas had to leave to get another shot. Hieptas and Campbell are both reminders that whether a team is good or bad, there is always someone out there trying to make the most of their talent and opportunity. 

So with that lets tip our hats to Joe Hieptas. 

This Loss Seemed Bigger than it Was

Let me start with the preface that the Mets are going to win the NL East, and they may still get homefield advantage in the NLDS against the Dodgers. However, doesn’t September losses to the Marlins just seem bigger?

It just seemed like this was another poor start for Jacob deGrom in what not too long ago seemed like a potential cyGrom season. Tonight, he gave up 10 hits and six earned in only five innings. deGrom is the key to a Mets possible World Series run, and it appears like he’s falling apart at the seams. I checked Twitter during the game, and I found out he really wasn’t:

However, I still felt like Chicken Little, so I checked Baseball Reference. Aha!  deGrom has been worse in the second half. He was a superhuman deGrominator going 9-6 with a 2.14 ERA, 0.924 WHIP, and 8.9 K/9 in the first half. Coming into tonight, he was 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA, 1.043 WHIP, and a 10.4 K/9 in the second half. So yeah, he’s been pretty much the same pitcher in both halves of the season. 

That’s the thing with losses like tonight. You tend to overreact. You make deGrom’s outing out to be worse than it was. You focus on another poor Eric O’Flaherty outing. You miss things like David Wright hitting an RBI double and going 1-2 with two walks, a run scored, and an RBI. You miss Michael Conforto going 2-3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. You grumbled when Bobby Parnell came into the game while neglecting the fact that he had a good, scoreless inning. 

The Mets won eight straight. They were due for a clunker. That was tonight. It seemed like they could do nothing right, including but not limited to Erik Goeddel pulling a Shawn Estes when he seemingly was trying to plunk Tom Koehler as retaliation for him plunking Yoenis Cespedes. This was further compounded with my man, Dario Alvarez limping off the field after allowing a Dee Gordon homerun. 

The Mets just need to put this ugly 9-3 loss behind them. I know I’ll forget about it by tomorrow morning. 

Transparency in My Votes

I’m a card carrying member of the IBWAA, which means I have the opportunity to vote on the following year end awards:

  1. NL & AL MVP
  2. NL & AL Cy Young
  3. NL & AL Rookie of the Year
  4. NL & AL Manager of the Year
  5. NL & AL Reliever

Now, this blog is about two things: the Mets and being a father. With the NL categories, I haven’t made my mind up, but I suspect the Mets could be featured in any of the above categories. With the AL, there obviously will be no Mets featured unless I vote for Yoenis Cespedes for AL MVP. I’m kidding of course. 

I’m going to publish all of my votes and my reasons for my vote, whether I voted for a Met or not in any particular catergory. The reason why is that I obviously have opinions, and I try to back them up. I now have an opportunity to vote my convictions. It’s one thing for me to say Cespedes isn’t the MVP, it’s another for me not to pick him as an MVP. 

As you know, I have a son. I want to tell him to stand behind his convictions. If I can’t do it here, how can I convince him to do it in the future?  Seriously, if I can’t back up my vote for something relatively meaningless like an MVP vote, how can I have that conviction when it’s truly needed?

So with all that in mind, I will make my votes available on the site. Thank you for reading. 

Reading Between the Lines

The New York Times has an excellent piece today on Yoenis Cespedes. There were some things we learned or were reaffirmed:

  1. Cespedes desperately wants to win;
  2. Cespedes was the only OF available for the Mets on the eve of the trade deadline; and 
  3. It’s going to be very expensive to re-sign him. 

In reading the article, there are some things I personally interpreted. 

The Tigers Were Desperate 

The Tigers used Jim Leyland to take advantage of his relationship with Terry Collins to tell him Cespedes was available. I’m not an expert, but I presume trade negotiations are not normally done between a manager and a former manager. 

This was a way to put pressure on the Mets to go get Cespedes, a player with whom the Mets had reservations. Everyone on the planet knew the Mets offense was terrible. Collins must’ve been going crazy filling out a lineup card that included John Mayberry, Jr. in the cleanup spot. I’m sure when Collins found out the Mets could get Cespedes, I’m sure he ran through the Mets offices telling anyone who would listen to get the deal done. 

Again, the Mets were split. Maybe this Leyland-Collins conversation is what finally pushed the Mets to go out and get Cespedes. 

The Mets Have Soured on Juan Lagares

One of the key aspects of the decision to get Cespedes was whether or not he could play CF. This was after the Mets failed attempts to get Carlos Gomez. Remember in that deal, the Mets were pushing to trade the Brewers Juan Lagares and his contract. It’s apparent the Mets didn’t just want a bat; they wanted a CF. 

I’m shocked as the Mets were high on him as long as a year ago when they gave him the extension. Now it seems, they want to move on. That’s a huge fall out of favor for a gold glove CF. 

The Mets Only Saw Cespedes as a Rental

As noted in the article, the Mets knew about the five day clause in Cespedes’ contract. They knew it would be difficult to bring him back to the fold in 2016 and beyond. The article further notes that Alderson doesn’t typically give out contracts to players of Cespedes’ age because Alderson likes his teams to have payroll flexibility. Cespedes will more likely recieve than David Wright‘s $138 million. That really restricts the Mets payroll flexibility when they will have to eventually pay these young pitchers. 

This May Be a Test Case for Future deGrom Negotiations

As luck would have it, Cespedes shares the same agent as Jacob deGrom. Their agent, Roc Nation, and chief negotiator, Brodie Van Wagenen, are known to be tough and to be able to get the maximum value for their clients. The Mets dipped their toes on what it will be like when Robinson Cano was a free agent. The Mets came off as looking like they weren’t serious. 

Whether the Mets eventually re-sign Cespedes or not, they need to put their best foot forward here. It’s possible the Mets will be outbid while still making a real, viable attempt to keep him. Remember there’s always a crazy team out there. Just look at contacts given to Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard

The point here is to look like a serious team that can and will spend money. 

Sandy Alderson Wants to Win Now

There was every reason not to make this trade. Cespedes was not the type of player the Mets sought out under Alderson’s regime: he swings wildly and doesn’t walk enough. The fact that Michael Fulmer could turn out to be the Mets best pitching prospect, current Mets pitchers included. There was dissension within the Mets front office whether to proceed. 

Alderson saw an opportunity, and he went for it. Sure he took advice from his advisors, but he made the final call. It was gutsy and risky. Whether or not you agree with the trade, you have to respect how Alderson made the call. 

There are some other nuances that are there, but these are the main ones in my opinion. In any event, while I disagreed with the trade, I’m loving the Cespedes ride. I’m not so excited about how the offseason will shake out. I’m putting that out of my mind right now. 

I’m just enjoying the ride for now. Lets Go Mets!

Curtis Granderson is the Mets MVP

I’m aware of the MVP talk currently surrounding Yoenis Cespedes. He’s been incredible, but he’s not the MVP of the National League. He can be the Player of the Week. He can be the Player of the Month. He’s not the MVP. He’s not even the Mets MVP. That’s Curtis Granderson

He’s having a terrific season. He leads the league in games played. He has a triple slash line of .285/.365/.455. For traditionalists, he has 23 homers and 64 RBI from the leadoff spot. He has a 4.8 WAR, which is 10th in the NL and fourth among outfielders. He’s also the ready the Mets kept it together long enough for Sandy Alderdon to make the necessary deals. Overall, there is  no Cespedes without Granderson. 

The Mets were once a M*A*S*H* unit with a historically bad offense. Granderson was the only one doing anything. There was talk of moving him out of the leadoff spot, but that was irrelevant because there were never anyone at base. Well, the Mets have players now and Granderson is still contributing:

Without a healthy and productive Granderson, the Mets would win fewer games, and it’s possible they’re not in a position to trade for Cespedes. So, if you love Cespedes, you should love Granderson just as much. 

So overall, Granderson helped the Mets tread water until help arrived. Cespedes is doing all of this in a Mets uniform due to Carlos Gomez and his hip as well as Granderson’s play. That’s why he’s the team MVP this year. 

On another note, he’s a good guy. He was nominated for the 2015 Marvin Miller Award (he’s won before), which is an award that recognizes charitable actions and on the field play. He’s also a nominee this year for the Roberto Clemente Award for his off the field contributions. No, this shouldn’t factor into the fictional 2015 Mets MVP Award, but it is something I wanted to mention. 

So while we all agree Cespedes has been amazing, Granderson is the true Mets MVP. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman, WILMER FLORES!

Mets Magic Number is 10

After losing the 2000 World Series and a rough 2001 season, Steve Phillips decided the Mets needed to shift gear.  He thought the Mets needed to be an offensive based team.  He started with what seemed like the masterful Roberto Alomar trade. He also added Mo Vaughn (don’t trust the narrative, sadly the Mets won this trade) and Jeromy Burnitz via trade. Finally, the Mets signed Roger Cedeno. It was a disaster with the Mets finishing in last place with a 75-86 record. 

All of the aforementioned players underachieved, none more so than Alomar. Part of the narrative behind Alomar’s season was the adjustment to New York and his rift with Rey Ordonez, who would be cast off to Tampa before the season. In his place, the Mets brought on a player approved by Alomar to play SS, today’s magic number 10, Rey Sanchez:

 

In theory, it made sense. You make a superstar like Alomar feel as comfortable as possible to get the most out of him.  In practice, it failed. Alomar would hit .262/.336/.357 in 73 games for the Mets in 2003. With the Mets sitting at 36-47 and 16 games out of first place, the Mets traded Alomar. Sanchez couldn’t save him. 
In fact, Sanchez needed to save himself. Sanchez had his career worst year in 2003. He hit .207/.240/.236. I think the Mets pitchers this year hit better than that. His play was so poor, he would only play in 56 games. Of course, he would leave the Mets and resurrect his career. Unfortunately, he couldn’t resurrect a Mets team that finished 66-95. 

So Sanchez reminds us that there was a time that players didn’t always excel like Yoenis Cespedes when they came to the Mets. It’s also a reminder that it takes a special personality like Juan Uribe to come in and create a new clubhouse culture. Again, we learn how different and special this 2015 season is. 

So with that, we all owe a hat tip to Rey Sanchez.