Alejandro De Aza

Cespedes is a Square Peg

I think it’s fair to say that Mets fans have been disappointed in this offseason. No matter how you look at it, the 2016 Mets are worse the the Mets team that lost the World Series. There are still some moves to make, but I agree with Sandy Alderson when he says Yoenis Cespedes isn’t one of those moves. 

The issue is Cespedes just isn’t a centerfielder. It’s the reason why Alderson said signing Cespedes is trying “to fit a round peg in a square hole.”  Cespedes was great for a stretch, but it was mostly with the bat. Be honest with yourself for a second and think about Cespedes’ tenure with the Mets. What was the great fielding play he made in center?  I tried racking my brain, and I couldn’t come up with one. The only thing I could think of was a throw:

Look, it was an awesome throw. He has an incredible arm. However, the throw was made possible because he played the ball poorly. No, I’m not saying he should’ve caught that.  I’m saying he was in poor position. Go watch it again. The ball splits the outfielders and goes to the wall. While the ball is rolling to the wall, Cespedes is still heading towards left field. Given the curvature if the Citi Field walls, it’s physically improbable that ball bounced towards left. Sure, Cespedes turn it into a remarkable play, but it doesn’t change the fact he almost misplayed a double into a triple. 

Here’s the part where many people will say I’m over-analyzing one play. That’s a fair critique. With that said, let’s look at his defensive metrics. Cespedes had a UZR of -3.2, which rates him as a below average centerfielder in a large outfield. It’s not a one year fluke as Cespedes’ career UZR in center is -12.6, which equates to an average UZR of -3.2 per season. 

If you don’t like UZR, let’s look at Cespedes’ DRS (defensive runs saved). Cespedes was a -17 in center last year!  That’s worse than below average. It’s flat out awful. It was the worst of his career. Typically, Cespedes averages a -4, which is still below average. There’s simply no reason to believe Cespedes is a good centerfielder.  He’s not even an average one. 

Typically, when I raise this argument, I’m told the eye test shows Cespedes is a good centerfielder. Are you sure:

Don’t know about you, but my eyes tell me that was a bad defensive play. He didn’t look like a great centerfielder there. It’s also not nitpicking just one play. Here’s another:

How many good centerfielders allow two Little League homeruns in one year?  The answer is none. By the way, you have to hate his lack of hustle going back for the ball he missed there. 

Ultimately, we remember Cespedes being better than he was defensively in centerfield because he has a canon of an arm, and we were distracted by his bat. It was a fun run with him, but the truth is it was nothing more than an insane hot streak. For his career, Cespedes is a .261/.319/.486 hitter. He has hit .236/.302/.491 at Citi Field. Those aren’t the types of numbers that can cover up bad defense at a position where defense is at a premium. 

Like all Mets fans, I appreciate what Cespedes did. However, let’s be honest his career statistics prove out he’s not a centerfielder. I’m not saying you need to be happy with Alejandro De Aza. I’m saying you need to be honest and admit Cespedes isn’t a centerfielder. He’s a corner outfielder on a team with two terrific incumbent options with Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson

Cespedes is just a square peg that can’t fit the holes the Mets have. 

Keith Coming Back Isn’t a Foregone Conclusion

Perhaps, the Mets biggest free agent remains unsigned. No, not Yoenis Cespedes. I’m of course referring to Keith Hernandez. As Adam Rubin reported, Keith remains unsigned.  Most people expect him to return. I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t. 

We know this isn’t the first time it was rumored that Keith was leaving SNY. There was his infamous 2009 sign-off where he hinted he may not return.  As we know, Keith returned, and he has been a part of the Gary, Keith, and Ron (GKR) booth ever since. So, why is this time any different?  

For starters, we had the Bobby Ojeda situation last year. Every Mets fan seemed to enjoy his work. I believe that was because Ojeda didn’t mince words. He called it as he saw it. Mets fans appreciated it regardless of whether we agreed with him or not. Unsurprisingly, it was reported the issue was money. Ojeda was replaced with Nelson Figueroa, who was presumably cheaper and definitively less critical. 

We don’t currently know what the reason why Keith’s deal hasn’t been completed. We also know this isn’t the first time this offseason it was rumored the GKR booth was breaking up. There were the rumors Ron Darling may be poached by NESN to call Red Sox games. It turns out there was nothing to the rumors as Ron never had any conversations with NESN. I still question how those rumors arose. 

What we do know is the Mets have been penny pinching this offseason. Instead of $12.5 million a year for Daniel Murphy, it’s around $9 million for Neil Walker. Instead of $9 million for Jon Niese, it’s $7.25 million for Bartolo Colon. Free agent Tyler Clippard earned $8.3 million last year, but the Mets did bring back Jerry Blevins for $4 million. Then there’s every Mets fans’ favorite, Cespedes was paid $10.5 million last year, and he remains unsigned (he seems to want double that). In his stead is the $5.75 million Alejandro De Aza. The total savings of those moves is $14.3 million. 

Sure, I didn’t include the $8.25 million to Asdrubal Cabrera. That would reduce savings to $6.05 million. However, I also didn’t include the retirement of Michael Cuddyer, which took $12.5 million off the books. In total, that’s $18.55 million in savings. The Mets have increased revenues and attendance, and yet, they’re still cutting corners. Put aside your feelings on the wisdom of these moves, it’s fair to say the Mets saved money in each mechanation. 

With that in mind, why should we feel the Wilpons will act differently with SNY?  They already did it with Ojeda. Is Keith really immune to cost cutting measures?  I’d argue no, and admittedly fans are partially to blame.

Be honest with yourself. If Keith is gone, will you stop watching Mets games in 2016? Of course not. You’re watching them to see if they can go back to the World Series. As we all know, there is higher attendance figures and higher ratings when a team is good. The Mets could hire Joe Buck and Bobby Bonilla to call the games, and you’d still watch. It may be on mute, but you’d still watch. 

That’s the reason I wouldn’t be surprised if Keith wasn’t re-signed. The Mets are good again. SNY doesn’t need GKR to help drive ratings. They have a good team to do that.  With all that said, I still believe Keith will be back next year. 

However, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he wasn’t. 

Thank You Kirk

There are always players we like more than others. Putting aside Obviously Mets, I liked Kirk Nieuwenhuis more than your average fan. 

Every year, my brother and I have the same argument. I think of Nieuwenhuis as a useful player. He’s a solid defender at three outfield positions. He is a platoon player/fourth outfielder. His problem has always been the fact that he’s overexposed by a poor Mets team needing to play him more frequently than he should. 

Most Mets fans were like my brother. They saw a guy with admittedly underwhelming statistics. At times, Kirk was one of the symbols of what was wrong with the Mets. This season the Mets were so bad offensively that they had to bring back Kirk after he was released by the Angels. The Angels had originally obtained him after the Mets designated him for assignment. 

When he returned, he would become the first Met to hit three home runs in a home game:

He helped send the Mets into the All Star Break with a sweep of the Diamondbacks. He helped the Mets stay within two games of the Nationals. This allowed the Mets to make some deadline moves to help overtake the Nationals. He then put the final nail in the 2015 Nationals coffin:

Kirk went from cast away to afterthought to a contributor. He would make the post season roster. Unfortunately, he won’t be on the roster next year to help the Mets defend their National League title. A title he helped the Mets obtain. 

No, Kirk is now a Brewer. He was put on waivers to make room for Alejandro De Aza. I’d prefer the Mets to waive someone else. I’d like Kirk to remain with the Mets. This time though the Mets will lose a homegrown player to the Nationals. There’s no hip issues stopping this move. None. Unlike Wilmer Flores, Kirk is now an ex-Met.

Kirk will never be forgotten. He’s the answer to a trivia question. I’ll remember him more for that pinch hit homerun.  I’ll remember him more for how hard he played. I’ll always appreciate him for what he did with the Mets. 

Thank you Kirk. 

Cespedes is Over

In some ways it’s ironic that Festivus is the first full day in which the Mets fans lost all hope for the continuation of Cespedes. It all started with this:

Now, it unofficially ends with the Mets signing Alejandro De Aza. Personally, I thought the Mets didn’t have room anymore for Yoenis Cespedes. I didn’t like the trade that brought him here. But boy oh boy did I enjoy the ride. 

We can all debate whether Cespedes was the reason the Mets won the NL East. Undoubtedly, he was a huge help to the cause. Furthermore, he added fun and excitement to a season which was frustrating and at times hard to watch. Seemingly overnight the Mets went from a team barely scoring any runs to a high powered offense. That offense was powered by La Potencia

If nothing else, Cespedes made the Mets fun to watch with plays like these:

Also, let’s not forget the arm sleeve and the parakeet:

  
Whatever you want to say about Cespedes, you have to admit he brought energy to the team and the fanbase.  He was fun to watch. He was the type of player you had to stop to watch. At any moment, he could unleash a laser from the outfield to nail a runner, or he could hit one out of the park in the blink of an eye. 

When Cespedes was at his best, there were none like him. He made the game fun. He made the game exciting. I’m sincerely going to miss that. I appreciate all he did in his short time in Queens. He deserves the standing ovations when he returns. He will deserve the invitations back to Citi Field when the Mets celebrate big events. While Cespedes was only a Met for three months, he left his mark here. I wish him the best of luck.

Thank you for your time here Cespedes. 

Get Ready to Get Really Angry Mets Fans

After the Mets signed Alejandro De Aza, the Mets fans realized the team was breaking its promises, and they became angry. They came to the realization that the team was not going to increase payroll, at least not significantly, after attendance increased. 

Right now, I could remind everyone of the Mets great starting pitching in an attempt to calm everyone down. However, I don’t think it’s that time. Honestly, the fans need to be angry with the team lying to them. The team needs to answer questions why ticket prices increased while the payroll was decreased. The only way I truly know how to make that happen is to tell everyone the Mets punted on Yoenis Cespedes

Cespedes is projected to receive a contract around $21.5 million per year. Jason Heyward signed a deal worth approximately $23 million a year. If you assume Heyward was the top free agent, the $21.5 million is a good approximation. 

We know Michael Cuddyer. We don’t know if he received a buyout. He was due to make $12.5 million. De Aza just signed for $5.75 million, and he can earn up to $1.25 million in incentives. That’s potentially $7 million. Collectively, that’s potentially $19.5 million. 

That’s right. The De Aza signing really did cost the Mets Cespedes. The money saved in the series of transactions starting with the Neil Walker trade and Cuddyer retirement wasn’t used to get the power bat the Mets need. 

Yes, I don’t think the Mets should re-sign him. However, I do think they should’ve used the money to improve the roster. They haven’t done that. For me, I thought the Mets should’ve created a lockdown bullpen while bringing back Daniel Murphy. For others, it’s Cespedes. 

For the Mets, it was pocketing the money while bringing on De Aza. 

De Aza That Broke the Mets Fans’ Backs

Personally, I don’t have a problem with Alejandro De Aza as the Mets fourth outfielder and/or a platoon option for Juan Lagares. I didn’t trust Denard Span‘s ability to return to form. I never thought Gerardo Parra would come to the Mets to accept a reduced role. In a vacuum, I thought the move made sense. 

Apparently, I was the only one, and you know what?  I completely understand. For many Mets fans the De Aza signing was a signal that the Mets weren’t spending money. It meant the Mets weren’t going to bring in Span, who was a popular free agent target amongst fans. It meant the Mets weren’t going to bring back fan favorite Yoenis Cespedes. It meant the Mets were going to pocket all that playoff money

It showed the Mets were not going to keep their promise that payroll would increase if attendance increased. Well attendance and revenues increased, so what happened:

This means the Mets payroll is at or near the 2015 Opening Day payroll. That’s less than the Mets payroll at the end of the 2015 season. In essence, attendance increased and PAYROLL DECREASED!  

It’s unacceptable, especially when you consider the Mets needed to improve a team that lost the World Series. They’re now worse than that team. It’s not right, and frankly it’s unfair to the fans. 

One thing that’s funny is I had some on ask me why I wasn’t more upset about the De Aza signing. It’s simple. The Mets already signaled they weren’t going to spend this offseason with the Neil Walker trade. It was a cheap move that saved a couple of million. 

Yes, Walker’s and Jon Niese‘s 2016 salaries are effectively a wash. However, the Mets needed to add Bartolo Colon to take Niese’s spot in the rotation for $7.25 million. The Mets might’ve been able to sign Daniel Murphy for an average annual value of $12 million. That’s a $4.75 million difference. By saving that money, the Mets lost a trade chip in Niese, which is important since the Mets have lost a lot of pitching over the past year. They also let everyone know they’re saving money. It’s just now confirmed the cost savings were for the Wilpons and not for a big payroll acquisition. 

Overall, the Walker trade signaled this was coming. I was angry when that trade happened. I’m not going to get angry again over the same issue. I’m not going to get angry over a signing that makes some sense. Don’t get me wrong. Like you, I’m angry.

It’s just that I’ve been angry much longer than you have.