Last year, Yoenis Cespedes was activated after spending over two months on the Disabled List seemingly for the sole purpose of serving as a DH in a post All-Star Game series against the Yankees. A still clearly hobbled Cespedes came up in the top of the fourth and hit a home run.
In that game and in that moment, the well under .500 Mets had the most juice they had since, well, Cespedes landed on the Disabled List. At that time, the Mets were still over .500 and a viable contender in the division. In his time with the Mets, that is the way it has gone with Cespedes.
We first saw it in 2015. After the Mets acquired him at the trade deadline, Cespedes played the best baseball he ever played in his life. While many pinpoint the Cespedes acquisition as the point in which the Mets become contenders, Cespedes was more than that. Cespedes was the player who made the Mets interesting.
Cespedes hit prolific home runs, and when he hit them, he would occasionally have equally prolific bat flips. On the bases and in the field, when he turned on the jets, there were few quicker than him. When there was a chance to nail a base runner looking to get that extra base, Cespedes would unleash a laser. With the Mets, he was every bit the five tool player teams covet.
But, he was more than that. Cespedes was the player you had to watch. When he was up at the plate, you needed to see what he would. When the ball was hit to him, you needed to see if the base runner dared challenge him. When Cespedes was on the field, he not only made the Mets better, he made them more interesting.
He made them interesting with the antics. He had his car collection. There was his sending out clubhouse attendants to purchase the right waffle irons. He owned a ranch and used his money to purchase animals at state fairs. He loved playing golf and talked about how it helped his baseball swing.
With all due respect to the current Mets players, they don’t rise to the level of Cespedes in terms of attracting attention and intrigue. Jacob deGrom‘s starts came close last year. Noah Syndergaard does try by doing different things like his battles with Mr. Met and actually having ridden a horse next to Cespedes, but it’s just not the same. Pete Alonso does hit the tape measure shots, but he does not have the same flair Cespedes had.
Ultimately, when Cespedes underwent double heel surgery and now broke his ankle the Mets lost something. No, not the ability to sell him as a trade deadline “acquisition.” Rather, they lost just being that much more interesting and entertaining. If he was healthy, they did lose the chance to be better.
It’s a real shame because no matter what you thought of Cespedes, he did make the Mets more fun and interesting. We can only hope his rehabilitation from his surgery and broken ankle allows him to be that player in 2020.
Its fitting that Matt Harvey is taking the mound today with the Mets having an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot. His absence last year was presumed to be a reason why the Mets didn’t go all out last year to try to get into the playoffs.
With Harvey healthy, along with the emergence of Jacob deGrom last year and Noah Syndergaard this year, the Mets will be going to the playoffs. No matter what you think of Harvey, and how everything has gone down, you can’t deny the wonderful season he’s had.
In his first post-Tommy John season, he’s gone 12-7 with a 2.80 ERA, 171 strikeouts (8.7 per nine), and a 1.019 WHIP in 176.2 innings. Keep in mind that today he’s going over 180 with a other start in the season before the playoffs. If the Mets go to the World Series, he may very well go over the 200-215 “loose cap” Sandy Alderdon wanted.
In any event, Harvey gave the Mets their first glimmer of hope in 2013. His absence was a dark cloud over the 2014 season. His return was a big part of the 2015 turn around. After last year, he promised the playoffs to Terry Collins:
Terry Collins said after the game @MattHarvey33 came up to him & said "We're going to do it next year." Terry added "Matt doesn't lie to me"
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 28, 2014
Harvey can now make good on that promise today. With his hard work and dedication, Harvey has earned this. There’s no one I would rather have on that mound to start the game.
Lets Go Mets!