Yoenis Cespedes

Was It Worth The 13 Innings?

One thing that has become abundantly clear about Yoenis Cespedes in his short time with the Mets is he is prone to leg issues.  It’s really not any fault of his own.  He does all he can do each and every offseason to address it.  After a 2016 season where he dealt with a quad injury, he changed things up, and he went heavy on the Barwis Method.  Unfortuantely, it didn’t prevent him from having any leg issues this season.

It may be hard for Mets fans to admit, but Cespedes is far from invincible.  The player that dominated in August 2015 could go down any minute with a leg issue.  Knowing that, it should be incumbent upon the Mets, who are obviously aware of the issue, to act with precaution with Cespedes.  That goes double when you consider Cespedes could very well be the most important player on this team.

Last year, Cespedes was hobbled by the quad.  The Mets response to his injury was for him to skip the All Star Game.  He did not play in a game for a stretch of 9 games.  He returned to the lineup and hit a very un-Cespedes like .205/.302/.318 in 14 games before the team finally acknowledged he had to go on the disabled list.  Essentially, the Mets messed around trying to get the bare minimum from Cespedes for about a month before they realized the leg injury wasn’t going to get any better, and he wasn’t going to be able to perform to the normal Cespedes standards.

AFTER THAT, you would think the Mets would treat Cespedes’ leg injury different this year.  They saw how it affected the way he played last year.  The disabled list has gone from 15 to 10 games meaning Cespedes could have been available five games sooner this year.  Before Thursday’s game, he was winching while taking batting practice.  Despite this, the Mets ran him out on the field.  Putting it plainly, it was a dumb decision.

We all know what happened from there.  Cespedes hit an opposite field double, and he aggravated his injury approaching second base.  The best hitter on a team struggling offensively had to be helped off the field.  At this point, no one knows when, or even if, he will return.  All of this so Cespedes could play 13 innings after the Mets discovered he had a hamstring injury.

Every game Cespedes is unavailable to play is another game the Mets offense is compromised.  More than any other player, the Mets needed to protect Cespedes, and they didn’t.  What is infuriating is Terry Collins‘ comments after the game, where he said, “He did all the things that were required to get in the lineup.  It just happens. It’s easy to say you should have put him on the DL. Well you know what? Every time you turn around for every little thing, if you keep putting guys on the DL, we can’t run anybody out there.”  (Mike Puma, New York Post).

I’m not sure how a player who winces while swinging the bat during batting practice “did all the things required to get in the lineup.”  At this point, it is fair to question is all that was necessary for Cespedes to get into the lineup was his ability to put on the correct uniform combination for the day.

And yes, when you have injured players, you put them on the disabled list.  Certainly, you protect someone like Cespedes who is vitally important to your team.  We saw it just last year!  When Cespedes has an injury like this to his legs, he’s compromised as a hitter.  You’re not getting Cespedes out there.  It’s an unfortunate truth.  You’d be better off letting him sit 10 games than allowing what happened yesterday to happen.  Because the Mets did this, they got 13 innings out of Cespedes, which in turn might have cost them a couple of months for Cespedes.

Once again, this team has completely botched an injury situation.  This is one everyone.  It’s on Cespedes for not asking out of the lineup.  It’s on Collins for putting him in the lineup.  It’s on Ray Ramirez for being Ray Ramirez.  It’s on Sandy Alderson, who is ultimately the one responsible in these situations.  Because none of these people made the right decision, the Mets are in real trouble now.  And all they got in return for this unnecessary risk was 13 innings.

Trivia Friday – Games Out of the Division

With the injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, Asdrubal CabreraTravis d’Arnaud, Wilmer FloresSeth Lugoand Steven Matz, the Mets have not jumped out of the gate quite like we all expected.  Entering this three game set with the Nationals, the Mets are 5.5 games out in the division.  If they suffer another sweep at the hands of Daniel Murphy and the Nationals, they will fall to 8.5 games out.

And yet, this is not the worst the Mets have ever had it.  In each of the six times they have won the division, they have trailed at some point in the season.  There are multiple occasions where the Mets trailed in the division by double digit games.  Can you name each deficit overcome by the Mets when they have won the division?  Good luck!


Season Is On The Brink

On any given day, any of the following would have been the worst thing to happen to the Mets.  First, there was the announcement Noah Syndergaard needed to have his start skipped with bicep issues that radiate up to his pitching shoulder.  Then Matt Harvey goes out in his place, doesn’t have his typical velocity, and he can’t get out of the fifth inning.  Just when you thought things couldn’t go any worse, Yoenis Cespedes had to be helped off the field in the fourth inning after hitting a lead-off double.

Anything else that happened today didn’t matter because the Mets just might’ve seen their season flash before their eyes.  

It doesn’t matter that a poor decision not to throw home in the second inning seemed to finally wake up Jose Reyes who would subsequently nail two runners at home and hit a home run. It doesn’t matter Neil Walker seemed to wake up offensively. It doesn’t even matter that Jay Bruce continues to hit well. 

What matters is the Mets are faced with the very real prospect of losing Syndergaard and Cespedes for a long time. It also matters that Harvey took a big step back from the pitcher who was gradually getting stronger to start the year. Hopefully, there’s nothing wrong with him. The way things are going with the Mets right now, you shouldn’t have much hope. 

Overall, the offense isn’t hitting, and the pitching is getting further compromised. 

With all the talk about how the Mets fleeced the Blue Jays, R.A. Dickey must’ve smiled with this win. Not only was he able to pitch on a game Syndergaard wasn’t, but Travis d’Arnaud was also 0-2 with a strikeout against him. By the way, Wuilmer Becerra is coming off offseason shoulder surgery and has yet to play the field this year. 

Yes, you do that trade 279,684,800,441,574,796 times out of 100, but at least in this game Dickey felt vindicated. He must have felt further vindicated with the Braves leaping the Mets in the standings leaving the Mets in last place. Unless things start to change, it’s hard to argue the Mets won’t stay there for a while. 

Game Notes: Eric O’Flaherty pitched a scoreless inning and has not allowed a hit to the Mets since his first disastrous outing. The Mets have not had a lead in over 56 innings. They have no lost 10 of their last 11. 

Gsellman, Mets Needed Another Day Off

Robert Gsellman was initially supposed to be skipped tonight so Noah Syndergaard could pitch. The Mets later announced the announcement was a mistake, and Gsellman would indeed get the start. 

Someone forgot to tell Gsellman. 

In a long first inning, Gsellman did not get a batter out until he faced Dansby Swanson, the eighth batter in the lineup. At that point, the Braves were already up 5-0. 

In that brutal first inning, Gsellman allowed walks to Ender Inciarte (lead-off) and Freddie Freeman. Right-handed batters Brandon PhillipsMatt Kemp, and Tyler Flowers (double) took advantage of Gsellman living on the outside corner by going opposite field for their hits. 

The defense wasn’t much help either. Gsellman pulled Jay Bruce way off the bag on an Adonis Garcia dribbler. Yoenis Cespedes had a chance to nail Freeman at the plate on a bad send by Ron Washington, but Cespedes’ throw was well up the third base line. 

Before any of this, Inciarte and Phillips nearly pulled off a double steal. Travis d’Arnaud‘s throw was late, but he got credited with a caught stealing as Phillips overslid the bag. Had that not happened, the first inning could’ve been much worse. 

Not that it mattered much anyway. When Julio Teheran and his 2.21 ERA against the Mets gets to bat before he pitches, the game is over. This one was. 

Worse yet, it was a sloppy game from the Mets. The team had three errors before they got their first hit. 

The Mets had their chance in the fourth loading the bases with no out. All they got was one run off a Neil Walker sacrifice fly. The rally ended after that with Curtis Granderson and d’Arnaud popping out. 

What is even more maddening during that rally was Terry Collins having Fernando Salas warm up in the pen in case Gsellman’s spot in the lineup came up. Why Collins would warm up his seventh inning guy as opposed to Hansel Robles, who has the ability to eat some innings. 

With d’Arnaud making the last out, Gsellman went back out for the fifth. Three hits, one run, and no outs later, Collins was forced to go to Josh Edgin, who did a terrific job getting out of the jam. 

Don’t worry, after Edgin pitched 1.2 good innings, Collins brought in Salas to help Edgin get out of the two on two out jam. Nothing like taking a relieved on pace for 90+ appearances and having him warm up twice in a game. Even better, Salas stayed on to pitch the seventh. 

Speaking of overworked pitchers, Jerry Blevins pitched as well. He had to bail out Salas who ran into trouble himself allowing three hits and two runs to make it 8-1. This led to the overworked Robles coming in. 

The Mets moved some deck chairs, scoring a run in the seventh, but at 8-2 who cares?

We can get on the Mets offense all we want, and they deserve it. However, Gsellman cannot give up five runs in the first inning. Even if he did, he needs to give the Mets some length. Just a bad loss all around. 

Game Notes: At 8-12, the Mets are four games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2014 season. The Mets have the fewest at-bats with RISP in baseball. Bruce was 2-2 with two walks. 

Reynolds Is Here To Replace One Of The Many Injured Or Under-Performing Players

Betsy Helfand of the Review Journal reports utility player Matt Reynolds has flown to New York presumably to join the Mets. As of this moment, the Mets have not announced a corresponding move. Normally, in these situations, you can surmise what the corresponding move will be. However, given the current state of the Mets, we really have no idea what that move will be.

First and foremost. Yoenis Cespedes has been injured, and he has insisted that he could play today. Before letting him do that, the Mets were supposedly going to really make Cespedes test out that hamstring to make sure he is healthy enough to play. It is possible Cespedes is not healthy enough to play, and as a result, the Mets are going to move him to the disabled list.

If not Cespedes, it’s possible the Mets could move Asdrubal Cabrera to the disabled list. The shortstop has been clearly hobbled and limited. After each play on the field, he noticeably winces, and he takes time to get back to his position. Over the last two games, there have been multiple instances where you question if he could continue playing in the game. Given how he’s played, it’s possible he could be headed to the disabled list.

Then again, this is the time of year Travis d’Arnaud usually heads to the disabled list. On Wednesday, he hit his arm on a bat trying to throw out a base stealer. In every game since, Terry Collins has penciled his name in the lineup only to remove him afterwards when d’Arnaud said he couldn’t throw (insert your own joke here). With him not being able to do more than pinch hit for a solid week, it’s possible the Mets move him to the disabled list.

Then again with the way things are going, it’s possible someone got hurt on an off day. It wouldn’t be the first time in franchise history. You never know with this team.

Maybe the aforementioned players are healthy and ready to go, and the Mets are just moving the deck chairs due to some under-performing players. Although he has received limited opportunities, T.J. Rivera is just 1-10 on the season with no extra base hits or RBI. Maybe the move will be for Kevin Plawecki, who once again looked over powered by major league pitching in the one game he played. Save for Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce, you can really make a case for any one of the Mets players to be sent down or designated for assignment. With that said, no one really believes at this juncture that either Jose Reyes or Curtis Granderson will suffer that indignity yet.

It’s also possible Reynolds is here as a precaution. There is so much wrong with the Mets in terms of injury and under-performance. The Mets may look to see how Cespedes, Cabrera, and d’Arnaud respond to the off-day, and if any one of them can’t go, Reynolds will. At this juncture, we just don’t know.

Ulimately, Reynolds getting called-up to the majors is a microcosm of the 2017 season.  He’s here because we don’t know who can play.  We don’t know who’s too hurt to play, and we don’t know who’s capable of playing at this level.  Sooner or later, this is nonsense is going to have to end.

Juan Lagares Should Be More Than This

When a team is riddled with injuries like the Mets have been, what most people focus on is how it negatively impacts the lineup. The converse of that is an injury creates an opportunity for another player. With Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores on the disabled list and Yoenis Cespedes unable to play the field, it forced the Mets to play Jay Bruce at first base and put Juan Lagares in center field. This was Lagares’ opportunity to fight for a bigger role on the Mets.

And there was one there. It’s no secret Curtis Granderson has been struggling to begin the season. Through 18 games, he is hitting just .149/.205/.254 with one homer and six RBI. With the Mets being unable to trade Bruce, Granderson is miscast as a center fielder. His -1 DRS ranks him 16th among players with at least 90 innings in center field this year. His -23.0 UZR/150 ranks 23rd among center fielders with at least 90 innings. Long story short, it has not been a good start to the season for Granderson. With him being 36 years old, there have been more than whispers if he’s not the same player anymore.

While it may be only slightly ajar, the door was open for someone to stake a claim for a spot in the outfield. We saw Michael Conforto do just that. On the season, he is hitting .361/.432/.722 with four homers and eight RBI. He’s also made a series of outstanding defensive plays in left and center field. With Granderson and Jose Reyes‘ struggling, Conforto may just have cemented himself as the team’s lead-off hitter.

Lagares did not make a similar push. While it is inarguable that Lagares is by far the team’s best defensive player, he still does not do enough to play every day. In his 2014 breakout season, Lagares had a 102 OPS+. Given his glove, you could keep a player like Lagares in the lineup everyday with league average bat like his. The problem is he’s regressed every season since. Since that 2014 season, Lagares is merely a .250/.289/.356 hitter with a 77 OPS+. There’s really no amount of defense that can keep a bat like that in the lineup. Certainly, not with a National League team.

Yet, we have seen glimpses of Lagares being a competent hitter. We saw it in 2014. We saw it again in the 2015 postseason. In that postseason, Lagares hit .348/.375/.435 with two doubles and two stolen bases. That may not be his true talent level, but it shows you he’s capable of being at least a decent hitter.

Unfortuantely, he hasn’t to begin the year. So far this season, he is 1-18 with his lone hit being a single to break up Gio Gonzalez‘s no-hitter on Saturday. Again, Lagares seems to be regressing, which means once Cespedes returns, Lagares will once again be limited to being a defensive replacement late in games and getting starts against left-handed pitching. Given the comments made post-game, that will happen on Tuesday.

There was an opportunity for Lagares to be more than that. He had an opportunity to show the Mets he could be an everyday player. As an everyday player, he could live on highlight reels and win additional Gold Gloves. That won’t be happening because rather than take advantage of the opporutnity, Lagares reinforced the notion that he isn’t an everyday player.

Mets Lose In 3-1 Blowout

If we’re being honest, this isn’t the greatest Mets lineup even when the team is healthy. It’s full of guys who certainly can all hit the ball out of the ballpark, but it’s also full of players with poor on base percentages. When you lose Lucas Duda and Yoenis Cespedes to injury the problems become even more exacerbated. 
Now, the Mets have the pitching to win games no matter who is in the lineup. We saw that in 2015 as the pitching and Curtis Granderson kept the team afloat playing near .500 ball until reinforcements arrived. 

In those games the Mets did win, they needed their pitcher’s to be great. At the state the Mets offense is now, the 2017 Mets are back to that point. Yesterday, Jacob deGrom was good. 

He was mowing the Nationals down for the first three innings until his wildness caught up to him in the fourth. A Daniel Murphy single was bracketed by walks to Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon loading the bases. 

The Mets got a bit lucky as the Nationals third base coach sent Murphy on the ensuing RBI single by Matt Wieters

In the fifth, the Nationals got to deGrom again. Adam Eaton and Trea Turner hit back-to-back one out doubles to make it 2-0. After Harper was just told to go to first base (essentially what the new intentional walk rule is), Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI single to make it 3-0. 

The Nationals wouldn’t score again in the sixth thanks in large part to Granderson:

After getting the first two out, deGrom got in trouble again issuing yet another walk, this time to Eaton, and then allowing a single to Turner. At this point, Terry Collins turned to Josh Edgin to get the Mets out of the jam. Somewhat surprisingly, he did by striking out Harper. 

Overall, it was a tough day for deGrom who issued a career high six walks. He was obviously ramped up early getting it up to 98 MPH and recording a lot of strikeouts. The early adrenaline wore off, and deGrom was left throwing 94 MPH and missing his spots. This was an uncharacteristic start for deGrom. His final line was 5.2 innings, eight hits, three runs, three earned, six walks, and 10 strikeouts. 

Given the current state of the Mets offense, 3-0 might as well have been 30-0. This game was no different. 

For the second time this season, the Mets offense was no-hit through five innings. This time, it was done by Gio Gonzalez. Though the Mets offense looked overmatched and lifeless, they would break through in the sixth. 

Jose Reyes pinch hit for Edgin and worked a one out walk. Then, Juan Lagares broke up the no-hitter with a single. More than that, the Mets had a rally going. 

Michael Conforto didn’t help the narrative he can’t hit left-handed pitching by striking out and going hitless on the day. Where Conforto didn’t come through, a hobbled Asdrubal Cabrera did hitting an RBI single to make it 3-1. That was as close as the Mets would get. 
Jay Bruce and Neil Walker had back-to-back strikeouts ending the Mets only rally of the game. The offense then made a struggling Nationals bullpen look like the 1990 Nasty Boys. 
Blake TreinenEnny Romero, and Koda Glover did their best Norm CharltonRob DibbleRandy Myers impersonation to slam the door shut on the 3-1 victory. 
With that, the Mets are 8-10 and are in fourth place 4.5 back. They’re having trouble beating the Phillies and can’t even hit a poor Nationals bullpen. It’s still April, so it’s still early, but things do not look good right now. 

Game Notes: Cabrera tried to leg out an infield single in the fourth.  He was noticeably hobbled, and he came out to take his position right before the first pitch of the fifth inning. For the second day in a row, an injured Yoenis Cespedes informed the team he was too injured to pinch hit. Once again, Travis d’Arnaud was limited to pinch hitting duty. T.J. Rivera got the start at third base over a healthy Reyes. He was 0-3. 

Don’t Count Out Curtis Granderson

When you are 36 years old and playing out of position in center field, fans are going to question whether you are done.  They are going to call for the younger player to play over you.  They will tend to overlook all that you have done for a team and focus on what best helps the team to win now.  Baseball is cruel that way, and baseball is being cruel to Curtis Granderson right now.

Through his first 15 games, Granderson hit just .143/.197/.214 with no homers and four RBI.  It is an especially slow start for sure, but it isn’t the first slow start of his career.  In fact, using OPS+ as a barometer, April has been Granderson’s second worst month of the season.  In his relatively short time with the Mets, we have seen that play out:

  • 2014 April: .136/.252/.216
    2014 Final: .227/.326/.388
  • 2015 April: .231/.362/.321
    2015 Final: .259/.364/.457
  • 2016 April: .247/.347/.471
    2016 Final: .237/.335/.464

With the noted exception of last year, Granderson typically grows stronger as the season progresses.  Granderson is aware of it himself telling Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, “I’m not sure if it’s the transition from spring to the beginning of the season.  If it’s the timing of the games, more day games to more night games. The weather. The inconsistency of playing [time in spring training]. … I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s a different view [when you’re hitting]. You have fewer things out there in spring training and you have more things during the season.”

No matter what the reason, Granderson has always figured things out.  More importantly, Granderson has been there when the Mets needed him most.  In 2015, when he was really the only major league caliber bat in the lineup, he helped keep the team afloat.  In June of that season, Granderson hit .291/.371/.544 with seven homers and 11 RBI.

In the 2015 World Series, when most of the Mets lineup was struggling, Granderson was trying to will the Mets to victory hitting three home runs in that series.  All three of those home runs gave the Mets the lead.

Last season, with the Mets desperately fighting to get back to the postseason, Granderson stepped up.  He was moved out of the lead-off spot in the order to the cleanup spot where he would finally provide Yoenis Cespedes the protection in the lineup the team was seeking all season.  From the cleanup spot, Granderson hit .321/.440/.605 with six homers and 18 RBI.  In September, when the Mets were making their real push to claim a Wild Card spot, Granderson hit .302/.414/.615 with eight homers and 21 RBI.

Simply put, the Mets do not make the postseason in 2015 or 2016 without Granderson.  Fortunately, the Mets allowed Granderson to fight through his slumps, especially his April ones, to be the contributor they both knew he could be, and more importantly, become the one the Mets needed.  Granderson has a well established track record.  More to the point, he has been an important part of the Mets that should not be overlooked . . . especially right now. 

Yoenis Cespedes has a hamstring problem, and no one knows when he will be able to return to the lineup. Lucas Duda is on the disabled list as is his primary backup Wilmer Flores is as well. This means Jay Bruce will be playing first base for the foreseen future. It also means regardless of Granderson’s struggles, he will play everyday. 

Just like in 2015 and 2016, the Mets need Granderson to step up. Last night, he did just that. Granderson had his best game of the season by far. He was 2-4 with a run, two RBI, a walk, and a home run. His first RBI was a two out RBI single. The second was a game tying solo homer to the second deck. On top of his hitting, Granderson had a nice game in the field including making a sliding catch by the wall. 

Once again, Granderson is stepping up when the Mets need him, and based upon his Mets career, we can expect Granderson to continue to improve. Come October, it’s likely the Aptil struggles will be forgetten. It’s likely we will be once again thankful Granderson is a Met. 

Hard Fought Loss Is Still A Loss

As if the Mets weren’t injured enough, the team had a new rash of injuries heading into tonight’s game. 

Wilmer Flores and Lucas Duda went on the disabled list. Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes didn’t, but they couldn’t start. At least d’Arnaud was available to pinch hit. To make matters worse, Asdrubal Cabrera is now dealing with a hamstring injury keeping him out of the lineup, and Jacob deGrom woke up on the wrong side of the bed. 

With deGrom waking up with a stiff neck, he missed tonight’s start, and he probably needs someone to start for him tomorrow. 

With so many people out of the lineup, the Mets needed someone to step up. The Mets had people stepping up all over the place tonight. 

First was Matt Harvey who was the surprise starter. Harvey gave his team a chance to win pitching seven innings. His final line was seven innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, two walks, and two strikeouts. 

Harvey pitched well, but he was tripped up by the long ball. In the first inning, he grooved one to Bryce Harper who launched it for a two run homer. It was a strange site to see when you consider Harper couldn’t get a hit off pre-TOS Harvey. The third run off Harvey came off a Jose Lobaton solo shot in the fifth. 

Despite the two homers and the makeshift lineup, Harvey had a no decision.  

He was first helped by a Michael Conforto first inning blast off Tanner Roark‘s first pitch of the game:

The second and third runs came courtesy of Curtis Granderson. In the fourth, Granderson had a two out RBI single scoring Jay Bruce. He then tied the score in the sixth:

It was a terrific night for Granderson. Coming into the night, he was hitting .143/.197/.214. Just like he’s done in his entire Mets career, Granderson stepped up when the Mets needed him most going 2-4 with a run, two RBI, one walk, and the home run. 

The Mets nearly took the lead in the seventh. Zack Wheeler hit for Harvey and hit a pinch hit double. The Mets would load the bases, and the Nationals would go to Oliver Perez, who got Bruce to line out to end the inning. 

In the ninth, there was some craziness. Rene Rivera earned a lead-off walk off Joe Blanton, and Terry Collins opted to pinch run Robert Gsellman. T.J. Rivera then bunted Gsellman to second. 

Cabrera then pinch hit for Addison Reed and drew a walk. Given his hamstring issues, Collins sent out Kevin Plawecki to pinch run for him. No, it didn’t make sense to do this and force the pitcher’s spot to come up earlier in the lineup, but nothing in this inning made much sense. 

In the long run, Blanton worked his way out of the inning. Another side effect of the inning, Collins’ mechanations led to the pitcher’s spot coming up three spots earlier in the lineup. He did that in a game where the Mets had a short bench. Just an inexcusable move. 

The Mets certainly could’ve benefitted from better managing as the pitcher’s spot did come up in the bottom of the 11th with the Mets down 4-3. 

The Mets were down 4-3 because Jeurys Familia is still rusty. Keep in mind, he only made two relief appearances in the minors before his suspension was over. 

After Josh Smoker allowed a lead-off double to Harper, Murphy was intentionally walked, and Familia entered the game. He threw a wild pitch allowing Harper to go to third. It didn’t matter much as he issued back-to-back walks to Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner to force in a run. Familia settled down after that, but it was too late. The Nationals took the lead. 

Shawn Kelley came on in the 11th and pitched a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save. With that, the Mets fought valiantly, but still lost. They’re now under .500, and who knows who will be healthy enough to play tomorrow. 

Game Notes: Daniel Murphy‘s 19 game hitting streak came to an end. He was 0-4, and he was intentionally walked in the 11th. Apparently, Reed wore the wrong hat during his appearance. 

Please Don’t Mess Around With These Injuries

One of the best things to come out of the past offseason was Major League Baseball shortening the stint on the disabled list from 15 days to 10 day.  Presumably, that change made it easier for teams to place their players on the disabled list to allow them to recover.  Someone should tell that to the Mets.

Last night, with the Lucas Duda injury and Wilmer Flores infection, Jay Bruce was forced to play first base for the first time since he played three games there in 2014.  That also put Juan Lagares in the position of being the team’s lone back-up outfielder and middle infielder.  Lagares was initially signed by the Mets as a shortstop, but he has not played the middle infield since he played six innings for the Single-A Savannah Sand Gnats as a 20 yeard old in 2009.  To put it in perspective how long ago that was, back in 2009, Citi Field just opened, and Daniel Murphy was considered a left fielder.

When Cespedes had to leave the game with a hamstring injury after running the bases in the fifth inning, the Mets were in trouble.  If the game were to go deep into extra innings, the Mets were likely going to have to consider which infield position other than first could Kevin Plawecki handle.  They might have followed through with the plan to put Zack Wheeler at first base like it was contemplated during the 16 inning game.  If things got bad enough, the team might have had to lean on Jacob deGrom‘s experience as a collegiate shortstop.

Simply put, this is unacceptable.  Year-in and year-out the Mets find themselves in this position, and they are more than willing to play with short benches with players not even available to pinch hit.  Worse yet, they ask players to do too much.

Last year, the Mets saw Asdrubal Cabrera deal with a knee injury all season.  From the middle of May until the end of July, he was hobbled and struggling.  Over that stretch, he hit .232/.285/.436.  The Mets finally put him on the disabled list so he could rest his knee.  He responded by becoming the 2015 Yoenis Cespedes and willing the Mets to the postseason hitting .345/.406/.635 over the final 41 games of the season.

Speaking of Cespedes, the Mets were also stubborn about putting him on the disabled list.  On July 8th, he suffered an injured quad.  He would not go on the disabled list, and he would not play in another game until July 17th.  When he did play, he was noticeably hobbled.  From July 17th to August 3rd, Cespedes hit just .205/.302/.318 in 14 games before the Mets finally put him on the disabled list.  When he came back, he hit .259/.335/.490 over the final 38 games of the season.

Then there was Michael Conforto.  We are not quite sure when he was injured, but we do know that he received a cortisone shot in June of last year.  Clearly something was bothering him as Conforto went from the best hitter on the team in April to a guy who hit just .174/.267/.330 for the rest of the year.  Instead of a disabled list stint, the Mets treated him to multiple demotions to Triple-A, where he absolutely raked, and being stuck to the bench for far too long stretches.  Perhaps if the Mets put him on the disabled list, his second season would have gone much differently, and the Bruce trade might not have been necessary.

You would think the Mets would have learned from that, but they clearly haven’t as they are already repeating the same mistakes.

While it is not ideal with six of the next nine games coming against the Nationals, the Mets can definitively get away with Bruce at first with an outfield of Conforto-Lagares-Curtis Granderson from left to right.  While it does not have the offensive punch you would like, that is a really good defensive outfield.  On the infield, the Mets could recall T.J. Rivera, who showed the Mets last year he has a place in the major leagues.  The Mets could even get bold by calling up Gavin Cecchini to play second and moving Neil Walker to third.  At a minimum, it would get a struggling Jose Reyes out of the lineup.  It could also allow the Mets to pick and choose their spots with Reyes to allow him to be an effective pinch hitter or pinch runner in late game situations.

The overriding point is the Mets have talent on the 40 man roster even if Duda and Cespedes went on the disabled list.  With the Mets throwing Noah Syndergaard, deGrom, and Matt Harvey, the Mets can still win a fair share of those games to keep the team afloat until Duda and Cespedes are ready to return to the lineup.  In fact, the team might be better off because you’d rather have two healthy sluggers mashing all season than two injured players trying to find a way to produce to their normal levels.

That is something that didn’t work last year, and we can’t expect it to work this year.  It’s about time the Mets learned how to properly utilize the disabled list and field a team of healthy players.