Yoenis Cespedes

This Is Wild

Hearing Curt Schilling talk about waking up the Mets’ fan base brought me back to 1993. It was a great time to be a baseball fan, except if you were a New York Mets fan. The Mets finished the season with a 59-103 record, good enough for seventh (last) place in the NL East. 

Seventh?  Yes, seventh. This was the last year of divisional baseball. It was known as the last great pennant race as the 104-58 Atlanta Braves won the NL West on the last day of the season over the 103-59 San Francisco Giants (who lost to the Dodgers on the last game of the season). Naturally, the Braves would go on and lose to the NLCS to the Phillies, while the Giants were playing golf. 

That’s right. The Giants didn’t make the playoffs. I remember hearing this on the radio. My Dad thought it was ridiculous the Giants missed the playoffs while the Phillies made the playoffs. Sure enough, my Dad and most baseball fans got their wish with the institution of the Wild Card in 1994. We don’t need to talk more about that season right now. 

If the current rules were in place, the Giants and Braves would’ve coasted to division titles. The Cardinals would’ve won the Central (what else is new?). The Phillies would’ve played the Wild Card Game against the Montreal Expos. It’s strange to think how different things wer back then. 

It also made me think about this year. The Mets are not in seventh; they’re in first. However, what if this season was played under the 1993 format?  Here’s what it would look like:

  1. Cardinals 67-38
  2. Pirates     61-43  
  3. Cubs         57-47
  4. Mets         56-50
  5. Expos       54-50
  6. Marlins     43-68
  7. Phillies      41-65

Wow!  This suddenly fun season would’ve been completely different. The Mets would’ve been seen as a .500 team with promising pitching. The Mets also would’ve been without Yoenis Cespedes. Why make the trade?  It would’ve had no impact on the Mets playoff chances. 

Instead, the Mets are ahead in sole possession of first place over the Nationals. If the Mets weren’t in first, they’d only be two games out of the second Wild Card. 

People ask all the time, “how do we get more young fans interested in baseball?”  The Wild Card and current divisional format allows for more excitement. I’m excited about baseball. By extension, my son is excited. There’s also interest in D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. 

This is good for baseball. This is good for Mets’ fans. I’m happy the Mets are in the middle of a pennant race rather than languishing in the middle of a .500 season. Also, we would’ve missed out on the 1999 and 2000 playoffs. Teams like the Pirates and Royals would still be without a playoff berth. 

Twelve years ago, there wasn’t much hope. Now because of the change in format, the Mets have hope. Lets Go Mets!

FIRST PLACE!

This is season is becoming magical. In another year, this would’ve been a major let down loss . . . especially against the Marlins. I still have the scars from 2007 and 2008. 

This is a different team. The Mets came in rolling from the sweep of the Nationals and treated the Marlins’ arms like they were batting practice pitchers. Even Bartolo Colon got a hit. 

Michael Comforto hit his first major league homerun. Yoenis Cespedes hit three doubles that would’ve been homeruns in any ballpark other than the originally designed Citi Field.  Everything was so great, the Mets didn’t even need a Lucas Duda homerun. The Marlins offense was so bad, they barely scored a run off Bartolo Colon. Overall, their offense was so bad the Mets got away with starting Wilmer Flores [insert obligatory standing ovation] without incident. 

Side note: can you imagine how unwatchable this game would’ve been had Sandy Alderson not made those trades?  

With the Nationals losing to the Diamondbacks, the Mets are in first place by themselves. I have a feeling that they’re pulling away from the Nationals. It’s incredible!  It’s great!  

IT’S AMAZIN’

Mets Make Wrong Move in Calling up Conforto

When I first started this blog, much of the focus at that time was on why everyone thought Michael Conforto should be called up to the majors. Back then, it was assumed the Mets were not going to add offense thereby making him the only source of offense available. We’re not in this world right now. 

After the trade deadline moves, the Mets now have a major league roster of major league hitters.  So far, Terry Collins has shown he intends to play the following everyday: Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada. Curtis Granderson, and Yoenis Cespedes. Prior to the Cespedes trade, he seemed to have a Kirk Nieuwenhuis/Juan Lagares platoon, but he seems to have done away with that. 

Once the Cespedes trade was completed, Granderson and Cespedes have played CF. In turn, Lagares and Nieuwenhuis have been on the bench.  Kelly Johnson has played a corner outfield position in those games. These are the games Nieuwenhuis would’ve started as the Nationals were throwing righties. We now know Nieuwenhuis is injured

However, what we don’t know is if Collins has eschewed the CF platoon for more offense. If so, I’m not sure that was the right move with the return of Duda’s bat, Granderson continuing his good year, and Cespedes’ bat. They are  no longer as desperate for offense as they used to be. Now, they need to sure up their outfield defense, especially when their pitchers give up a lot of flyballs. To his credit, Collins is using Lagares as a late inning defensive replacement. 

With Nieuwenhuis going on the DL, his spot on the roster has gone to Conforto, who must play everyday. If he’s not playing everyday, he needs to be in Las Vegas. This means the Mets OF for two weeks, minimum, must have Conforto in left, Cespedes in center, and Granderson in right (barring Michael Cuddyer coming off the DL). At the very least, Conforto is a step up from Johnson defensively. However, it is nowhere enough of an upgrade to justify sitting Lagares’ glove. 

The natural question is who should the Mets have called up, if not Conforto. That’s the problem. For all the moves, there are still some holes in this organization, especially from a depth perspective. Begrudgingly, I would’ve called up Darrell Ceciliani. You don’t need him to play everyday, and he can play all three OF positions. 

I would further endorse this decision as it seemed the Mets were fine with Johnson playing the corner outfield positions during the biggest series of the year. Let Ceciliani be the 25th man while the major leaguers play everyday. Let Conforto play everyday in the minors and come up in September for the stretch drive (like they should do with Kevin Plawecki). 

So while I initially endorsed calling up Conforto, I am now against it. My opinion has nothing to do with his 0-12 streak. He looks like he can play. I was very impressed with him.  I’m just saying the dynamic of this team has changed and so has the need for him. I only wish the Mets would change their mindset. 

Did the Mets Just Duda That?

On Friday at 3:00 P.M., things were about as bleak as it could be this season. The Carlos Gomez trade fell apart, and there seemed to be bickering as to whether it was due to Gomez’s hip or the Mets’ finances. On Thursday, the Mets’ bullpen inexplicably blew a six run lead

Then it seemed the Mets would add Jay Bruce until they didn’t. It sure looked like the Mets were never going to add a bat. Worst yet, the Nationals were coming into NY after previously taking 2/3 from the stud muffins. This was a Nationals team that went 15-4 against the Mets last year. 

On the eve of the trade deadline, the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes. The attention around the Mets changed from despair to hope. This hope continued to grow throughout the weekend. 

On Friday, it was a dominant Matt Harvey and an emotionally satisfying Wilmer Flores’ walk off homerun. On Saturday, it was the Lucas Duda Fireworks Show. Tonight, Thor was once again the story. Thor went eight innings with two two earned and nine strikeouts. 

Thor made the homerun barrage in the third to stand up. On back-to-back pitches, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy homered. After Cespedes’ first hit as a Met, Duda capped off the five run inning with a homerun of his own. Tyler Clippard, in for Jeurys Familia (who pitched two days in a row), recorded his first save as a Mets. 

The Mets have flipped the script. They swept the Nationals and are now tied for first place in the NL East. I’m so excited that I’ll ignore they’re one behind in the loss column. The Mets are now 38-18 at home. Surprisingly, they’re 7-6 against the Nationals this season.  

The Mets are in a dead heat with the Nationaks and have six head-to-head match ups with them. They have an easy second half schedule. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Mets are in the driver’s seat in the NL East. We’ve waited seven years for this, and so far, it’s been worth the wait. Lets Go Mets!

A Cespedes for the Rest of Us

As the strikeouts rained down upon the Mets’ outfielders, Sandy Alderson knew there had to be another way. A new Met would be born, “a Cespedes for the rest of us!

Here’s everything you need to know about Cespedes:

CESPEDES POLE

First, there’s a bat. For Cespedes, we use maple bats. Aluminum bats are too distracting. Just make sure the bat has a very high strength to weight ratio. 

 

THE THROWING OUT OF BASERUNNERS

Yoenis has a lot of problems with baserunners trying to take the extra base, and they’re going to hear about it:

After Yoenis is done with them, these baserunners “couldn’t smooth a silk sheet if they had a hot date with a babe.”  And now as Cespedes “rolls on, we have the Feats of Strength.”  

THE FEATS OF STRENGTH

“Let’s rumble!”

If all comes according to plan, come October, Mets’ fans will see a CESPEDES MIRACLE!

Lucas Duda Provides the Fireworks

In case you didn’t know, Lucas Duda made sure you knew tonight was Fireworks Night. I told you Duda is awesome

His first homerun broke up the no-hitter. The second homerun let deGrom off the hook. deGrom deserved to be let off the hook too. He didn’t have his best stuff, and he was fighting it all night. However, he gave the team six solid innings, allowed only two runs, and gave the team a chance to win. Duda took advantage of that chance. 

As if the two homers weren’t enough, Duda also doubled in Curtis Granderson in the eighth. In this inning, we saw the impact of Yoenis Cespedes’ presence in the lineup. After Granderson’s double and Daniel Murphy grounded out to the pitcher, Cespedes was intentionally walked. Before tonight there was no one in the Mets’ lineup who would’ve merited that. Instead of now feeling pressure to be the entire offense, Duda was able to relax and deliver . . . and boy did he deliver. 

After Hansel Robles shut the door in the right and Duda single-handedly carried the offense to a 3-2 lead, Jeurys Familia slammed the door shut in the ninth. This looked like the Familia of the first half. 

My only qualm tonight was the lineup. It looked like Terry Collins was still drunk from celebrating last night’s win and the Cespedes acquisition. I know we all love the Wilmer Flores’ story, but this is a pennant race, and you need to field your best team (even if he almost hit a HR). That team has an outfield alignment of Cespedes in left, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Juan Lagares in center, and Granderson in right. The only time you want Kelly Johnson in RF right now is when he’s signing autographs before the game. 

Luckily, this didn’t hurt the Mets. Also, it was good to see Collins put in Lagares late for defense.   It was better to see Duda’s offense and Familia’ dominance again. It’s even better to be a game out with Noah Syndergaard tomorrow. Lets Go Mets!

Mets Lost the Cespedes Trade

I know Yoenis Cespedes is a huge upgrade for the Mets. He provides power, speed, and good defense. However, unless the Mets win the World Series, this trade is a failure. 

Actually, no. This is a bad trade regardless of the outcome of the Mets season.  The reason why I say this is because Sandy Alderson had the leverage and he caved. 

Cespedes is a unique rental player because he has a clause in his contract that requires his team [the Tigers] to release him once his contract expires.  This prevents the Tigers from extending him a qualifying offer to receive draft pick compensation in the event he signs with another team. A player wants this to prevent what happened to Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales (even if Cespedes’ contract was signed prior to these holdouts). 

Now, because Cespedes would be a released player, as opposed to a free agent, the Tigers would only have five days after the World Series to sign him. If they cannot sign him within that time period, they lose the chance to sign him until after the season starts. 

Cespedes’ agent is Roc Nation, who also represents Robinson Cano and Rusney Castillo. Roc Nation has obtained deals that have been perceived as above the market. In both instances, Roc Nation really let the market develop and bid teams against one another. I know Cespedes wants to resign with the Tigers, but he’s not leaving money on the table. Keep in mind Robinson Cano wanted to remain a Yankee.

This is where it gets interesting. Dave Dombrowski was left with three options: 1) make no deals and try to get into the playoffs; 2) work out a deal now for Cespedes or 3) trade him and be in a better position to sign him in the offseason.  Once the Tigers traded David Price it confirmed they were selling. I’m sure Dombrowski inquired as to whether Cespedes would sign a deal, but I’m equally as sure Cespedes wants to test the market. That means Dombrowski HAD TO TRADE CESPEDES. If he didn’t, he risked losing him for nothing. 

Admittedly, Alderson was in a tough spot. The Carlos Gomez trade fell apart and things got ugly. Wilmer Flores was crying in the field. There were accusations the Mets really nixed the deal over finances. Then Gomez goes to the Astros, who have no problem with his hip. The fans and media were getting tense, if not angry. 

So, we’re left with one GM who must make a deal, and one GM that has pressure but isn’t required to make a deal. Sandy Alderson is the one who blinked. 

It seems all along Dombrowski “badly wanted” Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.  Fulmer was the Mets’ 2011 supplemental draft pick (#44 overall). Currently, he is Baseball America’s 98th best prospect. Reportedly, the Mets were willing to part with Zack Wheeler in the Gomez deal due to the emergence of Fulmer. Fulmer has a 96-97 MPH fastball with a good slider and good command of both sides of the plate. He has recently been compared to Matt Garza and Garrett Richards. This is another way of saying he’s a #2 starter with a real competitive streak. 

Cessa is a project. He’s converted to pitcher and he is developing his repertoire in AAA. He can throw 95 MPH and is working on his off speed stuff. As you can see, there may be promise here, but he’s probably a bullpen arm, at best. He’s not the player that haunts you in a deal like this. 

The player that haunts you is Fulmer, who has already been described as an “unbelievable get for a rental.”  Not just a rental, but a rental the Mets probably can’t resign (financial issues aside). I’ve seen the Mets and their fans argue Fulmer is not part of the Mets’ core talent, whatever that means. I’ve seen Fulmer described as not being one of the Mets top five prospects. So what?  You trade value for value. 

It’s funny. I don’t see these same people noting the Mets just gave the Tigers their 5th and 9th best prospects. I don’t think I would’ve been happy with just Fulmer in the deal. Keep in mind this is the Mets gave up for a rental.  In fact on Baseball Tonight, Keith Law stated the Mets gave up their two best pitching prospects left in the farm system. 
I understand you have to give value to get value. That’s why I initially supported the Gomez trade and like the proposed Jay Bruce deal (I also agreed with the Mets that once the Reds ask for more, you have to walk away). However, Cespedes had dwindling value to the Tigers. He was more valuable to them with another team at this time.

Frankly, Alderson either blinked, panicked, or didn’t judge his prospects properly. This is unacceptable when you have the leverage.  I think Cespedes is a great addition, but the Mets gave up way too much. I don’t see why the Mets are going all-in when:

  1. They are in second place to a healing Nationals’ team;
  2. They are behind the Pirates, Giants, and Cubs in the Wild Card race; and
  3. Their pitchers are nearing their innings limits.

This was not the season to go all-in. Sure, you try to improve, but you don’t give up trade assets you’ll need next year, when you’re presumably a better team, to take you to the next level. Also, keep in mind they went all-in without shoring up all of their holes. They still need a SS and a LOOGY. Plus, they’re still a healthy David Wright from being a good offense. Can we trust he’ll come back this year and produce like David Wright?  

I really hope they win the World Series because if they don’t, they took what could’ve been a year to build on to a complete failure. 

Rumor Has It No More Trade Talk

I’m done with analyzing potential trades and players.  I don’t think the Mets are making any more moves.  I don’t think Sandy Alderson had the money to spend.  He was bluffing at that press conference because that’s his job.  He cannot announce to the world the Mets don’t have the money to add a contract.  That’s foolhardy.  It reduces your leverage in trade discussions, and it could keep fans away from the ballpark.  Both are bad for business, and if anything, Sandy is a good businessman.

Therefore, I’m not going to address how well I think Gerardo Parra will fit on this team, especially given Juan Lagares’ questionable health and offense.  I’m not going to address how a Jose Reyes deal will benefit the Mets on the field and in attendance.  I won’t go into how Justin Upton has been lousy since April and will only drag the Mets offense further down.  I’ve already wasted my breath on Jay Bruce.  We all know Yoenis Cespedes and Carlos Gonzalez are not going to be moved by their teams.

Any other players the Mets get besides the aforementioned players are just background noise.  They are bench parts that don’t have the day to day impact the Mets need on the field.  If the Mets acquire someone, I’ll do a write up on the trade.  If the Mets get one of the above, I’ll concede how very wrong I was.

I’m not being pessimistic.  I’m being realistic.  I do think the team on the field can compete for the postseason and the World Series.  When Travis d’Arnaud returns, the team is that much better.  If David Wright returns, and is at least a shadow of himself, watch out.  If Steven Matz returns, we’re really cooking.

Instead of focusing on what could be, I’m going to focus on what is and enjoy that.  I don’t think people do that enough nowadays.  I’m going to sit down tonight and watch the Mets game with my son until he falls asleep.  I’m going to watch the team on the field, and I’m going to enjoy the game (hopefully).  I’m just not going to sit here anymore and fret over what could be.  I’m going to enjoy what is.