Yoenis Cespedes

Are You a Die Hard or Just a Fan?

I’m a die hard Mets fan. I’m hoping my son will be one day. So far, I think he’s off to a great start:

  
You know how I’ll truly know if he’s a diehard fan?  I’ll know if he’s watching the Mets play in Atlanta over watching the first game of the NFL season, or whatever the equivalent of that will be in the future. 

This Mets team is playing great. They all but locked up the NL East. Fans are delirious to the point that they think Yoenis Cespedes is the MVP. If you can’t watch now over a meaningless NFL game (especially for us Giants fans), you’re not a die hard fan. 

Please note, I’m not saying you’re not a fan. There are various levels of fandom. It’s not for me to say if you’re a fan or not. However, I think I can comfortably say that if you’re not watching the Mets tonight, you’re not a diehard fan. You can be a fan, you can be a big fan, but you can’t be a diehard fan. 

My little diehard fan and I will be watching the Mets tonight. I hope you will as well. 

d’Arnaud is d’Man

With all the hysteria following Yoenis Cespedes, and the recent tarring and feathering of Matt Harvey, it’s easy to forget there are other players on the Mets who are making major contributions. Chief among those players is Travis d’Arnaud

When the Mets obtained him, he had a reputation of being a good hitting catcher. While his career had a rough start, he fixed his swing in AAA, and he’s been raking ever since. This year he’s hitting .287/.364/.540. These are tremendous numbers for any position, let alone for a catcher. 

Speaking of catching, d’Arnaud continues to help his pitching staff. He remains one of the best in the game at pitch framing. For all the talk about innings limits and pitch counts, this ability cannot be ignored. It’s a tremendous skill not only to get a strike called a strike, but also to get a ball called a strike. It was one of the hallmarks of those 90’s Braves teams. 

The knock on him has always been that he’s injury prone, and he’s done nothing to dispel that this year with two long DL stints. However, the main fear with him was concussions, and he hasn’t had one this year. Furthermore, it looks like his weakness can turn out to be his strength this year. He’s only played 48 out of a possible 139 games. This means he’ll be fresh for October. 

When he’s played d’Arnaud has been tremendous. If not for Cespedes, we might be calling him d’Man. There’s nothing else you could ask him to do right now that he’s not doing, except maybe choosing the right wine to go with the post-game meal. If you think about it, with his play at both sides of the plate, he deserves that moniker. 

d’Arnaud is d’Man. 

NL East All Swept Up

The Nationals resurgence was lead by the first overall picks Steven Strasburg and Bryce Harper. They were brilliant tonight. Strasburg went 7.1 innings with three earned and 13 Ks. The Mets barely touched him in the first seven innings. Harper went 3-4 with all three Nationals run scored on a double and two homers. It wasn’t enough. 

For the third straight night, the Mets rallied late to abuse the Nationals bullpen. For a while, it seemed that Travis d’Arnaud‘s second inning solo homer was all the Mets were going to get. Then in the eighth, Kelly Johnson pinch hit for Wilmer Flores [standing ovation], and hit a pinch hit homer to tie the game at 2-2. After a Curtis Granderson single, Strasburg was lifted. 

Matt Williams then brought on Drew Storen, who was completely ineffective in this series. Sure enough, he gave up the go-ahead homerun to Yoenis Cespedes. I know Cespedes isn’t a true MVP candidate, but his play has been nothing short of a miracle for the Mets. 

Harper hit his second homer in the eighth, and the Mets tacked on a run in the ninth to make the final score 5-3.  It was great to see deGrom get back on track and get the win. He had a good game with 7.0 innings, nine Ks, and only two earned. 

It was Mets second straight sweep of the Nationals. With the Mets now up seven in the NL East, it’s over. The Mets will win the division. These past three games were nothing short of amazing. They could’ve/should’ve lost all three, but they showed a resolve that championship teams show. Now they can begin rating their pitchers to gear up for October. 

It’s been seven years since we could say that. Only this time, our pitching is healthy. 

This Cespedes Thing Is Out of Control

Personally, I love Yoenis Cespedeswarts and all. I even make sure to celebrate Cespedes. That, however does not make him the NL MVP, no matter what anyone says

I realize his numbers with the Mets are terrific. He is hitting .307/.354/.660 in 35 games. That’s the key there. It’s only 35 games. The Mets have played 138 games, or 25% of the Mets season. Even if Cespedes plays in all remaining 24 games, he will only play in 59 total games or 36% of the season with the Mets. It’s like saying the first 100 games didn’t count. We know they did. 

In order to qualify for stats like batting average, on base percentage, and slugging, a batter needs 502 plate appearances. Right now, Cespedes sits at 164. He will get nowhere near qualifying. Even if he qualified, he would rank 9th in batting average (tying him with David Peralta) and19th in OBP (tying him with Brandon Belt). His .660 slugging would rank first, and his OPS would rank him third. One small slump and these numbers plummet as 164 plate appearances is a small sample size making these percentage based stats wildly variable. 

With respect to his other stats, we can only look at his numbers in the NL. His 32 runs scored are 116th in the NL, or 69 behind league leader Bryce Harper. His 47 hits are 151th in the NL, or 125 behind league leader Dee Gordon. His 9 doubles are 153th in the NL, or 30 behind league leader Todd Frazier. His 3 triples are 39th in the NL, or 6 behind Peralta.  His 13 homeruns are 48th in the NL, or 24 behind league leader Nolan Arenado. His 34 RBIs are 105th in the NL, or 72 behind league leader Arenado. 

For more sabermetrically friendly stats, Cespedes WAR is 1.7. This stat is important because even voters like Jon Heyman look at WAR. Cespedes is tied for 63rd with players like Nick Markakis. He’s far behind Harper and his league leading 8.7 WAR. 

Now, there is a Met, who is Top Ten in WAR. He’s Curtis Granderson, who used to be universally acknowledged as the Mets MVP. If you want a Met to garner votes, he’s the guy. Sure, his candidacy falls short, but so does Cespedes’. 

This Cespedes ride has been amazing, but let’s not make this more than what it is. He’s been a spark plug, but he’s not the NL MVP. He’s not even the Mets MVP, that’s Granderson. 

Mets Still Aren’t Signing Ce$pede$

Roc Nation initiated talks with the Mets to eliminate the five day window for the Mets to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes after the World Series. I think it’s important to note that it was Roc Nation and not the Mets who initiated these discussions because it further signals that he’s not returning to Flushing. 

The Contract

We have heard that Cespedes wanted a $120 – 150 million contract when he came to the Mets. His play with the Mets and his popularity with the fans is only going to drive that price tag higher. 

Furthermore, Sandy Alderson already had an aversion to second generation contracts like the one Cespedes is going to receive. I imagine his position has only stiffened with David Wright and his spinal stenosis

Outfield Depth

I think we can all agree that Michael Conforto needs to play everyday next year. That locks down LF. Curtis Granderson still had two years and $31 million remaining on his contract. Between that and his good year this year, it means he’s playing RF next year. That locks up the corner OF without even considering Michael Cuddyer and the $12.5 million he’s due next year. 

That leaves CF. The Mets have presumably the best defensive CF in the game in Juan Lagares. He has three years and $20 million left on his contract. I can’t imagine the Mets are going to make him a bench player after one poor, injury plagued year. 

Additionally, it should be added Cespedes has not been a good CF in his career. In fact, he’s been quite bad. True, it appears he’s playing a capable CF with the Mets. However, I’d like to put my faith in two and a half years worth of data over a little more than one month. 

I will acknowledge that the Mets will play him in the unlikely event he re-signs. However, I doubt that will happen as the Mets already have a full OF and needs at SS, the bullpen, the bench, and potentially second base. 

The Warts

Look, I love Cespedes as much as the next Mets fan, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook some of his issues. 

First, he doesn’t get on base. His career .OBP is a paltry .320. Second, he’s not always engaged defensively, and he has some bad habits. This is something you overlook for a two month rental that’s mashing the ball. For a guy with a massive contract, the fans will eviscerate him.  I’d rather not see it get to that point. I’d rather Mets fans enjoy the ride. 

Conclusion

There are many reasons not to sign Cespedes. For $150 million, I’m sure the Mets agree. So, let’s enjoy what has been an amazing year. Let’s continue witnessing this Cespedes Miracle and enjoy it for as long as it goes. 

Mets Deep Six the Nationals

It was like the Saturday press conference.  Matt Harvey was there by himself, all alone. He seemed unprepared and less sure of himself. He bungled everything from the start. In the process, he managed to anger the Mets fans. 

The Nationals jumped on Harvey early scoring two in the first and one in the second to take a 3-1 lead. Like he was Sunday, David Wright was there for him hitting a second inning solo homer. Other than that, no one supported him . . . including himself. 

Terry Collins let him leadoff the sixth with the team down two runs. It’s hard to argue with Harvey cruising and the bullpen usage yesterday. The Mets then wasted a gift triple to Curtis Granderson. Then the bottom of the sixth happened. 

The first two got on, and then Harvey bobbled a bunt loading the bases with no out. Harvey got a strikeout, then Michael Taylor stepped up to the plate. He then hit a Little League Grand Slam. It was a hard hit ball so a limited SS like Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] couldn’t make a play on it.  Then Cespedes charged the ball hard, but he olayed it allowing Taylor to go round the bases and give the Nationals a 7-1 lead. Apparently, the Nationals official scorer is a disgruntled Mets fan so it was ruled all seven runs were earned. 

The Mets woke up in the seventh and showed the Nationals who was the better, more resilient team. Down 7-1, the Mets went to work. They loaded the bases and Granderson got an RBI walk, and then Cespedes redeemed himself by hitting a bases clearing double to bring the Mets within 7-6. Upon reloading the bases, Lucas Duda got an RBI walk tying the game at 7-7. 

In the eighth, forgotten man Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a pinch hit go-ahead homerun. Tyler Clippard did his job in the bottom of the inning. 

In the ninth, Jeurys Famila let up a leadoff single. He was helped out by Duda who made a nice play getting the lead runner out on a terrible Anthony Rendon bunt. Familia walked Bryce Harper, who is seemingly 0 for 2015 against the Mets. It would set up a huge 5-4-3 double play to end the game, and perhaps the NL East race. 

It took awhile, but the Mets picked up Harvey and themselves. This Mets team is resilient and looks like they’ve locked it up. Let’s now get Harvey ready for October. 

Post script: I stumped Gary 

  

Do You Still Celebrate Harvey Day?

It’s been an eventful week for Matt Harvey, the Mets, and Mets fans. Who are we kidding?  It’s been an eventful two years. All season long, Mets fans have celebrated Harvey starts as “Happy Harvey Day!”

I get the impression Mets fans aren’t celebrating Harvey Day anymore. They’re willing to overlook his 12-7 record with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. They’re overlooking how they pined for him all of 2014 because he was the key to being a team that could be a World Series contender. They’re overlooking the fact that Harvey has so far delivered.

I understand the anger. I understand the frustration. I can even understand why people presume that they can tell someone to tell someone to do with their health and career. What I can’t understand is forgetting all that Harvey has done for the Mets. What I can’t understand is the Mets fans double standards. 

Mets fans actually booed a looming free agent superstar in Mike Piazza. For comparison purposes, it would be like the Mets fans booing Yoenis Cespedes now, and Cespedes is nowhere near the player Piazza is.  I’m sure the Mets fans will elect to boo Harvey as well. I guess that puts Harvey in good company. 

Also, the Mets have botched the handling of Harvey’s inning limits, whether or not the 180 was a strict limit. Seriously, they’ve aborted the six man rotation on three different occasions. They’ve refused to bring back Dillon Gee. They never called anyone else up to take Steven Matz‘s place in the six man rotation when he was injured

The Mets made their choice. They let Harvey, and the other pitchers, rack up innings so they had a better chance of winning games in the short term. They were hoping they could bully their pitchers to ignore doctor’s, and yes, agent’s advice, to go beyond their innings limits. We’re going to boo Harvey for this?

I’m not. I’m going to cheer Harvey today (from my living room). I’ll cheer him in this and all other starts he makes in 2015 and beyond. I hope you will as well. 

The Trade We Seem to Forget

The Yoenis Cespedes trade was everything Mets fans could’ve dreamed of and more. The man has been a walking, talking highlight film. Tyler Clippard has locked down the eighth inning. Even though the price the Mets paid for these two players was high, these players have produced well enough that this isn’t the story. 

You know what isn’t a story anymore?  Sandy Alderson’s trade that brought the Mets Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. Neither one has been spectacular since coming to the Mets. Uribe has gone .200/.288/.410. Johnson has gone .245/.297/.426. However, they’ve had their moments. Yesterday, Johnson hit a homerun to put the Mets up 2-0. On his first day, Uribe got a game winning hit in extra innings. Uribe may not be hitting much, but the hits he has are huge. 

Also, Uribe has been a great clubhouse presence. He keeps things light. He keeps things upbeat. That’s important when the Mets have had some bad beats.  This team gets themselves off the mat. I’m sure Uribe has played a large part in that. 

It’s also important to note with David Wright back and a healthy Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, they’re bench players. Good, veteran bench players that gives Terry Collins a lot of options. This is a huge upgrade over the Danny Muno‘s of the world. 

Johnson and Uribe have both been been in the playoffs, and Uribe has won a World Series. Their acquisition was the first step towards winning a World Series. However far the Mets go, they will be a big part of it. 

Mets Are Resilient & Better

The Mets lost 2/3 to the Marlins. The Nationals were coming in hot. The Mets were starting their worst pitcher in Jon Niese, and the Nationals were starting their best in Max Scherzer. There was no reason why you would think the Mets would win this game. 

Except this – the Mets are resilient, and they’re a better team. Niese was handed a three run lead from Michael ConfortoKelly Johnson, and Yoenis Cespedes solo homeruns. He then didn’t get a call leading to a walk loading the bases. Sure enough, he gives up the lead on a grand slam to Met killer Wilson Ramos

He’s pulled and Carlos Torres enters. Sure enough, he pulls up lame and has to leave the game early. The resilient Mets got terrific bullpen work today made all the more remarkable by the fact that Tyler Clippard was unavailable. Erik GoeddelDario AlvarezHansel Robles, and Jeurys Familia combined to pitch four shutout innings allowing one hit and striking out eight. The highlights were Alvarez becoming the LOOGY we imagined he is by striking out Bryce Harper in the seventh, and Robles quick pitching his way into the Nationals’ heads. 

The Mets offense made sure the bullpens work was rewarded. After tying it with runs in the fifth and sixth, the Mets took over in the seventh. After Ruben Tejada negated a Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] lead off double with an awful sac bunt attempt, the Mets were resilient and picked him up. After a Curtis Granderson walk, David Wright hit an RBI single to put the Mets ahead for good. He would later score on a Cespedes RBI double. The image so far for the season is Wright pumping his fist as he beat out Harper’s throw to score the eighth run of the game. 

By the way, Cespedes had himself a day at the plate. He went 3-5 with two runs scored, two RBIs, two doubles and a homer. Terry Collins also had himself a day. Before the game, he declared this is a playoff series, and he was going to manage accordingly. If this is what we can expect in October, I take back every negative thing I’ve said about his managing abilities

This was just a terrific win. It’s the type of game that can sink the Nationals and propel the Mets even further. This’s Mets team is resilient, and they’re taking control of the division again. They’re putting the Nationals in the rear-view mirror, and they’re not looking back. 

Time to Get Conforto ABs Against Lefties

Regardless of whether I like it or not, Michael Conforto is a platoon player. Despite my problems with Terry Collins’ recent decision making, I understand his philosophy. He wants to get Michael Cuddyer‘s bat and Juan Lagares‘ glove out there. In the short term, it’s the right decision. 

I also like the idea that Collins seems to be having auditions for spots on the playoff roster. There’s a delicate balance right now between these auditions, keeping players healthy, getting the team ready for October, and protecting a large six game lead. Part of getting the Mets ready for the playoffs is getting the players who will be on the playoff roster ready for what they’ll see in the playoffs. 

The Mets should start with getting Conforto ABs against lefties. With Murphy and Michael Cuddyer injured, it’s a good time. Last night was a good start when Collins let Conforto face Mike Dunn. Conforto didn’t get a hit, but he also didn’t look overmatched. 

On Saturday and Sunday, the Marlins may start a LHP (although there are rumblings Sunday’s starter may change). Conforto should play in one of those games. It’s a good idea because there will come a point in time in October that a team will bring in a lefty to face Conforto. If it’s late in the game or extra innings, Collins may not have the luxury of pinch hitting for him in that spot. With that being said, it’s a good time to get Conforto some ABs against lefties now. 

To make room for Conforto in the lineup, the Mets could sit Curtis Granderson against a lefty. First, he isn’t hitting lefties well at all. Second, it would be good to get him a day off before a big series against the Nationals. Finally, it would be a good idea to let someone else get some reps in RF. I don’t care if it’s Conforto or the better suited Yoenis Cespedes with his strong arm.  Failing to do this might’ve cost the Mets the game last night

Overall, let’s get this team ready for what they’ll see in October. This includes letting Conforto see some lefties before the season is over.