Yoenis Cespedes

Mets Needed Relief

If it wasn’t so hot hot tonight, I swear it was October. Tonight’s game just had that feel to it. 

Speaking of October, we got a glimpse why the Pirates may be better suited to go deeper in the playoffs – their bullpen. Top to bottom, it’s terrific. The Mets bullpen is top heavy with Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia. I’m not saying I felt like the game was in the balance when Bobby Parnell was announced. I am saying I have no confidence in him. 

He did give up hard hits, and he left the game with no outs, runners on first and second, and the Mets down 2-1 in the tenth. Carlos Torres did his best to get out of it, but at the end of the top of the 10th, the Mets trailed 3-1. 

That insurance run was a doozy. Juan Lagares had a terrific AB against  Pirates closer, Mark Melancon, before hitting a double to right center. He would advance on a wild pitch and score on Curtis Granderson‘s sac fly. Cespedes would meekly strikeout. in fact, he failed to run with strike three in the dirt. That’s inexcusable. Juan Uribe would groundout to end the game. Final score was 3-2. 

It’s too bad the crowd wasn’t paying attention to the game.  You CANNOT do the wave in a tight, well played baseball game between two terrific teams. I’m not for outlawing the wave. There is a time and place for everything. There was no room for the wave tonight. 

If they were actually paying attention to the game, they would’ve noticed Bartolo Colon‘s great performance. [I can admit it when he pitches well]. He only allowed a first inning homerun to Neil Walker. Sure, he was occasionally helped by his defense, but he got the groundballs to induce those double plays to get him out of trouble. Amazingly, J.A. Happ was just as good.

If not for that Yoenis Cespedes‘ sixth inning homerun, I’m positive the Mets would’ve lost 1-0 in an excellently played ballgame by both teams. Needless to say, it turned out all for naught. 

In terms of the lineup, the Mets have shown Michael Conforto should’ve been sent down. They’re making him a platoon player, which could be detrimental to his career. He’s didnt start in 3/4 games against the Rockies, and he won’t start in 2/3 games against the Pirates. Monday is an off day. That means in one week he got one start and two PH appearances. Would it really have been that bad if those six plate appearances were divvied up between Eric Campbell, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Lagares?

Fastballs by Jake

Personally, I love how quietly Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey are in this competition amongst themselves to be the ace of this staff. We shouldn’t be surprised the Mets have had two straight shut outs. Last night, Harvey allowed 4 hits and no walks with four strikeouts in eight innings. 

Tonight, deGrom was brilliant behind that brilliant fastball of his. He ended his last inning brilliantly with his 10th strikeout in the seventh. Overall, he allowed two hits with an uncharacteristic four walks. All the more remarkable, he didn’t allow a run with first and third with no out in the fifth (much of that due to poor Rockie base running). 

Offensively, Travis d’Arnaud is red hot going four for last nine. Michael Cuddyer played his second game in a row. He plated Juan Uribe, who had an RBI double of his own. We saw Yoenis Cespedes show a “Feat of Strength.”  Other than that, there was much not going on offensively.   This included a Michael Conforto pop-out in the seventh, when he pinch hit for deGrom. However, on a night with deGrom, three runs (3-0 final score) was all the Mets needed, especially with Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia locking down the win. 

I guess I should also mention Cespedes had quite the armband . . . 

  
. . . that just so happened to match the color of the new Rally Parakeet

  
Whether it’s the black cat in 1969, or the yellow parakeet in 2015, I’ll take all the help we can get. 

Montero & deGrom

Jacob deGrom is taking the mound tonight.  Mets fans are all excited for his start tonight.  Why shouldn’t we be.  The man has been “deGrominant,” whether it was him winning Rookie of the Year, his All Star Game appearance, or his terrific 2015 season.  How quickly we all forget that this was never supposed to happen.

When deGrom was first called-up to the Mets, he was supposed to be in the bullpen while Rafael Montero was supposed to be in the rotation.  As we know, deGrom had a strong rookie season, and in the beginning of 2015, it was Montero who was assigned to the bullpen (at least initially).  It turns out that would have been a colossal mistake.  In fact, this should make Mets fans question every pitching move this front office makes.

To be fair, Montero did enter last year ranked ahead of deGrom.  However, that is an independent rating of those two players.  Each organization should know their prospects better than fine sites like Baseball America.  Additionally, this is the same team that gave up on Collin McHugh, a very dependable major league starter for a team that wants to go to a six man rotation, for Eric Young, Jr., who is a part time player on an under .500 Braves team.

It didn’t stop there. Right before the season began, the Mets traded for Alex Torres, who pitched so well he’s in AAA right now. The cost was Cory Mazzoni, who was a prospect the Mets became frustrated with due to his injury history. It should be noted these were non-arm related injuries. Mazzoni has a decent repertoire that makes the 2011 former second round pick a back end starter or reliever. This is something the Mets need now. Instead, the Padres have the prospect and the Mets have dead weight. I just hope we don’t have another Heath Bell situation here. 

This is why I wasn’t happy with the Tyler Clippard and Yoenis Cespedes trades. These are both rentals, who aren’t resigning with the team. If the A’s didn’t trade Clippard to the Mets, then the Nationals overpay or Billy Beane finally accepts the Mets offer. Overall, this is bad negotiation. 

It’s also bad valuation of assets. Remember if not for injuries deGrom would be setting up for Jeurys Familia, or possibly closing while the Mets are figuring out the rotation on a sub .500 team. 

This is why I question this front office. People may disagree with me, but this is partially why I question their treatment of Michael Conforto and Kevin Plawecki. Given their other moves, I think they invite this skepticism. I hope I’m not the only one. 

What if Cuddyer’s Healthy?

With all of the hand-wringing over Michael Conforto, we’ve ignored other puzzling decisions by the Mets, namely:

https://mobile.twitter.com/msimonespn/status/631287918150049794

That’s right. Even though Curtis Granderson has had a real nice year, he’s not hitting lefties. This shouldn’t surprise anyone because he’s effectively been a platoon candidate throughout his career:

vs. RHP .269/.356/.504

vs. LHP .224/.294/.398

Now, since Terry Collins has an infatuation with leading off Juan Lagares, I would say this is a natural platoon. However, I shudder to think of Collins putting him in RF again with Yoenis Cespedes in center. Plus, Lagares is in that platoon with Conforto. 

Last night, Michael Cuddyer played his first game since coming off the DL, and he played well. He was 2-4 with two runs scored. On the first run, he scored from second on Carlos Gonzalez’s strong arm. In the eighth, he stole a base. In sum, he looked healthy. If he’s really healthy, he creates a good problem to have. 

He’s a professional hitter (an “ultimate pro“) with a career triple slash line of .277/.344/.462. Arguably, if healthy, he’s the best hitting OF currently on the team (I think it’s Cespedes).  In his career, he’s been deadly against lefties to the tune of .288/.376/.495. I think it’s a no-brained for him to platoon with Granderson, at a minimum. 

For his career, Cuddyer hits righties to the tune of .273/.330/.447. He’s much better against lefties. Here’s the Mets other OF options against righties (Granderson is above)

Yoenis Cespedes .277/.317/.478

Michael Conforto .206/.317/.382 (SSS)

Juan Lagares .253/.285/.336

What this tells us, is if Cuddyer is healthy, he needs to play everyday. I think it would be wise to ease him back, but I would not limit him to a strict platoon. This means, on offense alone, the OF against righties should be: Cuddyer LF, Cespedes CF, Granderson RF. Again, this indicates Conforto should be demoted. 

If Cuddyer’s not healthy, then the Mets need to figure something out with Granderson in RF. He did come through the past few nights against a lefty, but that was more about the reliever than him. 

I hope Cuddyer’s really healthy because he’ll be a huge boost to the offense as he was last night. If not, he should be Granderson’s caddy against lefties. 

Right now, with all of these interchangeable parts, Collins has to earn his money by putting the best team on the field. He can’t gamble because there is so much to lose right now. If Cuddyer’s healthy, a lot of the risk is removed and it makes Collins’ job a lot easier. It also makes the Mets a better team. 

Are the Mets All-In?

Rarely, if ever, do you see the Mets go all-in on a season. In fact, the only time I remember it happening was 1999 when Steve Phillips traded everyone to try to improve the team after just missing out on the playoffs in 1998. 

Watching that 1999 team was probably the most fun I had watching baseball. With that season came so many highlights including the Al Leiter two-hitter in the Wild Card play-in gamePratt’s All Folks, and the Grand Slam Single. The season ended cruelly with Kenny Rogers . . . . 

If you remember, that year the Mets gave away Jason Isringhausen for Billy Taylor.  As we know Taylor had no regular season impact and was left off the playoff roster.  It also saw Octavio Dotel get called up too soon and stay in the majors too long to the tune of a 5.38 ERA. He was warming in the bullpen when Kenny Rogers . . . .

This year, the Mets are seemingly all-in like they were in 1999. They gave up their two best prospects who have not appeared in the majors this year. In exchange the Mets received two and a half months of Tyler Clippard and Yoenis Cespedes, who is leaving as a free agent. Because of deplorable offense, Michael Conforto was rushed to the majors, and the Mets won’t send him back down

Look, I understand going all-in. It led to a run in 1999, and to a certain extent 2000. However, in order to go all-in, you don’t hedge your bets. 

For starters, that means ending the innings limits nonsense. First of all, the underlying theorem was proven incorrect. Second, the rotation is set up nicely the rest of the year if it’s left unadulterated. Third, Steven Matz must go to the bullpen upon his return from the DL. 

If the Mets make the playoffs, he will be in the bullpen anyway (if he makes the postseason roster). He can be like the 2006 Adam Wainwright or the 2008 David Price out there. This will help him and the Mets. If you put him in the rotation, you mess up the rotation and you endanger the opportunity that Matz can be effective in the postseason as a reliever. 

If the Mets are truly all-in as their trades and treatment of Conforto suggest, Matz will be a reliever. If the Mets put him in the rotation and try spot starts or a six man rotation in September, then they should’ve sent down Conforto. You can’t go half way in being all-in. 

Let’s hope no matter what they do, it works out to their benefit. Let’s also hope we’re talking potential postseason roster moves instead. 

The American Dream

If you haven’t yet, you should read the New York Post today and see the story about Yoenis Cespedes’ defecting from Cuba. It’s reporting at its best. 

I remembered growing up hearing about the oppression of communist countries like the USSR and Cuba. However, I never truly had context. Sunday’s Post story allowed me to do that. It’s hard to imagine for no reason a government trying to take away your dream of playing baseball. It’s unreal that you couldn’t use the Internet as freely as you can here. Lastly, it’s unfathomable you would have to leave your son behind to seek a better life for everyone. 

For most people, our ancestors came to America because it was the land of opportunity. Most sought out this land of opportunity because they were escaping something. I think no matter how far removed you are, you need to remember your roots and make sure your children are aware of them as well. 

My son comes from a line of survivors. On my side of the family, my ancestors escaped the English oppression of Ireland and the potato famines. My family’s story is mundane compared to my wife’s grandparents’ story. 

Her grandmother was similar to Frank McCourt in that she was born in America, but she returned to her native country, the Ukraine (she returned because she was born while her mother was visiting family in the U.S., not due to extreme poverty). Therefore, when the Nazis invaded, she was able to return to America as a citizen. Her husband was not as lucky. 

He couldn’t come to America immediately. So, while he waited to find a way out, he continued to run his tailoring business. Before he could escape, he was put in a concentration camp. He survived. When he and the other prisoners were freed, they were just released out into the wild. No one was given any help or support. 

His ever-loving wife never gave up hope. She waited, and waited, and waited. Her American cousins told her to move on. Surely, anyone would’ve understood. The chances of his survival weren’t great. Them finding one another after all those years was infinitesimal. Years and years passed. Finally, with all of the searching, hoping, and praying her husband was located and brought to the U.S.  

He became a proud American citizen. He and his wife saved money and purchased a home. He raised two daughters and put them through college. When he passed away, he left behind a loving wife, two daughters, and a smart, beautiful granddaughter. She, herself, was well educated, and very cognizant of her roots and her family’s history. She gave birth to an amazing baby boy. A boy who is fourth generation Irish-American (depending on which family member you select) and third generation Ukranian-American. 

As you can see, we all have our stories. Some escape starvation and oppression. Others escape one of the worst dictators and atrocities the world has ever known. Some just want to play baseball. 

Lucky for my wife, my son, and I, we were born in America, the greatest country in the world. We don’t know the oppression and hardships of our forefathers. We are here because of those who struggled and had to risk everything to come here. I couldn’t imagine them having to leave loved ones behind. 

I feel pity for Cespedes not being able to see his son. No amount of money or phone calls can make up for that. I know I couldn’t do what he’s doing right now. I hope one day he and his son are united because as we see when families are united wonderful things happen. 

Cespedes Will Leave for Greener Pasture$

I don’t understand who came up with the rumor that Yoenis Cespedes could resign with the Mets. It’s not going to happen. I don’t care that he said:

Keep in mind, the Tigers are optimistic the can resign him:

https://mobile.twitter.com/BNightengale/status/627222615459958785

The thing is Cespedes has said he wants to stay with the Mets and Tigers long term. You know where he really wants to go?  The same place every player wants to go . . . the team that offers him the most money. Think about it. Why would a Cuban defector want to go to Oakland?  It’s because they offered the most money. How much does Cespedes want?  Think big:

https://mobile.twitter.com/marccarig/status/628735472664227840

Even if this is what it’ll take to resign him, the Mets need to agree to that deal within five days after the World Series. My impression is if the Mets do offer it, Roc Nation will shop it around and get a better deal for Cespedes. 

Keep in mind the Mets didn’t magically become flush with cash. They’re actually going to have to pay David Wright next year. I can’t imagine the Mets going from asking the Athletics (twice) and Braves to kick in money on a trade and then spending like drunken sailors next year. 

Also, the Mets have a pending logjam in the outfield next year. Curtis Granderson will be making $16 million. Michael Cuddyer will be making $12.5 million. Juan Lagares will be making $2.5 million. Michael Conforto has already found his way to the majors and may be in the mix next year. Plus, Brandon Nimmo is not far away. 

They’ll have to move someone to make room for Cespedes, and they won’t have enough time to do it. They’ll also have to determine what to do with Daniel Murphy, who is a free agent. I think the Mets might’ve initially been inclined to let him walk. However, with the second base uncertainty and David Wright’s back, they may look to bring him back. 

So, Mets’ fans need to enjoy Cespedes now because he won’t be back. Hopefully, he will get a bump in salary after a good postseason, maybe even a World Series title.  That is our best case scenario. 

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.