Hot Stove

Today is a Great Day to be a Mets Fan

This morning my son woke me up early, very early, by sitting on my chest and yelling, “DADDY WAKE UP!”  I’m starting to come down sick. Despite all of this, I’m going to have to shovel about a foot of snow. So, how am I feeling this morning?  

AWESOME!  Yoenis Cespedes re-signed with the Mets. He turned down more money because he wanted to play for the Mets, for us fans. This never happens. Usually, like with Carlos Beltran, the Mets had to be the highest bidder in order to get the player. Again, this never happens. 

Furthermore, the Mets spent $27.5 million in the first year to get him. They gave him a no trade clause. They offered him an opt out. His contract is the fifth highest in Mets history and the highest single season salary in Mets history. The Mets made him the second highest paid position player next year. The Mets front-loaded his three year $75 million contract. The Wilpons spent to improve the team. 

Right now, there is no reason for any Mets fan to complain. Sure, you can miss players like Daniel Murphy. However, there is no reason to complain if you’re a fan. Alejandro De Aza may feel differently, but I’m pretty sure fans are alright with that. 

Today, it doesn’t get any better being a Mets fan. The fans were always all-in, and now the team is all-in as well. Today, as it continuously snows leaving us all trapped inside, the Mets have not had a sunnier outlook. Instead of thinking of shoveling, Mets fans are thinking of watching a World Series favorite playing baseball on warm summer nights. 

I’m not putting on my snow clothes to go outside today. No, I’m putting on the same clothes I will be wearing this October in Citi Field. What a great day. 


All Praise is Due to Cespedes

I’m still in shock, but Yoenis Cespedes is returning to the Mets. Better yet, the Mets opened the pocketbook in order to re-sign him. It’s incredible. La Potencia is back in Citi Field. 

This is even better because this shouldn’t have happened. It’s been a very bizarre offseason with many of the top free agents remaining unsigned until after the New Year. In any other year, Cespedes would’ve been signed long ago. Teams normally would’ve jumped all over him because he didn’t have a Qualifying Offer attached. The Mets got very lucky. 

The Mets were lucky because Cespedes was still on the market. They’re lucky Cespedes turned down bigger offers. They’re lucky he was willing to effectively take a one year deal. They’re just plain lucky. 

I’ve seen people saying the Mets played this perfectly. I’ve seen people saying the Mets are owed an apology. This is all nonsense. The Mets signed Alejandro De Aza to platoon in center. The Mets moved on from Cespedes. De Aza was not part of a long con to get Cespedes. No, for some reason, Cespedes was still on the market when he shouldn’t have been. As a result, the Mets got lucky, very lucky. We should all celebrate this day. However, no one should be patting the Mets on the back. Instead, we should all be taking the other 29 teams for not making Cespedes an offer he couldn’t refuse. 

More importantly, we should all thank Cespedes. He wanted to be here.  He got a no trade clause to be here.  He is the one that made it happen more than anyone. He deserves your promise more than anyone. So no, don’t apologize to the Mets. Go out and thank Cespedes. 

It’s a Cespedes Miracle!

Cespedes to Alaska?

We knew it was going to happen sooner or later. It turns out tonight was the night the Mystery team got involved in the Yoenis Cespedes bidding:

As far as I know there is only one Mystery team. They’re in Alaska, and they play hockey. I can understand the lure to join Mystery. Russell Crowe is on that team. He may hold you accountable, but he does party with the team. There’s a lot to like about joining the Mystery team. With that said, I highly doubt Cespedes wants to play in Alaska. That would be going from the biggest stage in the world to effectively becoming invisible. It’s time for Cespedes to stop fooling around and just sign the discounted team friendly deal the Mets have offered him. 

It’s got to beat playing in Alaska, doesn’t it?

Soups On the Opening Day Roster

As Sandy Alderson stated numerous times this offseason, the Mets payroll is expected to be around $115 million. With the Mets signing Antonio Bastardo, it  looks like the Mets payroll is around $115 million depending on the remaining arbitration cases. This probably means the Mets are done spending this offseason.  

If the Mets are done spending, that means the Mets will need to find a right hand hitting 1B/OF from within their organization.  Looking over the 40 man roster, there is one player that fits that description. Fan favorite Eric Campbell. Seriously, peruse the roster. Matt Reynolds  is a 2B/SS. Darrell Ceciliani is a left-hand hitting outfielder. The other prospects are future everyday players. 

No, it appears that right now Eric Campbell is going to make the Opening Day roster. For all the discussion of the Mets building a deeper, more versatile roster, we get Eric Campbell.

Now, there are some good things to say about Campbell. He’s a good pinch hitter. He’s willing to do anything and everything to play in the majors including learning how to catch. He has an unsustainably low BABIP, and he hits the ball hard. Those two things coupled together means he could have a much better year at the plate. 

With all that said, how is Eric Campbell in position to make the Opening Day roster. The Mets are less than a month away from Spring Training, and they don’t have a better option than Campbell to be the 25th man on the team. How is this excusable for a team that just won the NL Pennant and wants to return to the World Series?  Right now, the reason boils down to the Mets possibly having maxed out on their budget for the 2016 season before signing a better player for his spot. 

I like Campbell and all he represents. He cannot be on the Opening Day roster. As of right now, he probably will be. 

Note: this obviously changes if the Mets sign Cespedes. I may be in the minority, but I’m not confident that will happen. 

Historically the Mets Do Not Offer an Opt Out to Cespedes

Earlier this offseason, Commissioner Rob Manfred came out against opt out clauses. His stance is important because traditionally the Wilpon family has adhered to the Commissioner’s requests and recommendations. They did so even if it could have possibly prevented the Mets from getting a better player. 

I was reminded of that again when I saw the video from the Mets meeting with season ticket holders. Essentially, the Mets appeared to once again be falling lock step with the Commissioner’s office on an issue that would only harm the Mets ability to obtain the better players. Well, now with all the Yoenis Cespedes drama, it appears that may be changing:

Or is it?  We all read Andy Martino’s New York Daily News article about the Winter Meetings. We saw in that article how the Mets attempt to manipulate the media to curry fan favor and/or attempt to remove some heat off of them.  The key passage is:

My first scoop came in late November, when some media outlets were reporting that Dickey was seeking a five-year deal. Dickey called me one day, angry, insisting he only wanted three. He believed the Mets were leaking misinformation to make him appear greedy. I didn’t know anything about that, but was more than happy to relay his take. I got the story, and he got his perspective in the paper. 


One team official, very late at night, screamed at me, “I don’t know what R.A. is telling you, but he needs to step aside and let his agent handle this. 

I look at all of this, and I wonder if the Mets are truly going to offer an opt out clause. We know the Mets previous attempts to change public perception on Cespedes failed. Mets fans don’t want to pass on him because he smokes cigarettes. No, they still want him to return.  Further complicating the matter is the fact that Cespedes loved being a Met. That means the Mets need to act and act fast. Judging by Buster Olney’s Tweet, it appears they are. 

However, I don’t know how plausible it is the Mets would offer an opt out clause. If the leak came from the Mets, it may just mean they want to placate their fan base that they really tried to land Cespedes on a reasonable deal, but he passed anyway. It might have been leaked by Cespedes’ agents to try to get Washington to bid against themselves. What I do know is that the Mets going against the Commissioner’s Office on an issue is uncharacteristic of them.  I hope this is the time it happens, but based on past history, I doubt it. 

Until I see Cespedes at a press conference putting his #52 jersey back on, I’m going to assume the Mets offer to Cespedes is three years with an opt out after the third year. 

Can We Get Cespedes for a Song?

All it took was one Tweet for Mets fans to get suckered back in on the Yoenis Cespedes front:

Now, every Mets fan is hitting refresh on Twitter and on MLB Trade Rumors. Essentially, everyone is hoping Cespedes is going to take an under market contract to stay with the Mets. 

Honestly, this whole situation reminds me of a George Harrison song:

The long story short is the a Mets fans can’t stop thinking about Cespedes. However, the man is going to want to get paid. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t look like the Mets are going to give him a “whole lot of spending money” or “the time to do it right, child”. 

I hope I’m wrong. I hope the Mets can get Cespedes for a song. 

It’s Jeff’s Team Now

Yesterday, there was a lot of uproar over Fred Wilpon’s statements regarding the Mets chances to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes:

You can read this anyway you want. Personally, I take this to mean that Fred Wilpon is in semi-retirement and/or focusing his attention on the other Wilpon businesses. Right now, it appears that the Mets are now truly Jeff Wilpon’s toy. It’s what the Wilpons always intended. 

In 2000, Andrew Rice reported on the strife between the Wilpons and the Doubledays. Part of the story was how Doubleday no longer wanted to be partners with the Mets, and how he wanted out. The Wilpons blocked any attempt for Doubleday to broker a deal that would threaten Jeff’s ability to run the team

Last year [1999], Mr. Doubleday was ready to sell 80 percent of the team to Cablevision for $400 million – a deal that could have shielded his children, who are uninvolved in Mets affairs, from huge estate taxes. But Mr. Wilpon scuttled the deal, out of concern that, as a minority partner once again, there would be no assurance that he would still run the team. Jeff Wilpon, who is closely involved with the day-to-day planning for the new stadium, is said to be eager to take over the team one day.

[emphasis added]

Well, that time has come. Jeff Wilpon now appears to be in charge of the Mets. He’s the one appearing at Hall of Fame press conferences, the one who does not make himself available for reporters’ questions, and the one attending Winter Meetings, and the one showing up in the clubhouse for team celebrations. He’s taken over the team. 

Jeff’s time at the top had been eventful and unchecked so far. Anything is possible from here on out. With Jeff firing pregnant women, taking out massive loans, and getting rid of disabled people without so much as a peep from Major League Baseball, nothing will surprise me. So far, no one has spoken out or corrected Jeff Wilpon for his actions. Jeff is running this team unfettered. 

So no, I’m not surprised Fred Wilpon doesn’t know what’s going on with Cespedes because Jeff is in charge now. 

Granderson Is Standing in Cespedes’ Way

Right now, there are two people who are realistically standing in the way of Yoenis Cespedes returning to the Mets. No, it’s not Fred and Jeff Wilpon. It’s Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson

Like it or not, Sandy Alderson was right when he said Cespedes isn’t a centerfielder. While Cespedes grades out as an elite leftfielder, he’s just not good in center. Last year, he had a -3.2 UZR and -4 DRS while playing center. For his career, his UZR in center is -12.6, and his DRS there is -17. While the Mets were willing to move him in and out of center to take advantage of platoon splits for Juan Lagares while not forcing Conforto to face lefties. While it was rough at times, it did seem to work. 

However, that was over the course of three months. Cespedes’ defensive numbers in center are unsustainable over a full season. I don’t buy the argument he only needs to play there two years. He’s already established he shouldn’t be playing there now. No, if the Mets want to re-sign him, he needs to go either left or right. That begs the question, why haven’t the Mets made room for him?

Specifically, I’m asking why the Mets haven’t explored trading Granderson.  Last year, Granderson hit .259/.364/.457 with 26 homers and 70 RBI from the leadoff spot. He was a finalist for the Gold Glove in rightfield. On a team where everyone was dropping like flies, he played 157 games, and really, he was the only credible major league bat in the lineup for far too long stretches of time. His 5.1 WAR ranked him as a top five rightfielder in all of baseball last year. He has a reasonable two years $31 million remaining on his contract. One way of looking at this is saying he’s too valuable to be traded. 

Another is to say he’s at his peak value, which is the precise time you want to trade players. Granderson is a year removed from a .237/.326/.338 campaign. The year before that he hit .229/.317/.407.  He had pronounced splits last year hitting .183/.273/.286 against lefties and .280/.388/.504 against righties. His 5.1 WAR last year was the highest it had been since 2011. He’s going to be 35 on Opening Day next year. 

Right now, the Mets still project to have Eric Campbell make the Opening Day roster until they sign another 1B/OF. The Mets still talk about adding another reliever. Their farm system took a big hit last year. Couldn’t trading Granderson address one, two, or all three of these needs?  Isn’t that what smart front offices do?  Don’t they trade away a player a year too early rather than a year too late? 

Also keep in mind,this is a heavy left-hand hitting team. Trading Granderson and re-signing Cespedes would balance that out a bit. Isn’t this something worth exploring?

Personally, I’d like to see the Mets keep Granderson. I’m a big fan of his on and off the field. With that said, trading Granderson now may be the right thing to do. His value won’t be any higher, and the Mets have some needs to address. The Mets do not want to be paying for Granderson during his possible decline.

It might be time to trade Granderson. 

Editor’s Note: this article first appeared on

Bastardo Signing Fits a Theme

I can make a case that Antonio Bastardo was a bad or unnecessary free agent signing. He walks to many guys. Following his ERA+, he’s an every other year player, and next year is his bad year. The Mets were well represented from the left-hand side with Jerry BlevinsDario Alvarez, and Josh Edgin. Last year, Bastardo had less innings pitched than appearances. 

However, I’m not going to make that case. Bastardo appears to be that rare cross-over non-closer lefty reliever. For his career, Bastardo allowed lefties to hit .178/.277/.319 and righties to hit .211/.308/.332. He had a 1.198 WHIP and a 11.0 K/9. He limits the long ball. He has been durable. 

No, I’m again going to question this front offices’ obsession with steroids players. Bastardo is the third steroids player the Mets have signed this offseason. Bartolo Colon and Asdrubal Cabrera are the others. On top of that, the Mets offered Jenrry Mejia arbitration. This is the same Mejia who was suspended twice last year. The same Mejia the Mets were reportedly angry and disappointed with for the suspensions

How can the Mets say one cross word about Mejia when they keep bringing other steroid users into the organization?  It’s hypocritical. It’s apparent the Mets don’t care about steroids. They care about players getting caught. 

If you think I’m going too far with this, or you don’t care, please consider this tweet:

That’s right.  A roided up Bastardo beat a presumably clean pitcher for a job.  Meyer never pitched in the big leagues again, and Bastardo has a two year $12 million contract. Of course it came from the Mets. 

They love players who use steroids upo until the time they get caught. Then they’ll tell you how much they hate it. Hypocrites. 

Stay the Course on Cespedes

Overall, it’s apparent that the Mets do not see Yoenis Cespedes as a part of their 2015 plans. They’ve gone in another direction to address their offseason needs. While it’s rumored the Mets have a 2-3 year offer out to Cespedes, it’s apparent he’s not taking it. The Mets could increase that offer to sign Cespedes, but they do not seem inclined to do it. Well it seems the Mets resolve is going to be tested. 

As Ken Rosenthal reports, the Nationals are pursuing Cespedes. Apparently, Cespedes is the Nationals next option after they missed out on Jason Heyward and Justin Upton. They are still interested even after trading for Ben Revere. The Nationals have made Cespedes an offer that’s less than the six year $132.75 million deal Upton received. 

If Cespedes joins Daniel Murphy in Washington, there’s going to be a riot amongst the fan base. The backlash is going to be very ugly. Signing Cespedes could theoretically tip the scales in the Nationals favor with them now being favorites to win the NL East. With all that said, the Mets have to stay the course. 

Alderson believes Cespedes is a square peg in a round hole. Essentially, he doesn’t see Cespedes as a centerfielder, and he’s right. What you’re willing to put up with for three months may not be what you will put up for a full season, let alone for three to five years. 

If you truly believe Cespedes isn’t worth a four year deal, and he can’t play CF, you have to pass. You pass even if it means he goes to your biggest threat in the division. If you think Cespedes is not a CF, and you think he will be a problem if he receives a contract longer than three years, who better than your biggest competition to make that mistake?

Most Mets fans will not agree with this decision. At the end of the day, that’s not Sandy Alderson’s main concern. His concern is to build a winner in 2016 and beyond. There may be mitigating factors, but at the end of the day, you try to make things work that fit into your parameters. If they stray from that, you need to walk away. Unfortunately, it seems like when the Mets walk away again, their #3 and #4 hitters will play in Washington. 

The Mets need to ignore that fact and move on. They need to not care where Cespedes winds up. They need to do what is best for this team. They need to spend more money in other areas to improve the team in other ways. 

Ultimately, the Mets are just going to have to stay the course.