Yoenis Cespedes

Mets Last Postseason Run Distant Memory

When the New York Mets played the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card Series, it was the first time the Mets were in the postseason since they were in the postseason in 2016. In fact, that marked just the second time in team history the Mets went to the postseason in consecutive seasons.

While just seven years ago, none of the players from those 2015-2016 Mets teams are around anymore. Actually, that’s not entirely true with Jerry Blevins working on the SNY postgame and occasionally filling in for Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez.

Blevins isn’t the only player who is retired. Look back at their starting lineup in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. Almost all of those players are retired:

  1. Curtis Granderson – retired
  2. David Wright – retired
  3. Daniel Murphy – retired
  4. Yoenis Cespedes – attempting a comeback after retiring
  5. Lucas Duda – retired
  6. Travis d’Arnaud – Atlanta Braves
  7. Michael Conforto – San Francisco Giants
  8. Wilmer Flores – San Francisco Giants
  9. Kelly Johnson – retired

That is five retired and one more effectively retired. Notably, with Johnson, we saw Michael Cuddyer and Kirk Nieuwenhuis pinch hit in that DH spot, and both are now retired. If anything, it would seem the San Francisco Giants is the official team of the 2015 Mets.

As we see with Conforto and Flores, there are still some of those Mets players still in the majors, Matt Harvey notwithstanding. However, when Jacob deGrom signing with the Texas Rangers, there are currently no players from that team still with the Mets organization.

When Seth Lugo signed with the San Diego Padres, that left the Mets with absolutely no pitchers from that two year run. When Conforto signed with the Giants, that meant Brandon Nimmo was the only Mets player from that two year stretch to remain with the Mets, and he only played in 32 games.

When deGrom signed with the Rangers, we obviously lamented the second greatest Met ever leaving the organization. However, it was Conforto and Lugo leaving which officially turned the page on those teams with so much promise which ultimately fell apart due to the Wilpons malfeasance and cheapness.

In a sense, we should welcome this chapter forever being closed. Now, it is all about Steve Cohen and how he runs the Mets. So far this offseason, that means Nimmo is a Met for life in addition to adding Justin Verlander, Koudai Senga, Jose Quintana, David RobertsonOmar Narvaez and hopefully, Carlos Correa. Oh, and by the way, the Mets brought back Edwin Diaz and Adam Ottavino.

So yes, it is sad to see a part of Mets history gone, but we will have those memories. More than that, we have an exciting new era and owner. Now, it is time to just wait for Correa to sign, and the Mets to win a World Series.

Mets Should Look To Add Michael Fulmer

Back in 2015, the New York Mets made the mistake of trading Michael Fulmer to acquire Yoenis Cespedes. No, it was not a mistake to obtain Cespedes, but rather, Fulmer was far too high a price to pay. As it would turn out, the Mets needed starting pitching the ensuing two seasons where Fulmer was winning Rookie of the Year and being named an All-Star.

Well, from there, Fulmer had some injury prone years and moved to the bullpen. For his part, Cespedes needed double heel surgery, and then, he would have an incident falling off his horse or something with a feral hog during his rehab. The details are still murky.

Regardless, the Detroit Tigers received a 12.2 WAR out of Fulmer and a prospect at the trade deadline. The Mets received an epic run from Cespedes amounting to a 2.1 WAR and not postseason production at the plate past Game 3 of the NLDS. In essence, the Mets made a win-now trade and didn’t win.

Fast-forward to 2023, and Fulmer is a free agent while Cespedes is trying to get back into the majors. The Mets are also looking to build a bullpen which can get them their first World Series since 1986. It already looks formidable with the following relievers in place:

There are other pitchers in the mix, but these are the relievers who are guaranteed. With five starters, that leaves up to four more relievers who can be added. The presumption is at least two of Joey Lucchesi, Tylor Megill, and David Peterson will start the season in Triple-A to provide organizational starting pitching depth.

That probably leaves pitchers like Jeff Brigham and John Curtiss on more of a solid footing to make the Opening Day bullpen than they probably should. Even with those names likely to make the bullpen, the Mets are still at least one arm short.

Fulmer, 29, would be an excellent fit. As a reliever, he has a 128 ERA+. As per Baseball Savant, he does an exceptional job limiting hard contact and barrels. We’ve also seen Jeremy Hefner work well with pitchers how have a similar repertoire. All told, he probably remains the best arm remaining on the market.

While we are very confident in this Mets roster, they probably remain an arm short in the bullpen. Fulmer would go a long way to resolving that issue and make this Mets team even better. All this time later, the Mets now need to sign Fulmer instead of trading him to try to help put this Mets team over the top.

Daniel Vogelbach Trade Hamstrung Mets

With respect to Daniel Vogelbach, some things should be made clear. The trade did help the New York Mets last season.

Vogelbach was a definitive upgrade over J.D. Davis. He was a DH for a team in need of one. He was cheap in every sense of the word.

Colin Holderman was a light price to pay for an established Major League hitter. His $800,00 contract was absurdly low as was his $1.5 million option.

Vogelbach kills right-handed pitching. He had a 150 wRC+ against them in 2022. In three of the last five years, he’s been a 127 or better, and in four of the past five, he’s been 117 or better.

However, as good as he’s been against right-handed pitching, he’s been even worse against left-handed pitching. For his career, he has a 41 wRC+ against them.

That’s unplayable necessitating the Mets platoon him. The issue there was Davis is/was not good necessitating another trade.

While Vogelbach was cheap to obtain, Darin Ruf wasn’t. The Mets gave up too much to obtain him. No one would normally care all that much, but Ruf was bad.

Ruf did not adapt well to being a strict platoon DH. With the Mets, he had a 24 wRC+. Mets fans may actually be surprised to learn it was that high.

With Ruf being 36 years old, it’s difficult to see him turning things around. After all, he was already having a poor year with the San Francisco Giants.

This does leave the Mets in a position where they’re looking to address the DH position this offseason. As noted, that’s complicated by the presence of Vogelbach.

Remember, Vogelbach is a platoon DH and really nothing else. That hamstrings your roster flexibility. It also restricts who the Mets can use to address the other half of the platoon DH spot.

As we’ve seen, Ruf struggled, and there’s not much hope for a rebound. They won’t want to restrict Mark Vientos as just a platoon DH. Short of a reclamation project like Yoenis Cespedes, it’s difficult to imagine who will want to sign to be a short side platoon DH.

Perhaps, you could force Mark Canha or Eduardo Escobar into the role, but that forces you to make other moves. In some ways, that may make Brett Baty’s readiness to be an Opening Day third baseman the lynchpin to eventually making the Vogelbach trade work.

However you analyze it, it becomes clear Vogelbach has restricted the Mets ability to address the DH spot, and really, improve the roster overall. Yes, in the short term, it was the right move especially given all the costs involved, but in the long term, the trade isn’t working out well for the Mets.

Mets Should Consider Yoenis Cespedes Reunion

Things with Yoenis Cespedes did not end well with the New York Mets. After signing his second extension, he had the double heel surgery against Mets wishes, which was something of a Jeff Wilpon specialty with him trying the same with Carlos Beltran‘s career saving knee surgery.

During his rehab, he had the incident with the wild boar. His return was kaput as he now had to contend with a broken ankle. He would return in 2020 for eight games actually hitting two homers before leaving the team.

He opted out like many others did during COVID. While Cespedes told his teammates and the organization, an account backed up by players like Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, Brodie Van Wagenen and the Mets lied to the public saying they had no idea. After that, there was a significant amount of backlash against the player.

What is interesting is Cespedes was supposed to be one of the players who was to return for Old Timers’ Day. However, he didn’t. This was not a snub, but it had more to do with Cespedes looking to make a return to the Major Leagues. So far, Cespedes is off to a great start in the Winter Leagues:

Does this mean Cespedes can return and be an impact player in the majors? No, we absolutely cannot ascertain anything from one game against lesser competition. Still, with Cespedes, we see he can still have some of that magic in his bat.

This is the type of player for whom a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training exists. In terms of Cespedes, he actually could fill a need for the Mets.

At the trade deadline last year, the team acquired Daniel Vogelbach. That necessitates a right-handed platoon partner. That was supposed to be Darin Ruf, and that did not end well with his 20 OPS+. With Ruf under contract next year, there needs to be competition for him next year.

Internal solutions could be Francisco Álvarez or Mark Vientos. However, they are prospects, and the Mets do not want to have them be a short-sided platoon partner getting very limited plate appearances. That’s not good for them or the organization.

This is where Cespedes could help. He could be competition for Ruf. He is that rare player who raises his game on the New York stage. If there is anything left, the Mets could use it. There is still plenty of time in the Winter Leagues to look at Cespedes more, but the Mets should be tracking him intently while looking to bring him back to the organization.

Mets Need Offense, Bullpen, Luck At Trade Deadline

The line of demarcation for the New York Mets season seems to be June 1. Somehow, someway, it is always June for the Mets.

Entering June, the Mets had the best offense in baseball, and they were running away with the National League East. Since that time, the Mets offense has a 99 wRC+ which is 21st in the majors and seventh worst in the NL.

Keep in mind, the only teams with a worst offense are also-run teams with zero shot at making the postseason. What makes this worse is the Mets starting pitching has been phenomenal over this stretch. Their 3.45 ERA ranks sixth best in the majors and third best in the National League.

Keep in mind, much of that time was while the team had Trevor Williams in the rotation, Chris Bassitt was trying to get on the same page with Tomas Nido and Patrick Mazeika, and Carlos Carrasco was fighting fatigue. It was also a rotation without Max Scherzer for over a month.

Since Scherzer has been back, Mets starters have easily been the best in the majors with a 1.70 ERA. However, the Mets are only 9-7. Moreover, the Mets as a team are 25-20 since June 1 seeing their NL East lead dwindle from 10.5 games to 1.5 games.

Yes, part of the reason is the Atlanta Braves are on a historic tear. However, it has more to do with the Mets. Again, this team is not hitting. Morevoer, the bullpen has just been flat out bad.

Right now, Edwin Diaz is the only reliever the Mets can and will trust. The problem is he only throws one inning a night. The second best reliever on the team by ERA, Colin Holderman, was traded for Daniel Vogelbach. It’s at the point right now where the only set-up reliever the team can trust is Adam Ottavino.

Look at it another way. For the season, Mets relievers have a 3.53 ERA. On the surface, that is pretty good as it ranks as 10th best in the majors and fourth best in the NL.However, that includes Diaz and Holderman.

When you back out Diaz and Holderman, the Mets bullpen ERA rises to 3.90, which would rank 16th. That’s where the Mets bullpen is. They have a great closer, but they have a middling and unstable bridge to him. Arguably, they need a whole new bullpen.

Really, the Mets need luck. They need the kind of luck they had when Yoenis Cespedes became the best player on the planet and Addison Reed was the best set-up reliever out of the 2015 trade deadline.

That’s the thing. It’s not just getting players. It’s getting them to perform. Also, as we saw with 2015, the team got healthy and had help from the minors with Michael Conforto.

The Mets need to get a right-handed bat to push out J.D. Davis once and for all. They need a Francisco Alvarez or Mark Vientos to get called up to help at some point. Seeing the Mets catching situation, the Mets really need Alvarez to go on a tear in Triple-A to force a call-up.

Jacob deGrom needs to healthy. With him and the rest of three rotation going deep, it’ll lessen the burden and innings required from the bullpen.

Trevor May needs to be healthy. David Peterson needs to transition well to the bullpen. Peterson and Williams need to pitch well there, and Buck Showalter has to be willing to use them.

Vogelbach needs to hit as does Davis’ eventual replacement. The ship has probably sailed on relying on Eduardo Escobar hitting leaving his replacement needing to hit.

Really, the Mets need a lot. We’ve previously seen it can be done. Maybe not by Billy Eppler judging from his Los Angeles Angels tenure, but it can be done.

The trade deadline is a little more than a week away. What the Mets do will likely determine whether they win the division and just how deep they’ll go in the postseason.

Mets Fans Issues With Robinson Cano Isn’t Rocket Science

Once again SNY ran with pure garbage from Andy Martino. He once again levied libelous accusations accusing a loyal fan base of being racist with zero evidence to support the bone-headed contention. This is exactly what he does.

He says Mets fans should support Chase Utley. Its racist to boo a vastly underperforming Luis Castillo even if Martino, himself, called Yoenis Cespedes lazy for getting double heel surgery. Now, he wants us all to tell him why Mets fans don’t like Robinson Cano while again accusing Mets fans of being racist.

Before delving further on Cano, go back to 2019. You could argue Cano not performing up to standards was a key factor why the Mets missed the postseason that year. No, it wasn’t the only reason, but it was certainly a factor.

After all, the could be Hall of Famer had one of the worst years of his career with a 94 wRC+ and a -2 DRS. Cano was supposed to be a big bat in the lineup and steadying influence in the infield for a young Amed Rosario. Instead, in what was an injury plagued season, he underachieved and was at times a liability.

In year one, following that horrific trade where the Mets gave up both Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn while assuming nearly all of his contract, Cano was already the liability many thought he would be before the end of his career. What’s funny is despite that fans were not booing him when he took the field or came to the plate.

This was far from a Francisco Lindor situation. Mets fans may not have fully embraced Cano, but they certainly did not jeer him. No, he was treated with some level of reverence for all he accomplished in his career while many hoped getting away from Chili Davis could rejuvenate his career.

While you could’ve given Cano credit for his 2020 resurgence, we found out it was because of PEDs. His using PEDs that season did lead to his second suspension costing him the entirety of the 2021 season.

When Mets fans look at Cano now, they’re not angry with him or booing him. They’re not demanding he get released or traded. Sure, there are fans who want that, but if you go back to the 1970s, you could assuredly find Mets fans who were happy the team traded Tom Seaver. Mistaking a vocal minority or giving the lunatic fringe credit is always disingenuous and irresponsible (to be fair, that is what this article does in part by even addressing Martino).

When Mets fans look at Cano, they see a player who was the key return in one of the worst trades in franchise history. It was his contract which was yet another excuse why the Wilpons refused to spend to help get the Mets to the World Series. Now, he’s just an odd fit who is 39 trying to become a real everyday contributor to a Major League team for the first time since the 2017 season.

Mets fans don’t hate Cano. Saying they dislike him is a stretch. No, they’ve been frustrated with him, and now, they don’t know how he fits. When he does come back, he’s not going to immediately be booed, and if he contributes everything related to the trade and suspension will quickly be forgotten. Really, proferring otherwise is just plain wrong.

Then again, the Wilpons still own SNY, and as we know, they have nothing but contempt for Mets fans. This is why they pay Martino to go forth and spew pure unsubstantiated garbage like this.

 

Kevin Long Again Made Case To Be Mets Manager

It was a very poorly kept secret back in 2017 if he had his druthers Sandy Alderson wanted to hire Kevin Long to succeed Terry Collins as the New York Mets manager. Long didn’t take anything for granted coming extremely prepared for the interview with binders of information. More than that, he had already had a profound impact on the Mets organization rejuvenating Curtis Granderson while transforming Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy.

However, it wasn’t to be. Instead, Jeff Wilpon got it in his mind he wanted to have Mickey Callaway as the manager. Despite Callaway interviewing poorly, it was enough for Wilpon to hire Callaway after one interview because the Philadelphia Phillies showed interest. As Mets fans can recall, this went over about as well as when the Mets included Jarred Kelenic in the Robinson Cano trade because the Phillies showed interest in Edwin Diaz.

Since then, the managerial position has been a disaster for the Mets. Callaway proved to be an awful human being harassing female reporters. After him, the Mets hired and then were effectively forced to fire Carlos Beltran. In a mad scramble, they hired Luis Rojas while completely failing to give him any chance to succeed in the position. Rather that let him continue to grow, the team has decided they need to go in a different direction.

Now, there are many moving pieces before the Mets get to hire a new manager. The biggest is the need to hire a new president of baseball operations. Presumably, that is the person who will and should have the biggest input on who the Mets next manager will be. Whatever the case, the Mets have the right to correct the mistake they made in 2017 and hire Long.

For his part, Long served the world with a reminder why he was managerial material. During the National League Wild Card Game, he was sitting next to superstar Juan Soto, a player Long has helped get the most out of his ability. Soto was wearing a Trea Turner jersey (another player Long has helped immensely) while Long wore a Max Scherzer jersey.

In that moment, you saw everything you could have possibly wanted to see from a future manager of your team. He was standing there with his star player, a player in Soto he helped take from a 19 year old wunderkind to a bona fide Major League superstar. More than that, he showed the incredibly great relationship he fostered with his superstar player, the very type of relationship a manager absolutely needs to have any level of success.

We also saw the sense of loyalty he has for his players. He went out there to support both Turner and Scherzer. It was a moment which meant so much to them Scherzer made sure to go over to the stands to celebrate his team’s walk-off win with them. Keep in mind here, Scherzer is a free agent who should be on everyone’s radar.

When we look at the modern game and the current status of the managerial role, it is increasingly about relationships with the players and the ability to communicate. It’s no longer about Gil Hodges playing a hunch or Davey Johnson trusting his eyes over the data. Increasingly, it’s about taking the game plan prepared by the front office and not just executing it, but getting the players to buy in on the plan.

Putting aside what happened in the NL Wild Card Game, this is exactly what Long does. He helped transform Cespedes from a wild swinger to a player better able to identify his pitch and become a monster at the plate. There was also Murphy who went from gap to gap hitter to a legitimate threat at the plate. Murphy showed the 2015 postseason wasn’t a fluke by any means when he became an All-Star and MVP candidate with the Washington Nationals. It should be noted Long followed Murphy to Washington, D.C.

In total, Long is what you want in a manager. He can process data and translate it to players in a way where they can understand and execute it. We also see he is a coach who can foster great relationships with this players. He is also loyal to his players, and they love him. Short of being able to steal away the Bob Melvins of the world, you’re not going to find a better managerial candidate than Long.

Alderson knew it in 2017, and he can do what he wanted to do back then and make Long the Mets manager. If that is the case, we can expect the maddening Mets offense to finally click and for this team to reach the World Series potential we know they have.

El Mago Show In Miami

The New York Mets obtained Javier Baez to be a difference maker as the team tries to hold on and win the division. In the 5-3 win against the Miami Marlins he was just that.

In the Mets three run second, Jesus Aguilar had him dead to rights on a Tomas Nido fielder’s choice. Aguilar made a perfect throw home, but Baez made a slide only he can to score the run:

The Mets would eventually blow that 3-0 lead, but they’d get the lead back in the eighth when Baez hit the go-ahead homer in what would become a Mets 5-3 win:

It’s difficult to know how things will go when you add at the trade deadline. Sometimes, you get Jay Bruce in 2016. Other times, you get Yoenis Cespedes in 2015.

In that game, Baez was much more Cespedes than Bruce. If that continues, the Mets will win this division. After that, if everyone gets heathy, who knows?

Mets Teetering With Reds Loss

This should’ve been a great day for the New York Mets. The black uniforms were back for limited engagement, Carlos Carrasco was making his season debut, and they added Javier Baez at the trade deadline.

Instead of this being the Yoenis Cespedes celebration with Lucas Duda carrying the Mets to first place, you have to wonder if the Mets are in real trouble.

For his part, aside from surrendering a homer to Jonathan India on his first pitch, Carrasco was terrific. Over four innings, he allowed just that one run on three hits and one walk while striking out four.

It should be noted, part of the reason he gave up one run was a phenomenal play by Luis Guillorme to rob Eugenio Suarez of a would be RBI single.

At that time, the Mets should’ve had a lead. Before Sonny Gray could blink Jeff McNeil doubled home Brandon Nimmo to tie the score. Then, the Mets loaded the bases with no outs.

The promising rally completely fell apart. Michael Conforto struck out in what would be an 0-for-4 night with a golden sombrero and a dip below the Mendoza Line.

Jonathan Villar then hit into an inning ending double play. That was about it for the Mets offense for the night. They wouldn’t get a runner into scoring position until the eighth, and they squandered that opportunity as well.

That wasn’t the case with the Reds. Miguel Castro‘s struggles continued. He allowed a double to India, and Jesse Winker was a Mets killer again driving him home.

Drew Smith‘s long ball troubles continued as he allowed a homer to Joey Votto the following inning. This was the seventh consecutive game Votto homered.

It was still theoretically a game in the ninth as it was only 3-1. That was until the Reds roughed up Anthony Banda in his second inning of work for three runs making it a 6-1 Reds lead.

In the ninth, in what may prove to be his last Mets at-bat, Brandon Drury hit a pinch hit RBI double. It proved to be nothing more than window dressing in the Mets 6-2 loss.

As if that loss wasn’t bad enough, Nimmo was going to be taken out of the game with a hamstring issue resulting from a dividing catch. Jacob deGrom was shut down again with more forearm inflammation. It should also be noted with the Mets falling to add a reliever the bullpen struggled.

All told, even with the Baez addition, this was just about as bad a day as you can get. The Mets looked bad and might be in real trouble soon.

Game Notes: In addition to getting Baez for Pete Crow-Armstrong, the Mets also obtained Trevor Williams. Williams was assigned to Triple-A Syracuse.

Alonso Is Re-Pete Home Run Derby Champion

Each of the Home Run Derby contestants wore the number 44 in honor of the late Hank Aaron. Much like Aaron once before him, Pete Alonso once again established himself as the real home run king.

First, Alonso knocked off Salvador Perez. Then, he squared off against Juan Soto. Alonso did so well that round, he actually used his time out solely for the purpose of hyping the crowd.

Finally, Alonso faced Trey Mancini in the finals. The cancer survivor was a crowd favorite, and really everyone on that planet, except Mets fans, were rooting for him.

Mancini had a great round hitting 22 homers. That just so happened to be the same amount Vlad Guerrero Jr. hit two years ago. Once again, Alonso beat that number.

In total, Alonso hit a very nice 69 total homers. If not for his going second in his matchups against Soto and Mancini, he very likely would’ve hit more. Those homers traveled a combined 26 miles.

With that, Alonso joins Ken Griffey, Jr. and Yoenis Cespedes as the only players to successfully defend their title. There’s every chance Alonso can and will go for the three peat, sorry three Pete, next year in Los Angeles.

There have been many great at this event, but Alonso could be the best ever at this. Really, he’s to the Home Run Derby what Jacob deGrom is to pitching.

Speaking of deGrom, he won the Cy Young in 2019 when Alonso won the Home Run Derby. It looks like that feat will be repeated this year. Certainly, we can also expect the Mets to have a big second half much like they had that year as well.