Here’s tonight’s lineup for the Mets in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Dodgers:
Early reports have Cespedes seeking a package in the seven-year, $140-million range. The Mets have the funds, but do they have the willingness to offer a contract that would exceed what David Wright is making?
Winning the World Series will go a long way toward answering that question, but Cespedes will have to do better than striking out three times Friday night – on just 12 pitches.
I’ve advocated the Mets re-signing Cespedes since mid-August and not backing off that now. At 29, he has many productive years to go. I think they can afford to go after Cespedes, and at the same time, retain Daniel Murphy.
If they go on to win the World Series, how can they not keep Cespedes, especially if he turns it on again?
It’s not as if Cespedes is intimidated by the stage and bright lights. He hit .350 in two playoff series while with Oakland. In 2009, playing for his native Cuba in the World Baseball Classic, Cespedes hit .458 with three triples – the guy can motor – and two homers.
“If you know Cuban baseball, you’d better be good or you don’t play,’’ Mets manager Terry Collins said about Cespedes’ knack of producing in the spotlight. “They played on a world stage and they had to win, so I think this guy knows how to win.
“I don’t think he’s intimidated by anything. When you’ve had to somewhat run for your life, not much else scares you.’’
Cespedes certainly didn’t show any signs of wilting under pressure after the trade. He posted monster numbers after the Mets acquired him from Detroit minutes from the trade deadline, hitting .287 with a .604 OPS, 17 home runs and 44 RBI in 57 games for the Mets.
Cespedes was entering a pennant race and knew what was at stake.
“When the stadiums are full, I try to concentrate the most I can to give the best of me and have good results,’’ Cespedes told reporters. “I’m doing the same thing here as I did in Cuba.’’
Except more people are watching and more dollars at stake.
The Mets’ indisputable ace threw over 120 pitches – who would have thought it? – over seven scoreless innings in a 3-1 victory over the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS. Kershaw and Zack Greinke were to slice through the upstart Mets, but they didn’t buckle.
DeGrom was beyond special, and it wasn’t just because he struck out 13. The Dodgers had numerous opportunities, but deGrom refused to cave. As aces do, he didn’t just close the door on the Dodgers, he slammed the door on them.
Game 1 gave us an glimpse into the Mets’ future.
The Mets can only hope deGrom, Saturday’s starter Noah Syndergaard and Monday’s starter Matt Harvey, will be here in five years. Wright will be at the end of his contract, and Murphy – whom the Mets are expected to lowball as they did Jose Reyes – will be gone.
You had to feel good for both of them. The Mets have alternately tried to trade and find a position for Murphy for years. The Mets made a big splash at the trade deadline, but that doesn’t mean they’ll spend this winter. If they have any hope of bringing back Yoenis Cespedes, it will cost them Murphy.
As for Wright, he has been waiting for another postseason since 2006, when the Mets lost the NLCS to St. Louis. Even through the disappointment of watching Carlos Beltran take that called third strike, Wright admitted he thought the Mets would be a postseason fixture.
Instead, they became an annual disappointment, and Wright had been beset with injuries. He missed over four months this summer with back issues, and the thought of whether he’d ever play again had to creep into his mind.
His two-run single turned out to be the difference.
Michael Cuddyer, signed last winter to provide a veteran presence, misplayed two fly balls to left into doubles, but deGrom picked him up. Cuddyer’s role is expected to be reduced next year to coming off the bench, as Michael Conforto will be the every day left fielder.
But, that’s next year, and next year can wait. These Mets are about taking care of business, and that’s what they did Friday night.
The Mets just released their NLDS roster, and there are no surprises. It includes Steven Matz, which means he passed the test and will be the Game 4 starter. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is named to replace Juan Uribe. The Mets can place Uribe on the NLCS roster.
POSITION PLAYERS STARTERS
The Dodgers have been in the playoffs in recent years and made early exits, and they’ve done it with Kershaw. There’s nothing new about them that suggests this year will be any different.
The Mets on the other hand have been on a roller coaster ride this season to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006. I’ve written it several times this summer – when I’m not tweaking Harvey (yeah, yeah, I know I get on him a bit) – that this can be a team of destiny.
Think about how many significant players who’ve been out at times because of injuries: David Wright, Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud, Zack Wheeler, Josh Edgin, Jerry Blevins, Michael Cuddyer and Bobby Parnell.
All important players they couldn’t afford to lose, yet here we are, hours away from Game 1 of the NLDS.
How many playoff teams entered the season without a commitment to a shortstop? I can only think of one, and that’s the Mets. Yet, here we are. Wilmer Flores took to the position, was almost traded, and then captured our hearts with his tears.
The Mets don’t have a traditional lefty specialist, yet they are finding a way.
This is a team that didn’t have a leadoff hitter, yet Curtis Granderson stepped in and produced to the point where he could be the Mets’ MVP, if not Familia. Championship teams always have that one player who expands his role, that for the Mets, that’s Granderson.
They lose Wright for nearly five months, yet in his first at-bat off the DL he hits a homer. You don’t call that storybook?
To get to the playoffs this year, the Mets needed to play even with the Nationals. I don’t want to hear that the Mets backed in because the Nationals choked. The Mets kicked the stuffing out of them to the point where the likely NL MVP, Bryce Harper, said he wants to win.
There’s something special about this group that through the injuries and changing roles of players that it has persevered.
Special teams find a way to get it done despite the obstacles and that’s what this team has done.
So, to answer the first question, yes the Mets can beat Kershaw and Greinke. And, for that matter, they can beat anybody else, too.