Jan 25

Pros And Cons For Bringing Back Cespedes

While there are no absolutes, it seems safe to conclude there are mostly positives in the Mets’ decision to bring back Yoenis Cespedes.

CESPEDES: Pros and Cons of deal. (Getty)

CESPEDES: Pros and Cons of deal. (Getty)

THE PROS

1. Keeping the peace:  Who couldn’t predict the negative static had Cespedes ended up with Washington and the Mets entered the season with a gaping holes in their outfield and in their lineup? Going to the World Series and not bringing back a player instrumental in getting there would have created a sour feeling heading into the season.

2. They got what they wanted regarding the money:  Cespedes wanted at least five years and the Mets didn’t want to give more than three. In essence, the contract of $75 million over three years, translates to four years regarding the dollars.

3. They filled their power need: With nobody knowing what to expect from David Wright and Michael Conforto, there was a need for right-handed power from an outfield bat. Unquestionably their offense is better. They can now keep Wright at the top of the order and sandwich Cespedes between Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda.

4. It allows roster flexibility:  With Alejandro De Aza signed for outfield depth, the Mets could start the season with Juan Lagares in the minor leagues and use that roster spot to add a reliever.

CONS

1. Has potential short-term benefits:  With an opt out after one year, the Mets be forced to be looking for another center fielder next winter.

2. He’d better produce for that kind of money:  Cespedes will get $27.5 million in 2016, which is a lot of money if he has a bad year.

3. The money won’t erase his flaws:  Cespedes has a career .319 on-base percentage, plus he has a tendency to loaf a bit on the bases and in the field. Mets’ players insist Cespedes is an ideal teammate, but what else did you expect them to say?

 

Jan 24

With Cespedes Back, What Happens With Lagares?

With Yoenis Cespedes returning to the Mets, what’s the plan now for Juan Lagares?

As with most decisions, it all depends on health? Runners clearly took their liberties last summer on Lagares’ arm, and if he’s still ailing, now might be the time to explore Tommy John surgery.

LAGARES: Minor league bound? (AP)

LAGARES: Minor league bound? (AP)

However, what are their options if Lagares is healthy?

Of course, they might want to consider trading him, but with Cespedes able to opt out after the season that might be premature. If he does the Mets will be searching for a new center fielder next winter.

Considering Lagares was injured and regressed – both with the bat and glove – regardless of how friendly his contract is, his trade value regressed.

However, with De Aza on the roster, the most prudent option could be for Lagares to open the season in the minor leagues, where he’ll play full time and get the necessary at-bats for his development. Another advantage is it would free up an additional roster spot, perhaps for another reliever.

With Cespedes and De Aza, I’m wondering how much playing time Lagares would receive.

Jan 23

Examining Nuances Of Cespedes Deal

I would be lying if I said I saw this coming. The Mets’ bringing back Yoenis Cespedes was not as predictable as say, the whiny LeBron James acting to get coach David Blatt fired.

CESPEDES: Coming back. (Getty)

CESPEDES: Coming back. (Getty)

I wrote the Mets could get Cespedes back if they let the market come back to them. That didn’t happen, but Cespedes playing in Citi Field in 2016 was made possible because the Mets made two huge financial concessions. The Mets agreed to terms with Cespedes on a three-year, $75-million, with $27.5 coming in the first season, after which he can opt out.

The Mets refused to go more than three years with Cespedes, but in essence gave him the money he’d get with a four-year deal.

The Mets made this deal simply because they couldn’t afford not to. The Mets have seen the Cubs, Nationals, Giants and Diamondbacks all improve, and the St. Louis Cardinals are always good. The Mets are banking on their young pitching to carry them, but those arms need runs.

New York surprised a lot of people when it reached the World Series last year, but there won’t be any shocking this summer. Everybody knows the attendance ramifications aren’t felt until the next year. The Wilpons couldn’t afford in letting the Mets regress to the point where they wouldn’t taste the benefits of last year’s success.

Without Cespedes, and David Wright a physical question, the Mets would be taking a gamble they could repeat with a stagnant offense similar to the one they had in June and mid-July before the trade was made. It is a gamble they would likely lose. All it would take to re-affirm that was to look at Wright’s career, After 2006 there was the prevailing feeling the Mets would live in the playoffs.

That wasn’t to be.

As far as the economics of the deal, the Mets have to look at this as a one-year, $27.5 million contract because if Cespedes produces you can surely expect him to opt out. And, it not, then they Mets would have him for three years and not have to pay a monster contract.

Actually, it is a win-win for both sides.

Too bad this couldn’t have been done sooner, at least before I wrote yesterday’s headline.

 

 

Jan 22

Mets To Lose Cespedes To Nationals

We can boil the Mets’ pursuit of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a simple conclusion: If they really wanted him they would have him. Pure and simple, he was theirs for the taking. The Mets said they wanted him, but on the cheap. They played things correctly and tried to let the market come to them, but that won’t happen.

That’s the risk one takes when you gamble.

CESPEDES:  Going to Nats. (Getty)

CESPEDES: Going to Nats. (Getty)

The Mets weren’t willing to give Cespedes more than three years, but reports are the Washington Nationals have a five-year, $100-million offer on the table. There’s no way the Mets could compete with that, nor should they for a myriad of reasons, beginning with the economics and including his mercurial personality and that he faded in the playoffs. There’s also the matter of him playing with four teams by age 30.

The Nationals will be his fifth in an 18-month span. Things could be finalized today.

I agreed with the Mets’ rope-a-dope approach simply because that was the only card they could play considering they wanted to do this cheaply. Conversely, the Nationals made runs at Jason Heyward and Justin Upton, in addition to signing Daniel Murphy.

Washington has clearly been more aggressive than the Mets this offseason, with GM Sandy Alderson going on the belief his young rotation will be enough to carry them back to the World Series.

Will that gamble pay off?

 

 

Jan 21

Wright Remains Mets’ Most Overriding Issue

Yesterday I examined the top ten issues facing the Mets with spring training five weeks away. It isn’t hard for me to pick out the player shouldering the most pressure.

The bullpen is the positional area of most concern, but individually the player remains David Wright. Somehow, last year the Mets withstood playing without him for over four months, but several things combined to make that possible, notably the ineffective Washington Nationals and acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes.

WRIGHT: We want to see that smile again. (AP)

WRIGHT: We want to see that smile again. (AP)

Will the Mets be as fortunate if Wright goes down this year?

Baseball-reference.com projects Wright to hit .275 in 2016 with nine homers and 37 RBI, which would be terrible news for the Mets. The scary part is based on Wright’s recent injury history I can envision that before I can him returning to 30-homer form.

Wright hasn’t hit 30 homers since 2008 and has only hit at least 20 twice since then. He has a combined 31 in his last three years, and only once since 2013 has he played in as many at 130 games. Including the 2009 season, he’s had as many as 500 at-bats only four times.

You can talk about OPS and WAR all you want, but all statistics are predicated on at-bats and Wright hasn’t had many in recent years. Look, readers of this blog know I am one of Wright’s biggest supporters, but I can’t ignore the facts he hasn’t been healthy lately.

He missed over four months last year with spinal stenosis, and that he even returned late in the season was remarkable. Considering the good feelings about his return, recovery and playing in the playoffs, it would be another devastating blow is he were to go down again.

The Mets did not add a right-handed hitting power bat during the winter, perhaps with the outside hope Wright would come back close to form. As of now, they won’t have Cespedes back and it could be a dangerous gamble if they are thinking they can make another at-the-wire trade.

Let’s face it, as long as Wright is here he’s the face of this franchise, but if he’s hurt again and doesn’t produce, that contract with five years and $87 million remaining will be an albatross.

Imagine how much better things will be if Wright plays in 130 games, hits at least 20 homers and drives in 80 runs. Could make for another fun year, and for me that’s why Wright is the Mets’ most overriding issue.

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