Oct 10

Cespedes Will Cash In By What He Does In Postseason

Yoenis Cespedes torched the National League in August, but the Mets’ free-agent-to-be will make his money by what he does in October. Call it the “Carlos Beltran Rule.’’

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?

CESPEDES: Long walk back to bench. (Getty)

CESPEDES: Long walk back to bench. (Getty)

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.

He rebounded tonight with a home run against the Dodgers’ Cy Young Award candidate, Zack Greinke.

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.

Oct 09

DeGrom Brilliant In Win Over Dodgers; Gives Us Glimpse Into Future

This one didn’t disappoint. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against the Mets’ Jacob deGrom was to be special. It was going to create an October memory, but it turned into something we’ll  never forget.

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.

Daniel Murphy, whom the Mets aren’t expected to bring back next year, homered in the fourth, and David Wright broke the game open with a two-run single to chase Kershaw in the seventh.

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.

 

Sep 13

Lagares Auditioning For Playoff Roster Spot

While it is clear Juan Lagares lost his center field job to Yoenis Cespedes, what is in question is a possible postseason roster spot, and he’s yelling: “Don’t forget about me.’’

Lagares, buried on the bench behind Cespedes and later Kirk Nieuwenhuis, personified what has been going on with the Mets lately.

LAGARES: Auditioning for playoff spot. (AP)

LAGARES: Auditioning for playoff spot. (AP)

These Mets refused to give the Braves that third strike or third out. Sunday’s game was lost – that is L O S T – when Lagares came to bat in the ninth.

He fell behind 1-and-2, fouled off a couple of pitches before lining a ball into the right-center gap Cameron Maybin couldn’t hold after a diving attempt.

Curtis Granderson, who has excelled leading off, drew his second walk of the game, 12th of the month and 83rd of the season. Then Daniel Murphy, who isn’t a power hitter, crushed a game-tying three-run homer.

The three runs the Mets scored in the tenth inning was a formality, and with it, the Mets had their 82nd victory for their first winning season in seven years.

The Mets are on an unconscious roll the past six weeks, or since the deal for Cespedes, and it would be easy for a young player such as Lagares to get down on himself.

Lagares is 5-for-9 this month, with three of those hits coming off the bench. He’s started only one game in September. Those are numbers manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson will need to evaluate when deciding the postseason roster.

We know the outfielders will include Cespedes, Granderson, Michael Conforto – there’s no way they can even think about not keeping him now – and Michael Cuddyer. If they want a fifth outfielder the candidates are Nieuwenhuis, Lagares and Eric Young.

Nieuwenhuis offers a left-handed bat off the bench and Young gives them speed and a stolen base threat. Lagares offers a right-handed bat – as does Cuddyer – and defense. But, they won’t take out Cespedes for defense in the playoffs.

Where does that leave Lagares? Today he demonstrated his head is still in the game. If not for the playoffs, then for next season.

Sep 08

Mets Lineup, Sept. 8, at Nationals

Here’s the Mets’ lineup for tonight’s game against the Nationals in Washington:
LINEUP COMMENTS:  Welcome back Lucas Duda. Interesting that he’s hitting fifth and not cleanup. … Glad to see Conforto still playing. When the time comes, I want to see him in there against lefties.

 

Sep 05

Comparing Schedules Of Mets And Nats

There have been several stories recently, not to mention comments made on SNY, how the Mets have the easiest schedule of the playoff contenders for the rest of the season, with their opponents having a .440 winning percentage.

So, what does this mean?

Other than fodder for gamblers, bookies and radio talk show hosts, absolutely nothing of substance.

The Mets went into the Labor Day Weekend holding a six-game lead over the Nationals, and with six games remaining between them. Should they go into Washington Monday with such a lead or less they would not be controlling their own destiny. Which is a phrase you’ll be hearing over the next few weeks.

Here’s how the schedules of the Mets and Nationals compare until the end of the season:

Today: Mets: at Miami; Nationals: Atlanta.

Tomorrow: Mets: at Miami; Nationals: Atlanta.

Monday: Mets: at Washington; Nationals: Mets.

Tuesday: Mets: at Washington; Nationals: Mets.

Wednesday: Mets: at Washington; Nationals: Mets.

Thursday: Mets: at Atlanta; Nationals: Off.

Friday: Mets: at Atlanta; Nationals: at Miami.

Saturday: Mets: at Atlanta; Nationals: at Miami.

Sunday: Mets: at Atlanta; Nationals: at Miami.

September 14: Mets: Miami; Nationals: at Philadelphia.

September 15:  Mets: Miami; Nationals: at Philadelphia.

September 16:  Mets: Miami; Nationals: at Philadelphia.

September 17:  Mets: Off; Nationals: Miami.

September 18: Mets: Yankees; Nationals: Miami.

September 19: Mets: Yankees; Nationals: Miami.

September 20:  Mets: Yankees; Nationals: Miami.

September 21: Mets: Atlanta; Nationals: Orioles.

September 22: Mets: Atlanta; Nationals: Orioles.

September 23: Mets: Atlanta; Nationals: Orioles.

September 24: Mets: at Reds; Nationals: Off.

September 25: Mets: at Reds; Nationals: Phillies.

September 26: Mets: at Reds; Nationals: Phillies.

September 27: Mets: at Reds; Nationals: Phillies.

September 28: Mets: Off; Nationals: Reds.

September 29: Mets: at Phillies; Nationals: at Atlanta.

September 30: Mets: at Phillies; Nationals: at Atlanta.

October 1: Mets: at Phillies; Nationals: at Atlanta.

October 2: Mets: Nationals; Nationals: at Mets.

October 3: Mets: Nationals; Nationals: at Mets.

October 4: Mets: Nationals; Nationals: at Mets.

From here until the end of the season, the Mets have a slightly tougher schedule with their three games against the Yankees. Other than that series, their schedules are identical.

In addition, the Mets are confronted with several issues, including injuries to Michael Cuddyer, Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy; Jacob deGrom in his worst stretch of the season; the emerging issue of Matt Harvey’s innings and it being a distraction; Jon Niese‘s struggles; the uncertainty of Steven Matz; how their young starters will respond to playoff pressure; and their porous bullpen.