Jul 26

Mets Have To Believe Cespedes’ Days Are Over

Sure, the Mets caught a bad break in losing Yoenis Cespedes for the rest of this season and probably up to August of next year. However, the one thing the Mets must resist is the notation to think ”he’ll come back to superstar form in 2020.”

CESPEDES: His days with Mets are over. (AP)

CESPEDES: His days with Mets are over. (AP)

They have to avoid that line of thought because, after all, these are the Mets we’re talking about, so everything breaking right usually doesn’t happen. The best position for the Mets is to learn from their David Wright experience and just move on.

They have to believe they got the best of Cespedes, but with that means they have to accept the worse. They have to believe Cespedes is gone forever, and everything they might get from him in the future is a bonus.

But, they can’t believe they never collect on that bonus.

Assistant general manager John Ricco said the Mets won’t alter their short-term plans to accommodate losing Cespedes, and they shouldn’t change their long-term plans, either.

”Certainly, when you don’t have one of your best players on the field, you have to look at your team differently,” Ricco said, when asked if Cespedes’ surgery changes the Mets’ long-term strategy. ”At this point, we just found this information out in the last day or so. I think it’s a little bit too quick to speculate as to how we’re going to change our plan moving forward.”

He’s right on that. Trading somebody like Jacob deGrom for a power bat in the outfield isn’t the prudent move now, because where the Mets are situated today, losing a solid arm in exchange for a handful of home runs won’t make them any better. And certainly, it won’t elevate them to contender status.

Even with a healthy and productive Cespedes, the Mets aren’t a contender. The Mets shouldn’t concentrate on acquiring a Cespedes-type bat until they do reach contending status.

And, it isn’t imminent.

Currently, the Mets’ outfield consists of Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Jose Bautista. When he returns, throw Jay Bruce into that mix. This isn’t to say the Mets don’t need a healthy and productive Cespedes, but they can’t count on that now.

Or ever again.

Jul 25

Cespedes Done Until Next June At Earliest

The Mets, who have spent the better part of this lost season hoping Yoenis Cespedes would return from the disabled list, don’t have that problem any longer.

Cespedes returned from the disabled list Friday to homer against the Yankees, then dropped an even bigger bombshell after the game when he said he would need surgery on both heels and could miss up to ten months.

That would put his return at early June, but after assistant general manager John Ricco said today the Mets agreed he’ll have two surgeries three months apart that could put his return next year to sometime in August.

The official diagnosis was calcifications around both Achilles tendons and bone spurs on each heel.

But, you’re the Mets you might not even expect to see Cespedes at all next year.

After the 2016 season, Cespedes signed a four-year, $110 million contract, but by the time this year is over he will have played in just 119 of a potential 324 games. What’s even more aggravating is Ricco knew of Cespedes’ heel problems when they signed him in November of 2016, a test run season for him in which he was injured and played in only 132 games.

Cespedes, at his press conference today at Citi Field, said through an interpreter: ‘’Nobody would like to go through surgery at any time. I try to do my best to stay on the field and play a lot, but we exhausted all of the conservative treatment options. … I was not able to be on the field and play the same way I used to.”

The 32-year-old Cespedes missed 81 games last season, and went on the disabled list, May 14, with a hip flexor strain and missed nine weeks. The Mets believe the calcification in Cespedes’ heels forced him to change is running style resulting in the hip flexor strain.

“The general consensus is the pain he is feeling in his heels has definitely contributed to a change in his running style, because he is trying to avoid what is causing the pain,” Ricco said. “And that can certainly lead to other lower-extremity issues, whether they be the quad, hamstring or the hip. You get to the point where that doesn’t make any sense, because you’re just going to stay in that cycle.

“We had him checked out by the doctors, and they’ve agreed that we’ve exhausted the conservative options. Now, surgery is really the only way to resolve this issue.”

Ricco did say the Mets had an insurance on Cespedes similar to the one they took out on David Wright. That policy enables the Mets to recoup up to 75 percent of the $20 million Wright makes annually. Ricco wouldn’t say how the Mets would spend the money recovered through insurance.

“We haven’t gone down the road to what this means toward our plan moving forward,” Ricco said. “Generally, we don’t get into details of the insurance policy.”

 

Jul 19

Mets Top Five Second Half Questions

We know this is a lost season for the Mets, but that doesn’t mean they don’t face four significant questions in the second half. How they answer them could determine whether they will be competitive next year or five seasons from now:

SYNDERGAARD: Not going anywhere.  (SNY)

SYNDERGAARD: Not going anywhere. (SNY)

1. QUESTION: Who will run the show?

ANSWER: In the wake of GM Sandy Alderson’s absence, the trio of assistants John Ricco, Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi will do the daily lifting, but the major decisions will be made by COO Jeff Wilpon. It’s up to you to determine if that’s good or bad. If the Mets are to make an exhaustive GM search in the offseason, it would likely preclude any major trades between now and July 31. One assumption we can make is if the Mets go outside for a general manager it would stand to reason the new hire will want to name his own manager and Mickey Callaway will be let go.

2. QUESTION: What becomes of the Mets aces?

ANSWER: It’s not likely neither Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard will be traded by the current GM trio. Those decisions aren’t made by out-going general managers. There’s been some talk of Zack Wheeler and/or Steven Matz being traded, but I don’t think that will happen, either. The Mets take their time building up to making major decisions, and if I’m Wilpon and know I’m going to name a new GM, then I want that hire to assess where the club is positioned in the short term. Personally, if the Mets get, and stay, healthy, I can see them improving in 2019, but I can’t see them competing. That’s just too big of a leap to make.

3. QUESTION: Who will be gone by the end of the month?

ANSWER: The two biggest reported names on the block are Jeurys Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera. Closers are especially at a premium, so Familia might be the best move to make. Cabrera is having a solid season, and there are several teams needing a second/third baseman. With Dustin Pedroia injured, the Red Sox can use a second baseman. Wilmer Flores is being showcased, but tears alone won’t keep him in Queens this time. They could always trade Jay Bruce again, but he’s injured. I can also see they taking calls about Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. If they aren’t going to play him, then Dominic Smith has to either be traded or sent to the minors. Yoenis Cespedes has a no-trade clause, so he’s not going anywhere. Lefty reliever Jerry Blevins could also be dealt.

4. QUESTION: What’s going on with Cespedes?

ANSWER: He played nine innings at first base in a rehab game yesterday. First base is an intriguing because of his legs. Cespedes, 32, has been on the DL with a strained right hip flexor since May 16. He’s expected to be activated from the DL on Friday, but with Cespedes, you never know. With this being a lost season, the Mets might as well see what he can do at first base. Cespedes has been a dismal signing, and this is his chance to salvage his career in New York. The Mets are an organization void of young talent, but if Cespedes plays first for the rest of this season and next year, it could stunt the development of the franchise’s second-ranked prospect, Peter Alonso. Chances are we’ll see Alonso as a late-season call-up. Either way, it seems like the end of the line for Smith.

5. QUESTION: Will we see The Captain this year?

ANSWER: For a while, there was thought we might see David Wright before Cespedes. Wright has been throwing and taking batting practice, and there’s speculation he might return this season. Still, there’s no timetable for his return. If not, there’s always next spring training.

 

May 05

No Empathy For Harvey

Mickey Callaway was generous when he said, “we failed Matt Harvey.’’ In actuality, Harvey failed himself, with help from the Mets. Sometimes, when a pitcher loses his fastball, or a slugger’s bat slows down, the end can be delayed by his track record, or his popularity in the clubhouse, or the goodwill garnered within the organization.

It’s why the Mets were patient with Johan Santana and David Wright. Harvey accrued none of that goodwill. None.

Because of their histories, you root for some players. You have empathy and compassion for them.

Maybe only Harvey’s family and agent have empathy for him. I can’t imagine anybody pleased Harvey’s career was derailed by injuries, including two season-ending surgeries.

However, it is the way Harvey carried himself and alienated his teammates, how he made himself bigger than the team, how he made everything about him, that has him alone and without any emotional support in his darkest professional hour.

Perhaps that, more than his injuries, is what makes this a modern-day Greek Tragedy. It’s difficult to show compassion for somebody who showed little for anybody else.

Harvey’s selfishness was never more transparent than it was when he bullied former manager Terry Collins into giving him the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. I don’t know how any of Harvey’s teammates that night can condone Harvey’s actions that night.

What happened the night he traveled two hours from San Diego to Los Angeles for a restaurant opening the night before a game, was not advisable although not technically wrong. However, Harvey’s penchant for enjoying the nightlife has already run him afoul with the Mets’ front office and teammates.

Why – other than selfishness – would Harvey chase fates? That GM Sandy Alderson sounded resigned Harvey would do such a thing spoke volumes. Alderson didn’t have to say he was fed up with Harvey. It was implied.

Harvey wasn’t worth the energy to get angry about any longer.

In previous years the Mets bent over backward to placate Harvey, and a case could be made they enabled his boorish behavior by not standing up to him.

It took a while, but it is about time.

Feb 21

Mets To Resist Temptation With Conforto

Don’t do it Mets. You’ve been down this road before with Matt Harvey, David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes and numerous others. Now you’re facing the dilemma with Michael Conforto.

The initial prognosis was for Conforto to return by early May from surgery off his left shoulder. However, he’s ahead of schedule and been hitting balls off a tee.

CONFORTO: A lot to smile about. (AP)

CONFORTO: Need for caution.  (AP)

“I have been waiting forever to be able to do that and it feels great,’’ Conforto told reporters in Port S. Lucie. “It really makes you understand how much you love it.’’

It’s encouraging news, no doubt, but is it enough for the Mets to tempt fate?

Conforto, who had surgery in September to repair a dislocated shoulder, said he’s content with the timetable initially set by doctors and the Mets. However, there are temptations.

“There’s the May 1 date and that kind of gives me an idea,’’ Conforto said. “As a competitor, it’s tough to look at that date and not want to get out there before that, but that is why we have the great medical staff we have.’’

Conforto wants to break camp with the team, but rushing back – especially in the chilly April evenings when it is hard to get loose – would be the worst thing for him to do.

Manager Mickey Callaway insists he won’t be seduced by positive reports about Conforto’s shoulder, even if it means a slow start.

“Players always tell you they are better than they probably are [physically], so we are going to be aware of that,’’ Callaway said. “We want [Conforto] back, and when he’s there, he is ready for the rest of the season.’’

That’s what he says now. Will he say the same thing in a month?