Feb 28

Piazza Ideal Influence For Cespedes

After carrying the Mets to the World Series, Yoenis Cespedes was rewarded with a $75-million contract, and with it, likely 75 million tons of pressure. Expectations are high for the Mets, but there’s no better person to help Cespedes deal with them than Mike Piazza, who’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer.

PIAZZA: Needs to reach Cespedes.  (Mets)

PIAZZA: Needs to reach Cespedes. (Mets)

Unquestionably, the Mets picked the right time to invite Piazza to spring training as a guest instructor. While Travis d’Arnaud is eager to pick Piazza’s brain about the finer points of catching, Cespedes is the Met most likely to gain from his presence.

“I told him that when I talk to him, I’m going to tell him that there’s going to be a lot of pressure on him this year,” Piazza told reporters today. “He’s going to be expected to do a lot. And, I have a little bit of experience knowing that pressure. And, I hope he’s able to discipline himself and really define his strike zone and realize that when the pitchers are not pitching to him, he’s got to take his walks.”

That is Piazza’s assessment from watching the Mets in the postseason last fall. Piazza said Cespedes has a tendency to try to do too much and crush the ball with every swing.

There are some who think Cespedes is enjoying the trappings of his contract and being a New York start when he showed up in camp with a different car six days in a row. And, these weren’t a Camry and Honda Civic, but high-end wheels.

“I don’t care what you drive as long as you drive in runs,” Piazza said. “That’s the key. But, I think he’s going to fine. I think he’s so talented.”

The expectations are high for Cespedes, and the hopes are also high Piazza’s message will get through.

Feb 21

All About Cespedes Today

There’s been nothing but good signs for the Mets in the opening days of spring training, and Sunday was no exception with the early arrival of Yoenis Cespedes three days ahead of schedule for position players. There were many who doubted Cespedes would even play for the Mets again, much less report three days early.

CESPEDES: Reporting early is great sign.  (Getty)

CESPEDES: Reporting early is great sign. (Getty)

Cespedes signed a three-year, $75-million contract with the Mets several weeks ago. The deal contains an opt-out after 2016, in which he’ll get $27.5 million. Naturally, the opt-out led to speculation Cespedes “settled” for a return to the Mets and didn’t want to really come back to Queens.

Today refuted that notion, said manager Terry Collins. And yes, that’s a good sign. How can it not be looked at any other way?

“Certainly with all of the conversations and all the contracts we saw out there, we weren’t sure he was going to return,” Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “I really, really salute him. He’s one of the few guys that went to where he wanted to go to. It wasn’t just the money that lured him. He wanted to play in New York. He loves New York. He loves the fans. I salute him for coming back.

“And now he shows up early. I told him today, ‘That’s the sign of a real pro and a guy who wants to be huge in our clubhouse.’ I just think it’s a great step for him.”

The Mets wouldn’t have reached the World Series if not for Cespedes, who came over from Detroit at the end of July and hit .287 with 17 homers and 44 RBI in 230 at-bats for the Mets. That stretch earned him the big bucks. It can turn out to be even bigger bucks with the opt-out, but Cespedes insists that’s not on his radar.

“I know I can be a free agent next year, but that has never passed through my mind,” Cespedes told reporters. “I came here to play my three years with the Mets, and I hope God will give me the opportunity for them to re-sign after that.

“I had several offers, but sincerely, I just wanted to come back to the Mets. … I just want to be with this team. Hopefully, at the end of my three years I will have performed very well and they will give me an extension. I love it here.”

 

Jan 25

Mets To Retire Piazza’s No. 31

Falling under the category – “It’s About Time” – the Mets announced this afternoon they will retire Mike Piazza‘s No. 31 as part of a ceremonial weekend, July 29-31. Piazza, of course, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this summer.

PIAZZA: To be honored. (Mets)

PIAZZA: To be honored. (Mets)

The weekend includes:

Friday, July 29, 7:10 p.m.: All fans receive a Piazza replica jersey.

Saturday, July 30, 6:30 p.m.: On-field retirement ceremony.

Sunday, July 31,1:10 p.m.: First 15,000 fans receive Piazza bobblehead doll.

“It is such a tremendous honor to have my number retired alongside the great Tom Seaver,” Piazza said in a statement released by the team. “My time as a Met was truly special and I want to thank Fred (Wilpon), Saul (Katz)  and Jeff (Wilpon) and the entire organization for this incredible gesture.”

During his parts of eight seasons in New York, Piazza hit .296, with 220 homers and 655 RBI. He twice led them to the NLCS and to the 2000 World Series.

Piazza will become the fourth Met to have his number retired, joining Seaver (41), Gil Hodges (14) and Casey Stengel (37). Jackie Robinson‘s No. 42 is retired by every team. No has worn No. 31 since Piazza left the club in 2005.

 

Dec 21

More Proof Matt Harvey Doesn’t Get It

Matt Harvey said he’s mad the Mets didn’t win the World Series. That’s fine. However, when he had the chance to answer the batting practice question on The Player’s Tribune of what his biggest regret was in 2015, and responded with “becoming a Belieber,” in regard to becoming a fan of singer Justin Bieber, he blew it.

Then he wrote, is it too late now to say sorry?”

HARVEY: Walking away after World Series collapse. (AP)

HARVEY: Walking away after World Series collapse. (AP)

Maybe he was trying to be cute. Only he knows for sure. But, let’s call The Player’s Tribune for what it is, a joke of a sports media website created by Derek Jeter.

There’s no question Jeter is a future Hall of Famer, but there’s also no denying he was given a free pass by most New York media and created this website because he doesn’t want to truthfully answer or address any tough questions.

Pretty much the same thing applies to Harvey. Until his innings fiasco, the New York media wouldn’t cross Harvey on any issue, despite having just cause. Harvey is the New York correspondent for Jeter’s site. Nobody will question him there.

If Harvey had any stand-up backbone to him, he would have answered the question with “my behavior in the dugout directed at Terry Collins in the World Series.”

But, he didn’t. And, won’t. Not on The Player’s Tribune. Not anywhere. A player’s only website is like a player’s Twitter in that nothing meaningful is ever mentioned. Even so, I checked it out today just in the off chance Harvey wrote anything worthwhile.

He did not. If Harvey does want to apologize for anything, it should be to Collins and his teammates for putting himself over them at the worst possible time.

 

Dec 11

Wright Welcomes Walker To Mets

This hardly comes as a surprise, but David Wright was the first to welcome Neil Walker to the Mets. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the former Pirate said Wright called him, even before the Pirates and Mets.

WALKER: Wright welcomes him. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

WALKER: Wright welcomes him. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Wright called to wish him well and offer advice and support in making the move to New York, which can be slightly more intimidating to live in than Pittsburgh.

“I guess that kind of shows what kind of guy he is,” Walker told the Post-Gazette. “Talking to David, it seems like a very invited and open-arms kind of situation over there. As we’ve seen in Pittsburgh, that carries a lot of weight when you’re talking about team camaraderie and chemistry and all that.”

Walker became a trade target with the Ben Zobrist signing fell through. He’ll replace Daniel Murphy at second and can also back-up Wright at third if necessary. The trade is probably harder for Walker than it would be a younger player because he’s been in the Pittsburgh organization for 12 years. Walker’s first impression is to look at this with an open mind.

“It’ll be exciting,” Walker said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys work and watching these guys and in spring training, getting to know them.

“We all saw how capable they are of competing and reaching their goal. “Seems like they’re probably not done looking for more pieces. … It’s really exciting to see the work that [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] and [manager] Terry [Collins] and the team are doing right now.”

The Mets have a stable of young power arms, and to a lesser degree so do the Pirates. The Mets are on the cusp, just as the Pirates have been for the past three years.

“I guess I can compare it to playing behind Gerrit Cole and playing behind Francisco Liriano,” Walker said when asked about the Mets core of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

Unlike Jon Niese, who took a parting shot at the Mets’ defense, Walker had a group text with his former teammates.

“It was sad,” Walker said. “A lot of us were somewhat prepared for this to happen either this year, last year or next year. We kind of saw the writing on the wall, but that certainly doesn’t make it any easier.”

However, winning makes everything better.

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