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.

 

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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Dec 09

Niese Traded To Pirates For Walker

Just as the Mets quickly rebounded by getting Yoenis Cespedes when the Carlos Gomez trade fell through, they did it again as they have traded for Pirates second baseman Neil Walker the day after losing Ben Zobrist to the Cubs.

WALKER: Newest Met. (Getty)

WALKER: Newest Met. (Getty)

All it cost is Jon Niese, who wasn’t in their plans in the first place. I wrote last night I wasn’t all that broken up about Zobrist falling through because he was too pricey and there were other options. Zobrist’s 162-game averages are .265 with 17 homers and 77 RBI, while Walker hit .269 with 16 homers and 71 RBI last year. The difference is one hot weekend.

Niese was to make $9 million this year, which is the projected arbitration award for Walker.

Walker doesn’t play the outfield corners like Zobrist, but like him is a switch-hitter and is four years younger. However, with Zobrist they would have him locked up for four years. Walker could only turn out to be a rental as he’ll be a free agent after this season. That could mean the Mets could be going through this again next winter if Dilson Herrara doesn’t show them anything this year.

As for Niese, 29, he was being phased out because of the Mets’ young core of arms. Niese was projected to be in the rotation until Zack Wheeler comes off the disabled list, but are now expected to go with Rafael Montero. The trade of Niese could also spur the Mets to re-sign Bartolo Colon.

 

Nov 23

Not Buying Murphy Return

There were several articles last week claiming the Mets still would attempt to bring back Daniel Murphy, who rejected a $15.8-million qualifying offer. The reports said the Mets would make a sincere run at Murphy, who might bite on an offer that isn’t necessarily the highest.

Nearly everything I’ve read said the Mets might still make an offer because of Murphy’s affection for the team and New York. But, are those really good enough reasons? If that was the case, their decision would be based more on sentimentality than talent.

MURPHY: Still in play for Mets?  (Getty)

MURPHY: Still in play for Mets? (Getty)

The reported market for Murphy is $50 million over four years. The qualifying offer entitles the Mets to a compensatory draft pick plus the right to keep negotiating. It does not signal the Mets’ desire to keep him because they think he’s part of their future.

We don’t know what Murphy is seeking and what the Mets are willing to offer. The only numbers we know of are of the speculative nature.

We also know Murphy is 30 years old, so this will likely be his final shot at the brass ring. I can’t see him leaving money on the table to go back to a team that never had him on the top of their pecking order.

Murphy also hit 14 homers last season and went deep in six consecutive games in the playoffs. What we don’t know, and this includes the Mets, is whether that power surge was a fluke or a sign he’s added that element to his game.

The Mets are also reportedly interested in Kansas City free-agent Ben Zobrist, who is five years older than Murphy, and is a better player who is more versatile. However, the speculated numbers for Zobrist is $60 million over four years.

Zobrist brings more to the table than Murphy, and I think the Mets will shy away because of the price. This might make Murphy more palatable. But, I keep going back to well how Wilmer Flores adjusted to second base and potential of Dilson Herrera.

If those two can adequately fill the void left by Murphy, and I believe Flores can do so, then the Mets should be all right at second base. In that case, the money spent on Murphy or Zobrist, would be better spent adding a center fielder because I’m not sold on Juan Lagares and rebuilding the bullpen.