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 22

Lack Of Communication Defines Mets’ Relationship With Cespedes

No, I can’t tell you with any certainty what is going on with the Mets or Yoenis Cespedes, these days. Nobody can. Not even Cespedes, although he does have a lot of explaining to do.

Actually, so do the Mets trio of general managers, not to mention COO Jeff Wilpon. The caveat is it will be preferable to get truthful explanations, not those that defy comprehension.

CESPEDES: No communication with Mets. (AP)

CESPEDES: No communication with Mets. (AP)

Or even logic.

Cespedes, after missing over 50 games with a strained hip flexor, returned from the DL Friday night and homered against the Yankees, then after the game said he needed surgery to treat dual heel calcifications and could miss up to ten months, which, if he went under the knife tomorrow could return next June.

Manager Mickey Callaway said “I’m not quite sure what he said,’’ about Cespedes’ bombshell announcement, but does it really matter? This was way above Callaway’s paygrade and should have been addressed way before Yankee Stadium Friday.

For example, who was the doctor who told Cespedes he needed surgery, and when did he tell him? It stands to reason this was a doctor not affiliated with the Mets, because if it was wouldn’t he/she have warned the front office Cespedes wasn’t ready to be promoted or cleared to return?

You would think so.

Also, when was Cespedes given this prognosis? Was it before Cespedes volunteered to play first base? Kind of convenient if it was, because wouldn’t it be just like Cespedes to make us feel good about him one moment just before he pulls the rug out from under us the next?

Of course, for the over two months Cespedes was on the DL, he said nothing to the media, which is consistent with his prima donna attitude. Sometime during those two months, somebody got into Cespedes’ head about his feet.

If I’m the Mets I’m doing two things: 1) wondering if the Mets have any legal grounds in which to void Cespedes’ contract and if they do not, whether they would attempt to buy him out.

After all, it is clear he doesn’t want to play for the Mets, and if he undergoes surgery on his heels, he will miss at least another five months if he has the good sense to have the procedure immediately.

But, that would entail Cespedes and the Mets acting in concert, but there’s a total disconnect between the factions.

It will never happen.

“I don’t think it’s a disconnect,’’ said assistant GM John Ricco. “It’s not like he has been saying this for months and we just haven’t been listening. For the first to our knowledge, the first he even was considering this surgery was when he said it on Friday.”

If that’s the case, then it is clear the Mets haven’t been talking with Cespedes recently. Isn’t that what is the very disconnect between the Mets and Cespedes?

 

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.

 

Jul 10

Leave Keith Alone

If you spent any time on the Internet today, then you know this season is over for the Mets. Instead of talking about trading Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, the buzz was Keith Hernandez’s refusal to sign an autograph last night after his clinic for T-ballers.

Nobody was even bitching about Yoenis Cespedes. It was all about Hernandez not signing for a kid.

HERNANDEZ: Give him a break. (FOX)

HERNANDEZ: Give him a break. (FOX)

Hernandez was on the clock last night. Hernandez giving batting tips was part of an in-game feature and after the inning, he had to get back to the booth.

It’s his job and Hernandez, who, I’ve seen is very willing to sign, but doesn’t like to be bothered when he’s working.

The Mets or SNY should have had guides down there to escort Hernandez to the agent and ward off fans. There should have been an announcement no autographs would be signed.

If Hernandez signed one, he had to sign two, then three, then four, then when does it end?

The kid, unlike many I’ve seen, wasn’t obnoxious, and neither was Hernandez when he refused. Getting an autograph at Citi Field isn’t easy to do as you’re muscling your way into the position with other fans and there’s a shortage of time.

It pays to be polite, say please and thank you. I’ve seen fans stand behind the dugout and scream, “Hey Jeter, come here and sign this.’’ I’ve seen others who weren’t as polite when the player ignored them.

Don’t forget, when players are taking batting practice, they are working. Respect that.

The best way to get an autograph is to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope along with your photo or baseball card.

I wouldn’t send baseballs, bats, T-shirts or anything other than a flat photo. And, don’t bother with a long letter as it won’t get read and will be trashed.

I’ve seen plenty of players sit in front of their lockers to sign photos and cards. Most of them take this seriously and will likely respond.

But, if you send more than one item to be signed you’ll likely be mistaken as a trader and be ignored. If you have two items, send two envelopes.

Keith is usually kind and accommodating. He was working last night, so give him a break.

Jun 15

Conforto Avoids Minor League Demotion; Hopes Swing Adjustment Works

The Mets are optimistic an adjustment Michael Conforto made to his swing after working with hitting coach Pat Roessler and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater might jumpstart his season to the point where it could prevent a trip to the minor leagues.

Specifically, Conforto has been swinging too early at pitches.

“We just sat down and said ‘What’s causing you to chase pitches? What’s causing you to not go the other way with power like you usually do?’ ” Conforto told reporters in Arizona.

“I hit a couple of balls the other way in the Subway Series and it didn’t feel like I had much behind it. Then you go back and look at video and see I am kind of an extension when hitting the ball the other way whereas last year I was kind of catching it in my swing and I was getting a little extra behind it.”

Conforto is hitting .088 for June (3-for-34), but homered Thursday at Arizona. His OPS is .689 this season compared to .999 at this time last season.

We must also remember Conforto is nine months removed from left shoulder surgery and didn’t have a normal spring training.

When told of his OPS last June 14, Conforto said he “absolutely” expects a return to that level before this season concludes.

The Mets’ season could already be lost, but Conforto still believes he can salvage his season personally.

“Getting on base and hitting for extra bases is something I think I am very good at and so far it hasn’t been there and I think that is my identity as a hitter and I think it’s going to get better,’’ Conforto said.

Conforto might have been demoted had Yoenis Cespedes not had a setback to his quad.