The Mets outfield situation could get messy.

It’s safe to say that the Mets are Dodgers East, but not for the reasons you might think. The Dodgers spend more money on their roster than the Mets, or anyone else actually, but their outfield situations are quite similar.

The Dodgers started their 2016 season with an outfield of Andre Ethier, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig. In the clinching game of the NLCS which they lost to the Cubs, they started Andrew Toles, Pederson and Josh Reddick. Throughout the season, they played Howie Kendrick, Kiké Hernandez, Trayce Thompson, Will Venable, and about anyone who showed up to Chavez Ravine with a glove.  The problem with having this sort of logjam is the amount of at bats, or lack thereof, each player receives. Inconsistent ABs usually lead to a dip in batting average. Dodger left fielders ranked 22nd in the league with a .240 average. Their center fielders ranked 25th with a .242 clip. Right fielders were a little more respectable, hitting .256 to place 15th in the majors.

This remains one of the biggest mysteries in baseball. How do you keep players productive without consistent playing time? Terry Collins will be the latest manager to try and figure it out.

Even with Yoenis Cespedes opting out of his contract, The Mets are in a similar situation as the Dodgers were last year. Having picked up Jay Bruce’s team option, the Mets are now slated to begin the season with Bruce, Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, and Brandon Nimmo on the roster. They are said to be looking to resign Cespedes, and are also interested in Dexter Fowler and Jose Bautista. If they are able to land one of their free agent targets, who should all be seeing everyday ABs, the Mets will create a situation of 5 players for 2 positions. This is where it gets messy. The players who will be fighting for regular time in center and right field have proven to be most effective when given everyday at-bats.

Having depth is never a bad thing, but it’s almost impossible to carry 6 outfielders without limiting yourself in other areas. So how exactly can the Mets approach this?

Trade lefties. 

The Mets can trade one of Bruce or Granderson. Although they provide some pop, they are almost the same player. Lefties that can hit the long ball, strike out a bunch, and with limited defense. They are also very streaky hitters, having both of them slumping at the same time could be deadly for a Mets team trying to contend for a playoff spot. It is extremely unlikely the Mets trade Lagares as he is the lone right-handed hitting outfielder on the roster. The former gold glover could be used as a late inning defensive replacement.

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Send the youngsters down to Vegas.

The Mets can send both Conforto and Nimmo down to AAA. Conforto is a good hitter, but he was rushed to the majors and could use some extra reps in Vegas. He clearly struggled when given limited ABs. If the Mets do not plan of playing him with regularity, he shouldn’t be wasting on the bench. Nimmo was successful in a brief stint last year, he slashed .274 in 73 ABs. He has proven he can hit, missing out on the Pacific Coast League batting title by a single point to teammate TJ Rivera. He also represents, along with Lagares, a true center field option on the roster. As Conforto, and given his age, it would be wise to send Nimmo down to the 51s if he can’t be given regular playing time in Flushing.

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If thing go the Mets’ way, they should have Cespedes, Granderson, and Conforto patrolling the outfield grass. There have been reports of Jay Bruce trade interest by the Blue Jays , which could help alleviate the logjam the Mets currently have. Lagares can then become the 4th outfielder, and should be joined in the bench by a right handed platoon player. In my opinion, this would create the optimal combination for the Mets. Nimmo can benefit from an extra year in Vegas, and can take over the center field job once Granderson’s contract runs out at the end of the season.

Things change over the course of an off-season, and injuries do occur, so it might not be the worst thing to hang on to their current options. The Mets might not be faced with the same dilemma come opening day, but for now they have more questions than answers.

 

A Letter to Jose Fernandez

I had a love-hate relationship with you.

I first saw you pitch in your Major League debut against my New York Mets during the 2013 season. I didn’t know who you were when the game started, but I sure did by the time it finished. You went 5 innings, allowing 1 run, while striking out 8 with your electric stuff.

You never looked back, going on to win the National League Rookie of the Year award. By that point, everyone knew you were special. Tommy John briefly derailed your career, but you were determined to come back even better, an attitude you showed since your days is Cuba.

I hated how good you were against the Mets. In 4 career starts, you had and ERA of 1.08, striking out 32 in 25 innings. It wasn’t fun watching my team look clueless at the plate, but it was fascinating watching you be so dynamic on the mound.

I loved what you were on and off the mound. You were yourself. You were charismatic, passionate, elite. You were everything I wanted our pitchers to be. You were good, and you knew it. You loved the game, and I loved you for that.

I loved the relationship you had with your grandmother. It reminds me of the relationship I have with my abuela. She took me to my first baseball game back in the Dominican Republic. She taught me everything I know about baseball.

Above all, I loved the fact that you were just a kid living your dream, and had fun doing it. It showed in the smile you wore across your face. jose-fernandez

Your ill-time death punched us all in the mouth. I was hoping it was just a bad dream, but it’s not. The fact that we will never get to see you pitch again is not important. The fact that we lost someone so young, talented, and full of life is heart-breaking.

It was a joy watching you pitch.

Rest easy,

Ivan

 

Yoenis Cespedes: 162.

On Wednesday night, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes played his 162nd game for the New York Mets.

Cespedes was acquired from the Detroit Tigers in last year’s trading deadline in exchange for minor league right-handers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

This trade only materialized after the Padres, Reds, and Rockies decided they were not going to trade away Justin Upton, Jay Bruce, and Carlos Gonzalez, respectively.

AND…

After tears were shed on the field by a certain shortstop who must remain unnamed.

Cespedes was received by Mets fans as the savior to a team that desperately needed a boost, and boy, did he live up to the part. After joining the Amazin’s, Yo went on to slash .287/.337/.604 with 17 homeruns, 44 driven in, and 39 runs. His memorable run had fans of the game talking about a possible Most Valuable Player award, though his lack of at-bats in the league would most definitely disqualify him from serious contention.

Not surprisingly, the MVP award did not come, but there is no question as to who was the MVP for the boys in blue.

The acquisition of La Potencia, which is Spanish for The Power, proved to be one of the biggest moves in Mets history. Not only did he help the Mets catch the Nationals in the standings a few days after he was acquired, he essentially buried the Nats’ playoffs hopes.

The Mets went into Washington with a four game lead, a seven game turnaround from the pre-Cespedes era. On Sept. 9th, after winning the first two games of the series, Cespedes came up in the top of the 8th in a tied game. Drew Storen, who had just entered the game, hanged a slider. then Yo did this:

The Mets won the game, and left the nation’s capital with a commanding seven game lead. They never looked back, making it all the way to the World Series.

Though the Mets couldn’t finish the job in 2015, their Yo-powered run to the Fall Classic sent the city into a craze. Everyone was pulling for the blue and orange.

The Mets shocked everyone with their impressive World Series run. Then they shocked everyone by resigning Cespedes to a 3 year, $75 million. The front-loaded deal, which had an opt-out after the first season, guaranteed Cespedes $30.5 million if he decided to exercise that clause. Essentially, barring a horrible season, Cespedes was going to be playing  on a one year deal.

In his second season, Yo has continued to rake to a .298/.369./.572 line. He’s hit 27 home runs, driven in 68, and scored 57 runs. Though the lineup has struggled with injuries and he has been pitched around, Yo has still been able to produce solid numbers.

In his 162 games since joining the Mets, Cespedes has hit at a clip of .294/.358/.584 with 34 doubles, five triples, 44 home runs, 112 RBI, and 96 runs scored.

Those numbers could have given Bryce Harper a run for his money, especially since the Mets won the division. For you sabermetric-heads, his WAR has been 5.2 which, per FanGraphs, puts him at superstar level.

Last month, Yo announced he’s not going to opt out, much to the delight of Mets fans, although we’ll see about that. It is clear he loves playing in the New York limelight, and it is also clear that Mets fans love him.

Maybe Cespedes will not post the same numbers over the next 162 games, but what he has done over his first 162 games will stay with Mets fans for a very long time.

Here’s to many more bat flips in blue and orange.

 

 

 

 

This Night in Mets History: Wilmer Flores night.

With Neil Walker’s huge HR against the Rockies in today’s game, we couldn’t help but be reminded of another HR that occurred a year ago to the date.

In his first game after the crying incident, and after losing a heartbreaking game the day before to the Padres which seemed to bury the Mets playoff hopes, Wilmer Flores provided what ended up being the turning point to the Amazin’s 2015 season.

 

Could Walker’s homer be the turning point to the Mets 2016 season?

The Trade That Never Was.

It was the night of July 29th, 2015. The Mets, carried by their formidable young pitching staff, were sitting 2 games behind the Nationals in the NL East, and desperately needing to boost an anemic offense.

Over the course of the week, there were a few names floating around:

Carlos Gonzalez: With the trade of Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays, the Rockies appeared to have started a fire sale as they headed into rebuilding mode. It was widely believed around the league that CarGo was also available, though at a premium price. The Mets weren’t ready to part ways with ML level pitching prospects, and a trade never picked up any traction.

Jay Bruce: Bruce was the most affordable of the bunch, both in terms of contract and what it would cost to acquire him. Like CarGo, Bruce was a lefty, which was one thing the Mets lineup was not lacking.

Justin UptonThe Mets were getting a first hand view of Upton, as the Padres were in town for a 3 game series. Upton made the most sense, not only was he a right-hitting, versatile outfielder, he was the youngest of the 3. The only problem with Upton was that he would only be a rental, as his contract was due at the end of the season.

With the trade deadline less than 48 hours away, having already acquire Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe as depth pieces from the Braves. and the Nationals coming into town for a weekend series, Sandy Alderson & Co. knew it was the perfect time to strike a deal.

The game started and the lineup still didn’t have an addition. The Padres jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead. Those who had been following the team through the year knew they had little to no chance to rally. As it got deeper into the game, social media started buzzing following a series of tweet by Joel Sherman:

According to Sherman, the Mets had traded for Carlos Gomez. Gomez, a former Met flipped in the deal that brought Johan Santana to New York, had evolved as a 5 tool player and was having one of his best seasons on both sides of the ball. The players heading back were Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler, who was still recovering from Tommy John surgery.

News started spreading around the stadium, and by the time Flores came up to bat in the 7th inning, most of the fans knew he was heading to the Brewers. While stepping into the box, fans gave Flores a standing ovation, leaving Flores and the team confused.

After grounding out to his opposite number, Flores was walking back to the dugout when he heard some fans wishing him good luck and thanking him for everything he had done for the Mets.

It is customary for players that are being traded to be taken out games to avoid injury. For some odd reason, Flores was still in the game. When he took the field for the top of the 8th, with the thought of having to leave the organization he signed with at the age of 16, Flores got emotional, creating one of the most iconic moments in New York Mets baseball history.

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After the top of the 8th, Flores was pulled from the game by Terry Collins. After having a quick conversation with Collins, Flores walked into the clubhouse, followed by team captain David Wright, veteran Michael Cuddyer and long time friend Ruben Tejada.

Adding to the drama, after the game, Alderson addressed the media and made it very clear that a trade “has not and will not transpire.” Apparently the Mets medical staff, one that has been under fire for years, had not liked something they saw in Gomez’s medical. Everyone from writers, to fans, or even the Brewers thought the deal was official.

Of course, the non-trade was one of the best things that happened to the eventual National League Champions. Just 2 days later, in his first game since the event, Flores hit a walk-off homerun against the Nationals, sparking a team that had just acquired Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline.

Cespedes went on to hit 17 homeruns, while driving in 44 runners. His acquisition propelled the Mets into a National League pennant. The non-trade, along with its drama, most likely would have kept Cespedes away from the Mets, making it one the best the trades that never was.