Cuban INF Yulieski Gourriel Available For Hire

According to MLB.com, Cuban infielder Yulieski Gourriel has been cleared to become a free agent and could sign with a team as early as this season. The 32-year-old has primarily played third base over his career (13 in the CNS and two in the JPL). He has also played at second base and short stop.

Gourriel has repeatedly expressed a desire to leave Cuba with permission of the Cuban government. He and his younger brother Lourdes (22-years-old) left Cuba’s Ciego de Avila team following its Caribbean Series back in February of this year in search of MLB contracts (per Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com).

Gourriel is regarded as the best baseball player in Cuba and it’s easy to see why when you look at his numbers.

Last year with the Industriales, Gourriel slashed a ridiculous .500/.589/.874 with 15 home runs and 51 RBI in just 49 games. Throughout his professional career Gourriel has a slash line of .335/.417/.580 with 1,585 hits, 250 HR, 1,018 RBI, and 611 BB.

Given that Gourriel is considered by many to be Major League-ready right now, I thought I would provide a look at one team from each division who could potentially sign him.

 

National League East: New York Mets

According to ESPN, the Mets may pursue Gourriel aggressively (and understandably so).

With perennial third baseman David Wright likely sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a herniated disk, the Mets could use someone with Gourriel’s experience who’s ready to make an impact.

Gourriel would also have a clubhouse friend in countryman Yoenis Cespedes, so this would seem like a match made in heaven on paper for both sides.

 

National League Central: Pittsburgh Pirates

Sitting at third place in the NL Central and two-and-a-half games back for one of the two NL Wild Card spots, the Bucs could use a potential offensive boost and change of pace in their infield.

Currently Pittsburgh is comfortable at third base with David Freese and Jung Ho Kang. They also seem comfortable at second base with Josh Harrison, but Gourriel could possibly platoon at short stop with Jordy Mercer.

If nothing else, Gourriel would be welcomed infield depth and could add some needed pop into the Pirates’ lineup.

 

National League West: San Francisco Giants

I’ll admit, the Gigantes are a bit of a stretch here when you consider their more than serviceable starting infield comprised of Matt Duffy (3B), Brandon Crawford (SS), Joe Panik (2B), and Brandon Belt (1B).

However, it wouldn’t hurt to have Gourriel behind any of those guys or allowing them to rest come the dog days of August.

With Hunter Pence possibly out of the everyday lineup until after the All-Star break with a torn hamstring, San-Fran could use a batter of Gourriel’s caliber.

 

 

(Photo Credit: Nati Harnik, AP Photo)

(Photo Credit: Nati Harnik, AP Photo)

 

 

American League East: Baltimore Orioles

The O’s aren’t exactly in dire need for an infielder either (see Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Jonathon Schoop, and JJ Hardy).

Nevertheless, with JJ Hardy still out and rehabbing a fractured left foot and the flexibility of the DH position, Baltimore could use Gourriel as infield depth in a platoon with Alvarez. The O’s could also put him at the hot corner over current starter Ryan Flaherty (while Machado covers at SS in Hardy’s absence).

As you can see, Baltimore would have options by signing Gourriel. And when you are trying to stay atop the AL East, having options is quite the luxury.

 

American League Central: Cleveland Indians

The Tribe, in my opinion, is the AL team who would benefit most by signing Gourriel now. Cleveland currently has a solid middle-infield with short stop sensation Francisco Lindor and veteran second baseman Jason Kipnis. However, the corners of their infield are getting a bit old (Mike Napoli, 34) and worn out (Juan Uribe, 37).

At 32 with 15 seasons under his belt, Gourriel isn’t young either but would seem more serviceable than Uribe at third. Though the Indians do have another promising young talent in Jose Ramirez (currently starting in left field but a third baseman by trade), the addition of Gourriel would give the Tribe more flexibility.

Cleveland is on top of the AL Central by a thin margin and Gourriel could offer assistance in helping distance that lead (you’re probably sensing an AL pattern by now).

 

American League West: Texas Rangers

The Rangers have been red hot lately and have a seven-and-a-half game first place lead in the AL West over the Seattle Mariners. A large part of that success stems from one of the more crowded infields in the majors (see Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor, and Jurickson Profar).

However, they could make room for Gourriel at first base by rotating with Mitch Moreland.

At the very least, Gourriel could share DH responsibilities with Prince Fielder while also acting as infield insurance.

 

Honorable Mention: Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees

 

Final Thoughts:

While I feel the Mets or Indians will make the most aggressive run at Gourriel, you never know who might throw their hat in the ring.

This development will be one to keep an eye on in the coming weeks. It would be surprising not to see Gourriel on a Major League roster by the All-Star break.

What Yoenis Cespedes Will Bring to the Mets

Mere hours before this writing, the surprising, shocking, news that the Mets signed Yoenis Cespedes to a three year deal (with an opt out after the first) was broken . Yoenis Cespedes became a folk hero in New York this season, after his excellent post trade deadline run. In August, he hit .275 with 8 home runs, 23 RBIs, and an incredibly impressive 139 wRC+.

In September/October, he got even better, hitting .300, with 9 home runs, 21 RBIs, and a downright gaudy 176 wRC+. He was a dominant force for the New York Mets, and they simply do not win the division without him. He was not as successful in the playoffs, but he was playing injured so that absolutely plays a part.

While it is plainly obvious what Cespedes does for the Mets himself, a power hitter with speed and a cannon for an arm, he also does a lot for the players around him.

First of all, he deepens the lineup considerably. He fits right in the middle of the lineup, giving the Mets something similar to:

Granderson RF

Walker 2B

Cespedes CF

Duda 1B

Wright 3B

Conforto LF

d’Arnaud C

Cabrera SS

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That is a very deep lineup. With his insertion in it, he allows quality hitters like Michael Conforto, Travis d’Arnaud and Asdrubal Cabrera to round out the bottom of the order, instead of being directly in the middle of it. This lineup has home run potential in every spot, and is a lot more intimidating than the alternative of platooning Juan Lagares and Alejandro De Aza in center field, which was the Mets plan prior to Cespedes’ price falling.

Not only does the everyday lineup improve, it allows the bench to improve as well. Juan Lagares now becomes the fourth outfielder, and Alejandro De Aza becomes the fifth outfielder, and pinch hitter, which is a role he is much more suited for. De Aza is a clear upgrade over ex-Met Kirk Nieuwenhuis and recent retiree Michael Cuddyer in that role. Lagares, who can hit lefties very well, and (as long as he reverts back to his 2014 form) provide Gold Glove defense, allows Terry Collins to put Cespedes in left field so Conforto does not have to face particularly tough lefties, and also put the Cespedes in left field for late inning defense, where he won an American League Gold Glove for his time in Detroit.

The only issue with Cespedes is his center field defense; he has a career -17 DRS (defensive runs saved) at the position. He is slightly better, in terms of DRS, than the alternative for the Mets, Alejandro De Aza (-18 DRS).

While Steamer (a baseball statistic projection system) does not have Cespedes repeating his career year, he is projected to hit .266 with 26 home runs, 86 RBIs, a 111 wRC+ and a 9.1 Off value (which is above average, average being zero); that is very solid, and because he will be surrounded by solid talent up and down the lineup, that very solid stat line will fit in nicely as the Mets attempt to defend their National League crown, and win the World Series.

Which Team Will Finally Decide to Sign Yoenis Cespedes?

When Justin Upton signed a six-year, $132.75 contract with the Detroit Tigers on Monday, many people were stunned about how much money he got. The deal also got everyone around baseball wondering about which team will eventually sign Yoenis Cespedes and how much money they’re willing to pay him.

Realistically at this point, the Cespedes sweepstakes is down to five teams. The Baltimore Orioles recently took themselves out of the hunt for the slugging outfielder when they re-signed power-hitting first baseman/outfielder Chris Davis. Baltimore had been interested in Cespedes, but only as a backup option in case Davis decided to go elsewhere.

Here are the five teams that still have a chance to sign Cespedes.

1. New York Mets

The New York Mets are still one of the teams interested in signing Cespedes. It’s no secret that he had a lot of success in New York during the latter portion of last season. He was the team’s offensive catalyst, and one of the main reasons that they overtook the Washington Nationals in the NL East. Since the Mets are currently lacking a dynamic hitter in the middle of their lineup, re-signing Cespedes would appear to be a smart move. However, they’re not interested in giving him the six-year deal he desires. If no team is willing to give him this type of long-term contract, the Mets could be a fallback option. Cespedes himself has stated that he loves New York and would like to return to the Mets. He’s not going to give the Mets a discount though. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to whether or not Cespedes is willing to accept a short-term contract with the Mets. After the Upton deal however, it’s unlikely that no team decides to give him a long-term, lucrative contract.

2. Washington Nationals 

Another team that has recently expressed interest in Cespedes is the Washington Nationals. The team has already signed a former Met this offseason, second baseman Daniel Murphy. It isn’t really that surprising that it looks like they’ve decided to go all-in on Cespedes. The team has reportedly offered him a five-year, $100 million contract. Ben Revere is currently the Nationals’ starting center fielder. Revere was traded to them from the Toronto Blue Jays just a few weeks ago in exchange for Drew Storen. If they were to sign Cespedes, he would start  in center field over Revere. The reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper is the team’s starting right fielder, while Jason Werth is the starting left fielder. Signing Cespedes would give the Nationals three good outfield power bats. Not to mention that it would really irk the Mets and their fans.

3. Houston Astros 

The Houston Astros are also reportedly interested in Cespedes. Like the Mets, Houston is probably a long shot to sign him. It’s not that they’re not willing to spend money, it’s that the team really doesn’t have room for him. Between Colby RasmusCarlos Gomez, and George Springer, they already have three talented outfielders. Rasmus accepted the Astros’ one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer back in November. Clearly, they think very highly of him. Gomez was acquired by the team back in July. He still has another year left on his contract. Springer is one of the better up-and-coming young outfielders in all of baseball. The only way it would make sense for the Astros to sign Cespedes would be if they traded one of these three players shortly after signing him. However, the team doesn’t really need him. They have three good outfielders, and Cespedes would surely cost them a lot of money. For them, he’s just not worth it.

4. Chicago White Sox 

Another team that has been linked to the Cuban-born slugger is the Chicago White Sox. They’ve been active this offseason, and evidently have interest in Cespedes. The team already traded for power-hitting third baseman and two-time All-Star Todd Frazier back in December. They also acquired second baseman Brett Lawrie from the Oakland Athletics. The White Sox don’t exactly have the outfield that the Astros have. Melky Cabrera is really their best offensive outfielder. They could definitely use Cespedes. The team’s first baseman Jose Abreu is also Cuban-born, and is reportedly very excited over the possibility of the White Sox signing him.

5. Los Angeles Angels 

The Los Angeles Angels are the final team in the Cespedes sweepstakes. For a team that is known for spending a lot of money, they’ve been surprisingly quiet this offseason. The team’s made a few small trades, but haven’t made any big splashes in free-agency. Cespedes would certainly be a major splash. If the Angels had him to go along with Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun, they’d have one very talented outfield, offensively and defensively. Although the Angels have yet to express serious interest in signing Cespedes to a long-term deal, that doesn’t that they won’t. There’s still plenty of time until Spring Training. We don’t know how long the talks with him will drag on for. A lot can change.

Whichever team ends up signing Yoenis Cespedes, they’re getting a very talented player who has a lot of power and a great arm. Eventually, someone’s going to give in and give him the contract he wants. In all likelihood, that team will probably be either the Nationals or the White Sox. Let’s see what happens.

 

 

Yoenis Céspedes Market Heating Up, Deal Possibly Coming Soon

It appears the market for free agent outfielder Yoenis Céspedes is intensifying, according to numerous reports. If a deal comes to fruition, it means that one team is going to be getting a late Christmas gift.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports that Cespedes may be close to signing a contract for 2016, but the question remains which team is in the hunt? Teams like the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox have all been linked to the slugger. Cespedes is hoping get paid based off his excellent 2015 campaign, but teams are evaluating Cespedes based on his career totals which is likely driving down his offer prices.

The Mets remain a likely destination and there has been talk of a 1-2 year short term contract, which may be appealing to Cespedes since the market has not played out the way he would have imagined. Signing such a deal would allow Cespedes to build on his terrific finish to 2015 and prove that his performance is more of his “norm” as opposed to a fluke.

Reports indicate that the White Sox  have capped their offer at three years and the Baltimore Orioles reportedly had an offer of $90 million in play for Cespedes, but their re-signing of Chris Davis likely takes the O’s out of the race.

One team to watch is the Houston Astros, who many are speculating could swoop in an snatch up Cespedes. The Astros being in play is a bit odd, since they are rather rich in the outfield and don’t have a glaring need for another.

Jon Heyman reports that a short-term deal is not likely for Cespedes, which adds another layer of intrigue in how the market is shaping up.

Then there is always the New York Yankees, who have been trying to unload outfielder Brett Gardner and could use an outfielder to replace his possible departure. Signing Cespedes would also mean the Yankees could sit aging, oft-injured Carlos Beltran who has been streaky at best during his stint in the Bronx.

Regardless of where Cespedes lands, it appears that a resolution is on the horizon but that a clear-cut destination is still a mystery.

 

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Mets Appear to be Moving on From Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes was such a vital part of the New York Mets in 2015. However, it seems as though the team is ready to move on from the Cuban-born slugger.

After being traded to the Mets from the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline, Cespedes became their offensive catalyst. In 57 games with the Mets, he batted .287 with 17 home runs and 44 RBIs. He provided the team with the big bat that they were lacking for the first four months of the season. Because the Mets finally had a good offense, they were able to overtake the Washington Nationals and win the NL East for the first time since 2006. Cespedes did not really have a great postseason however, and the Mets went on to lose to the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.

Even though he didn’t do so well in the playoffs, Cespedes was still by far the Mets’ best offensive player in 2015. He fit right in with the team and seemed very comfortable playing in New York. He gave the Mets a legitimate power bat, something they hadn’t had in years. They would not have made the playoffs without him. Despite all this, it appears as though the team is not interested in bringing him back.

At the beginning of the offseason, there was a lot of speculation about whether or not the Mets would offer Cespedes a long-term contract. Many people around baseball doubted that they would be willing to offer him the type of lucrative, long-term deal that he’d want. Judging by the team’s most recent signing, it looks like these people are right. On Tuesday, the Mets agreed on a one-year, $5.75 million contract with outfielder Alejandro De Aza. The left-handed hitting De Aza will mostly likely platoon center field with righty Juan Lagares. That is, unless the Mets sign another outfielder in the next few months.

The signing of De Aza basically confirms that Cespedes will not be a New York Met going forward. It is very unlikely at this point that they even offer him a contract. The team was reportedly willing to offer him a three-year contract, but Cespedes is looking for a five or six-year deal. Talks between Cespedes and the Mets basically hit a dead end yesterday because of this. General manager Sandy Alders0n has decided to spend money elsewhere. In addition to De Aza, the Mets have also signed shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. They traded pitcher Jon Niese to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for second baseman Neil Walker. The team got a surprise two weeks ago when outfielder Michael Cuddyer announced his early retirement. Cuddyer was set to make $12.5 million next year. Now the Mets are free to spend this money elsewhere. However, it doesn’t appear as though they’ll be spending it on Cespedes.

It would be surprising if the Mets didn’t make any other moves this offseason. They still need to try and sign at least one more relief pitcher to solidify their bullpen, particularly a solid setup man. Adding another outfielder would also be very beneficial. Justin Upton is still available, someone who would definitely cost less than Cespedes. What they’ve done so far has been fine, but in order to get back to the World Series they’ll need to do more. Alderson knows that his team already has one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball. Now, he needs to focus on upgrading other areas of his team. Considering that the Mets won’t be resigning Cespedes, he undoubtedly has the money to make these improvements.

Making A Case for Yoenis Cespedes to Stay in Queens

DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/AP

At the time of this writing, the Mets are down two games to none in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals. The Mets have to dig themselves out of a hole, and I am sure they are not even thinking about the offseason. But, one thing is for certain: The Mets should re-sign Yoenis Cespedes.

Cespedes brings a lot of things to the table. He is an excellent fielder (he was recently nominated for the Gold Glove in the American League for his play in Detroit this season), and he can hit for power. He’s topped out as a .290 hitter, and while I think that is achievable, that probably should not be expected.

One reason why the Mets should re-sign him, regardless of a World Series win or loss, is because of what he brings specifically to this Mets lineup. He helps keep up the fielding in the outfield, since Juan Lagares (due to injury) has been nowhere near the Juan Lagares of 2014; his UZR rating has dropped from an 18.6 to a 3.5; that is an enormous drop off. Cespedes had a 15.4 UZR this past year.

On top of that, Cespedes can hit. He had a career high 35 home runs, with 101 RBIs, a .291 average, and a 135 wRC+, all career highs. While I do not believe these numbers will necessarily be repeated, since his career average is .259/28/76 with a 112 wRC+, he is still a very good player, in a lineup that is a little thin without him. He is a power bat from the right side, which is something they do not have. Conforto, Granderson, and Duda are all lefties. Throwing a right hander with pop in the middle of the lineup helps separate them (yes, Granderson is a leadoff hitter, but he still has a lot of power).

While he does do a lot of good things, he does have his problems.

He has hit over .290 twice, the other two years he hit .240, and .260. He strikes out a decent amount, but what really kills him offensively is his refusal to walk. In his four seasons in the MLB, he has walked over forty times once (43 in 2012). Every other year, he has walked from 33-37 times, which is evidenced by his .305 career OBP. His walk rate (5.8%) is abysmal. If he took more pitches, and got into hitter’s counts, he can easily be a .300+ hitter. But he has poor plate discipline, and that is something that the team that does sign him has to deal with.

Needless to say, without Cespedes lengthening the lineup and providing solid defense in center field, the Mets would may not even be in the playoffs this year. While he has struggled in the playoffs (10-45 overall), he still is contributing in other facets of the game (and he is very clearly suffering much more from that shoulder injury than he is letting on).

The Mets need a bat after this season, especially if Daniel Murphy does what everyone expects him to do and gets paid from another organization in the offseason, and Cespedes is the player that we know. The Mets organization has no idea who will be available in free agency, and they do not have to give up another first round pick in order to sign him, since he is already here. He electrified the city, and proved he can play here during a stretch run. He should stick around in Queens.

Yo 2, Storen 0 as Mets sweep Nationals again.

Kind of a big 3-game series took place in Washington this week between the first place New York Mets and their closest pursuer the Washington Nationals.

Monday night a 5-run fourth inning by the Nationals wasn’t enough as they kicked away a 5-3 lead in an 8-5 loss to the Mets. Max Scherzer wasn’t all that great by allowing five runs and three homers over six innings. The Mets Michael Conforto, Kelly Johnson, and Yoenis Cespedes had the home run honors. The Nats bullpen allowed three additional runs in the seventh and  Washington ended Labor Day five games behind the Mets.

Tuesday night the Nationals scored 4-runs in the sixth to take a 7-1 lead, but the Nats bullpen allowed 6-runs in the seventh and another in the eighth.

The highlight in the seventh inning for the Mets was Yoenis Cespedes delivering a 3-run double against Drew Storen. Storen reacted by walking the next three batters which allowed a run to be added to his ledger after allowing the three runners he inherited to score. Good times for Storen.

It got worse for the Nats and better for the Mets when Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a pinch-hit go-head solo homer in the eighth against Jonathan Papelbon. Washington’s 8-7 loss saw manager Matt Williams storm away from the postgame podium in disgust. The Mets overcame a six-run deficit for the first time since 2011 placing the Nats six games back in the division.

Wednesday the Nationals tried to avoid their second straight sweep to the Mets. Bryce Harper flashed his MVP form and MVP hair by, speaking of hair, homering off Jacob DeGrom in the first inning.

Stephen Strasburg was brilliant until the he reached the eight inning for the first time since mid-April. He had 13 strikeouts in the game and had only allowed a homer to Travis d’Arnaud in the second inning. Kelly Johnson ruined Strasburg’s excellence by taking him deep leading off the eighth inning to tie the game at two.

Two batters later with Curtis Granderson on first, Matt Williams went back to Storen to face Cespedes for the second day in a row with the game hanging in the balance. The results were almost predictable. Storen served up a two-run bomb to Yo to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

Drew Storen used to be the closer where he was pitching to a 1.62 ERA in the 9th inning. His 7th-8th inning ERA this season is 6.41. He’s was also a huge 0 for 2 against Cespedes this week.

Harper got a run back in the bottom of the eighth with his second homer of the game to cut the deficit to 5-4 against Tyler Clippard. Harper has 36 homers to go with that .336/.467/.657 slashline. This equates on the NL side of things to a .220 OPS LEAD over Rockies awesome guy Nolan Arenado.

Jonathan Papelbon fanned the Nats bullpen flame by allowing a run in the ninth before Jeurys Familia slammed the door on the Mets sweep of the Nationals. The Mets have won six straight games against Washington and lead the Nationals by 7-games in the NL East with 23 games to play. The Mets haven’t had a 7-game division lead since September 2007.

Chris Hilburn-Trenkle on this very site makes some valid points about Cespedes being incredibly valuable to the Mets. He has 14 HRs, including 5 go-ahead homers, in 36 games with the Mets and a 1.032 OPS. However, 18 of Cespedes’ 32 home runs came in the AL during his 102 games with the Tigers. I believe his time served with the Mets just isn’t going to be enough to win him the NL MVP given that Bryce Harper has been a one man wrecking crew for a Nationals.

It’s not Harper’s fault his team has reverted to being disappointing again. If you haven’t noticed the Nats aren’t exactly the best starting rotation in baseball, now are they? According to baseball-reference.com the Nationals’ rotation is 11th in MLB allowing 4.07 runs per game. The Mets are 5th at 3.75. That’s runs allowed, not ERA, but you get the idea.

The Mets were 4-15 against the Nationals in 2014 when New York finished 17-games out of first place. During 2015 the Mets are 10-6 vs the Nationals in a rivalry that is gaining momentum. Both teams will close the season against each other.

“We’re legitimate,” Manager Terry Collins said to the New York Times. “This is not a fluke.”

Hair flips may win style points in the MVP voting, but they don’t necessarily secure playoff spots.

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Yoenis Cespedes: National League MVP?

The day after Yoenis Cespedes was acquired by the New York Mets from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for minor league right handers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa, the Mets were sitting two games back of the first place Nationals and were desperate to spark a run.

Then entered Cespedes, who in his first game went 0-3, but drew a walk, something that he had not accomplished in nearly six weeks, and the Mets ended up beating the Nationals 3-2. The next day the Mets won 5-2 and Cespedes went 1-4 as the Mets took a share of first place with the series win against the Nats.

The New York Mets have played thirty four games since trading for Cespedes and have amassed a 23-11 record during that span. The Mets went from two games back of the division leading Nationals to leading the division by five games as of September 8. The biggest reason for this turn around has been the hot hitting of Cespedes. In 34 games Cespedes is hitting .311 with 13 home runs and 31 RBIs, to go along with a .669 slugging percentage.

Those are video game numbers and since joining the Mets, Cespedes has had an offensive Wins Above Replacement of 1.9, which if factored in for a 162 season would finish up to be an astonishing 9.1 Overall on the year the 29 year old outfielder has hit .298 with 31 home runs and 92 RBIs and is having his best year as a pro.

Picking up Cespedes was an outstanding decision by Mets brass and having the menacing right hander in the lineup not only helps the team, but helps the individual hitters around him as he gives strong lineup protection. With David Wright back for the Mets they now have a lineup led by Curtis Granderson, Wright, Daniel Murphy, Cespedes and rookie Michael Conforto.

The lineup went from being considered weak in late July to now being a quite formidable lineup with the acquisition of Cespedes and the return of David Wright. With 25 games left in the season the Mets are inching ever closer to their first playoff appearance since 2006, something that almost no one would have guessed at the beginning of the season.

The Mets young pitching has been tremendous for the team this year, but without Cespedes the Mets would still be in second place. Cespedes is fifth in the National League in WAR this year at 5.8, and is third in runs batted in at 92 and fourth in home runs at 31.

A strong argument can be made that fellow NL East outfielder Bryce Harper deserves the Most Valuable Player award as Harper has 34 home runs, 83 runs batted in and a .336 batting average. Harper has no doubt been one of the best players in baseball this year, but the award is for the most valuable player, not the best player, and Cespedes has certainly been very valuable for the Mets. The Mets have gained seven games on Harper’s Nationals since acquiring Cespedes and now lead the division by five games over the Nats.

The Mets are 3-0 against the Nationals with Cespedes on the roster and yesterday Cespedes blasted his 31st home run of the season to help lead the New York ball club to a victory over the Harper led Nats. Both players have been fantastic this year, but one key stat to look at that separates the two is their hitting with RISP. Cespedes on the year is hitting .328 with RISP with 9 home runs and 62 RBIs and with the Mets is hitting .343 with 3 home runs and 16 RBIs, whereas Harper is hitting .306 with 8 home runs and 51 RBIs.

Both players have been great for their respective ball clubs, but Cespedes has been the difference maker in the Mets success this year and he is the reason why the Mets are going to beat out the Nationals and make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. At the end of the season it should be Cespedes receiving the National League Most Valuable Player award.

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Ready, Aim, Fiers and Happy Cespedes!

Friday night went off with a bang. The Astros Mike Fiers no-hit the Dodgers and the Mets Yoenis Cespedes made three of his five hits land on the other side of the wall against the Rockies.

According to MLB Stats & Info it’s just the 7th Day in MLB history that has featured a no-hitter and a 3-HR game. The funny part is the feat has happened three times this season. This wasn’t even the first time the Mets have had a 3-HR games this year.

Concerning the previous No-Hitter, 3 HR shenanigans of 2015:

July 25th, 2015 – The Phillies Cole Hamels no-hit the Cubs and the Yankees Alex Rodriguez hit three home runs against the Twins.

June 9th, 20015 – The Giants Chris Heston no-hit the Mets and Joey Votto hit three home runs against the Phillies.

Fiers struck out ten Dodgers and walked three in what was a 3-0 win and the fifth no-hitter of the 2015 season. It’s the first no-hitter we’ve seen in nine days. Fiers was being caught by Jason Castro and got help from Jake Marisnick who hit a 2-run homer in the second inning and also made a nice grab going back on a ball in right center field for the first out of the ninth inning. Fiers gave his arm a workout with a 134-pitch performance that ended with a strikeout of Justin Turner.

Fiers channeled his inner Jesse Orosco of the ’86 Mets by tossing his glove in the air following the final out. “It was like a dream,” Fiers said. “You throw the last pitch. You feel the emotion of everything you’ve been through in your life.”

I’m not sure Orosco’s glove has landed yet.

Fiers, now with a career record of 21-28, had spent his 5-year career with the Brewers until he and Carlos Gomez were traded to the Astros on July 30th. He was making his third start with the Astros and just the 58th of his career. His first victory with the Astros and first career complete game featured a wicker curveball and changeup to go with his low-90s fastball that did justice to his name if only because the Dodgers couldn’t hit any of what he had to offer.

“I think we helped him a little bit,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said to the OC Register’s Pedro Moura. “We chased the ball up, 15-20 balls up, out of the strike zone.

Maybe make an in-game adjustment?

It was the 11th no-hitter in Astros history and the first since the six pitcher (Roy Oswalt, Peter Muno, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, Billy Wagner) combined no-no against the Yankees in an 8-0 win on June 11, 2003 which was the last no-hitter to be thrown at “old” Yankee Stadium. Oswalt left that game injured in the second inning. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Fiers is the first player since Jim Bibby in 1973 a to throw a no-hitter after changing teams midseason.

According to the standings, the Astros lead the Angels by 3.5 games in the AL West after Toronto’s Dave Price polished off the Halos in an 9-2 win. The Blue Jays win got them to within a half game of the Yankees for first in the AL East with the New York who lost 7-3 to the Indians.

The hitless Dodgers have lost three straight and only lead the Giants by 1.5 game in the NL West. Madison Bumgarner pitched and hit (again) his way to victory against the Pirates on Friday in a 6-4 win. MadBum with HR #5.

The Dodgers-Astros, Blue Jays-Angels and Giants-Pirates matchups are big late August series this weekend.

Meanwhile at Coors Field it was Happy Cespedes. The Mets beat the Rockies 14-9, but it wasn’t easy. New York led 7-1 heading in the bottom of the second as Colorado’s Jon Gray got rocked and only recorded five outs.

Bartolo Colon wasn’t much better for the Mets as he couldn’t hold the lead and never made it out of the fourth inning. The Rockies tied the game at eight in the fifth inning only to see the Mets ravage four Colorado relievers over the final four innings to get to 14.

The five home runs for the Mets included Cespedes (3), Travis d’Arnaud, and rookie Michael Conforto. Yo has 5 dingers in 18 games for the Mets and 23 for the season.

2nd inning grand slam vs Jon Gray

4th inning solo homer vs Christian Bergman

6th inning 2-run homer vs Christian Friedrich

Cespedes scored five times, drove in seven runs, stole a base and added a single and triple to round out his 5-hit night.

Most importantly the Mets (65-56) increased their lead over the Nationals in the NL East to five games. Washington (60-61) dipped below .500 in a 10-3 loss to the Brewers on Friday. The Nationals are 6-15 dating back to getting swept by the Mets in a July 31st-August 2nd series. They just aren’t very good right now and have the same record as the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both teams are 9.5-games behind the Cubs for the second NL Wild Card spot, but have the Giants 5.5-games ahead of them.

Compare that to the American League where nine teams are within 7 games of the second wild card spot held down by the Angels who have just 0.5 game lead over the Rangers and Orioles entering Saturday’s action.

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Fans With Pride

Mets And Yoenis Cespedes Make It Work, But It Won’t Last

The New York Mets are in sole possession of 1st place in the NL East and it’s the latest in the season that they have been in sole possession of first place since….well, it’s been a long time. One of the main reasons for the Mets electric play of late is due to the recent play of one of the newest Mets; 29-year-old outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

In a big win over the Miami Marlins on Monday, Cespedes went 3-for-5 with 4 RBIs. All three of his hits were doubles, tying a franchise record for the most in one game. It also gives Cespedes 31 doubles for the season, tying him with Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis for the major league lead.

“That’s why we got him,” manager Terry Collins said. “We got him to be that guy in the middle of the lineup who drives in those big runs.”

“That’s the one thing I noticed as an opponent, that he’s not necessarily the physically biggest guy, but he’s able to move the baseball with the best of them,” Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson said.

“He’s got some skills, boy, I’ll tell you,” Collins said. “He’s the real deal.”

But for Mets’ fans who are hoping Cespedes sticks around long-term may have to come to the reality that it’s just not very likely. Cespedes’ contract stipulates that he must be released within five days of the World Series if he has not been re-signed. What makes things more difficult is per collective bargaining rules, a team that releases a player is not allowed to sign him as a free agent until May 15th. And the cherry on top? The Mets cannot make him a qualifying offer and reap a compensatory draft pick.

So the Mets rental of Cespedes is truly just that…a rental.

So while Cespedes is showing the capability he did in the game against the Miami Marlins on Monday and the Mets are sitting alone the NL East, edging out the Washington Nationals, the idea of keeping the slugger in New York with the Mets is more fantasy than reality.

Which means that the Mets will be in a similar position as they were leading up to the trade deadline; in need of a bat.

For now, the Mets should have tunnel vision for the remainder of the season and with a chance to not only earn a trip to the playoffs but a shot at the division title, New York should be perfectly content with their inexpensive rental as it changes the complexion of this team for the rest of the season.

 

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