New York Mets Player Evaluations: Designated Hitter Yoenis Cespedes

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes set extremely unrealistic expectations for his final season with the New York Mets and never came close to them. He only played in nine games, never spent a single inning in the outfield, and abandoned the team when things were not going well.

Cespedes spent all offseason claiming there would be some magical return. In summer camp, he even flexed his muscle, hitting the majestic home runs, making him a fan favorite when he was healthy. The biggest questions for him were his ability to hit major league pitching after so much time on the sidelines and how his legs will make it through the season.

With the designated hitter in place, the Mets opted to use him over Dominic Smith early in the season. The comeback story started great for Cespedes as he homered in his first game back during the Mets 1-0 opening day victory over the Atlanta Braves. As soon as the ball hit the stands, the story ended there.

Lack of Production

There was not enough WD-40 in the world to get rid of the rust that riddled an aging Cespedes. At the plate, he went 5-for-31 with two home runs and an astounding 15 strikeouts during nine games. Cespedes could still hit the fastball but flailed when the breaking balls and offspeed pitches came around. He was 1-for-16 on those pitches compared to 4-for-15 when he saw fastballs.

Cespedes’ legs also were not on a level for him to contribute as a complete player. It forced him to run the bases at the same speed as Wilson Ramos and limited him to DH duty. Cespedes did not like his role on the team, and his lack of production would not allow him to meet his contract incentives. He likes to march to the beat of his own drum and did so once again when he left the team for good in Atlanta.

On to the Next One

It showed why Cespedes was shipped around by so many teams in his career. He is a selfish player who craves attention in good times but cannot face the music in tough spots. A beautiful relationship that started with a white-hot 2015 season ended in bitter disappointment as he turned his back on his teammates like a dead-beat father.

The reason he left was clear as day. Cespedes was getting older and needed a full spring training to have any hope of returning as an everyday player. Once he realized Dominic Smith was taking away his playing time, he wanted no part of being a bench player. Cespedes took his ball, or in his case, dance shoes, and went back home.

The culture of the 2015/2016 teams he led was completely flipped by the time he was able to play again. New leaders emerged, and it was a culture that was able to move on and thrive without Cespedes. He showed nothing promising and it will be a surprise to see him play again.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 20 (20), Once was a great breaking ball hitter, but that eluded him in 2020.

Power: 65 (50), Three of his five hits went for extra bases, but the 15 strikeouts overshadow that.

Run: 20 (20), Simply cannot move anymore.

Throw: N/A (60), Assumingly the strong arm is still there, but we may never see it again.

Field: N/A (30), Cannot field if you cannot move.

Overall: 25 (20), It will be one of baseball’s all-time miracles if he ever plays like a shadow of his former self.

New York Mets: Cespedes’ decision to opt out wasn’t just about COVID-19, per report

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

When negotiating the terms of the 2020 shortened season, MLB and the union agreed on the fact that a ballplayer could opt out of playing because of concerns or fears of COVID-19. Numerous players elected this route, most notably David Price, Mike Leake, Michael Kopech, Marcus Stroman and others. Joining the group is controversial New York Mets‘ outfielder/designated hitter Yoenis Cespedes.

It has been over a month since Cespedes failed to report to a New York Mets’ game, presumably without letting anybody of the team know about his decision to opt out of the season.

But was it only related to COVID-19? Or is the issue a lot deeper? SNY’s Andy Martino investigated and reached some conclusions about the matter.

First off, Cespedes was presumably upset with the Mets ever since they worked to restructure his deal following the ankle fracture that the infamous boar incident produced. He was forced to accept a deep paycut, with some money available through bonuses.

“Paranoid” about the Mets’ actions and intentions

One of those bonuses, a $5 million one for making the opening day roster, was met. But after not seeing his name in the lineup for the fourth game of the season, the Mets’ slugger reportedly was “paranoid” over the fact that the team could be intentionally limiting his playing time so he wouldn’t hit the incentives of his re-worked pact.

According to Martino, Cespedes also wasn’t happy about playing in the DH role. He said playing the outfield helped him feel “engaged” during games. Between the new position, the aforementioned grudges and his perception that the Mets wanted to manipulate his playing time to avoid paying him, the Cuban star decided to quit.

His decision was met with much criticism, but truth be told, he hasn’t been the reason behind the Mets’ inability to accumulate enough wins to contend in the NL East. His replacement, Dom Smith, received an extended opportunity and is now slashing .338/.399/.635 with eight homers and 40 RBI.

New York Mets: Dwight Gooden rips Yoenis Cespedes

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

New York Mets legend Dwight Gooden pointed his finger against Yoenis Cespedes for the way he handled his decision to opt out of the 2020 season, and said that he doesn’t think it was COVID-19-related.

On Sunday, Aug. 2, Cespedes didn’t show up to the ballpark in the Mets’ game that day, and it was later reported that he wasn’t playing in the season anymore. That day, the team issued a statement saying that the outfielder didn’t tell the team about his intentions.

According to Gooden, the situation could have been handled in a smoother way. He said to the New York Post’s Amazin’ But True Mets podcast that Cespedes “may get blackballed [in baseball] next year and I’m OK with that.”

Leaving the Mets in an uncomfortable position

“Number one, you put yourself in that position by the stuff you’re doing off the field. Now you miss two, three years when they said throughout baseball don’t give this guy a contract and the Mets did it anyway, and that’s the way you show them. You owe those guys. You owe your teammates, bro. That was a weak move. … I can’t agree with him on this move at all. That definitely wasn’t about COVID. I hope I’m wrong. … Now with your reputation, with everything that’s going on you, might get a team that will invite him to spring training. I don’t know. I’m not wishing bad on anybody, but that was just bad.”

The 34-year-old Cespedes hit two home runs, including one in Opening Day, but ultimately hit .161 in eight games before leaving for good.

First baseman/outfielder Dominic Smith has been filling in for Cespedes and has done very well at the plate.
Cespedes signed a free agent deal in November 2016, for four years and $110 millions, but he missed, according to NJ.com, more than 70 percent of the games after putting ink to paper on the pact.

New York Mets: Cespedes Absence and Opt Out Looms Over 4-0 Loss

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

It was the same story but a different day for the New York Mets, but the mysterious absence then opt out of Yoenis Cespedes became the talk of the game in their 4-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves. As for the players who were on the field, they failed to take advantage of ten hits in the shutout.

It was another chapter in the book of stupidity from the franchise. There were multiple reasons why the Mets made a dumb decision by releasing their statement as early as they did. Brodie Van Wagenen released it shortly after game time, and it became more talked about than the game itself. The Mets also released the statement knowing as much information as we did. They could have held off on releasing any statement at all until they received any new information.

We had to wait until the game ended to find out Cespedes is opting out for the rest of the season. It is a sad ending to a tenure that started in brilliance in 2015. Like we saw with other Cespedes teams in the past his attitude and character forced him to move from team to team. It was clear that his performance was the dictating factor for his opt-out, using “COVID” reasons for his opt-out. Should he have played well, there is no reason why he would not have remained with the team.

There Was a Game Today?

At this point, it is comical at how bad the Mets are at driving in runs. They continued their struggles with runners in scoring position, going 1-for-15, and leaving 13 total runners on base. Strikeouts and double plays kill the Mets as well. They had 11 on the day, and both double plays killed key rallies. For once, the Mets received decent pitching, but the offense, like Cespedes, was absent.

David Peterson gave the Mets another solid start to build on his debut. The rookie pitched six innings, allowing two runs and striking out eight. Peterson used his slider to keep the Braves off-balance, and it helped get swing and misses on his fastball. He also ran into trouble during the third and fourth innings, which could have ended his outing early. Peterson got stronger after that, retiring the final eight batters he faced.

Edwin Diaz pitched after Peterson and immediately walked the first batter he faced. It prompted a visit from pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, and it looked like he did a majority of the talking to get Diaz’s mind in check. Diaz responded great by recording a strikeout and getting a soft liner that Robinson Cano turned into a double play. The outing is a good step in the right direction for Diaz’s attempt to revive his career.

Hot and Cold

Jeff McNeil and Robinson Cano continued doing all they could to attempt to get the Mets on the board. McNeil added another three hits to move his average up to .343, and Cano recorded a hit that extended his hitting streak to 6-games.

Pete Alonso had the worst looking game of his season-long slump. He went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and left six runners on base. Alonso’s lack of approach showed an anxious hitter who is overthinking at the moment. There is no doubt that he will find his way out of it, but manager Luis Rojas has to think about dropping him in the order until he at least puts together better at-bats.

At 3-7 on the season, they need a tremendous turnaround or a season cancellation to put themselves out of their misery. With the way they are driving runs now, there is no end in sight for the Mets failures. On Monday, the Mets attempt to avoid the sweep as Jacob deGrom takes the mound in an attempt to end the five-game losing streak. He faces off against his Opening Day counterpart Mike Soroka. The first pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET.

New York Mets: Bullpen Struggles, Red Sox Hold Off Mets in 6-5 Loss

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

It is a rare sight when a Jacob deGrom start is not the topic of conversation after the game. Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson‘s rare struggles following him accounted for four Red Sox runs. The New York Mets also had no outs with the bases loaded in the ninth but could not come back in the 6-5 loss.

The usually reliable Lugo replaced deGrom after six innings and allowed a game-tying home run to Christian Vazquez. It was just the beginning of Vazquez terror on the Mets bullpen. In the eighth inning, he extended the Red Sox lead to three with a two-run double against Wilson.

The eighth inning showed the fatigue on Wilson, who made his fourth appearance in six games. He consistently missed up with his fastball and gave up three of everything: walks, hits, and runs. Two of the hits Wilson allowed, fell into the cheap category. Wilson’s control is what got him into trouble and made the cheap hits hurt.

The Mets attempted a comeback, down two in the ninth by loading the bases with no one out against Red Sox closer Brandon Workman. A J.D. Davis infield single got the Mets their only run. It was sandwiched between a Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes strikeout, which led to a Robinson Cano soft liner to end the game. The Davis single came on a ball smothered by third baseman Rafael Devers which prevented the ball from heading to left field, allowing the tying run to score.

The Mets offense collected 15 hits on the night, but the Mets were 3-for-14 with RISP and left 11 runners on base. Pete Alonso led the way with four hits, all singles, and a hit by pitch. Cespedes and Brandon Nimmo also homered.

The Mets prized prospect, Andres Gimenez, made his first start at shortstop and excelled going 2-for-3 with a triple. He still looked like a new player at the big leagues after being picked off after his first hit. Once the Red Sox realized he could hit their fastball, they gave him a steady diet of curveballs in his final at-bat.

deGrom Doing His Job

Jacob deGrom was throwing bullets out of the gate, including a 101.1 mph fastball, the fastest of his career. He still did not have his best stuff throughout and only punched out four Red Sox. Despite that, he gave the Mets six strong innings, only allowing two runs on three hits. Out of caution, Rojas removed him after 88 pitches, but expect him to reach 100 in his next start.

The Mets send Steven Matz to the mound against Martin Perez in hopes of taking three out of four from the Red Sox. The first pitch is at 7:07 p.m. ET.

New York Mets: Cespedes Powers the Mets to a 1-0 Victory

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

The New York Mets’ first win of the season could not have been written better and was a day for a couple of crucial Mets to get chips off their shoulders. Yoenis Cespedes returns to the lineup in fashion as his majestic solo home run was all the Mets needed to defeat the Atlanta Braves. Also, Jacob deGrom and the bullpen combined on a shutout of the defending NL East champions.

Cespedes looked rusty at the plate during his first two at-bats. His pop up and a groundball to third base barely reached the infield dirt. It was the first time for Cespedes to test his legs, but he ran at 80 percent as advised by the Mets medical staff. During Cespedes’s third at-bat, he took a belt-high fastball and deposited deep into the empty left-field stands. He did not have to worry about his legs during his light jog around the bases.

Pitching Dominance

deGrom shut down any question on the effect of his back injury and long layoff. He only allowed two baserunners and struck out eight on only 74 pitches. deGrom consistently threw 99-100 mph with his fastball and has thrown 28 straight scoreless innings.

Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson worked through trouble to keep the Braves scoreless and get the game to Edwin Diaz in the ninth. Of course, watching Diaz is going to frighten Mets fans, but he also calms down fans for now. He worked around a walk and struck out two to get his first save of the 2020 season.

Diaz looked electric with his fastball in the high 90s, a slider that looked like it did during his time in Seattle, and he even threw a changeup as well. Diaz struck out Matt Adams on a perfect slider to end the game, which was a huge confidence boost. He struggled mightily with his signature pitch last season, but those struggles seem no more.

Mike Soroka also pitched great for the Braves. He went six innings and allowed four hits without walking a batter. Mets pitching held the Braves to three hits and struck them out 15 times, which handed Soroka a no-decision.

The top of the Mets order, Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil provided three of the six Mets hits. McNeil easily could have added two more if it was not for the Braves defense.

The Mets and Braves play game two of the season at 4:10 p.m. on Saturday. A couple of lefties tow the rubber as Steven Matz gets the start against the 17-game winner, Max Fried.

New York Mets: Chili Davis talks ‘tough’ coaching challenge, team’s offense

New York Mets, Chili Davis

New York Mets hitting coach Chili Davis, 60, has been working remotely during the team’s summer camp due to health risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Davis told reporters on Wednesday that being remote is “tough” (quotes per Mike Puma of the New York Post).

“It’s just really tough to do because I’m used to being around those guys and I’m used to being hands on with them, in contact with them all the time,” Davis said Wednesday. “I know a lot of things are real different there right now as far as how much contact you can make with players. It’s not easy. It’s kind of boring sitting here not doing what I signed up to do. It’s not easy at all.”

Davis said there’s “nothing in this world” that would make him think outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who’s expected to play in his first regular-season game in roughly two years, couldn’t find success this season.

“There is nothing in this world that I would ever believe that Cespedes cannot do on a baseball field,” Davis said. “He’s proven that to me already. He’s a very determined young man. He’s a very proud young man, so I think when he makes up his mind that he’s going to go out to the world and prove what he can do, he’s going to definitely do that. I just hope he stays healthy. If he stays healthy he is going to be a huge benefit to that ballclub.”

Davis feels shortstop Amed Rosario can be a catalyst for the Mets offense.

“If Rosie is hitting ninth, he is a guy that starts that whole lineup again at the back of the lineup,” Davis said. “If he’s on base, now you have Nimmo or [McNeil] or somebody coming up after him. I think they are three good quality leadoff hitters.The obvious choice I think will probably end up being Nimmo or Mac [at leadoff] because of the success they have had.”

Davis had a conversation with first baseman Pete Alonso where he expressed to the 2019 National League Rookie of the Year that he has to keep his approach “as simple as possible.”

“Petey and I had a conversation [Monday], just reminding him the guy who hit 53 home runs last year wasn’t just the guy who finished the year, the second half,” Davis said. “The guy that hit 53 home runs last year was the guy that started from spring training to the All-Star break. I thought he had a few more ups and downs in the second half than in the first half.”

“The one thing we talk about mostly is this year, especially, you can’t match in a 60-game season those numbers you put up last year,” Davis said. “You have got to keep the approach as simple as possible.”

“The second thing I wanted him to understand: ‘Don’t put in your mind that pitchers aren’t going to pitch to you.’ They are.”

The New York Mets open the 2020 season at home against the Atlanta Braves on Friday.

Mets news: DeGrom throws and is on track for Opening Day; Marisnick to play today; Cespedes to DH on Friday; Ramos shows up

The New York Mets released details about some of their players’ injuries on Tuesday through manager Luis Rojas. On Monday, it was announced that infielder Jed Lowrie was placed on the injured list with a left knee issue that prevented him from fielding and running smoothly.

Tuesday was a much brighter day, at least when it comes to injuries. Mets’ ace and two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom threw a side session with no incident at Citi Field. The right-hander, you may recall, had a slight scare with his back early last week.

Thankfully for the Mets, he has felt a lot better since then and has reported no further issues that may complicate his availability for Opening Day, a game for which he is still lined up for (Friday against the Atlanta Braves.)

Rojas reported on Monday that center fielder Jake Marisnick was battling “a little bit of left hamstring tightness,” but he is expected to play in today’s intrasquad action at Citi Field and will take at least a couple of at-bats.

Marisnick, Cespedes and Ramos all should be available for the Mets on Friday

So far, just like deGrom, Marisnick’s availability for Friday hasn’t been compromised. He is slated to share center field duties with Brandon Nimmo.

Meanwhile, Mets’ slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who played in two exhibition games against the Yankees on the weekend, said today that he expects to be the team’s designated hitter on Friday against the Braves.

The Cuban star said that he feels good in left field following multiple ankle and heel surgeries in the last two years, but he wasn’t really tested in the weekend, and the only ball batted his way was a home run.

The universal designated hitter rule will allow the Mets to put Cespedes in that spot most nights, provided he can still produce with the bat.

After not reporting to camp since last Friday, catcher Wilson Ramos showed up on Tuesday at Citi Field.

New York Mets: Cespedes will play the outfield against the Yankees and is “moving better” every day

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

As Opening Day keeps approaching and is only a week away, New York Mets’ manager Luis Rojas now has a clearer picture about the form of his players. He has seen them train and play for quite a few days now, and the píeces are starting to fall into their place.

One important piece in the Mets’ puzzle is Yoenis Cespedes. By now, virtually every fan knows that he hasn’t played a Major League game since July 2018 because of multiple surgeries in his heels and his ankle.

The New York Mets are among the teams that will benefit the most from the universal designated hitter rule, because they get to slot Cespedes and his potent bat almost every day without him risking his legs in the field. But wait… what about if he could play the outfield every once in a while?

The Mets want him to be able to play the outfield occasionally

According to what Rojas said Friday to Tim Britton of The Athletic, Cespedes playing the outfield is something that “we’re definitely getting more confident every time we see him out there.” That would be incredible news for a player that has worked hard to return, and for a team that could use the extra flexibility.

“He’s moving well. We are hoping to put him in the outfield for one of the two games against the Yankees, and that will say a lot. Yankee Stadium has got a big gap, so moving around and taking a first step off the bat, if he can play left there and get challenged a few plays will say a lot to us. That’s something we haven’t seen yet in our games as much, him getting really challenged,” the Mets skipper said.

Rojas conceded that Cespedes seems to “move better every day. We have seen him on the bases, making turns, cutting angles. He’s done a good job. He’s done his homework as far as his progression and doing what he has to do with the performance staff.”

For now, Cespedes is expected to be the New York Mets’ designated hitter come Opening Day, but if he passes the Yankee Stadium test, he could find himself in the outfield every once in a while.

New York Mets: Michael Wacha Dominates Intrasquad Game

New York Mets, Michael Wacha

The New York Mets played another summer camp game to get themselves ready for their weekend exhibition series against the New York Yankees. Michael Wacha stole the show with a terrific pitching performance as he tries to assure the Mets he can fill Noah Syndergaard‘s absence.

Wacha pitched five no-hit innings, which included an extra batter in some of the innings. He struck out four batters on only 69 pitches, with the only baserunner coming on a Dominic Smith error. After the long layoff, the pitchers usually have the upper hand on the hitters. Wacha still looked sharp, his changeup strong as ever, and improved his curveball from 2019.

Any Offense?

Wilson Ramos and Ryan Cordell both added home runs in the matchup. The blue squad defeated the white squad 3-1 but also received encouraging signs just based on the players who could take the field. Jed Lowrie, Yoenis Cespedes, and Robinson Cano both played in the game and came out of it without any issues.

Cano and Cespedes also added hits for the blue team while J.D. Davis recorded the only hit for the white team. Lastly, the Mets release some of their fan cutouts that will be in the stands during the season.