Folks- Mack asked me to spin off my response to today's question into it's own post due to my propensity to respond in rather long-fashion to these weekly questions. This particular one is something near and dear to my heart, so please forgive my long-windedness in advance!

Happy Friday, folks. Baseball is back, and just in time before I lost my mind!!! It was great seeing Amed Rosario playing on Sunday & Wednesday, but sadly, it was only in AAA All-Star and Futures Games, and all we heard from the announcers was how they couldn't understand why he isn't on the big league club yet. But that's an ongoing story that we won't ever get an honest answer about, any time soon, if ever. 

(photo (c) by David J Rubin)

Also, living in SoCal & rooting for the Angels since 1971 (and the Nolan Ryan trade) as my favorite AL team, I get to see Mike Trout return to action tonight, and that's also super-exciting!!!!

We are here, however, to discuss the most exciting offensive force on the NY Mets, however, one Yoenis Cespedes, and this post will serve as my counter-point, if you will, to an earlier post this week by Peter Hyatt as well as today's group question about Yo!

First- many people have contacts with and pipelines to various scouts, coaches, execs, teammates, ex-teammates, etc, and I have found that if you speak with 5 different folks, all in the same org, you are liable to get 10 different opinions!!! It doesn't make one wrong, or another right, it just serves to confuse the issue in most cases.

Second- Peter Hyatt presents some very interesting topics, has a wholly unique approach/style, and it's welcomed with open arms around here. From my very limited dealings with him via the site and in talks with Mack, he's a really good guy and a credible human being. Those aren't things said lightly, nor can you say those things about everyone in the blogverse, for sure.

Third-I have been blogging about the Mets, on and off, for over 13 years via various sites, and have multiple, long-term contacts throughout the game that I not only would never disclose but whom have never failed to deliver honest and timely information and feedback

Fourth- finally, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and at a time when our ballclub is performing at an alarming pace, injuries galore, a manager who is a dead man walking and a GM that no one knows whether or not he's coming back after this season, it's generally speaking grounds for a free-for-all, old-west style shoot 'em up!!!

I'm old enough that I couldn't wait for the old SNL bits between Dan Aykroyd & Jane Curtain, Point/Counter-Point:

But we're not going to denigrate to that level here, because there's no animosity, just impassioned fans with differing opinions and information. 

Facts first, opinions second- and away we go!

Cespedes did, indeed, engage in a very intensive, very consuming off-season work-out program, and it was not only discussed with and approved by the team, it was also under their supervision. It's consistent with how they handled their other superstar, one Noah Syndergaard, and in both cases, the players were misguided on how their approaches would end up helping them. 

As we know, it took them off of the field for extended (and long-term) absences, but nowhere in there was there any malice from anyone. Not the players, not management, not the trainers or "weight conditioning experts," etc...it was simply a symptom of the bigger disease that grips the organization, the lack of a single voice that has the ability to control all facets of the team's on-field operations.  There is NO part of the team that doesn't need improvement, structurally, and most of all, something that I've been yelling about since Omar's days, the team needs to join organizations like the Nationals in MLB and the Heat in the NBA and create modern, cutting-edge training programs that are designed to keep players on the field first and foremost, not adding extra power to home run swings or fastballs that are already both well beyond the normal thresholds. 

Throughout the first half of this season, we've all heard from various industry sources, from announcers to writers to former players, how weight-training programs for baseball players needs to be different from those of football or basketball players. Pitchers, especially, need to develop leg strength, but in general, cardiovascular exercises and stretching to keep a body limber and resilient have been shown to be far more important than sheer power-lifting. Growing up, we saw bodies like Rick Reuschel and Wilbur Wood take the mound, and neither one of them looked like they could life a heavy weight, perhaps other than an entire roasted chicken. That being said, they ran, they stayed on the field, and they regularly pitched well beyond 200 innings and over 35 starts, year-in, year-out. Tom Seaver, certainly one to listen to regarding pitching mechanics and training, has outright said that they type of weight-training that players are engaging in today is completely counter-intuitive to what they should be doing and should be drawn towards doing. 

In Cespedes' case, it's true that he's sometimes his own worst enemy. He appears to have brain lapses in the field, lack of hustle at times, and selfish at others. However, he's also very thoughtful, to teammates, front office staff and fans; he's reluctant to admit injury because he's desperate to justify his contract, unlike the just-released Pablo Sandoval who simply wanted to collect his millions and disappear; I have heard it directly from the mouth of a member of the Mets organization that they believe Yo to be a great guy, well-liked in the clubhouse and gets along truly well with his teammates. I specifically asked about things like being "jealous" of Conforto being an all-star, and was basically laughed at and told that Cespedes was disappointed because Jay Bruce and Jacob deGrom were NOT part of the All-Star team and that he wanted to do everything possible to get there in 2018. However, when I asked about whether Terry Collins had lost control of the clubhouse, he took a while to speak, and when he did, in very measured tones, he said that Terry might not be the greatest strategist in the game (not a surprise), his players still wanted to play for him but also realized that a.) the injuries had simply taken circumstances out of everyone's hands and b.) the fact that he's probably not coming back next season (an announcement everyone is waiting for) has created a very difficult situation for everyone involved.

Now- I understand how people can easily get frustrated and spew venom at any over-paid ballplayer when your team is losing; I can also understand how the frustration level builds times one-thousand when a passionate fan-base like the Mets' have is confronted with going from long-fought for contender-status (and relevance) to once again being second-class citizens in NYC. It's frustrating, it's maddening, and it makes me want to stop all Mets-based purchased ASAP!! (And if you saw my home office, you'd know that this will NEVER happen, in spite of my wife's 25 years of begging, yelling, cajoling, threatening and, eventually, acceptance-LOL). Cespedes becomes an easy target, and all too often I have seen fans, often led by the media, practically chase players out of town. Sorry in advance to Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston, but playing in NYC is like NO other place in the world, as unless you are on top of the world, you are the worst of the worst, the dumbest of the dumb, the most worthless and useless members of the human race. We saw a writer largely responsible for driving the greatest player in our team's history out of town in 1977 (I STILL can't go there, but will do so next week on our Friday question- Hint, Hint!!)- that doesn't happen anywhere besides NYC.

New York is an always challenging, often-unforgiving, demanding and difficult place to play; it's also the GREATEST place to play when you are winning, the fans have shown amazing support for players that aren't necessarily the most talented but possess the most "try" and take wounded birds under their wings until they can fly again. Being a legend in NY is truly being legendary; and it's also why the town truly isn't for everyone. I do NOT think Cespedes is included in that category, and he truly loves being in NY and being part of the Mets. I was told that he's very excited about the 2nd half of the season and posting big numbers, staying healthy and on the field, and that he'll worry about 2018 when the season's done. All great things, and exactly what we want to hear as fans.

Regarding Cespedes as a free agent, I know of at least one concrete offer for more years and money that was going to be offered to Cespedes' and he didn't want to go to the team offering the deal nor did he want to leave New York. There were a LOT of teams that would've loved to add Cespedes, and many already knew that he was heading back to NY as things like that get out more than you'd ever think. There are things we have all been told that we can't disclose or discuss, but I can tell you that there was no shortage of interest in Yo's services. Furthermore, the team is NOT going to entertain offers for him for 2 reasons- one is the ever-present No Trade contract, and second, there's no way to get back equal value in trade due to the Wilponzi's budget constraints. Maybe a Stanton for Cespedes contract could exist in a world where guys named Fred, Jeff & Saul weren't in control, but sadly that's not the world that we live in (although, if there's a parallel universe where that IS the case, would someone from that reality please teleport us there, at least to visit for a few weeks???)

Finally, what makes the best reporters great is that you know they are speaking directly with members of the team, whether players or execs; they receive first-hand knowledge and go on the record with it; and their credibility is backed up by the paper or publication that they are writing for and with. You don't have to believe my contacts or Peter's contacts or those of anyone else in the blogosphere; I can only tell you that I've spoke with credible baseball professionals, and I have no doubt that Peter has, too. I only know that those I have spoken with are diametrically opposite things that Peter has reported from sources of his own; and, finally, at the end of the day, it's all nothing more than sound and fury, signifying nothing. Let's all enjoy the rest of the season, in whatever fashion that we can, count the days until Amed & Dom join the big league club, keep things civil here at all times and root, root, root for the home team to be HEALTHY AND ON THE FIELD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Remember the one thing that unites us:

LET'S GO METS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thomas Brennan said...

You and Peter have lots of contacts.

The only contacts I have I wear in my eyes and not very often LOL.

Nice counter-point - certainly, I hope as a Mets fan you are right.

I do not know what Willie Mays' real weight was - his card listed him at 5'11", 170. My guess? The 170 is 20 pounds under his heyday playing weight, so he probably played closer to 190.

Yet, over a career, he hit 660 homers and certainly lost 100 more due to the wind in Candlestick Park. From 1954 to 1966, he only missed a handful of games despite no DH, 270 stolen bases and 123 triples over that period.

My advice to a super athlete like Cespedes...forget the weights, and train like Willie...because, if healthy, you may never be as good as Willie, but you can still be great.

I've written this several times, but I went to a game in Sept 2015, mid-level stands behind first base. Cespedes lined a laser beam off the left field wall with a thud, and it ricocheted right back to the left fielder, who pivoted and fired to second. Yo was not going full tilt to first, but was running briskly, likely thinking it was most likely out. He decided to go for it, and I have never seen any Met (Reyes or any other) cover ground so fast from first to second, beating the throw. Superior athlete - super weights not needed.

Train like Willie - stay on the field like Willie. Do that, and win an MVP in 2018.

One way to look at the "Rosario Scenario" - if he were in any one of the other 29 organizations, how many would not have called him up yet? Maybe one or two? C'mon Sandy, wake up. Get the kid up here.

Mack Ade said...

David -

Nice post. You handled that ole 'ignorant slut' thing well here:)

I remember I was told something by an 'insider' who was in the clubhouse when he heard a Mets coach say something very bad about a player. I never questioned what he passed on and never thought it would need a second confirmation. I went to print. Next thing I know, I was asked by the person who told me the 'etched in stone' info' that he heard wrong and the unnamed coach never said what I had reported.

I happen to think that Cespedes is a spoiled brat but I also think he's a TALENTED spoiled brat.

The 'Talkin Baseball' template sort of un-fogs some of these issues.

Reese Kaplan said...

The best part of the article for me, of course, was the concession that Terry Collins is a "dead man walking", six years overdue, but better late than never...

Thomas Brennan said...

Four Cespedes hits...and hustle

Richard Herr said...

Here's my take on the Cespedes thing. Sorry I didn't make the posting that Mack put up, but I was in the midst of chemo brain.
I also don't have any contacts in the clubhouse. What I do have is a television set, and I was watching the thing when it showed me Cespedes taking a swing in batting practice, and suddenly recoiling in pain. A coach threw that pitch and saw it. The following day, Cespedes was inserted back into the lineup and reinjured his leg. Whose fault is that?
I feel that it might be a good time for management to pull their noses up from their Sabrmetrics on their computers (which probably told them the lower minors are doing great), and figure out a good system to COMMUNICATE with players like Cespedes, Conforto, Flores, etc. That'd go a long way toward fixing "attitudes."

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