Left field had been a major problem for the Mets for years. Since Cliff Floyd left as a free agent after the 2006 season, the Mets burned through both left fielders and money with little in the way of results. Two years of Moises Alou, who had the durability of a light bulb, led to Gary Sheffield’s 2009 dead cat bounce. This was followed up by the disastrous Jason Bay contract, with a parade of sub-par options getting playing time while he struggled or was injured (Mike Baxter? Scott Hairston? Eric Young, Jr?). Lucas Duda spent a couple of seasons out in left that would make you want to stab your eyes out prior to the signing of Michael Cuddyer, yet another free agent bomb.
So when the Mets needed a bat that trade deadline, they made a move that would be a franchise changer.
Look at the last ten years in left field for the Mets. Sorry for the language, but it’s a shit show. Now look at Yoenis Cespedes’ year-and-a-half in Queens.
|2014||152||645||22||89||100||7||5.4 %||19.8 %||.190||.293||.260||.301||.450||.326||110|
|2015||159||676||35||101||105||7||4.9 %||20.9 %||.251||.323||.291||.328||.542||.367||135|
|2016||132||543||31||72||86||3||9.4 %||19.9 %||.251||.298||.280||.354||.530||.369||134|
You can nitpick Cespedes all you want. Did he have a disappointing postseason in 2015? Sure. Does he showboat a little bit? Yeah, though I personally don’t care about that one bit. Could a deal end up going a year too long? It might. But the Mets are right in their window today with their pitching. The results Cespedes has put up the past two seasons are downright inarguable and we know for a fact that he can do this all in the New York City spotlight, playing his home games at Citi Field. That’s not something to take lightly.
Yoenis Cespedes is one of the elite power hitting outfielders in all of baseball and all of those little nitpicks don’t even come close to chipping away at his overall value. This is a dynamic, two-way player, who is not only the focal point of the Mets offense but even won a Gold Glove in left field in 2015. That wasn’t by accident, either—he’s a plus left fielder, an outstanding athlete with a cannon for an arm. This is not a one-sided player.
This is a player that the Mets need to do anything and everything they can to keep in the fold. He’s a middle-of-the-lineup star for a team that is in need for that type of player.
Michael Conforto & Curtis Granderson
Yeah, but no.
Conforto should start every day in right field, and I’m more open to playing Granderson in center field. Maybe they can even switch off between center and right to keep both fresh throughout the year. But neither Conforto nor Granderson is an adequate replacement for Yoenis Cespedes. The same goes for Jay Bruce, whose only similarity with Cespedes is that he can probably hit 30 home runs. Every other category is a downgrade going from Cespedes to Bruce, including on defense, where Bruce has rated as a disaster in right field the past three seasons.
This is the shortest entry of our position player preview series because there is only one correct answer. Yoenis Cespedes is what the Mets need and Mets fans will have a very hard time settling for less. It’ll only be worse should he land with say the Yankees or the Nationals. Don’t screw this one up, Mets.