Well, folks, the Mets have done it again. They have taken miscommunication and organizational dysfunction to another level while attempting to eviscerate their star player’s reputation in their wake.
Let us briefly recap the events of the past couple of months. In May, Yoenis Cespedes was placed on the disabled list with a hip flexor strain. As usual, the Mets waited far too long to put him on the DL, probably resulting in an even longer DL stint than would have occurred had the Mets been less reactionary. During this period, Sandy Alderson expressed some ambivalence about the Cespedes contract and the amount of money he makes was repeatedly brought up when discussing his injuries and time on the disabled list.
In June, the Mets attempted to rush Cespedes back for the Subway Series, only for him to have a setback. Cespedes continued his rehab in Florida and was reportedly going to join the team during their three-game series with the Marlins in Miami. But the team felt it would have negatively impacted his rehab, and so the reunion was called off. The fact that it was the Mets and not Cespedes that put the nix on Cespedes joining the team did not stop the narrative train from chugging along, though.
That brings us to the wild and astounding rollercoaster ride we’ve been on since the All-Star break. It is likely no coincidence that Cespedes’s second attempt to come off the disabled list also coincided with a Yankees series. He served as the DH on Friday and went 2-for-4 with a home run, looking pretty Cespedes-like. But those fuzzy feelings lasted all of a few moments before Cespedes revealed late on Friday night that his chronic injury issues stem from calcification in both his heels that could very well require surgery to alleviate.
Instead of reacting to this like a normal team, the Mets did what the Mets do, handling it in the worst way possible. The next day, Mickey Callaway said that he was unaware of Cespedes’s comments the night before and that even though Cespedes was not in the lineup that day, there was a chance he would be in there Sunday, hinting at a David Wright style play-it-by-ear routine. The Mets had to walk that back, insisting that Callaway “misspoke.”
And despite the fact that the Mets now have three times as many general managers as other baseball teams, not one of them was around to clarify the situation or even so much as acknowledge it. The disconnect between Cespedes and the team was glaringly obvious and the Mets chose to bury their heads in the sand and act surprised about the entire affair, even though they were perfectly aware of what was happening.
The only small nugget of news to come over the weekend was that Cespedes would be reevaluated by a specialist and they would take it from there. Meanwhile, the Mets continued to push the narrative that Cespedes is “exaggerating” his injury. As of Monday morning, Cespedes was “leaning toward” having the surgery, while John Ricco was calling the surgery a “last resort.” It seemed that before Monday night’s game, word would finally come on what the next step for Cespedes would be. But no such announcement came, before the game or afterwards. Cespedes has now consulted four doctors about his heel issue in total: one in Florida last month, two when he was reevaluated on Monday, and yet another doctor that was to give an additional opinion on his test results. He has been placed back on the disabled list, but we still have no idea for how long.
All indications from Cespedes himself appear to show a desire to have the surgery, but the Mets seem hell bent on seeking however many opinions it takes before they find one that says he can avoid the surgery or put it off.
A star player weighing the decision to get potentially career saving surgery, the Mets attempting to push back on that decision while painting a negative picture of that player in the press—if this all sounds eerily and depressingly familiar, that’s because it is. This whole fiasco is, to a tee, almost exactly the same as the events surrounding Carlos Beltran’s knee injury and subsequent surgery in 2010. Beltran followed the recommendations of his doctor and got knee surgery, but the Mets insisted that Beltran got the surgery without their permission and that they wanted a third opinion on his knee. Beltran was surprised and taken aback by these claims, and the Mets went as far as to investigate legal grounds to insist that Beltran violated his contract. The sources telling Mike Francesa that Cespedes is exaggerating his injury reeks of the same setup.
“At the end of the day, [the Mets] tried to put a perception out about me in the papers,” Beltran went on to say in 2014. And if you think Cespedes isn’t taking notice of what is being said about him online, you are mistaken. The Mets are trying to put a certain perception out about him in the papers as well.
Of course, Beltran and Cespedes aren’t the only players to suffer at the hands of the Mets’ proclivity to mismanage player injuries and throw their own players under the bus. There have been countless examples. At this point, the Mets organization can only be described as an ever-growing circus tent, collecting PR nightmares and maligned players. The drawn out Cespedes disaster is just the latest in a string of bush league behavior on the part of the Mets. But this time there is backlash and criticism that calls out the Wilpons by name. Maybe it won’t change anything, but it’s a start.