Except for trades involving big name players where you pretty much know what you are getting like a David Price or Cole Hamels, every general manager’s dream is to catch the proverbial lightning in a bottle with that one player who’s flying under the radar and becomes the last ingredient needed to complete your recipe for a championship season.
More often than not however, these rentals as they are called backfire because they are looking forward to the big paycheck coming in free agency and their credentials have already been established. One exception to that occurred in 2008 when the Cleveland Indians help a closeout sale shipping C C Sabathia (right) to the Milwaukee Brewers for four prospects (none of whom made it to the Majors) just before the all star break. In 17 starts for the Brewers, Sabathia went 11-2 with a 2.48 ERA. The Brewers flopped in the Division Series with the Phillies but the injection of Sabathia propelled them to a level they could not have reached before his acquisition.
When Sandy Alderson pulled off the trade for Yeonis Cespedes, he was in what many might call a desperation mode. At the time, the Mets were last in runs scored and in dire need of at least one more big bat. David Wright had not yet returned to the lineup and there was no timetable for him to do so. And beyond that, Cespedes carried some heavy baggage from his tenure with the Red Sox who’s coaches hated him to a man. His reputation for dogging it in the outfield was well earned and known, as was his reputation for hot dogging it when he hit a home run. So, this was not projected to be a slam dunk for the Mets and the prevailing thinking at the moment was that he could tilt a very fragile team (at the time) the wrong way.
Except for one thing………..as it is playing out Alderson and the Mets have hit the jackpot……In spades. Yes, Wright is back and contributing. Yes Michael Conforto is performing at a mature level contributing with both his bat and glove. And yes, the additions of Jose Uribe and Ryan Franklin have helped both on and off the field. But the story is really only about Cespedes.
The numbers speak for themselves. In 37 games, he’s driven in 39 runs with 15 home runs while batting .313. Together with the 34 runs he’s scored for the Mets, this means he is personally responsible for adding TWO RUNS a game to the team as a whole This is more than a bolt of lightning – it’s a freakin’ earthquake.
As for the baggage and bravado (see photo above) we will have to see how that plays out. But remember, this is a relatively young man who emigrated from Cuba, became a instant millionaire, and was thrust into a culture he did not know, much less understand. In Cuba’s brand of baseball, bravado and “showboating” if you will is not only commonplace – it’s encouraged and enjoyed by fans. Thus, unless he has a defect in his personality we can expect to see this side of the man and ballplayer subside as he assimilates further into our culture.
Obviously, the question the Mets have to answer is whether or not they pursue Cespedes in the free agent market this Winter. If his streak continues and the Mets play well into the playoffs, or even snag a title, the pressure will be heavy to sign him to a long term deal. Then the question becomes even more intriguing……….is Cespedes another Bobby Bonilla (who the Mets will continue to pay more than $1 million a year until 2037)………..or will he be of the David Wright variety…….quiet and dependable when not injured?
In any event, the Mets and their fans should only enjoy this incredible ride they are on with Cespedes carrying the team. The rest (as they say) will take care of itself.