SAVED FROM SHAQTIN’ By Arthur George-Special to BASN JaVale McGee is reclaiming...
BASN’S UP TO BAT WITH TEE MACK!
52 PICKUP! (Why the New York Mets should sign Yoenis Cespedes)
By Anthony McClean, Editor – in – Chief, Emeritus
NEW HAVEN, CT (BASN): In 1969 when the Miracle Mets were in the midst of their initial run at the postseason, the club pulled off a deal that turned out to be one of the most important in franchise history.
In June of that season, they acquired first baseman Donn Clendenon from the Montreal Expos for Steve Renko, Kevin Collins, and a pair of minor leaguers. The product of Morehouse College was a catalyst for the team as they beat out the Chicago Cubs to win the first NL East crown.
But the best was yet to come from Clendenon, who spent most of the year platooning with Ed Kranepool. Despite not playing the Mets’ three-game sweep of the Braves in the NLCS, he again was the big bat for the Amazins’ in the Fall Classic.
Playing in four of the five games, Clendenon batted .357 (5 for 14) with three home runs and four RBI, and was named the World Series MVP as New York upset the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles four games to one.
Fast forward to June of 1983. In the midst of another losing season (68-94), the Mets would acquire perennial Gold Glove first baseman Keith Hernandez for pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey.
That along with the development of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden — back-to-back NL Rookie’s of the Year in 1983 and 1984 — would help lead New York to its second World Series title in 1986.
Again, let’s fast forward to May of 1998. New York would again make a bold move by acquiring All-Star catcher Mike Piazza from the Florida Marlins for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall, and a minor leaguer.
While the Mets would miss the postseason that year, Piazza’s impact would key another title run for New York. The Mets reached the NLCS a year later (losing to the Braves in six) and then won the National League pennant in 2000 before losing to the Yankees in the Subway Series in five games.
All three of the aforementioned transactions have been amongst the most impactful moves that the franchise has ever made. All three moves eventually would help lead the Mets to a World Series appearance, including titles in ’69 and ’86.
Which brings us to the matter of New York’s newest acquisition — outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
The Cuban outfielder — acquired a few weeks ago during the trade deadline for a pair of minor leaguers — has already made an immediate impact on a lineup that was starving for some kind of spark.
He along with third baseman Juan Uribe, utilityman Kelly Johnson (both acquired from Atlanta), and reliever Tyler Clippard (from Oakland) have helped put the Mets in the top spot of the NL East.
But it’s Cespedes that’s been the big reason why New York’s offense has surged.
Despite being traded three times in the last 12 months, Cespedes has been a productive player at all three of his previous stops. A 2014 All-Star, Cespedes has averaged 29 homers and 100 RBIs in his four year career.
When you realize that the Mets historically have had very few players on its roster that have been such a five-tool talent like Cespedes, it’s very important that they sign the former Cuban National team standout.
Not too surprisingly, the New York sports talk shows and other local media have taken a predictable turn on the Cespedes story. While they’ve praised his talent, they’ve taken the approach that the Mets will never and (in some instances) shouldn’t sign him.
One wag has even gone so far to say don’t worry about signing him now, just enjoy the pennant race ride and let the chips fall where they may. These were also the same idiots that routinely mocked the Mets’ feeble-ass offense prior to the trade.
When you look at the current makeup of Terry Collins’ lineup, the impact of Cespedes has given him a versatility that the club hasn’t had in years. The scary part is that even with the explosiveness that they’ve shown, the Mets have been thriving while mainstays like Lucas Duda and David Wright have been injured.
To me, you can’t let Cespedes be a summer rental. We all know that Sandy Alderson was hired to put together this team on the cheap. But you can’t keep bullshitting a fan base that’s starving for a winner.
Despite having their network (SNY) celebrate a 10-year anniversary, despite hosting an All-Star Game in their still relatively young stadium, and despite charging high ticket prices like that other team in the Bronx, ownership still wants to use the Bernie Madoff situation as an excuse to cry poor.
No matter how this season finishes up, the upcoming off-season for Alderson and the Mets may be one of the most important ones in franchise history. If the team does make a serious run at another World Series crown, you bet that New York’s “52 pickup” will be right in the middle of the action.
Bottom line is that he should still be here even after the ride hits its final destination.
Tony McClean can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.