The King of Queens.

They actually did it. The New York Mets did something right. I have to give so much of this love to Cespedes too because I’m sure there were teams out there willing to give him that 5th year with a little extra cash. Possibly San Francisco, maybe the Nationals (which would have been a nightmare), the Yankees were even considering it a possibility. But it looks like his love for the Mets organization seemed to take precedence over that. For Mets fans everywhere Christmas came very early this year, and it feels spectacular. Four years, $110 million. Welcome home Mr. Cespedes. 

Houston Calling

While Mets fans wait in anxiety and panic for the Mets to start making their off season moves, teams like the Astros have wasted no time in picking up the pieces to try and make their team a threat in 2017. 

Within the past week the Astros signed Josh Reddick to a 4 year $52 million dollar contract. As well as picked up Brian McCann from the Yankees for $10 million and two of their pitching prospects Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman. Reddick put up some great numbers with the A’s and Dodgers last season .296/.368/.449 and is a solid defensive outfielder as well. 

McCann is definitely one of the better catchers in the game right now if not the best. The only cause for concern here would be that he is a bit on the older side at 33 years old. But the Astros can always use him as a power hitter DH option as well if he needs some days off behind the plate. 

It looks like those two were just the beginning in regards to Houston’s big off season moves as they’re now reportedly also interested in signing  free agent Mike Napoli from the Indians. Napoli is also on the older side much like McCann but he’s coming off of one of his better years hitting  a career-high 34 home runs and 101 RBIs. It was even previously rumored that they could be interested in Carlos Beltran as well if he didn’t end up back with the Yankees again. 

It’s clear Houston is trying to bulk up on power next season, but I always hate seeing teams take chances on older players to do so. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen moves like this fail for the Mets in the past, but going for those older power hitters only seems to work out about half the time. It’s all that’s ever talked about in the off season and then usually these guys end up hurt or underproducing and half way through the season everyone is looking for answers. It would be different if the Astros were trading for good hitters and position players that were a bit younger because there’s always the potential for further development there. 

The Astros finished their season 84-74 and third in the AL West. It’s not too terrible considering Seattle was just slight better at 86-76 and the Rangers ran away with the division. One could assume that these heavier hitters they’re picking up are to do battle with Texas specifically next season. It could very well be a battle for the lone star state next season if Houston continues to make these types of moves. 

Braves New World

Much like the Phillies, the Braves were rebuilding last year. Though if you were a Mets fan it certainly didn’t seem that way. Games that I thought the Mets would win last season against the Braves were lost. And on the year as a whole the Braves went 10-9 against the Mets. Remarkable, that even in a year where the Mets had the advantage they still came up short against them. A phenomenon, that I have decided to call Larry’s Curse. (Larry aka Chipper Jones, famous Mets killer of the 90s)

It seems though that this season, the Braves are ready to start pulling out of their rebuilding phase and start making things a little more uncomfortable for the Mets and the Nationals in the NL East. Julio Teheran is the only ace in they’re rotation and it seems like they’re ready to start building around him. Sure they picked up some older guys like Dickey and Colon, but I’m assuming they’ll mostly be for bullpen use and a couple of spot starts if necessary. It’s no secret that the Braves have been showing interest in big market pitchers like Chris Sale, Sonny Gray, and even Chris Archer. Which if the Braves could swing picking up all three, along with Teheran, would be quiet a rotation for the rest of the NL East to deal with next season. 

Obviously these pitchers won’t come cheap, but the Braves farm system is pretty spectacular right now so they can definitely afford trading away some of their young talent if they wanted to switch into a “win now” mode for next season. While most would assume the White Sox would want to hang on to their ace while they enter a rebuilding year of their own, they may find it in their best interest to benefit from some of that young talent the Braves are ready to trade away. Not to mention there was the fashion incident last season with Chris Sale, a pair of scissors, and the White Sox throwback jerseys that I’m sure the Sox would like to avoid a second time.  

The White Sox will most likely be looking to pick up someone like Ozzie Albies, Rio Ruiz, or even a young pitching prospect from the Braves like Sean Newcomb or Mike Soroka.  The Braves farm system has so much depth right now, that even trading away a few of these prospects won’t hurt them too bad. In return, they’ll have a much more solid rotation in place for 2017. 

The Braves are a team that I love to hate. Out of all the NL rivalries I’ve witnessed so far, the Mets/Braves rivalry is always the best. A broadcaster on the MLB network once said “The NL East is more exciting when the Braves are good.” It’s true. The Braves are more fun when they’re the team to beat. Personally I’d be excited to see that rotation come the spring if they manage to pull off all the trades they’re looking for. Sale, Teheran, Gray, Archer, and I’m guessing Colon would get the final spot before Dickey, just due to the fact that he’s lost some of that knuckleball control these past few years. Either way, the Braves are getting ready to contend and that push to win the NL East isn’t about to get any easier for the Mets. 

The Good, The Bad, and Bartolo

I’ve taken a little time off from this blog to grapple with the current state of our world post-election. And while I’m still struggling to wrap my head around what has happened, I’m ready for much needed relief in baseball. 

Except while the world was ending the week of November 7th, the news came down that Bartolo Colon, Big Sexy, the Mets elder ace, would no longer be back with the team in March.  The Braves have offered Colon a 1 year deal for $12.5 million. I don’t know why Bart leaving surprised me so much. It makes perfect sense. The Mets starting four of young talent will be healthy and ready to go for Spring Training, and then there’s also Lugo and Gsellman, who last September proved more than capable of being able to pitch at a Major League level. If the Mets choose to keep them both, they have more than enough arms. Then there’s the legend of Zack Wheeler. The greatest pitcher who has yet to have been. It was a year full of set backs for Wheeler who was supposed to come up and pitch in mid-July/August for the Mets this year. Part of me even wonders if we’ll ever see him throw another major league pitch in a Mets uniform. But Mets fans can’t think about Wheeler at a time when their beloved Bart is leaving for the Braves. I’m really glad I didn’t pull the trigger on buying that “Big Sexy” Bartolo jersey.  

There is some good news flowing down the Mets pipeline though. Neil Walker has accepted his qualifying offer and will be back at second base for one more year. Walker’s numbers were great for the Mets last season before his back injury and the Mets are hoping he can put up some of the same stats this time around. 

The Blue Jays are reportedly interested in acquiring Jay Bruce from the Mets which could work in both teams favor. The Mets have a crowded outfield and seem hesitant to have Bruce be their power hitter after he didn’t produce the way they were hoping last season at the trade deadline. Both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion have rejected the Jays qualifying offers and could end up elsewhere next season. Bruce fits what the Jays are looking for in regards to an outfielder with some power. I would guess that the Mets would be looking for some bullpen options from the Jays. 

So where does this leave Ces and the Mets? Based on some of what’s happened so far, it seems like the Mets could actually be setting themselves up to give Cespedes a 4 or 5 year deal. But based on the Mets track record, most will assume that they will some how mess this up and let him go. It’s not something I’ve completely ruled out either. Like most Mets fans I’ve learned the hard way that if I get my hopes up about something big, this team is likely to break my heart. So right now we’re all playing it super chill like the kid at the dance that doesn’t care if the most popular girl at school gives them the time of day.  It seems like Cespedes likes New York. He thrives here, the fan base adores him, and he deserves to be paid for what he was able to do for the Mets these past two seasons. My only hope is that his love for New York and what Alderson is willing to offer will be just enough to get that last dance.  

Cespedes For The Rest Of Us?

Well it’s finally arrived. The moment that Mets fans have been dreading since the team signed Cespedes was signed last January. It came as a wonderful surprise last winter when the Mets signed Ces to a 3 year deal with an option to opt out after the first year. Mets fans were so overjoyed they could care less that a New York winter was dumping over a foot of snow on everything they loved. Cespedes was back in New York, and we were ready to make another run at the World Series. “But the opt out option?” “Let’s not worry about that now! It’s January! Yay! Snow!” 

Cut to 11 months later. Cespedes has now officially decided to become a free agent. It’s torturing Mets fans more than the snow plow that buried their car until March. Cespedes is going to get paid. Big time. The question is whether or not the Mets will be the team that pays him. Cespedes is most likely going to be looking for a 5 or 6 year deal somewhere in the area of $100 million. He’s done nothing but put up big numbers and push the Mets towards success since they acquired him in the summer of 2015. It seemed like Alderson is hesitant to give Cespedes that long expensive contract due to his age (31) and how often he can be prone to injury. Ces has made it clear several times though, that he loves to play in New York and would like to stay a Met if possible. As much as I would love to believe he’s the type of guy to stick around just for the love of being a Met, he’s not going to do that if not for the right price. He’s not Wilmer Flores. 

The easy answer here of course, is to just spend that big money and take the risk on keeping him for 5 or 6 years in hopes that he can continue to perform well even as he ages. This is where I can share Alderson’s concern.  The Mets have a stellar rotation but need a little kick to their offense. Something that Cespedes certainly provides for them. However, I’m not a fan of throwing big money at one player in hopes that he can continuously carry a team to the post season. The Mets have some great young players coming up. Nimmo, Cecchini, Rivera, all gave us a little taste of what they are capable of doing this past September.  I’d rather have them invest in their young talent and develop those players as oppose to signing that one big bat. You’ve heard it plenty of times this season, that the Mets relied on the long ball to win their games. That’s great. But when the home runs aren’t flying, the Mets struggled to put up points and at times win games. Nimmo and Rivera are guys that put the ball in play. Singles and doubles. Getting on base and getting those runs in when it counts. 

You can look at what the Cubs did as well. Bringing up their young talent, while still signing big names like Heyward and Zobrist. But it was still players like Addison Russell and Kris Bryant that would come through in the clutch. Mets fans, like most New Yorkers want that quick fix to get them where they need to go. But you can’t just have that big bat and hope the rest works out. The Mets pitching staff is so great because those were all young players that the Mets were helping develop within their farm system. 

So let’s say the Mets go that route of not resigning Ces. They’ve already picked up the option to keep Bruce. And while most Mets fans may not be overjoyed with that decision, Bruce is still someone who can be that big bat for this team. His numbers weren’t great after coming to the Mets. He was hitting just .219 with a slugging percentage of just .391. I’m going to give Bruce the benefit of the doubt here and say this drop in his average is mostly due to the pressure of being trader to a big market city like New York in the middle of the season, and expecting to be that savior that Cespedes was the year before. 

I’d like to hope that starting things off with the Mets next season we’ll be seeing more of those numbers that he was putting up in Cincinnati. 

It’s going to be a busy off season for the Mets. I would hope for the teams sake if they do plan on surprising us all with a big Cespedes signing it’s done sooner rather than later. 

Reign On Your Parade

I love the city of Chicago. I’ve been there in the frozen winter. I’ve been there during the warm summer. It was a city that instantly felt like second home to me. It had everything I liked about New York, but without the rush and panic that Manhattan carries. I constantly picture myself living there at some point in my life. I have family there, I’ve taken classes at Second City,  and I’m always looking forward to the next time I can go back. 

I didn’t think it was possible at first for the Cubs to pull this off. Throughout most of the season there was a part of me that thought it would be funny if the curse just kept on going. But the more I watched them, the more I found myself cheering them on. Despite their regular season record, they were still the underdog of it all. No one thought they could have the best record in baseball and still win the World Series. It was just something that didn’t happen about 90% of the time. But by the time they got to the World Series, everyone in the country outside of Ohio wanted to see the Cubs raise that trophy. 

The Cubs won this game in a way that only the Cubs would. It was a Game 7 for the ages, Maddon and Francona using everyone possible from their bench and bullpen to try and get that win. I started writing this post in the bottom of the 8th last night, and when Cleveland came back to tie it, I thought for sure that I had jinxed them. 

Then, with the game still tied, the heavens opened up. After already blowing their lead, it seemed to literally rain on the Cubs parade. You could feel a collective held breath all the way from Wrigleyville, as the rest of us at home had to suffer through watching Joe Buck ramble on for 15 minutes.

After what felt like an eternity, the top of the 10th began and the Cubs went right to work. Schwarber got things started off with a single into right field. After Kris Bryant flied out to center, Cleveland tried to play it safe by walking Rizzo. Zobrist would punish them for that, belting a double into left field. 7-6 Cubs.

Cleveland decides to try this whole intentional walk process again with Addison Russell. It’s deja vu as Miguel Montero singles into left and Anthony Rizzo scores. 8-6 Cubs. Cleveland would escape the inning with just two runs and were down to their final three outs.  After a strikeout and a ground out. The Cubs were just one away from destroying 108 years of “maybe next year.” However Edwards would walk Brandon Guyer and then give up a single to Rajai Davis. The Cubs lead was now 8-7. Not taking any chances, Maddon brought in Mike Montgomery to get the last out. Once again, even with one out left, it seems like the Cubs season was still on the brink of implosion. 

Michael Martinez hits a soft ground ball towards third. Bryant charging the ball, scoops it up with a smile on his face as he throws to Rizzo at first. Curse broken. Goat busted. The Cubs are world champions for the first time since 1908. 

The city of Chicago erupts with pure joy. You deserve it Cubs fans. Chicago will be celebrating until spring training in March. Fly the W. 
 

Everyone Loves a Game 7

You’re probably wondering, “Cola, where the hell were your updates on Games 2-6?” or more likely “I forgot you were doing this.” Well, the short answer is: I was taking a lovely vacation away from the stresses of life and baseball. 

But now I’m back! Ready to enjoy all the drama of the last baseball game we get to watch until March. I was in an airport in Orlando on Sunday night when the Cubs battled their way out of Game 5. My flight had been delayed 4 hours and it was getting late. The airport bar was shutting down, but remained open so that everyone could finish watching the end of the game. The Cubs would just scrape by to keep their championship dreams alive with a 3-2 victory. 

In Game 6 however, the Cubs muscled their way past Tomlin with ease. In the bottom of the first with two out, Kris Bryant would put the Cubs up with a home run to get things off to a quick start. Rizzo and Zobrist would follow with back to back singles, and Addison Russell would double to bring them both home. By the end of the 1st the Cubs had a 3-0 lead. 

Arrieta was having a great night on the mound, but there was always the possibility that the Indians could come back and hurt them. A 3-0 lead is nothing against Cleveland’s offensive monster. So in the top of the 3rd the Cubs thought they would tack on a few more insurance runs. With the bases loaded Addison Russell came to the plate and hit a grand slam. At 22 years old he’s the second youngest player to hit a grand slam in a World Series game. The youngest? Mickey Mantle of course. 

The Cubs went up 7-0 and cruised through the rest of the game. Only giving up two runs to the Indians before the bottom of the 8th. After their lead had been cut down 7-2, Anthony Rizzo thought it was best he get involved and bring back that 7 run lead. In the top of the 9th with Kris Bryant on first, Rizzo homered to right. 

The Cubs would go on to win Game 6. Final score 9-3. 

It’s winner take all tonight, Kluber v. Hendricks. The question will be can the Cubs take revenge on Kluber for game 1 like they did on Tomlin last night. Will the Indians blow a 3-1 lead and lose a Championship as karma for the Cavs pulling an upset on Golden State this past summer? This is the best TV there is. The realest reality show. This is my Bachelor season finale. Either way, someone is going to be crying and someone is getting champagne.