Nov 30, 2016

2015 N.L. Champions Mets Pitching Coach: Dan Warthen (2008-2017)

Daniel Dean Warthen was born on December 1, 1952 in Omaha, Nebraska. Warthen was an All American High School quarterback, getting college scholarship offers from Nebraska, USC, UCLA, & Northwestern universities. He chose to play baseball instead, getting drafted in the second round, by the Montreal Expos in 1971.

The left hander would get brought up to the majors in May 1975 making his debut, pitching a scoreless inning against  that years World Champion, Big Red Machine. He pitched in relief in his first few outings, going 4-2 with three saves toward the end of July. 

He was thrown into the Expo rotation finishing the season at 8-6 with 3.11 ERA, striking out an impressive 128 batters in 167 innings. He also walked 87 batters. The following year he was 2-10 as he walked 66 batters in 90 innings pitched, allowing 53 earned runs.

He would only pitch 20 more games in the majors at Montreal, going to the Philadelphia Phillies & Houston Astros over the next two seasons, while going 2-5. In the minors he would win 10 games or more three times, pitching down there through 1982. In 1978 he was the AA Pitcher of the Year at Oklahoma City.

Retirement: Warthen immediately began to coach when his playing days ended, first with the Pittsburgh Pirates, then with the San Diego Padres & Philadelphia Phillies organizations. 

In 1992 he was the Seattle Mariners pitching coach, moving to the San Diego Padres (1996-1997) then Detroit Tigers in (1998-2002).

In 2003 he came to the Mets organization, as pitching coach for the Norfolk Tides. He remained there for three seasons, tutoring guys like Heath Bell, Pedro Feliciano, & Aaron Heilman. In 2006 & 2007 he went to the Dodgers serving as bullpen coach under Grady Little.

In June of 2008 Warthen was named the Mets pitching coach replacing Rick Peterson. In 2009 he served under manager Jerry Manuel & his pitching staff posted a 4.45 ERA, which was 12th in the league. In 2010 his staff improved to 6th best in the league posting a 3.73 ERA.

In 2011 the Met staff won 77 games (10th in the NL) posting a 4.19 ERA (13th in the NL) they tossed six complete games which was their highest ranking in the league stats, fifth place. They averaged in the middle of the league allowing HRs (147-8th in the NL) walks (514- also 8th) & 1126 strikeouts (10th).

In 2012 the Mets staff featured twenty game winner R.A. Dickey but other than that the staff only won 54 games. Their total 74 wins was 12th best in the league & their 4.09 ERA was eleventh best. 

Thanks to Dickey they were second with seven complete games & third in shut outs with five. The teams 1240 strike outs stood out & were sixth best in the league.

In July of 2012 Warthen was ejected then later fined after arguing balls & strikes with umpire C.B. Bucknor in game Johan Santana pitched in Atlanta. In The off season the Mets announced their entire coaching staff would return in 2013.

In 2013 Warthen had the pleasure of coaching Matt Harvey, who went on to start for the National League in the All Star Game held at Citi Field. Harvey took the league by storm, blowing batters away & pitching so well, there was a chance of a no hitter every time he took the mound. Harvey had once given credit to Warthen for helping him with a better grip on the ball.

The Mets also brought up another fine young pitcher; Zack Wheeler later that season.

Overall the Mets staff was second in the league in innings pitched, eighth in ERA (3.78) saves (40) ninth in strike outs (1209) & tenth in wins (74). They were also fourth in losses (88) fifth in walks (458) eighth in runs (684) & twelfth in hits (1442).

In Spring Training 2014, Warthen made a joke, using the word "Chinaman" toward the interpreter for Daisuke Matsuzaka during an interview. The joke was in bad taste & he made a public apology the next day.

Unfortunately, for the Mets Matt Harvey would be out the entire season having undergone Tommy John surgery. The team would soon loose their closer Bobby Parnell after one game & Without the ace of his staff or his closer the pitching coach went to work. 

Overall the young Mets staff did a fine job, Jenry Mejia eventually filled the closer role (28 saves) & Jacob deGrom brought up later in the year went on to win the NL Rookie of te Year Award.

The 2014 Mets finished third in strike outs (1303) fourth in innings pitched (1463) fifth in ERA (3.49) & seventh in wins (79). 

In 2015 good things were anticipated for the Mets mostly due to their young pitching staff. The return of Matt Harvey from his Tommy John surgery, was so good it earned him the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Jacob deGrom pushed aside any idea of a sophomore jinx & went on to arguably be the ace of the staff. Veteran Bartolo Colon went on to win another 14 games while eating up innings.

During the season fireball throwing Noah Syndergaard was brought up & challenged deGrom & Harvey with strike outs & effectiveness. 

In late summer another Mets phenom, Steven Matz was brought up, quickly earned a spot in the rotation in the regulars season as well as post season. With all these young outstanding arms, the Mets did not miss Zack Wheeler as much as was originally thought at the start of the season. 

In late August he was rushed to the hospital after feeling ill, but was eventually released with a clean bill of health. 

In the bullpen the Mets scheduled closer Jenrry Mejia was suspended for once again violating MLBs drug rules. The 8th inning man from 2014, Jeurys Familia yook the role & became one of the best if not the best in the game. Late season additions Tyler Clippard & Addison Reed made the bullpen solid in the mid & late innings. This all certainly made Warthen's job a lot easier.

The Mets won the East as the staff was third in the NL in saves (50) fourth in ERA (3.43) fifth in wins (90) & sixth in strike outs (1337).

His staff dominated in the NL rounds of the playoffs posting a 3.48 ERA in NLDS against the L.A. Dodgers. The staff allowed 17 runs with 54 Ks & 13 walks. In the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs the Mets staff posted a 2.00 ERA with 37 Ks & 9 walks. They struggled in the World Series as their ERA rose to 4.21 allowing 24 earned runs, 17 walks & 37 Ks.

In 2016 Warthen's pitching staff suffered season ending injuries to Matt Harvey by mid summer & then later aces Jacob deGrom & Steven Matz also went down. His work with youngsters Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman & Josh Smoker helped the Mets get to the post season for a second straight year, although they fell in the NL Wild Card Game.

The 2016 NL Saves leader Jeurys Familia also credited Warthen with helping him throw a better slider with a better grip.

The 2016 staff allowed the fewest walks (439) & HRs (152) in the NL, they were also third in the NL in ERA (3.58) Fourth in wins (84) & first in saves (55). With an all healthy staff hopefully ready to go in 2017, there's lots of competition as Warthen's job looks to be a good one, as he choses who will make the starting five.

Former Mets Pitcher: Juan Berenguer (1978-1980)

Juan Batista Berenguer was born November 30th 1954 in Aguadulce, Cocle, Panama. The five foot eleven, right handed pitcher was signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1975.

Berenguer had a high nineties fastball which earned him the nickname "el gasolino" & "senor smoke". He also was known as "pancho villa" with his menacing looks of long hair & moustache on the mound.

He put up big strike out numbers in the Mets minors going from A ball Lynchburg to AA Jackson & then AAA Tidewater in three quick seasons. Unfortunately he was having major control issues & was walking almost as many batters as he struck out. By 1978 he was 10-7 with a 3.67 ERA & 130 Ks at Tidewater when he got the big league call up to a Mets team looking for something.

He debuted on August 17th, getting his first start, but gave up five runs on four hits to the San Diego Padres earning a loss. He returned as a September call up taking another loss on September 4th, as the Pirates roughed him up for five more runs at Pittsburgh. He ended the year at 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA.

He got another September call up appearing in five games going 1-1 with a solid 2.93 ERA. In his last start on September 29th he pitched 7.1 innings beating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-2 for his first career win. In 1980 another September call up resulted in a 0-1 record, with a 5.79 ERA in six games. In his three seasons with the Mets he struck out 40 batters but walked 33 in 53 innings of work. The Mets did not like his control issues & traded him to the Kansas City Royals for Marvell Wynne.

Trivia: He appears on two different Mets Rookie Prospects cards- 1979 & 1981. The 1981 card features Mets future hero; Mookie Wilson.

In the strike shortened 1981 season, he led the AL in losses (13) between the Royals & Toronto Blue Jays. He would end up on the Detroit Tigers pitching four seasons there, winning a World Series with them in 1984 while going 11-10 with a 3.48 ERA.

He spent one year with the San Francisco Giants before going to the Minnesota Twins (1987-1990) where he had much success. In the Twins 1987 Championship year he was 8-1 with four saves and a 3.94 ERA.

Post Season: He appeared in four of the five ALCS games against the Detroit Tigers, earning a save in Game #1. He pitched in three games of the 1987 World Series, taking a loss in Game #3 after blowing a 7th inning 1-0 lead, as Vince Coleman & Ozzie Smith both drove in runs.

Berenguer then moved on to the Atlanta Braves (1991-1992) going 3-4 in 77 games as a reliever, as the team got to the World Series in 1991. He missed out on playing as he had a freak accident breaking his arm, at home while wrestling with his kids. He ended his career getting traded to the Kansas City Royals in July of 1992.

In a 15 year career he was 67-62 with 32 saves in 490 games, 95 starts. He struck out 975 batters walking 604 in 1205 innings of work.

Post Playing Career: After his playing days he worked for a Minnesota television station.

He has been at ceremonies honoring the Twins & Tigers Championship teams.

His son Chris played hockey in the US Hockey League.

Nov 29, 2016

Cespedes Remains A Met!!

Yoenis Cespedes & the Mets have agreed to a four year $110 million deal! That means the Mets are series & ready to avenge their NL Championship title from two seasons ago & take it to the next level, a long awaited championship.

Cespedes has more than proven his worth as a Met, I have been saying this for the past two contract negotiations, it's a no brainer.

He is a proven All Star, he has proven that he can play in New York. He has proven he can hit for power, drive in runs & throw out almost any one with his arm. He is good in the club house & the fans love him. He has taken the Mets to the playoffs both seasons he has been on the roster, including a World Series.

And in case anyone forgot, had the greatest performance any player has ever had in a pennant race two seasons ago, with an incredible August.

Looking forward to a great 2017 with Cespedes a crowded talented outfield, solid defense up the middle, a good bench & a healthy pitching staff with lots of talent fighting for spots as well. Lets Go Mets!!

Former Mets Hitting Coach: Dave Engle (2001-2002)

Ralph David Engle was born on November 30th, 1956 in San Diego California. The six foot three, right hand hitting Engle began his career as an outfielder but was converted over to a catcher. 

He attended the University of Southern California & won championships on the baseball & football teams in his junior year. In 1978 he was selected as a third round pick of the California Angels.

In 1979 Engle was sent to the Minnesota Twins along with Ken Landreaux in exchange for Hall of Famer; Rod Carew. With the Twins he was a team mate of his brother in law; Tom Brunansky. By 1981 he was an outfielder for the Twins hitting .258 with 5 Hrs 14 doubles & 32 RBIs. He came in fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. 

 In 1982 he was the first player to hit a HR in the new Metro Dome Stadium. Two years later in 1983, Engle was fully transformed into a catcher, he played in a career high 120 games, hitting a career best .305 with 8 HRs 22 doubles & 43 RBIs. In 1984 he made the AL All Star team, although he did not finish with as good a season as he did the previous year-  .266 average.

By 1985 he was moved over into a DH role due to a strange psychological arm throwing issue.He was then was traded to the Detroit Tigers. He spent 1986 with the Tigers then signed on with the Montreal Expos for two seasons as a reserve player.

 In his first at bat in Montreal he hit a pinch hit HR & filled in the spot of Tim Raines as he remained unsigned. He ended his playing career in 1989 with the Milwaukee Brewers. In a nine year career, he hit .262 with 431 hits 31 HRs 88 doubles & a .311 on base %.

Retirement: After his playing days he began as a minor league coach from 1995-1997. He then coached at the big league level with Houston Astros in 1998. 

In 200 he joined the Mets organization, coaching for the A Ball St. Lucie Mets in 2000. The next year; 2001 he joined Bobby Valentines staff as Mets hitting coach replacing Tom Robson. 

As the Mets team struggled batting a collective .249 with 147 HRs in 2001 (both 15th in the league) they made some big off season moves. The Mets acquired Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn & Jeromy Burnitz for 2002, but nothing worked out well & the Mets finished fifth.

Engle was released from his coaching role & replanted in the minor league system. He was replaced by Chris Chambliss. Engel is currently a scout for the Baltimore Orioles.

The Legend of New York Giants Outfielder: Moonlight Grahm (1905)

Archibald "Moonlight" Graham was born on  November 12th, 1877 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Graham made one appearance in a major league game.

On June 29th, 1905 he was placed in right field, but never got a turn at bat for John McGraw's 1905 World Champion New York Giants.
It was not on the field but in fiction where Graham became famous.

In 1975 author W.P. Kinsella, had taken notice of Graham's statistic in the Baseball Encyclopedia. He used the character in his novel; Shoeless Joe which the movie Field of Dreams was based on. In the movie Kevin Costner & James Earl Jones are sent to Fenway Park in Boston by the voice that tells them "If you build it he will come." And "Ease his pain".

At the game the Graham stat is seen only by them on the scoreboard.  The voice tells them, "Go the distance..." as the two soon drive off to Chisholm, Minnesota, to find out what they can about the man and his mysterious MLB career.

In the movie Graham as an older man was portrayed by Burt Lancaster & Frank Whaley as a younger man. The film also gives the message that during that era, many of the minor league teams, such as the ones Graham had played for,  may have been as good as the major league teams. Some of the actual dates were changed for the films purposes.

As for the real life Moonlight Graham, he attended the University of North Carolina where his brother was president of the School. He later became a United States Senator. Moonlight played baseball in college & then moved onto the minor leagues in New England.

In 1905 he played in the New York State League where his contract was purchased by the New York Giants. On June 29th, 1905 he was inserted in right field in the 8th inning, at Washington Park in Brooklyn, in a game against the Brooklyn Superbas. In the 9th inning he was the next batter when the final out was made, so he never got a chance to hit.

He went back to the New York Penn. League, where he missed winning the batting title in 1906 by just four points. Graham was considered one of the fastest players on the base paths in his league as well.

Graham finished medical school & gave up baseball to become a medical doctor. He was known as Doc Graham & worked in schools in the Chisholm, Minnesota area. He would have used glasses sent to his office & on weekends, he checked the eyes of children who's fathers worked in the Iron Range & distributed them as needed, free of charge. The Graham Scholarship is still given to this day, in Chisholm schools, named in his honor.

Moonlight Graham passed away in August 1965, at age 85.

Nov 27, 2016

Short Time 2016 Mets Third Baseman: Ty Kelly (2016)

Tyler Patrick Kelly was born July 20th 1988 in Dallas, Texas. His father Pat Kelly, was a basketball & baseball coach.

The six foot third baseman Tyler, attended high school in California & college at the Loyola Marymount, University of California at Davis. As a sophomore he led the Big West Conference with a .387 batting average & helped the Aggies reach the Division 1 Tournament.

He was signed by the Baltimore Orioles in the 13th round of the 2009 draft. His minor league career started off well, making All Star teams in 2009 in The NY / Penn. League, 2011 in the South Atlantic League,2012 in the AA California League & 2013.

In 2012 he hit .327 going from A ball up to AAA ball, followed by a .298 season in 2013. That year he was traded from Baltimore to the Seattle organization.

In 2015 he was sent to the St. Louis Cards organization, there he struggled (batting .203) and was designated for assignment. Kelly then got picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays. Overall on the year he hit just .226 but the New York Mets gave him a minor league contract for 2016.

He began his eighth year in pro ball in 2016 with the Mets AAA Las Vegas 51s. By May he was the leagues top hitter (.391)with 12 doubles, 2 HRs & 15 RBIs & a .478 on base %.

On May 23rd, the Mets chose to bring up the hot minor league hitter when Lucas Duda went on the DL. The Mets already had David Wright struggling with back issues & Wilmer Flores on the DL as well. So with the Mets desperately needed a third baseman and with a depleted minor league system, Kelly got the call up.

Kelly debuted with the Mets wearing #56, on May 24th, 2016 in a 7-4 loss to the Washington Nationals. That day he struck out three times against Steven Strasburg who was born on the same day as Kelly.

On May 30th he got his first hit, it came off  The Chicago White Sox Nate Jones in a 1-0 Mets win.

 On June 8th, he hit his first career HR, at two run game tying shot coming in a 6-5 Mets win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Kelly wasn't the answer at third base, after ten games he was batting just .174 with  one HR & two RBIs. He was sent back down to Las Vegas on June 10th when the Mets re-acquired Kelly Johnson. He did return a week later 7 went hitless in four games 0-4 as a pinch hitter. The team would soon reunite with Jose Reyes, who primarily became the main third baseman.

Kelly was back in Las Vegas until August 6th, when he got called back up. He saw action in nine games getting his average to .250 while driving in four runs. His up & down year continued as he went back to Vegas until getting a September call up. He got just two hits in ten at bats & saw some defensive action.

On the season he batted .241 with 1 HR & 7 RBIs in 39 games. He played ten games at third base & ten in the out field with two games at second & one at first base.

2016 Wild Card Game: Kelly got a pinch hit single in the 8th inning of the Wild Card loss to the San Francisco Giants. It was one of just four Mets hits.

2006 N.L. Eastern Champion Mets Outfielder: Shawn Green (2006-2007)

Shawn David Green was born on November 10, 1972 in Des Plaines, Illinois. The six foot four left handed hitter, won a baseball scholarship to Sanford University. 

In 1991 he was the Toronto Blue Jays #1 pick, the 16th pick overall. He had an impressive minor league career winning the International League batting title in 1994, batting .341 with a .401 on base %, 13 HRs & 61 RBIs. He was voted the IL’s top hitting prospect & the league's best outfield throwing arm. He was the Blue Jays Minor League Player of the Year & was named one of Baseball Americas top prospects.

Green was brought up for a cups of coffee in the 1993 Blue Jays championship season (3 games) & again in 1994. He began in Toronto coming in fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, he would go on to hit over thirty doubles five straight seasons as well. By 1995 he was a fixture in the Blue Jays outfield for the next five seasons. He put up bigger numbers each year & by the hitting rich days of the late 1990’s Green was one of the leagues better hitters.

In 1998 he hit 35 HRs with 100 RBIs, following that up with a bigger 1999 season. He led the league in extra base hits (87), doubles (45) & total bases (361) hitting 42 HRs (5th in the AL) with 123 RBIs (6th in the AL) & a .309 batting average. He was second in the AL with 134 runs scored & ninth with 190 hits. Green made his first All Star team & came in fifth in the MVP voting.

In early April he beacme just the third player to hit a HR in the fifth deck of the Skydome, measured at 450 feet. Although he lacked speed, Green was a good outfielder with a decent throwing arm early on, he led the league in assists in 1995 & had double figures in that category twice. He led all right fielders in fielding percentage (.997%)& was second in put outs (.336).

He was about to enter the final year of his contract in Toronto as was his friend, Carlos Delgado. The team had to react & with Green wanting to move closer to his California roots a deal was made. In November 1999 Green was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Raul Mondesi & Pedro Borbon Jr.

Green would spend five seasons in L.A. hitting over 40 HRs twice, while driving in 99 runs or better three times. He set Dodger records for a left hander with his RBI totals begin inning in 1999.

In 2000 he was on base for 53 straight games, falling five times short of former Dodger; Duke Snider's modern day NL record. Green's best season in Los Angeles was 2001; when he hit .297 with 49 HRs (4th in the NL) 31 doubles & 125 RBIs (9TH in the NL).

That season he made a decision to sit out a game on Yom Kippur, the most religious Jewish Holiday, after he had played in 415 straight games. He felt it was the right thing to do out of respect & to set an example to children. He also donated a day’s pay ($75,000) to victims of families of the 911 attacks in New York City.

On May 23rd, 2002 he had a record setting day in Milwaukee in a game against the Brewers. Green hit four HRs with seven RBIs, gathering up six hits, five runs scored & had four extra-base hits in the game. He hit another HR the next day & two more the following day, while driving in six more runs. He broke a three game HR record & finished off the week hitting nine HRs in the week, also an NL record.

He finished the year with 42 HRs 31 doubles, 114 RBIs, a .385 on base % while batting .285. He made the NL All Star team & was fifth in the MVP voting. The next season he began to suffer from tendinitis & his power numbers began to fall off. He hit just 19 HRs with 85 RBIs but did hit a career high 49 doubles.

In 2004 he moved over to play first base & hit 28 HRs. He batted .266 with 85 RBIs, helping the Dodgers to the playoffs. In his first ever post season he hit three HRs in the 2004 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals. That off season he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Dioner Navarro & three minor leaguers.

He remained steady batting .286 with 22 HRs 37 doubles & 83 RBIs in 2005. In 2006 he had played in 115 games with Arizona, batting .283 with 11 HRs & 51 RBIs when he was traded to the New York Mets on August 22nd 2006 for AAA pitcher Evan Maclane.

In his career Green had three seasons of 40 plus HRs, four 100 plus RBI seasons & three forty plus doubles seasons. But those were during baseballs live ball era of the late nineties/early 2000's. Green hit over 30 doubles eleven times, & hit over .280 nine times. A free swinger, he struck out over 100 times seven seasons in his career & is 105th all time with 1315 K’s.

By the time got to the Mets he was striking out much less & in 2006 only went down swinging 15% of his at bats. He was lured to New York by his close friend, Carlos Delgado. The two became buddies in their years spent together in Toronto, Delgado was even best man at his wedding. He arrived in New York with the Mets 14 1/2 games in first place in the NL East.

Green got a standing ovation in his first at bat at Shea Stadium on August 24th & got a hit in his second Mets at bat. He played mostly in right field, after the main starting spot had been vacant since the Mets traded Xavier Nady to Pittsburgh. On September 6th he hit HRs in both ends of a doubleheader, while gathering up six hits total, in a twin bill sweep of the Atlanta Braves. He closed out the season with hittting two HRs the final week, both against the Washington Nationals. He also had five hits in the last two games of the regular season.

Overall In 34 games since arriving in New York, Green hit .257 with 4 HRs 9 doubles 8 walks & 15 RBIs. Post Season; In the 2006 playoffs, Green tied for the Mets team lead with three doubles, and hit .313, which was second best on the team.

Post Season: In the NLDS against his old Los Angeles Dodger club, he saw action in all three games going 3-9. In Game #3 he had a pair of hits drove in two runs off pitcher Greg Maddox. In the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, he played in all seven games batting .304 (7-23).

In Game #4 at St. Louis, he had two hits including a 6th inning RBI single scoring Carlos Beltran. In the next at bat Jose Vaentin would drive Green home in the Mets 12-5 win. In Game #6 at Shea Stadium, he had a 4th inning RBI single which brought home Beltran with the Mets second run of the game in their 4-2 win, sending the series to a Game #7.

In 2007 the Mets declined an option to keep Green on the team for two more years, instead he got a one year deal. He had a strong April batting .355 with 15 RBIs. He had four multiple RBI games, including a stretch of bringing in a run in four straight games during the opening week of the season. By the end of May he had 5 HRs with 22 RBIs & was batting .314 when he fouled a ball off his foot chipping a bone. It was the first time in his career he was on the DL. He missed almost three weeks, returning in mid June.

On June 25th he hit a walk off HR off St. Louis’ Russ Springer for a dramatic 2-1 Mets victory. On August 8th he went 4-4 in a game against the Atlanta Braves his best muti hit game on the season. On the season he played in 130 games, batting .291 (fourth best batting average on the team) with 10 HRs 30 doubles 37 walks a .352 on base % & 46 RBIs but the Mets missed the playoffs on the last day of the season. At the end of the season he chose to retire at age 36 to be with his family.

He finished his 15 year career batting .283 with 2003 hits 328 HRs (104th all time) 445 doubles (102nd all time) 35 triples, 1070 RBIs (226th all time) 744 walks, 808 extra base hits (106th all time) a .355 on base % & 1129 runs scored. He struck out often 1315 times which is 105nd all time.

Overall Green played in 1951 games, 1733 in the outfield. In the right field he played 1630 games (17th most all time) posting a .986 fielding% (33rd best all time) with 83 assists (62nd all time).

Retirement: Green retired to Orange County California with his wife & five daughters. He was inducted to the Orange County Jewish Hall of Fame & received the Hank Greenberg Sportsmanship Award in 2004. Shawn Green's grandfather actually shortened the family name from Greenberg to Green many years ago.

Nov 26, 2016

2015 NL Champion Mets All Star: Yoenis Cespedes (2015-2016)

Yoenis Cespedes was born October 18th 1985, in Campechuela, Cuba. His mother Estela Milanes was a softball pitcher in the 2000 Olympics & his father was a former Cuban League catcher.

At age ten he was sent to a state school to focus on baseball. He played in Cuba at Granma, from the ages of 17 to 24 being a .319 career hitter.

In 2011 he & ten family members defected from Cuba landing in the Dominican Republic.

Then the five foot ten, right hand hitting outfielder was signed by the Oakland Athletics as an amateur free agent in 2012. He was considered a five tool player & one of the best to come out of Cuba in a generation.

He was ready for Opening Day 2012. In his second career game he hit his first career HR & then hit HRs in the next two as well, driving in two runs in each game. In his first month he hit five HR with 19 RBI. On June 21st he hit his first walk off HR it came against the LA Dodgers. He began the year in center field but quickly became the A's regular left fielder, when Cocoa Crisp returned from injury. Cespedes led the team in batting (.292) while coming in second on the club in HRs (23) RBIs (82) & doubles (25). He also had 16 steals, five triples & a .356 on base %. 

His strong arm in the outfield led him to six assists (4th in the AL). Oakland won the AL West that year & Cespedes hit .316 in the ALDS loss to the Detroit Tigers. 

At the 2013 All Star Game in Citi Field, he was chosen by A.L. team Captain Robinson Cano as a last minute addition to participate in the HR Derby. He put on a show hitting 30 HRs, beating Bryce Harper while becoming the first player to win the Derby while not been selected to the actual game. On the season he battled through injuries, but still hit 26 HRs with 80 RBIs while batting .240 in 135 games.

Post Season: That year the Athletics won another divisional title under manager Bob Melvin, beating the Texas Rangers by five games with a strong finish winning 16 of their last 22 games. They once again lost the ALDS to the Detroit Tigers, with Cespedes hitting a HR in Game #1. Overall he drove in four runs batting .381 with a .409 on base %. 

In 2014 he had another good start at the plate & on the field. In late May he put on a show nailing runners with his strong throwing arm. He had three put outs in games against the Toronto Blue Jays & Baltimore Orioles. On May 31st against the Anaheim Angels he threw out both Chris Iannetta & Kole Calhoun at the plate. On June 10th, again against the Angels, he made a 300 foot throw home to nail Howie Kendrick & then the next night threw out Albert Pujols at third base.

Cespedes along with six other A's players went to the All Star Game that season. He was leading in the balloting but lost out to Adam Jones in the final week of voting.

He participated in the HR derby again & became the first player since Ken Griffey Jr. to win back to back derby's. In the actual game in Minnesota he was 0-2.

The Athletics had been in first place most of the season, with fine young pitching & Cespedes being one of the teams best bats. On July 31st, the A's traded him to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Jon Lester & Johnny Gnomes.

By mid August Oakland fell out of first place & barley made a wild card spot at the end of year. They would lose the Wild Card game to the eventual AL Champion  Kansas City Royals. In 51 games in Boston, he hit 5 HRs with 10 doubles & 33 RBIs batting .269.

Overall he had a fine year driving in 100 runs (9th in the AL) for the first time in his career, he batted .260 with 22 HRs, 36 doubles (3rd in the league) 6 triples, 89 runs scored (10th in the AL) & seven sac flies (10th in the AL). In the outfield he led the league in assists (16) & put outs (204).

In December he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello.The year did not go as planned in Detroit, after playing in a league leading 102 games Cespedes was batting .293 with 18 HRs 28 doubles 62 runs scored & 61 RBIs. On July 31st hours before the trade deadline, he was sent to the New York Mets for a pair of minor leaguers. Cespedes.

Cespedes expected to be traded & was following the afternoon trade deadline dealings on TV. With nine minutes to go he saw that he was traded to New York & his manager confirmed the deal. He said he feels no pressure playing in New York & will just go out play his game & have fun.

Quotes: "Honestly, I don’t know much about the Mets, given the fact that they are in the National League. But the one thing I can tell you that I do know is how good their pitching is."

GM Sandy Alderson: "He's a very dynamic player, We think he's going to impact us in a number of different ways. But I think also just his presence in the lineup and his presence on the team will raise the energy level — and I hope it raises the energy level in the dugout and in the stands. I think that this is the kind of player that could have a big impact both in terms of the game on the field and how the team is perceived."

At the 2015 trade deadline, the Mets GM Sandy Alderson landed one of the best late season acquisitions the Mets ever landed in Yoenis Cespedes.

In 1969 it was Donn Clendenon that helped a pitching rich team with little offense. Clendenon went on to win the World Series MVP Award. In 2015 Cespedes would take charge put the Mets offense on his back taking them through the pennant drive.

Yoenis Cespedes arrived with the Mets on August 1st playing centerfield & batting in the third position. That night he drew a walk going 0-3 in a 3-2 win over the Washington Nats, as the Mets got themselves within one game of first place. The next night they would beat Washington to tie for the NL East first place spot.

On August 3rd, Cespedes collected three hits, all doubles while riving in four runs in the Mets 1-1 romp in Miami. On August 12th, he hit his first Mets HR, a solo shot coming in a  3-0 Mets win against the Colorado Rockies. He would drive in runs in three straight games, hitting another HR two days later.

On August 21st, Cespedes had one of his best nights & put in one of the best Mets offensive games  ever. Cespedes blasted three HRs, while collecting five hits & driving in seven runs in a 14-9 Mets win in Colorado. In the 2nd inning he blasted a grand slam HR off Jon Gray to start out his big night.

In Philadelphia on August 24th & 25th he hit HRs in back to back games, leading the Mets to wins in both games. He would homer again in the fourth game of that series driving in two more runs. On his first Mets road trip Cespedes hit six HRs driving in 15 runs while collecting 14 hits, keeping his average just below .300.

As the Mets entered September they had a six game lead over the Nats & were starting to run away with he division. The Mets pitching was solid all year but now the offense took off led by Cespedes. In the first two weeks of the month he would go on a tear like almost no Mets player ever saw, Cespedes was the  hottest hitter in the league at just he right time.

From September 1st to the 14th he nine HRs with 21hits four doubles & two triples, while driving in 19 runs scoring 16 more runs. In that stretch the Mets had an eight game winning streak & won 10 of 13 games, on their way to the division title.

On September 8th, the Mets were down 7-1 to the Nats when they had an incredible six run 7th inning tying up the game. In that inning Cespedes cleared the bases with a three run double. The Mets went on to an 8-7 victory.

The next night his two run HR in the 8th inning broke a 2-2 tie leading to a 5-3 Mets win. On September 11th his three run night in Atlanta, led to the Mets 5-1 win over the Braves. The next night he homered again & drove in two more runs in the 6-4 Mets win.

From there he cooled off driving in just two more runs the rest of the way. In the last week of the season he bruised his fingers getting hit by a pitch in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

In his 57 games with the Mets, he had 66 hits with 17 HRs 14 doubles four triples 44 RBIs & 39 runs scored. He batted .287 with a .337 on base% & a .604 slugging %.

His presence was known on the field defensively as well, in 54 games he posted four assists posting a .985 fielding %. Soon enough the rest of the league knew better than trying to run on Cespedes.

 Post Season:

2015 NLDS: In the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he went hitless in the Mets Game #1 win. Then he homered off Zack Greinke, in the Mets 5-2 Game #2 loss at Dodger Stadium. In Game #3 at Citi Field,  he had three hits including a 4th inning three run HR off Alex Wood to put the Mets up 10-3. He would get just one more hit over the next two nights.

In that series he had five hits to go along with the two four RBIs. Overall in the NLDS he batted .250 (5-20) with 2 HRs & 4 RBIs. 

2015 NLCS: In the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, he had an RBI infield single in Game #2, driving in the final run of the Mets 4-1 win behind Noh Syndergaard.

In Game #3 at Wrigley Field, Cespedes had a big three hit night, starting out with a 1st inning RBI double off Kyle Kendricks driving home David Wright. In the 8th inning, he drove home Wright again, with an RBI single, helping Jacob deGrom & the Mets to a 5-2 win. Overall in the NLCS he batted .286 going 4-14 with three RBIs.

2015 World Series: His shoulder injury acted up & gave him trouble in swinging the bat. Before the World Series he took a cortisone shot to help heal the pain. In the Mets World Series loss to the Kansas City Royals, he would struggle going just 3-20 batting .150.

In Game #1 he singled leading off the 6th inning & the scored on Michael Conforto's sac fly. In Game #5 he fouled a ball off his leg & was removed from the game due to pain.

During the off season there was lots of speculation if the Mets would sign him to a  long term multi million dollar deal. Cespedes certainly earned his worth & the bidders would be high for the super star. The Mets, known for not spending seemed like they may pass on him, or at least were playing poker in the stakes. Finally in January Mets fans like this one got their wish, a three year deal was worked out by Sandy Alderson, that made him the highest paid player in 2016, with the opportunity to opt out the second year of a three year deal.

"I loved my experience with the Mets last season," Cespedes said in a statement released by the team. "In a short period of time, my teammates and the fans made New York feel like home, and I truly felt embraced by the entire organization. As I entered free agency, I couldn't deny the pull to come back and finish what we had started last year. I am excited to finally announce that next season I am coming back to join the New York Mets once again."

As the 2016 season began, Yoenis Cespedes came to Spring Training in style, driving in a different sports car from his collection each day & then for the grand entrance he & Noah Syndergaard rode in to Pt. St. Lucie Tradition Field on horses!

The Mets opened the season in Kansas City & Cespedes got just one hit with a pair of walks in the opening series, He hit his first HR on April 10th, the fifth game of the year. On April 15th he went on a month long Cespedes hot streak. From April 15th through May 15th he hit 12 HRs with 29 RBIs & 28 hits. On April 26th, he came to bat as a pinch hitter with two men on & the Mets down 3-0 to the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. He blasted a three run HR off Brandon Finnegan to tie the game, a David Wright single later that inning secured the 4-3 Mets win.

That week Cespedes had bruised his leg & missed some action. He returned on April 29th to have a huge record setting night. The Mets set a franchise record scoring 12 runs in the bottom of the 3rd inning in a 13-1 romp over the San Francisco Giants. In that third inning, Cespedes singled bringing in two runs & that later in that historic inning, he blasted a grand slam HR, becoming the first Mets to drive in six runs in an inning.

On May 21st his two run HR tied up a game at Citi Field with the Milwaukee Brewers. A David Wright walk off hit won it. On June 10th he tied up a 1-0 game in Milwaukee, in which the Mets went on win 2-1 in extra innings. On June 30th he started the Mets come back rally from three runs down of the Chicago Cubs, hitting his 19th HR coming off John Lackey, the Mets went on to a 4-3 win.

That week he hit three HRs with 10 RBIs but then went down for a week & a half with injury. He returned slowly as the Mets swept the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley & then helped the Mets take two of three in Florida driving in runs in all three games.

Cespedes made his third All Star team representing the Mets, along with Noah Syndergaard, but neither player saw action due to nagging injuries.

He missed two weeks in August but when he returned he helped bring the Mets back into the wild card hunt & a big September got them the top wild card spot by seasons end. On August 20th he hit two HRs & drove in three runs in the Mets win over the Giants in San Fran. The next day his two run HR off Jeff Samardzija were the only two runs Noah Syndergaard needed in his 2-0 combined shut out.

On August 27th, he hit his 26th HR of the year, a two run shot on a night the Mets hit four HRs in another blow out, a 12-1 win over the Phillies at Citi. Two days later he hit #27 of the year, a walk off game winner against the Miami Marlins.

In September he hit safely in 19 of 27 games driving in 18 runs with four HRs. The hottest stretch started on September 6th when he drove in runs in six straight games. On September 6th he hit a two run HR in the Mets 5-3 win over the Reds at Cincinnati.

On September 11th he blasted his 30th HR of the season. It was a grand slam HR in Atlanta off Williams Perez & then added another RBI to make it a five RBI night in the Mets 10-3 win. It marked the second straight year he hit 30 or more HRs.

On September 17th, he tied a game up against the Minnesota Twins, that the Mets eventually won after Curtis Granderson homered to tie it up again & then homered to win it in walk off fashion. On September 22nd he drove in two runs in a wacky 9-8 Mets win over the Phillies at Citi Field.

On September 25th The Miami Marlins lost young pitcher Jose Fernandez in tragic boating accident. The baseball world was shocked as was South Florida. Fellow Cuban, Yoenis Cespedes paid his respects by taping up a Mets jersey with Fernandez name & number on it in the Mets dug out, that Sunday. That day the Mets scored their highest amount of runs in 2016 with a 17-0 shut out of the Phillies.

After going hitless in an emotional game in which the Mets lost in Miami, the Marlins first game back after Fernandez death, Cespedes returned with his 31st HR of the year in the Mets 12-1 win. In the NL Wild Card game he went 0-4 against Madison Bumgarner in the Mets 3-0 loss.

Cespedes finished off the year as the Mets biggest offensive player. With all the injuries to key players like Lucas Duda & David Wright out most of the season as well as injuries to most other key players, including Cespedes, it was Yo who carried the team into the playoffs for the second straight year.

He led the team in HRs (31) which was 9th most in the NL, RBIs (86) batting average (tied with Asdrubal Cabrera .280) Slugging (.530%) On Base % (.354%) total bases (254) & was second on the team in hits (134) doubles (25) & walks (51).

Cespedes averaged a HR in every 15.5 at bats which was third best in the league. In the outfield he had nine assists & made four errors in 122 games, 80 games in left & 63 games in center.