Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Major League Ballplayers Wanted, Enquire Within

While it was gratifying watching the New York Mets win last night, it felt more like a temporary reprieve than the start of something big. Bad news about Noah Syndergaard and J.D. Davis offset some of the thrill of victory. Also, for a very well-pitched game by Jacob deGromMiguel Castro, Trevor May, and Edwin Díaz, it didn't feel as if it was safely in the books until about five minutes after the last out was recorded. And this was against a Colorado Rockies team that had only managed two measly road victories coming into the series. The Rockies are in the discussion for the "worst team in baseball" honors, but they're still hard to beat when you're fielding a team of Triple-A ballplayers.

One of the most frustrating things for Mets fans this season hasn't been just the injuries, but how the return of at least some of the wounded keeps getting pushed back further into the season. J.D. Davis is the latest example of this trend. Although the timeline for Davis returning still seems relatively soon, I'm at the point with any injured Mets player where I need to see them active and playing. The rehab setbacks have been coming fast and furiously for injured Mets in 2021.

I am still fairly confident that the Mets are a legitimate contender this season if they can get enough of their players healthy. It's my confidence in their ability to get those players back that's been somewhat shaken. It's disheartening that the timelines always seem to get pushed back. That might be why acting GM Zack Scott chose to be more pessimistic about players returning at his news conference. Other clubs are dealing with a ton of injuries this season, but the Mets seemed to have cornered the market on IL stays.

Beyond the return of some of these players, the other looming question for the Mets is, when these players finally return, will they perform at a higher level than before they got hurt? Other than J.D. Davis and Brandom Nimmo, the other Mets hitters weren't doing much damage offensively before suffering their own damage. It's nice to foresee a good run for the club once they get healthy, but if these hitters continue not to hit, the Mets are unlikely to be a playoff club this fall, even if they do a decent job of staying close while they're playing games with the Triple-A roster.

Steven Matz is off to a decent start for the Blue Jays and pitched well against the Yankees, so of course, there would be speculation about whether the Mets should have held onto the southpaw. Really, though, he definitely looked like a guy who needed a change of scenery. Besides, despite his sparkling performance against the Yankees, a peek at Matz's stats show that old problems still linger. He's allowing more than a hit per inning and has allowed 7 HR in 54.2 IP. I'm sure the Toronto fans will be more patient with Matz than Mets fans would have been. Unless he falls apart as he did last season, Matz is better off somewhere where he can have a spot in the rotation and be left alone to resurrect his career.

You don't read or hear as much about Jarred Kelenic lately, as it's been a bit of a rough start for him in the Majors. He's slashing .174/.240/.348 over 50 PA. I'm sure that talk will heat up once he figures it out. I find it notable that Kelenic has only struck out 9 times in those 50 trips to the plate. It's only a matter of time before he turns it around and the local media can return to giving us almost daily updates about a player who was traded by a previous GM working under an owner who is — thank God — no longer around.

Even with his struggles, had Kelenic not been traded, it would have been fun to at least watch him figure it out, knowing he was the future. Instead, we get washed-up guys like Cameron Maybin, who are just keeping a spot in the lineup warm until a player gets healthy who might actually contribute. Or we get to watch Khalil Lee strike out 12 times in only 17 trips to the plate. It's almost impossible to see a prospect there when Lee can't even make weak contact. Still, I checked with the Commissioner's office, and the no-backsies policy still holds true for trades made by unqualified GMs who have since been handed pink slips, so when Kelenic does hit and they start beating us over the head with his exploits, keep that in mind.

If you happen to be a masochist, and you just can't wait for Kelenic to hit without inflicting some punishment upon yourself, you can't go wrong with Ken Davidoff's offering from this past Sunday. It wouldn't do justice to the nonsense to summarize it, so I present in unaltered magnificence my favorite part of the article:

The bottom line is that Lindor, months after signing his mega-extension (which doesn’t begin until next year, remember), has done the opposite of carrying his team when it really needed him. If you flash back to the 2013 Yankees, who experienced a pretty similar narrative to these Mets, you can see just how much Cano, suspended for 2021 after testing positive for Stanozolol yet under his Mets contract for ’22 and ’23, did the opposite of Lindor’s current contributions.

An impending free agent, with accomplished teammates Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis missing more than half the season with injuries, Cano put up a monster .314/.383/.516 slash line while playing in 160 games, further winning the respect of his teammates and landing a 10-year, $240-million contract from the Mariners. If he cheated that season, he didn’t get caught, which is all that matters [my emphasis].

Seriously? 

Yes, Ken Davidoff drew comparisons between Lindor's struggles this season and Cano's "monster" numbers while playing out his option with the Yankees in 2013. Of course, since Cano is a twice-caught steroid cheat, you have to believe that he was cheating back in 2013 also. But, after all, isn't the fact that whatever agent Cano was utilizing to mask his steroid use worked for him that season all that really matters?

Davidoff uses his rhetorical brilliance to ask a taunting question to Mets fans who actually found Cano's suspension for the season to be a good thing.

(By the way, remember the celebrations by Mets fans last November when Major League Baseball announced Cano’s year long suspension, opening second base for Jeff McNeil? Think the Mets would mind having Cano right now?) 

For the record, I'm one of those fans. When Robinson Cano enjoyed his bounce-back season in 2020, I remember watching the games and thinking to myself, "this guy is cheating again." Honestly, I couldn't believe Cano was arrogant or stupid enough to risk losing a whole season and $24 million in cash because his vanity wouldn't allow him to play as poorly as he did without the aid of PEDs in 2019. Sure enough, he was caught and suspended.

To answer Ken's question, I wouldn't want Cano back, knowing what I do now about all of the early-season injuries and the struggles of Francisco Lindor and others. If Cano didn't test positive and get suspended, there are two possibilities for which Cano would show up this season.

  1. He would decide to stop taking PEDs and return to the ineffective player he was in 2019.
  2. He would continue to cheat, with the possibility of getting caught and suspended when the Mets depended upon him as an important lineup cog. What a bitch if it happened right before the playoffs.
So, not only am I still glad Robby Cano didn't play for the Mets this season, I hope they figure out a way to buy him out of those final 2 years, and I never have to think about him again. While it is decidedly a bummer to watch Lindor continue to struggle, Cano's presence on the club would not alleviate that one bit. And if there are any kids out there who read Davidoff's article and took it to heart, I can only say: "Don't listen to Weird Uncle Ken, boys and girls. It really does matter if you cheat, even if you don't get caught."

Please be well and take care.


 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos.

2 comments:

  1. I think the Mets will work out some kind of sever-the-ties strategy to make sure Cano doesn't appear in their uniform again. Even with all of their injuries, the Mets are pretty well stocked in middle infield.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree. I don't have any animosity towards Cano, but I believe trying to keep him on the roster over the next two seasons makes little sense

    ReplyDelete

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