Craig Calcaterra

Yoenis Cespedes, J.T. Realmuto

The Mets and Yoenis Cespedes will be the most fascinating free agency story this winter

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While the stretch run and the playoffs still stand before us, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan takes a look ahead to the cold winter months and ranks the top free agents this coming offseason.

There’s a lot there to chew on, but the most chewable morsel is also the one most likely to be talked about before the season is over. Indeed, it’s been talked about extensively already: Yoenis Cespedes and the possibility that he returns to the Mets on a new deal next season and beyond.

Many fans have already started worrying about whether the Mets will make a strong push to re-sign Cespedes, who has been fantastic since coming over in a trade with Detroit. But as Passan notes, there’s a real chance that Cespedes is going to be seriously overpaid based on a couple of hot months:

Six weeks ago, a nine-figure deal [for Cespedes] seemed optimistic, according to two GMs, two personnel men and two agents surveyed recently by Yahoo Sports. The six now believe discussions with the soon-to-be-30-year-old Cespedes will begin at $125 million and end up perhaps in the $160 million range, a staggering figure for someone who the last two seasons posted on-base percentages of .294 and .301. Baseball, like so many other avenues in life, cannot help but fall into the recency-bias trap.

I’m not a Mets fan so I really don’t care. And, personally speaking, I like Cespedes and think he’s fun to watch so I sort of hope he gets paid. But I am most interested in that recency-bias trap Passan notes.

Smart baseball people, of which EVERY team has many by now, realize that what Cesepedes is doing right now is outlier stuff. They know that it’s very unlikely that, at age 30, he’s transformed his game so completely that he has gone from “nice power, amazing arm, could be a nice 5-hitter on a playoff team” to “the straw that stirs the drink.” Could it have happened? Maybe. But the odds favor his return to being the nice power/low-OBP guy he was between 2012-14.

Will an owner overrule baseball people who warn that, maybe, Cespedes isn’t worth a $160 million deal? Will that owner be Fred Wilpon? And if so, will Mets fans construe that as just the latest example of the Wilpons being cheap? If he does make that deal, will most Mets fans hail it as a great, long-overdue move?

I have no idea, but it will be fascinating to watch and see if a potentially bad move is perceived as great or if its avoidance is seen as bad by virtue of the last several weird years of Mets decisions.

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

Jed Lowrie
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It’s a weird year. Usually, like, ten games on a full fifteen game schedule in mid-September have playoff implications. So much is already decided this year, however, leaving us with only three or four which truly have relevance. Mostly in the AL West/AL Wild card. Like the first three games on this morning’s slate:

Twins 7, White Sox 0: Torii Hunter hit a three-run homer off of Chris Sale in the first and Kyle Gibson pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning. The Twins have totally owned Sale this year. Minnesota remains one game out of the Wild Card spot because . . .

Rangers 12, Athletics 4: . . . the Rangers beat the A’s behind two homers and five RBI from Adrian Beltre and a bunch more offense. And while that Wild Card lead is nice to maintain for Texas, they have bigger fish to fry. They’re only one and a half back of the Astros and begin a four-game series against them at home.

Astros 5, Angels 3: It would’ve been only a half game deficit except Houston rallied for five runs in the ninth inning against the Angels. The Astros were down to their last out before Preston Tucker hit a solo home run, George Springer tripled, Jose Altuve singled Spring in, Carlos Correa singled and then Jed Lowrie hit a dramatic three-run homer. Back-breaking for the Angels who were trying to sweep and stay in the playoff picture.

Indians 7, Tigers 2; Tigers 9, Indians 2: For reasons that still aren’t clear to me I watched the movie “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” last night and it made me think about the precariousness of civilization and the pointlessness of existence. Much the same way that two teams splitting a doubleheader does. It wasn’t a good movie, BTW, even though it had some good performances. Both of these games seem much the same way, though they lacked a fairly unrealistic Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Whether that made them better or worse is probably a personal preference.

Phillies 7, Cubs 4: Chicago splits the four-game series with the Phillies. After the game Joe Maddon said “I’m just glad we’re not in the same division as the Phillies.” I realize the Phillies won the season series against Chicago, but I feel like Maddon, if he were being completely honest, would be just fine with being in the same division as Philly this year. Anyone would, as they’re the worst team in baseball. I’ve noticed this year that postgame praise for the other team like that has spiked to unprecedented levels. You see it all the time now, whether the other team or any opposing player is truly good or not. “We got some hits against a tough pitcher,” someone will say after beating a merely adequate pitcher. “You don’t just come in here and win these games easily,” someone will say after beating a team a lot of people beat easily. I guess it’s just the sort of politeness grease that makes the world go ’round and, in baseball, that sort of respect for the other side is more ingrained in the culture of the game than it is in society in general. But it is pretty remarkable.

Mets 10, Braves 7: Holy crap the Braves’ bullpen is awful. They took a three-run lead into the ninth and blew it and then gave up three runs in the tenth, warmly inviting the Mets to win their seventh straight game. All of those runs came with two outs too. It was their first four-game sweep of the Braves since July 23, 1989. Which was nine days after I got my driver’s license The Braves have lost 12 in a row at home which is sort of re-defining bad.

Red Sox 2, Rays 0Rusney Castillo hit a two-run single in the 13th inning. Rich Hill was dominant in his first start since 2009, tossing seven shutout innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out 10. Imagine doing anything you used to do a lot for the first time in six years.

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 0:  Dustin Ackley homered and had three RBI and R.A. Dickey lost for the first time since before the All-Star break. A much-needed win for the Yankees, stopping a five-game losing streak. Still a bad weekend in the Bronx, dropping three of four to the Blue Jays.

Cardinals 9, Reds 2: The Cards had lost right of ten going into this one, but Tommy Pham hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the sixth inning and the Cards really poured it on in the eighth with five runs. St. Louis avoids a sweep and remains two and a half in front of Pittsburgh.

Nationals 5, Marlins 0: Stop me if you’ve heard this but a team a lot of people thought was going to make the playoffs avoided a sweep. Max Scherzer tossed eight shutout innings and struck out six. Bryce Harper left the game in the first inning after colliding with Marlins second baseman Derek Dietrich. He said he felt dizzy afterward, so he’s in concussion test land now.

Pirates 7, Brewers 6: The Pirates rallied from a five-run deficit to force extra innings and then Josh Harrison walked them off in the 11th inning. The Buccos take three of four from Milwaukee who, before Friday’s game anyway, had owned the Pirates this year. I guess, in that case, it’d be OK for that “praise the otherwise bad team after the game” thing if Clint Hurdle did it, as the Brewers have almost single-handedly kept the Pirates from overtaking the Cardinals.

Giants 10, Padres 3Mike Leake finally won a game for the Giants. And he hit a three-run homer too. The Giants sweep the Padres and win their sixth game in the last eight. It’s a little too late for them, though, as they remain seven and a half back in both the division and the wild card.

Rockies 3, Mariners 2: Colorado scored twice on a Kyle Seager throwing error and got two outs on a defensive gem of their own. Check this out:

Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 3: Zack Greinke pitched eight scoreless innings to lower his ERA to a crazy 1.61. A.J. Ellis homered and Adrian Gonzalez had three hits

Orioles 8, Royals 2: Over his past 5 starts, Johnny Cueto has allowed 28 earned runs in 26 and a third innings. Not exactly what the Royals had in mind when they traded for him.

Mark Teixeira has a fractured leg; is done for the season

Mark Teixeira Yankees
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Mark Teixeira‘s “deep bone bruise” is worse than that: the Yankees just announced that he has a leg fracture. To his shin, specifically. He’s done for the year.

Yesterday, after some rest, Teixeira was quoted as saying that his leg simply “didn’t work” anymore. This would explain why. Brian Cashman just told the media that it’s not clear why this was not detected before, but that he suspects it has been fractured all along.

His season has been a fantastic one. He was hitting .255/.357/.548 with 31 homers when he went down. That’s far better than what anyone could’ve expected and one which has helped the Yankees to get where they are now, in playoff position. But now it’s over and Greg Bird and, perhaps, Chase Headley, will have to carry first base the rest of the way.

The recovery period for the fracture is three months, so Teixeira should be fine for spring training.