In re-signing Yoenis Cespedes to a three-year, $75 million contract the Mets sacrificed some defense by committing to use him as their starting center field, but it turns out Cespedes sacrificed something too: He’d rather be playing left field.
Cespedes has made it clear that he’s got zero problem playing center field, but also told Marly Rivera of ESPN.com:
If I had the choice, I would stay in left field. But I will play where the team needs me. If they want me to play center field, I’ll play center field, and I’ll do the best I can. When I came here [to MLB] in 2012, I started playing center field. But that same year I moved to left field. That was a little difficult, but I got used to it already. Now I feel much more comfortable in left field. But my mind, and I’ve always said, if you are a good outfielder, you can play most positions.
New York has Curtis Granderson in right field and Michael Conforto in left field, so Cespedes playing center field most days is a huge part of their roster construction. And having his bat in the lineup at a premium position is a huge part of what makes him such an impact player, even if he’s giving back some runs on defense.
For his career Cespedes has started 382 games in left field, 104 games in center field, and 77 games at designated hitter. This season, assuming the Mets stick with their current plan, Cespedes’ breakdown figures to be about three-fourths center field and one-fourth left field.
Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com tweeted this morning that all major league broadcasters — TV and radio — have been told that they will be calling all 2020 road games from local broadcast studios or the home ballpark via a monitor as opposed to traveling with the team.
I have two thoughts on this.
First: it’ll probably be fine. There may be some lower energy because a crowd and live action pumps up broadcasters just as much as it does players, but I think the pros will adjust. We’ve seen this in the Olympics and it has worked. ESPN is doing it with KBO games right now. It’s doable.
Theres’s also a risk, I think, that the lack of immediacy on the part of the broadcasters could potentially lend itself to more of a talk show vibe and less attention to the game at hand. Still, I think the better broadcasters will stay on task and good producers will help even the ones most tempted to gab guard against doing so. They’re not ESPN broadcasters, after all. Almost all local broadcasters do a good job of focusing on the game, not chatting for chatting’s sake.
Second: I suspect that a good number of networks will stick to the “call the game from home” model beyond 2020 if it proves to be anything other than a disaster. It’s expensive to broadcast games from on-site, and if they can save the money on that I bet they’d like to. No one would ever be willing to be a first mover on that kind of thing for fear of appearing cheap, but if everyone is forced to do it everyone will be looking very hard at the feasibility of doing it long term.
Anyway, this season — if there’s a season — road games are gonna feel a bit different at first.