Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Yoenis Cespedes: ‘This team is way better than the team we had in 2015’

5 Comments

Before the start of the regular season, we usually get a shocking proclamation or two from players across the sport. This year, it’s Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Per Tim Britton of The Athletic, Cespedes said, “This team is way better than the team we had in 2015.”

The 2015 Mets, of course, made it all the way to the World Series where they lost in five games to the Royals. Cespedes joined the club at the trade deadline when the Mets sent Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa to the Tigers. Cespedes hit 17 home runs and knocked in 44 runs in his two months with the Mets through the end of the regular season. But that club not only had Cespedes, but a healthy and elite Matt Harvey. Jacob deGrom followed up his Rookie of the Year Award-winning 2014 campaign with an even better 2015. Noah Syndergaard impressed as a rookie. Closer Jeurys Familia had the best season of his career. Lucas Duda had another terrific offensive season. Michael Conforto was highly productive as a rookie.

Overall, the 2015 squad scored 683 runs and allowed 613. Baseball Prospectus is projecting the 2018 Mets to score 722 runs and allow 727. While the 2015 squad had some weaknesses, they were few and far between. The Mets are notably weak at first base this year with Adrian Gonzalez, potentially in the final year of his career. Amed Rosario is still an unknown after a weak debut last season. The catching unit of Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki is below average. The starting rotation is among the most fragile in baseball.

I appreciate the motivation behind Cespedes saying what he said. He wants to energize his teammates, give them confidence going into a new season. But objectively, this team has far more negatives than the 2015 team did. That’s why in my 2018 preview I predicted them to go 79-83 and finish in third place. Baseball Prospectus is expecting an 80-82 finish while FanGraphs is putting them at 81-81.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
Getty Images
2 Comments

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The players association said Wednesday night it was dismayed by the length of the ban.

“While we understand the concerns raised by the league with respect to a bench-clearing incident during this challenging season, we’re disappointed by the decision,” the union said. “It was an unfair result for Joe Kelly given the cases presented.”

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty that was first reported by Barstool Sports.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.