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

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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.

Report: Nationals to call up prospect Carter Kieboom

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Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals will promote middle infield prospect Carter Kieboom to the majors ahead of Friday’s game against the Padres. The Nationals are currently dealing with injuries to shortstop Trea Turner and third baseman Anthony Rendon, so the club hopes Kieboom can help the team tread water at the very least.

Kieboom, 21, was selected by the Nationals in the first round (28th overall) in the 2016 draft. MLB Pipeline currently rates him No. 2 in the Nationals’ system and No. 37 overall. Kieboom has played both second base and shortstop this season after exclusively playing shortstop previously in his professional career.

With Triple-A Fresno to start the 2019 season, Kieboom hit .379/.506/.636 with three homers, 18 RBI, and 14 runs scored in 83 plate appearances.