Juan “DL” Lagares Strains Oblique, Out Forever

It’s the final week of Spring Training and you know what that means for the Mets. Everyone starts going down with injuries. The Final Destination injury ride begins now and never stops until the season is over.

It started with Brandon Nimmo tweaking his hamstring in the World Baseball Classic two weeks ago. The team said he was day-to-day. I don’t think Nimmo has even tried to run yet. At the time of that injury I wrote that Nimmo and Juan Lagares were going to form the most injury-plagued center field platoon in the league in 2018. And then right on cue Juan Lagares goes down with a strained oblique and leaves us with 36 year old Curtis Granderson as our only center fielder.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen this movie before, but Juan is out forever. That oblique will be barking all season. He’ll rush back and re-strain it. Then we’ll see him in August if we’re lucky. That Lagares contract turned out to be a terrible mistake. He really can’t stay healthy or hit. I’m not an advanced scout, but those feel like two pretty important qualities for a baseball player no? He never had the Juanny John surgery on his torn throwing elbow ligament. He was Juanny One Thumb for the entire 2016 season once he tore his thumb ligament. He’s seemingly strained just about every muscle in his body over the last few seasons.

To be honest, I’m not that upset with Nimmo and Juan being removed from the Opening Day roster equation. This should ensure that Michael Conforto makes the team which should have been the case no matter what considering Conforto has had an incredible Grapefruit League campaign. The Mets should just put Conforto in center field and right field and play him regularly while giving old man Grandy, barking quad Cespedes, and slow poke Jay Bruce plenty of days off. It’s a no brainer.

David Wright is gone. Juanny and Nimmo are gone. Travis d’Arnaud must be hiding and trembling in the clubhouse because everyone knows that the Mets’ injury Final Destination train is coming for him next. Unless fate decides to skip over the position players and turn to the pitching staff next…

Cold Stove Update: Mets Ask Santa For Cash

If you’re looking for an update on the Mets’ offseason since they paid Yoenis Cespedes, don’t get too excited. In fact, don’t get excited at all. Nothing has happened. Sandy Alderson basically went to the Winter Meetings last week, ate the hotel continental breakfast for a few days, and then flew right back to New York. Sandy said the Mets can’t make any moves until they find a team willing to take the 13 million dollar Jay Bruce salary off our hands. Clearly the days of worrying about our mid-market payroll are behind us.

Cold Stove Quick Hits:

Christmas Party: The Mets held their annual Christmas Party this week and decided to anoint Noah Syndergaard as the next cursed Santa Claus. Sandy Alderson was seen at the event trying to dump Jay Bruce in a Toys for Tots bin.

Pray and Wish: At the Mets Christmas Party, Thor said all he wants for Christmas is a World Series. It’s a good thing that he’s motivated because Sandy and Co. are clearly showing that their strategy for 2017 is to pray that all of our young pitchers will be healthy. In other words, rather than actually improving the team this offseason, the Mets are asking Jesus and Santa Claus for help.

MLB Anti-Hazing Policy: This week, MLB unveiled a new policy banning “offensive” hazing practices specifically those that involve dressing teammates as women. No word from Donald Trump yet on the decision but expect to see tweets about “soft Manfred” and “the failing MLB” any day now.

David Wright’s Road To Retirement: David Wright is reportedly simulating baseball activities but has not swung a bat yet. He’s been “getting in a crouch” and “moving laterally”. Basically he gingerly slides from one end of the couch to the other and occasionally bends over to pick up a chip if he drops one on the floor. I’d like to think that if David Wright retired tomorrow the Mets would spend his salary on roster upgrades. But who am I kidding. The Wilpons are already banking on spending the Wright insurance money on Yo’s salary.

World Baseball Classic: Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto are reportedly on the preliminary roster for Team Italy, Asdrubal Cabrera is planning to play for Venezuela and Jeurys Familia wants to pitch for the Dominican Republic. You’ve got to love the idea of Ol’ Bum Knee Cabrera playing extremely competitive games in March when he limped through a third of the regular season last year. Conforto better hope Jay Bruce doesn’t have an Italian Great Grandfather otherwise he might wind up benched for the World Baseball Classic too.

Juanny Bum Shoulder: Juan Lagares strained his shoulder diving for a ball in the Dominican Winter League. Apparently he’s fine. Juanny better have a big 2017. He hasn’t done a damn thing since his breakout year in 2014 other than hurt his elbow and his thumb and now his shoulder. If he has another injury filled season, that extension we gave him will wind up looking horrible.

Nationals Striking Out Non-Stop: Other than the Mets signing Yo, the best news of the offseason has been that the Nationals have failed in almost every single one of their attempts to land players. They failed to land Cespedes, Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon. The list goes on and on.

Mr. Tingles: Matt Harvey said his arm is no longer tingling and he’s feeling strong as he recovers from his surgery. If Matt Harvey wins comeback player of the year and Noah Syndergaard continues to be a pitching machine then the 2017 Mets really will be in great shape. Pray.

Charges Dropped: The domestic violence charges against Jeurys Familia were officially dropped because as I’ve said many times on this site, the charges always get dropped or settled out of court. If you want to know what will happen next, just check out my post that I wrote the day this story broke. It’s the same exact cycle every single time. Familia will get a slap on the wrist suspension for allegedly assaulting his wife. Meanwhile Jenrry Mejia is locked up in a cell in the dungeons at MLB headquarters for taking a little testosterone.

Goodbye Juanny One Thumb

I pointed out in my postgame recap that Juan Lagares has been horrendous since his return from the DL on account of his one functioning thumb. Well three hours later he’s on the DL and likely to get season ending surgery on his torn thumb ligament. Brandon Nimmo is coming up. Now we wave bye bye to Ol’ Juanny One Thumb!!!

Yoenis Cespedes says he can’t play center field anymore. Curtis Granderson isn’t a center fielder. The Mets are forcing Michael Conforto to “learn” the position on the fly. It seems our elite coaching staff has discovered a way to somehow teach Conforto athleticism. Assuming you’re as skeptical of that plan as I am, you’ve probably done the latest center field math. Without Juan we are left with…zero actual center fielders!!! Oh wait I forgot about De Aza. He’s our new hottest hitter. Phew. That’s promising. This team is really on the upswing.

RIP David Wright. RIP Matt Harvey. RIP Juan Lagares. RIP Jose Reyes? Soon enough. RIP season? Not yet. But it’s getting closer. This team is so screwed. The season’s not really over until we’re saying RIP Yoenis Cespedes. There may not be much time left for Ol’ Quadless Yo. The guy’s limping around like Kirk Gibson in 1988.

Panic City is on fire. I just finished looting a convenience store in the heart of town on the corner of Tommy John Scare Boulevard and Jose Reyes Hamstring Memorial Avenue. I’m heading down to Panic City Hall to torch the place. The “fire everyone” protestors are flooding the streets. The clock is ticking on the 2016 season. Tick…tick…tick…

Michael Conforto in Center Field Is Bananas

Let me start by saying I fully understand the Mets current predicament. Yoenis Cespedes is playing injured. His legs are sore, and he has stated openly and on the record that playing center field has contributed to his leg problems. As a result of that assertion, the Mets have no choice but to accommodate Cespedes’ request and play him more often in the corner outfield to keep him in the lineup.

I also understand the notion that Cespedes isn’t really a true center fielder, and according to the advanced defensive metrics he hasn’t been that great defensively out there this season anyway. Therefore, if we were willing to play Yo in center field and sacrifice defense, why wouldn’t we be willing to try someone else out there and make a similar sacrifice? I get how someone could come to that conclusion. Unfortunately, that conclusion makes no sense when the “someone” we plan to use in center field is Michael Conforto.

Michael Conforto in center field just feels like something the Mets would try and completely bungle. It’s so Mets. My biggest concern with even entertaining the notion of Conforto in center field is he’s 23 years old, never played the position, and just got sent down to the minors for hitting struggles. Hitting is supposed to be his strength. Hitting is what comes natural to him, and he’s struggled with that at the major league level in 2016. And those struggles are completely understandable for a young player. Now we are going to ask him to figure out hitting as well as learn a position that requires arguably the most athleticism of all the places in the field? It’s borderline unfair to ask Conforto to learn a new position when he’s still learning to hit MLB pitching.

I’m not saying Conforto wouldn’t be able to eventually succeed in center. But this just reeks of a failed Mets experiment that sets a young player’s development back. Let’s teach Jose Reyes a different running style! Let’s move Reyes to second base and make room for Kaz Matsui! For God’s sake, Lucas Duda still wakes up in cold sweats after having nightmares where he’s hurriedly retrieving balls in the left field corner as runners are rounding third and heading home. The Duda outfield experiment screwed with Lucas at the plate, and as a result it took years for the Mets to see what he was fully capable of in the batter’s box. But Conforto in center field sounds great. I’m sure it’ll be different.

I get that Curtis Granderson can’t effectively play the position anymore. He can’t cover the ground in center and doesn’t have the arm. Unfortunately, this whole outfield debacle really exposes one big issue that we’ve all been ignoring/pretending doesn’t exist. If Cespedes opts-out and the Mets pony up the dough to keep him, they have to trade Curtis Granderson for a player that fits better on this roster. I love Grandy. He’s one of the best players on the team and a class act off the field. I don’t want to get rid of him at all. But if Yo can only play the corner then there’s no place for Grandy.

As far as this season goes, there’s only one real answer. If Cespedes can only play center field once or twice a week, then Juan Lagares gets the rest of the starts. That’s the only real option. I realize the plan was to have Juan platoon against lefties. Well throw that plan out the window because having Cespedes in the lineup is the only thing that matters.

Frankly, I’m not quite sure why this is even being made out to be an emergency situation. Michael Conforto wasn’t hitting when he was demoted. We crowned him as our number three hitter before he even had a chance to get fully acquainted with big league pitching. But he’s struggled this season, so why are we rushing to reconfigure our defensive alignment to “get his bat in there”? We’ve tried every configuration imaginable this season, and the team has still failed to produce with runners in scoring position.

The idea of giving Juan Lagares more at-bats and starting him more often in center field down the stretch doesn’t scare me at all. I actually like the idea of prioritizing defense the rest of the season. Our young studs are pitching through elbow bone spurs. Matt Harvey is out for the season. That should mean strikeouts will be down and more balls will be in play. Let’s see how many runs Lagares can save with a healthy throwing arm (let’s just pretend he has two healthy thumbs). Let’s not forget the Mets paid Lagares. We need to determine if he really is the future full time center fielder who will be flanked by Conforto and Cespedes for years to come. There’s no better time to assess that than the present.

Reed and Familia Are Pretty Prettay Good

Final Score: Mets 5, Phillies 3

I don’t care that we’re playing the Phillies. A win to start play right after the All-Star Break is fantastic. In fact, the games against the Phillies are the must win affairs. We need to at least outplay the “bad teams” the rest of the way. Even if the “bad teams” aren’t that far behind us in the NL East standings.

Juanny One Thumb: Yoenis Cespedes didn’t start because his quad is still bothering him. But Juan Lagares stepped up in his place. He smashed a solo shot in the third inning to make it 1-0. A big second half from Juanny One Thumb would do a lot to help this team make a playoff run. He’s capable of being a spark in the field and at the plate. He’s not usually a spark on the base paths because he’s slow as hell. But even in this game he had an impact on the bases. In the 7th inning he stole a key base after he led off with a walk, and he ultimately scored the fifth run for the Mets in that inning on a Jose Reyes grounder. The Phillies threw home and Juanny beat the throw.

Walkyear Back On: Neil Walker was smoking hot in April. Then he cooled off in May and was awful in June. Last night he hit the game winning 3-run shot off of Jeremy Hellickson in the 6th inning. It would be nice if the Walkyear level of production that Neil had in April is back for the second half. Then maybe some pressure can be lifted off of Cespedes’ shoulders.

Hit A Wall: Bartolo Colon was untouchable until the bottom of the 6th inning. Then the wheels fell off. James Loney made a throwing error that let Odubel Herrera reach base with one out. Then Peter Bourjos tripled in a run, Maikel Franco hit an RBI groundout, and Cody Asche singled in a run. Bartolo was yanked when the game was 4-3.

Reed/Familia Es Muy Nasty: The Mets were fortunate that the pen gave them 3.1 innings of scoreless relief. But Hansel Robles and Jerry Blevins didn’t exactly make it easy for us. Terry was forced to go to Addison Reed with two outs in the 7th and he dominated like he has all season. Jeurys Familia was super nasty in the 9th inning, and he slammed the door. It may make sense for us to trade for one more reliable reliever (and a starter and a bat).

Cubano: The Mets didn’t get the new Cuban Yulieski Gurriel. I wrote about it here. What a joke.

Today: Today Logan Verrett gets another chance to convince the Mets we don’t need to trade for a starter before the trade deadline. Let’s see what he’s got.

Juan Lagares Tears His Completely Useless Opposable Thumb

Well as we all expected, the MRI results are in and Juan Lagares has a torn ligament in his thumb. But don’t worry folks. The Mets doctors say he can play through it without a problem. Opposable thumbs. Who the hell needs them? They’re just the primary characteristic that differentiates primates from all other animals. No big deal for Juan. Now he has a torn ligament in his thumb to match the already partially torn UCL in his elbow. If anything, a torn thumb is a benefit. It’ll help distract him from all the pain when he makes throws from the outfield. This is my fault by the way. I wrote about how Juan Lagares has excelled in his role as a reserve platoon outfielder. I just started to talk about it with friends too. And just like that boom. He’s out forever.

Also, the Mets doctors said that Juan has torn a ligament in his thumb, will try to play through it, but may need surgery. It’s just our medical staff doing their classic meteorologist impression. They look at the MRI, squint and say “Ehh that’s looking like a partial injury with a 20% chance of surgery”. Do yourself a favor Juan and run away. Run away and get secret surgery like Carlos Beltran. And when you’re running, make sure you don’t dive and tear your other freaking thumb. On one of the few leaping catch attempts he’s made all season, he instantly tears his thumb. Unreal. No more diving for this team. Diving is banned. We suck on defense anyway. Just let everything drop.

So now the Mets will do their favorite thing. The Mets are going to rest Juan for 2-3 days and then see if he can play with the injury. That’s the plan. So we will play short-handed all week. Then Juan Lagares will pinch hit at the end of the week, check his swing, wince in pain, his thumb will fall off, and he’ll go on the DL anyway. Good thing we have Alejandro De Aza man. See this is why you need a roster with 25 major league caliber players. And if you’re the Mets, you need 40 major league caliber players because half of them are in body bags before the 4th of July.

Pray for Yoenis Cespedes. The body count is rising non-stop. Valar Morghulis.