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Saturday, 15 April 2023 01:19

New York Mets fans should be grateful for what they've got

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New York Mets fans should be careful what they wish for.

Sign that guy! Re-sign this guy! You just never know. The decline of Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger, and Javy Baez…should be enough proof as to why long-term commitments are a huge risk.

Not too long ago Yelich, Bellinger, and Baez were three of the hottest commodities in Major League Baseball.

Christian Yelich

Yelich came up in 2013 at the age of 21 and spent five seasons with the Miami Marlins. He showed he could hit right away, and showed steady improvement every season, finally finding his power stroke hitting 21 and 18 homers in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Yelich was rescued from the Marlins by the Milwaukee Brewers before the 2018 season and blossomed into a star, and hit a league-leading .326 along with a .402 OBP, he smacked 36 HR and drove in 110 runs, and also led the NL in OPS, slugging percentage, and total bases. Yelich was named the NL MVP after the 2018 campaign.

He followed up the 2018 season and was even better. He clubbed 44 homers and drove in 97 runs. But, for the second consecutive season, he led the league in hitting, this time with a .329 average, while also leading the league in OBP, slugging, and OPS. Regardless, he ended up finishing second in the 2019 MVP voting to, who else? Cody Bellinger. But we’ll get back to that soon.

The 2020 season saw Yelich drop to .205 with 12 HR and 22 RBI in 58 games. Perhaps if he had the full season to turn things around…but that’s one hell of a drop to recover from.

The 2021 season wasn’t much better, as Yelich hit .248 with 9 HR and 51 RBI in 117 games.  And just to prove the point, 2022 didn’t dispel the concerns. In 154 games, Yelich hit 14 HR and knocked in 57 runs while batting .252.

In 11 games in 2023, the 31-year-old Yelich is 10 for 44 with a single homer.

Cody Bellinger

In 2017, at the age of 21, Bellinger had an amazing season for the Dodgers hitting 39 homers and driving in 97 runs while hitting .267. He was named to the All-Star team and won the Rookie of the Year Award.

The next season he dropped off a bit, was still extremely productive hitting .260 with 25 HR and 76 RBI.

But in 2019, he broke out and hit .305 with a .406 OBP, slugging 47 home runs and driving in 115 runs, and leading the National League in total bases. Bellinger was named the NL’s MVP.

And then there was 2020. The shortened season was frustrating and Bellinger struggled to a .239 average, although his totals of 12 homers and 30 RBI in 56 games is not really that bad. Really bad is what came next.

In 2021, Bellinger was unrecognizable…it was embarrassing. He hit .165 with 10 HR and 36 RBI in 95 games, striking out an alarming 94 times in 315 at bats. It was not MUCH better in 2022, even though a 45 point jump in batting average is usually a good sign…but not when you jump all the way up to .210. He did hit 19 HR and drive in 68 runs but it just became too painful to watch.

The Dodgers cut the player who they had tried to build the team around. And Bellinger, at age 27, hooked on with the Cubs.

So far in 2023, Cody is 8 for 39 with a homer in 10 games.

Javy Baez

Javier Baez made his Major League debut for the Chicago Cubs at 21 years of age. He was raw, but he showed huge amounts of talents. A shortstop with power and speed, and a rocket arm. Everybody wanted him in a trade. In fact, the New York Yankees were adamant that they wanted Baez but, instead, got Gleybor Torres.

The Cubs were loaded with young talent…with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo at the corners. But they had a dearth of middle infielders with Starlin Castro and Addison Russell already succeeding on the Major League level, and Torres and Baez waiting in the wings.

When the Cubs brought in veteran Ben Zobrist for the 2016 season, it looked like Baez would be stuck. But he played a utility role and actually got into 142 games and provided a great spark…hitting 273 with 14 HR and 59 RBI, with 12 SB.

Baez became the starting second baseman, pairing with Russell for the 2018 and he had a breakout season clubbing 34 dingers and driving in 111 while hitting .290. He also struck out a whopping 167 times. He made his first All-Star team and garnered a Silver Slugger Award as well.

Baez and Russell flip-flopped with Baez taking over his more familiar shortstop position. His production was down a bit, but still impressive - .281 avg., 29 HR, 81 RBI.

But, then, the 2020 season came and Baez just couldn’t get it going. He finished at .205 with 8 HR and 24 RBI in 59 games.

Baez seemed to get it back in gear in 2021, his walk year with the Cubs, as he banged out 22 HR and 65 RBI in 91 games for the Cubs. But…he was also striking out at an unbelievably alarming rate, whiffing 131 times in 361 at bats.

When Baez’s closest friend, Francisco Lindor went down with an injury, the Mets took a flyer on Baez. And when Lindor returned, Baez happily moved over to second base to team with his buddy. Baez produced a .299 average with 9 HR, 22 RBI, and 53 K’s in 47 games with the Mets.

After the season, the Mets passed on re-signed Baez…as did every other team…except for the Detroit Tigers when they came in and made a later offer for once the most sought after middle infielder in baseball. Baez had his difficulties in his first year in a Tiger uniform, batting .238 with 17 HR and 67 RBI in 555 at bats over the course of 144 games.

In 11 games in 2023 Baez is 4 for 40 with no HR for the Tigers.

Baez had the audacity to give the New York Mets fans the “thumbs down” when they were booing. Now we are giving YOU the thumbs down.

Yoenis Cespedes…remember him? He carried the Mets on his back straight to the 2015 World Series. The Mets rewarded him…twice. The fans clamored for his return. But he never proved his worth after signing those new contracts.

And don’t forget Jason Bay. We all wanted him. And how did THAT turn out?

Everyone was screaming about the departure of Jacob deGrom. The reality is that there is no guarantee, there never is, that a contract will work out. Perhaps it will in the short term…but very rarely does it ever work out long-term. I am cringing saying this…but…BUT…even the David Wright contract turned out to be a bad contract.

So what may be a bargain today, what may be great today…might turn out to be a dud later.

Again, just to reiterate…In 11 games in 2023, Yelich is 10 for 44 with a single homer for the Brewers; Bellinger is 8 for 39 with a homer in 10 games for the Cubs; and Baez is 4 for 40 with no HR for the Tigers in 11 games.

Anyone interested? In any of them?

Read 1006 times Last modified on Saturday, 15 April 2023 18:50
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Alan Karmin is an award-winning journalist and author. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and spent most of his life growing up in the New Jersey suburbs. Alan's family were avid Brooklyn Dodgers fans and when the Dodgers moved west, the Mets became the team to root for. The Mets have always been a true focal point, Alan even wrote a term paper in high school to analyze what was wrong with the Mets. While at the University of Miami, Alan honed his craft covering the, gulp, Yankees during spring trainings in Fort Lauderdale for a local NBC affiliate, as well as the Associated Press and UPI. He broadcasted baseball games for the University of Miami, and spring training games for the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos. New York Mets Mania is a forum for Alan to write about his favorite team and for baseball fans to chime in and provide their thoughts and ideas about New York's Amazin' Mets.