Three teams later, Yoenis Cespedes is back in the playoffs. La Potencia finally put together his true breakout season in 2015, after being dealt during the offseason from the Red Sox to the Tigers. Cespedes was good for Detroit, quite a bit better than he'd been in 2013 and 2014, and when the Tigers fell out of the race they sent him to the New York Mets as a two-month rental. Cespedes exploded for the Mets down the stretch, posting a 157 OPS+ and 17 homers in 57 games -- in September, he homered in 9 of the first 13 games. All told, it was a 6-WAR season, easily making him a top-10 position player in MLB, and his presence absolutely helped the Mets push past the Nationals and earn the division title. This is the kind of season that it always felt like Yo was having, but that he'd never actually had until 2015.
It's impossible to see Cespedes in the playoffs and not think back to what might have been. But don't do it. It's not worth the heartache. The past is the past, and the present includes a fun matchup of Cespedes against Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in the world. That will be excellent baseball, and you should enjoy it.
Beyond Cespedes, here are the other former Oakland A's in the series (more words coming on them soon, but I want to at least get the thread posted):
Tyler Clippard, RP: I find a certain satisfaction in the fact that all three veterans the A's traded at the deadline made the playoffs with their new teams. It doesn't necessarily mean anything -- Kazmir didn't do much to help the Astros, and Clippard himself was just a decent relief presence for the Mets and not a driving force behind their success. But if you're gonna be a seller, wouldn't you rather see your old players succeed than fall short?
After being slightly underwhelming (but still good) in Oakland, Clippard was just a tiny notch worse than that in New York. He made it into 32 games and posted a 3.06 ERA, but his K/9 rate dropped from 8.8 to 7.2 (though his walks also went down, and his K/BB actually improved). He's still effective, but he's just not the pitcher he used to be in his prime, when he used to strike out 10 or 11 batters per nine innings. He saw 12 save situations for the Mets and converted 10 of them (8 holds, 2 saves).
Bartolo Colon, RP: Baseball is better when Colon is involved. If the Mets get knocked out, I think MLB should let him switch to a different team for the rest of the postseason, just so he can continue to be involved. In the meantime, he did not crack New York's playoff rotation, so if we see him then it will be out of the pen. Or, if the world is a good place, then perhaps as a pinch-hitter. Or, if the world is a great place, then perhaaaaps as a pinch-runner. But most likely reliever, and to be honest even that is not likely unless a Mets starter gets knocked out early. Bartolo made 31 starts at age 42, nearly reached 200 innings, and managed an ERA+ of 89. And, in true Colon fashion, he had the lowest walk rate in the league (2.8%, 1.1 BB/9) and a career-best 5.67 K/BB ratio. But the best stat? He batted .138 (8-for-58).
Sandy Alderson, GM: This is Alderson's fifth season as the Mets general manager, and there's no doubt the franchise has gotten back on track since he took over. Though Matt Harvey and and Jacob deGrom were drafted before he arrived, he did add to them by acquiring Noah Syndergaard (and catcher Travis d'Arnaud) in the excellent R.A. Dickey trade and by taking a relatively cheap flier on the reliable Colon. And of course, he nailed it with the Cespedes acquisition. Getting the Mets to the postseason is no small task -- this is only the 8th time in their 54-year history -- and Sandy has now done it.
Note: Eric O'Flaherty is not on the roster after posting a 13.50 ERA in 16 games, and Jerry Blevins is on the 60-day DL
Brett Anderson, SP: He finally did it. He finally made 31 starts, after making 30 only once before as a rookie in 2009. He finally threw 180 innings, with one out to spare even. His ERA+ was 101, totally acceptable (3.60 ERA). His K/9 dipped to 5.8, but he was never a high-strikeout guy anyway (career rate of 6.7). He racked up 1.6 bWAR, 1.7 fWAR. He's not the ace we hoped he would be, and who knows if he ever will be after all those injuries, but he's only 30 years old. Just kidding, he's only 27 years old. (I didn't think you'd believe me unless I started off with a higher number and then worked down.) He's slated to start Game 3 against Harvey.
Andre Ethier, OF: He never actually played for the A's, but we all know his story. He was a good prospect who was shipped to the Dodgers for Milton Bradley, who contributed positively to an Oakland playoff team but then moved on in a characteristically angry exit. Meanwhile, Ethier enjoyed a fine 10-year career (and counting) with the Dodgers, knocking 159 homers and racking up a 122 OPS+ and 22 bWAR. (... And earning $77 million so far, with at least $38 million more coming.)
Farhan Zaidi, GM: Yep, both general managers in this series used to work for the A's, Alderson as Billy Beane's predecessor and Zaidi as Beane's assistant. This is Zaidi's first season in charge of the Dodgers, so he hasn't had much of a chance to leave his mark yet. Honestly, though, I wasn't a huge fan of his trade deadline. which pretty much amounted to adding Alex Wood and Chase Utley while taking on a ton of salary, but we'll see what happens. Lately, it seems like the teams who win it all are the ones who just make one or two small moves at the deadline.
Note: Brandon McCarthy is on the 60-day DL
As for rooting interest, I think I can really just sit back and enjoy this one either way. The Mets are like the A's cousins on the East Coast, as the "other" team in their market dominated by a Goliath favorite, and all they ask is to come up for air once every 15 years or so any make an exciting run to at least reach the World Series. It's about that time for them, having last made it in 2000.
Meanwhile, a Dodgers title would have maximum Giants-trolling potential. I also tend to root, in an overall sense, for great players to get at least one ring in their careers, and Kershaw and Greinke are a pair of greats who need to eventually get one. May as well be now while they're each peaking. In the end, I don't really want the NL to win the World Series unless it's the Cubs, so neither of these teams will be my picks all the way through. Whatever happens happens, and hopefully the winner either beats the Cardinals or loses to the Cubs in the NLCS.
|NEW YORK METS||LOS ANGELES DODGERS|
|Curtis Granderson - RF||Carl Crawford - LF|
|David Wright - 3B||Howie Kendrick - 2B|
|Yoenis Cespedes - CF||Corey Seager - SS|
|Daniel Murphy - 2B||Adrian Gonzalez - 1B|
|Travis d'Arnaud - C||Justin Turner - 3B|
|Lucas Duda - 1B||Andre Ethier - RF|
|Michael Cuddyer - LF||A.J. Ellis - C|
|Ruben Tejada - SS||Joc Pederson - CF|
|Jacob deGrom - RHP||Clayton Kershaw - LHP|