Good? Bad? Probably ugly: Yoenis Cespedes at first base

Contrary to popular belief, Yoenis Cespedes has not dropped off the face of the Earth. Apparently, he’s been rehabbing and is about to start playing games in the minors. Under normal circumstances, this would be good news, a heartwarming tale of the Mets’ best hitter getting primed to lead them back to – this should be tempered, considering the god-awful baseball this team has given us this year – respectability. That might be too strong; maybe they should shoot for mediocrity first, then take it from there. But these are not normal circumstances. 2018 is shaping to be one of the more gruesome seasons in Mets history – and that’s saying a lot, considering Mets history. The Cespedes situation is no different. Yes, he’ll be playing rehab games, but the word is he’ll be playing first base.

Now, I understand the couple of pros about it: it keeps his bat in the lineup while leaving Brandon Nimmo in the “regular” outfield configuration and it will likely save wear and tear on his fragile quads and hips. Besides, with the Mets so far down in the MLB dungeon, now would be a safe time to experiment with something like this. The problem is, this sort of thing never seems to go well. If you’re over a certain age, you’ll no doubt recall the switch of Mike Piazza from catcher to first. That whole transition was handled spectacularly badly, but we’re not sure by whom – was it ownership? GM Steve Phillips? Or manager Art Howe? Any one of these parts was capable of screwing it up. For his part, Piazza was eager to give it a go, but he wasn’t exactly Keith Hernandez or Mark Teixeira out there and the bungling of it was another in a long string of #LOLMets. One would also have to wonder what kind of message this sends. Most of the time, a player will shift to first at the end of his career. You can picture them in your mind’s eye: Hall-of-Famers like Piazza, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Frank Robinson. First base has always been a safe haven in the National League and in the days of no DH. But that’s at the end of a career. Cespedes has been in the majors for seven years and he’ll turn 33 in October. Are the Mets telling us he’s looking at the end of the line? Do they consider him an “old” 33? Are his wheels so flat that he’s got to park at first? And if the answer to all that is “yes,” they’re paying him an awful lot of money on the way to the ol’ folks’ home: $60 million over the next two years. Heck, we don’t even know if Cespedes can play the position. The experiment will; be short lived if he stumbles around like Marv Throneberry out there. And what happens when/if Jay Bruce, another converted outfielder, comes back? And what does this say about what management — such as it is — thinks about the career arc of Dominic Smith? There are so many moving parts to this thing, it hardly seems worth the effort.

Odds are, it won’t be the smoothest transition we’ve ever seen – it’s the Mets, after all. It’s the motto of the Mets fan, chiseled onto every tombstone:

“Expect the worst and hope for the best.”

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.

9 comments for “Good? Bad? Probably ugly: Yoenis Cespedes at first base

  1. Madman
    July 19, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Flores?Smith? Alonso? Hey, Ces makes sense. Nimmo and Conforto in the corners and get a real CFer to put between them.j

  2. Steevy
    July 19, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Cespedes seems to have the durability of Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares…:)

  3. Chris F
    July 19, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Charlie, I just looked at my tombstone and it says “Expect the worst and get the worst.”

    I guess I didnt get in with the cool kids.


  4. Chris F
    July 19, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    FWIW, The Indians moved to get Brad Hand from the Padres, in exchange for Francisco Mejia, MLB 15th prospect and a catcher.

    Sorry Gus.

    • TexasGusCC
      July 19, 2018 at 3:16 pm


      Can’t blame the injuns. But, it looks like this is a great market for top talent. Know what I mean?

      I expect Happ to go for a couple A ball guys, if that much.

  5. Eraff
    July 19, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    On the verge of 90-100 losses, I’ll take all the Fact Finding they can do. That includes cutting Reyes and Bats today, and spreading some assignments around to see some of the young guys..etc…including Ces at 1st, if possible

  6. July 19, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    Well, it comes down a lot to desire and effort. Cespedes at least has some desire to play first base, which is more than Piazza had. Will he put in the effort? I don’t pretend to know.

    • Mike Walczak
      July 19, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      He will pull a muscle in his first stretch.

  7. Pete from NJ
    July 19, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    It’s an idea. If it does not work you adjust and go to Plan B.
    I’ll be just glad to see the guy take some swings.

    I reality there’s nothing to loose?

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