A routine error by Yoenis Cespedes, the highest paid center fielder in baseball according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, will gloss over the bigger fielding mistake from the Mets Opening Day 4-3 loss.
Cespedes striking out to end the game will make the highlight reel, a real-enough action to easily create a distraction to the true anchor that could weigh down the prospects for this season. And it took place just one batter before.
With the game-tying run 90 feet away and one out, David Wright just needed to avoid grounding into a double play. What was needed to extend the game was a productive out. What happened was the face of the franchise got blown away.
Jessica Mendoza, the new addition to the ESPN broadcast booth, noted that Wright hadn’t proved he could catch up to a high-powered fastball; something also noted by the New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro. Wright was having a hard time all night catching up to 92-94 mph fastballs. Wade Davis took advantage of that fact, but that wasn’t the big problem.
The bigger concern took place in the sixth inning when Eric Hosmer bunted to the left-side of the infield. Wright barehanded the ball, but didn’t have enough on his throw to get the sliding first baseman. It should have been a routine out as analyst Aaron Boone noted, “that’s a play 90 percent of third basemen make.”
A similar play happened in the fifth, when Omar Infante‘s ground ball to third was fielded but Wright’s long throw wasn’t fast enough to get the 34-year old with a career 80 stolen bases. As Keith Hernandez would say, “there was no mustard on the throw.”
While his bat may eventually catch up with the high-octane heat from relievers like Davis, his arm has become a liability. It was on display last season, the sidearm style adopted due to his back troubles, and the resulting high-arching throws from third base.
It was something the Royals took advantage of – something I’m sure every team the Mets face will test – and something Collins is likely to do little about anytime soon. Granted, his first option is to replace the Captain with Wilmer Flores as a defensive replacement… but even that seemed strange as I wrote it. It certainly will seem foreign to a manager who’s known for standing by ‘his guys’.
I don’t think there’s a viable solution and that’s means another infielder who’s presence on the field is purely tied into his performance at the plate. The $87 million dollar question is do you think Wright will hit enough to make this irrelevant?