If your car is perched precariously on a cliff and then falls — congratulations! You have clarity.
If your roof is sagging and then collapses — cheer up! You have clarity.
If your frowning franchise leftfielder is sitting at a podium with his massive arms crossed as it is announced that he is having surgery on both heels and will miss at least 8-10 months — great job! You have clarity.
Clarity on Yoenis Cespedes is what the Mets got on Wednesday morning. Another in seemingly endless punches to the gut is what the team’s fans got.
Really, the announcement made by John Ricco with a sullen Cespedes sitting by his side before the Mets hosted the Padres at Citi Field was not a surprise. The only surprise would have been if the Mets had announced they were trading Cespedes to the Yankees for Jacoby Ellsbury.
Which mega-millions outfielder do you think will be the first to come back and play in a big-league game? Sports betting is legal now, but even the corner bookie wouldn’t take any action on that one. There’s no favorite.
Cespedes and Ellsbury both stand as testimony to the folly of long-term deals. But in the special circle of misfortune that surrounds the Mets, they are stuck paying dearly for a contract that no one criticized at the time while the Yankees yawn and brush off the dead money they owe Ellsbury, who has missed the entire season with a variety of hard-to-pin-down ailments and whose contract was a head-scratcher when it was signed.
One clarification: When we say the Mets are paying for losing Cespedes, we mean on the field, where he has proved to be The Indispensable Met.
Ricco — one of the Three Wise Men running the Mets — confirmed that the team has an insurance policy on the four-year, $110-million deal Cespedes signed before the 2017 season. Ricco, a good guy in an increasingly impossible situation as this organization’s interim explainer, wasn’t smiling when he said it.
Somewhere, though, a Wilpon probably suppressed a grin.
As with David Wright’s contract, the Mets owners are saving tons of money through insurance on Cespedes with no certainty that they will pour those millions back into the payroll.
When Ricco was asked just that, he said: “We haven’t gone down the road to what this means toward our plan moving forward.”
At least Ricco confirmed that the Mets have a plan. Because it looks more like they lurch unknowingly from situation to situation. It sure appeared that way when Cespedes returned on Friday to homer in a win over the Yankees and then revealed after the game that he might need the surgery that Ricco said on Wednesday doctors agreed was “the only option we have at this point.”
Never mind that the Mets seemed unaware of this “only option” thing until Cespedes mentioned it on Friday. The Mets have a long history of pushing a seriously or chronically injured player to play through their injuries before the player eventually has to have major surgery to correct the issue. If, after doing everything he could through rest and rehab to get back on the field, Cespedes pushed this to a medical resolution, then good for him. It’s his body and only he knows how much pain he can tolerate.
In this case, that body needs two surgeries, as Cespedes will have only one heel done at a time. And no, the Mets aren’t doing that to save money (“get them both done — the second surgery is 50 percent off!”). It’s what is medically necessary, according to the experts.
So while Cespedes vowed to return, there’s no guarantee that will happen, and if it does it won’t be until well into the 2019 season.
Until then, it’s business as usual at Citi Field. The interim GMs will try to sell off whatever spare parts they can before Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline. When the season ends, the Mets will begin a search for a new general manager, who will have to decide whether to go for it in 2019 or trade Jacob deGrom and commit to a total teardown.
The Mets could change course and trade deGrom now, but Ricco said the Cespedes clarity doesn’t charge the short-term plan.
“We just found this information out in the last day or so,” Ricco said, “so I think it’s a little bit too quick to speculate as to how we’re going to change our plan moving forward.”
In other words, about that car perched on that cliff . . . hold on! And good luck.