The Mets trade for Javier Baez has a bonus, reuniting him with Lindor, Lugo, and Diaz, players for Puerto Rico’s team in the World Classic.
Mets recently acquired Javier Baez practically begged the Chicago Cubs to trade him to the Mets, and he wasn’t bashful in saying why.
Not only did Baez see an opportunity to escape from the Cubs, a team going nowhere this year and in the midst of a fire sale that saw them part with Anthony Rizzo, the heart of their team, along with Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and closer Craig Kimbrel.
But his overriding reason in wanting to join the Mets was to reunite with Francisco Lindor, a teammate along with Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz on Puerto Rico’s 2017 World Classic team.
Baez and Lindor remained especially close friends following the Classic, but he could only imagine them on the same team, as double-play partners, no less.
Bordering on a violation of MLB rules, Baez didn’t seem to care:
“If I go to the free agency, I would like to play with Francisco Lindor. I loved playing with him in the World Classic. It is the only option I would take to play second base if it is to play with him; otherwise, I stay playing at shortstop.”
For the Mets, it’s a tossup as to who is the better shortstop, but Baez’s willingness to make the switch demonstrates he wants this to work, and he’s coming here to win.
Already, Javier Baez, acting alone while Lindor remains on the IL, has wasted time in helping the Mets to a comeback win over the Reds last night.
And this afternoon, he turned in the game’s defensive play, firing a relay throw strike to Tomas Nido to cut down a runner trying to score.
Mets: The Main Attraction Comes Later
However, the main attraction for the Mets will be when Baez and Lindor are playing side-by-side in the Mets’ infield.
Lindor is nursing one of those tricky oblique injuries, and at the moment, Lindor is expected to be out until at least August 7.
While Baez is being hyped in New York media as a revival of 2015’s acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes when he caught fire to propel the Mets to the playoffs, the real boon for the Mets will be if Baez can light a fire under Francisco Lindor when he returns.
Everything changed for Lindor and the Mets when both parties agreed to a mammoth 10-year, $341 million contract extension that will keep him in New York through 2032.
The trouble, of course, has been that Lindor has noticeably struggled since his debut with the Mets this year, and New York media has openly written about his noticeable decline since his All-Star days with Cleveland.
To wit, they point to stats like Lindor’s OPS, which has dwindled to ten points below this year’s major league aver of .712 and far from his personal high of .848 in 2018.
Mets: Will Baez Spur Lindor
Javier Baez has come to the Mets with smiles that rivals his best friend and play on the field that shows he means what he says in wanting to make a difference on a Mets team that is looking to hold off the Braves and on their way to making some noise in the 2021 playoffs.
We know ourselves, no matter what level of sports we played at, those best friend rivalries can take both players to new levels of achievement.
The Mets now have Baez strutting his stuff, but Lindor is the key to not only solidify their infield defensively but to add some punch in their lineup and their struggle to score runs, a failure that continues to plague the Mets.
The Puerto Rican brigade of Baez, Lindor, Lugo, and Diaz are all critical parts of the Mets team, but all eyes will point to Francisco Lindor to give the Mets a boost when he returns.
The Mets dropped a game to the upstart Cincinnati Reds this afternoon, leaving them with a disappointing eleven-game homestand record of 5-6.
As always this year, the Mets received help from their rivals in the NL East, in this case, the Braves, who lost to the Brewers, enabling the Mets to retain the hold onto first place.
Ominously, in mid-August are thirteen straight games, home and away against the Dodgers and Giants.
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