Posts Tagged ‘Yoenis Cespedes’

By Steven Inman

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Photo by Fox Sports

After losing the N.L. Wild Card Game, the Mets entered the offseason with a long list of needs. The club did most of their heavy lifting early by bringing back Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker. The Mets feel their bullpen is an area that needs improvement with the possibility that closer Jeurys Familia will miss time with a suspension after an alleged domestic violence incident. The Mets reportedly had interest in a few relievers that have gone off the board recently such as Brad Ziegler, who signed a multi-year contract with division rival Miami.

Junichi Tazawa, 30, would also have been a good fit for the Mets to eat up some middle relief innings but he also went to the Marlins. The Mets have been saying to agents that they are unable to add more salary now until they can move one of their expensive outfielders, most likely Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson. The Mets have gotten more bites on Granderson than Bruce but neither has been seen by other teams as much more than a salary dump. Granderson finished the season red hot for the Mets and in my opinion is the better fit for New York in 2017. The Mets should have just dumped Jay Bruce so they don’t get left out in the cold on the reliever market. The longer the Mets stubbornly hold on to Bruce, the more likely they are going to miss out on adding to this bullpen.

The trade for Jay Bruce was very perplexing when it happened as the Mets didn’t really have a fit for him and the team was overly left-handed before the deal. The team was probably hoping Bruce, who didn’t cost much to get, would get hot like Cespedes did when acquired the summer before, but Bruce went on to not hit at all in his 2 plus months in Queens. That should have been the reason for the Mets to decline Bruce’s $13M team option as he really didn’t have much trade value. There is also the legitimate question of whether Bruce can handle the spotlight of playing in New York City. Some Mets fans believe picking up Bruce’s option was done as a “hedge” to protect themselves if Cespedes departed. If the Mets lost Cespedes they would have been better off declining Bruce’s option and using that money to add a different outfielder like Ian Desmond. It’s easy to wonder if the Mets, who were 25th in runs last year, lost Cespedes and replaced him with Jay Bruce for a full season, would they have scored the least amount of runs in the National League?

To start the offseason teams like the Blue Jays and Orioles reportedly were willing to take on Bruce’s contract but the Mets demanded something for the slugger. When the Orioles showed interest earlier in the offseason, the Mets reportedly asked for All-Star reliever Brad Brach. It seems like the Orioles moved on to trying to re-sign Mark Trumbo after that request, at least for the moment.

Now with so many notable home run hitters still stuck on the free agent board the Mets would be very fortunate to get someone to take Jay Bruce off their hands. Think of the scenario from an opposing team’s viewpoint: why would a team take on Bruce’s $13M and give the Mets something in a trade when they can just sign a similar player like free agent Chris Carter to a cheaper contract?

The Jay Bruce move continues to hurt the Mets and if they don’t clear payroll soon, they might lose out on re-signing Jerry Blevins or another lefty specialist that they need.  Also moving Bruce is vital for the Mets so they can get Michael Conforto every day at-bats. It’s going to be a distracting storyline in Spring Training if the Mets are unable to move Jay Bruce before camp opens in 6 weeks.

Do you think the Mets have been asking for too much in a Jay Bruce deal?

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By Steven Inmandownload

Met fans can rejoice as “La Potencia”, Yoenis Cespedes is now back in Queens and locked up long term. The Mets had to give Cespedes the 2nd highest average annual value ever, but the team locked up their best hitter. After years and years of payrolls under $90M, the Mets being broke is a thing of the past. Ownership wants to win and they are giving Sandy Alderson the resources to get it done. While the Mets are back to spending big money, they are still being cautious about it. The Mets in the past when they spent big money always seemed to agree to deals one year too long on key contracts such as Pedro Martinez and Billy Wagner. The Mets stood their ground this time on not giving the 31-year old Cespedes a 5th year and they look very smart today for doing so.

With all that said, the work is not done here just yet. The team now has 4 corner outfielders and no starting center fielder. Based on various reports it seems fairly obvious the Mets plan on trading a corner outfielder with Jay Bruce being the most likely to go. The Mets shouldn’t stop with Bruce, they should trade Curtis Granderson also and get a center fielder. The Mets have never prioritized defense but if they could put Cespedes in left and Michael Conforto in right, planked by a defensive, right-handed, center fielder, the Mets could have one of the best outfields in baseball. Here are a few of their options.

Dexter Fowler

Of the hitters listed here, Dexter Fowler is perhaps the best fit for the Mets. While he will cost a draft pick, Fowler, 30, could be a difference maker for the Amazins. The switch-hitter has been significantly better from the right side of the plate throughout his career which works in this very left-handed Met lineup. Fowler really improved his defensive numbers in center field this year thanks to playing deeper. The questions that would pop up if Fowler can handle center anymore are gone. Fowler is likely looking at a 4 year deal worth around $60M which is what the Mets handed Curtis Granderson 3 winters ago. Fowler was on perhaps the biggest stage in sports when he homered to lead off Game 7 of the World Series to help end a 108-year title drought for the Chicago Cubs so no, New York will not be too much for the Atlanta native to handle.

A.J. Pollock

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Photo by CBS Sports

A.J. Pollock is a gifted, 5-tool center fielder who possesses a blend of power, speed and strong range in center field. He is the right-handed bat that would complete the Mets lineup and would make New York a strong threat to the Cubs to get back to the World Series. Pollock will be 29 next week and has 2 years left of club control before becoming a free agent as a key part of the 2018 monster free agency class. After a breakout 2015 season where he slashed .315/.367/.498, Pollock missed 150 games in 2016 following a serious elbow injury. After all the time he missed in 2016 and the Diamondbacks rough season, it’s hard to imagine the Notre Dame product isn’t available. The team already dealt Jean Segura on Thanksgiving, Segura also had 2 years of control left like Pollock. The Diamondbacks look to be rebuilding with a new front office after a disastrous stint with Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa running the ship.  Pollock will make $6.75M this season before going through arbitration in his final year of club control next winter. Despite his low monetary price tag, he will not be cheap under any circumstance in terms of prospects. The Mets should be willing to give up anyone in their farm system not named Amed Rosario to acquire Pollock if he is indeed available.

Ian Desmond

The Mets have had interest in Ian Desmond in the past. The Nationals dangled him out on the trade market before his final year in Washington but the asking price (Noah Syndergaard) was obviously a non-starter for New York. (Imagine the Nationals with Syndergaard right now) Desmond transitioned to the outfield beautifully in 2016 after a few rough seasons defensively as a shortstop. While he was much better in left field for the Texas Rangers this past season, he showed he could handle center field. Last winter he got frozen out of the market with a compensation draft pick attached to his price tag. I’d be a little concerned about giving Ian Desmond a long-term deal at this stage of his career but he is a big right-handed bat that has shown in the past he can hit the ball a long, long way at Citi Field. Desmond, 31, has a draft pick attached to him again and if he gets frozen out of the market again this winter the Mets should pounce.

It looks like right now the Mets plan is to trade Jay Bruce for anything they can get and try to get by with Curtis Granderson in center field in 2017. While Granderson wasn’t horrible in limited playing time in center field this past season, he certainly doesn’t give the range the Mets are going to need out there and is now another year older. The Mets are trying to win now and to do that they are going to have to sure up this defense. Even with Cespedes’ return this is still a significantly below average offense, remember the Mets last year were tied for 25th in baseball in runs last year despite Cespedes’ fantastic campaign. The Mets are going to need another bat here and they can get the payroll for one by trading both Granderson and Bruce.

What should the Mets outfield look like next season?

By Steven Inman

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Photo by Newsday

A Mets season that was filled with many ups and downs ended on its lowest note as Madison Bumgarner shut down the Mets in the NL Wild Card game at Citi Field. On paper, when healthy, the Mets still have a very good team entering 2017 but if they want to win their first World Series since 1986, or even take the National League East back from Washington, they’re going to have to make some quality decisions. The Mets payroll entered 2016 at around $135 million, its highest since 2011. After acquiring Jay Bruce at the trade deadline, the Mets payroll is in the $140M range now. It’s highly unlikely the club will be able to go much higher than that. Having said that, $140M is a far cry from what the payroll was a few short seasons ago under $85M. The Mets payroll should be in the 6-10 range in baseball which should be enough to support what the Mets are trying to do. With huge raises in arbitration coming for some key Mets, plus Neil Walker accepting the qualifying offer at $17.2M the Mets aren’t going to be able to add much new money so they’re going to have to get creative.

Here are the annual MLB Trade Rumors arbitration projections for the Mets.

Rene Rivera is likely a non-tender guy (who could be brought back at a smaller salary) but the rest of these players will be here, barring a trade. The Mets need to improve their offense and maybe address the bullpen as Jeurys Familia is probably looking at a lengthy suspension for an alleged domestic violence incident. Sandy Alderson and his front office have their work cut out for them but the correct moves can bring Queens a title. Here is what they should do.

 

  1. Re-sign Yoenis Cespedes to play left field

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    Yoenis Cespedes must be the Mets #1 priority this winter

Yoenis Cespedes has been a very polarizing figure since arriving in New York at the 2015 trade deadline but make no mistake about it, the Mets are a completely different team when the Cuban slugger is healthy. When Cespedes did not play in 2016, the Mets had a 13-17 record. He’s a complete game changer, especially as a left fielder. He really struggled range-wise in center field and the amount of running required for that position was taxing on his legs. Keeping him in left field will make the Mets defense better and give Cespedes a better chance of staying healthy. I think at the end of the day Cespedes would return to the Mets on a 4 year deal worth a little over $100M with another opt-out involved in the contract. The Mets are a little concerned not over dollars with Cespedes but the length of any deal. It’s fair to wonder if Cespedes would give an all-out effort if he was not playing for a huge payday but #52 is definitely worth taking that risk.

  1. Sign Dexter Fowler

It’s hard to imagine the Mets finding the funds to sign Cespedes and CF Dexter Fowler but the speedy outfielder is the perfect fit. Fowler would give the Mets an actual center fielder at spacious Citi Field instead of letting a corner guy like Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson or Yoenis Cespedes patrol out there. Fowler is an on-base machine at the top of a lineup and really improved his defensive metrics this season thanks to playing deeper in the outfield. He is probably looking at a 4-year deal at around $15M a season but at just 30 years old he should be able to hold up health wise. Fowler just helped the starving Cubs fan base end a 108 year title drought so I don’t think the bright lights of New York City would be too much for him. With that said, if the Mets sign Fowler they would have to forfeit a draft pick.

So how can the Mets afford Fowler and Cespedes you may be wondering?

  1. Trade Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson

Both Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson are in the final years of their contracts and in my opinion the Mets would be better off letting the two conclude their deals elsewhere. Both are lefty swinging corner outfielders who really don’t fit on the same team. It didn’t make much sense to bring Jay Bruce to Queens in the first place. Bruce not hitting for an entire summer in New York should have convinced everyone in the Met front office that they should move on from him, especially with better options available at similar salaries. The Blue Jays thought they had a deal for Bruce done last spring; perhaps they have interest in him again. Granderson’s strong finish to the year will probably be able to entice some team to take on the final year of his deal.While the Grandyman has been a good citizen and was huge in the Mets 2015 postseason run, he will be 36 before Opening Day and is a below average defender due to his declining range and poor arm. Clearing Bruce’s $13M and Granderson’s $15M would give the Mets enough money to sign both Cespedes and Fowler and perhaps pave the way to consistent playing time for Michael Conforto. Conforto could become one of the Mets best hitters if they just gave him the playing time he needs. Both Granderson and Bruce are older guys coming off mediocre years so it’s hard to imagine the Mets getting anything of value for either player but getting their contracts off the books would be huge for the Mets offseason. Getting these two out of the Mets lineup would allow the team’s outfield defense to improve tremendously along with preventing the club from being overly left-handed like they were in 2016.

  1. Re-sign Jerry Blevins

Often the most overlooked pitcher in the Mets brilliant 2016 bullpen, Jerry Blevins was terrific in his second season for the Mets and retaining him should be a priority for the Mets. With Familia facing a potential suspension the Mets need to find as many reliable arms as they can get their hands on and Blevins has proven in New York that he can get big outs. Terry Collins was able to push a mostly injured Met group to the playoffs but one of his huge weaknesses as a manager is overusing his best bullpen arms. If the Mets do not find more bullpen help Collins will overuse Addison Reed without a doubt. With big left-handed bats like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy with the Washington Nationals, the Mets could probably use a second Jerry Blevins, much less lose the one they already have.

The offseason is a tricky time for baseball front offices. All teams enter the winter with holes they would like to address but budgets can cause teams to be unable to fill all of their concerns. The Mets would love to upgrade at catcher and possibly add some rotation insurance after they lost 4 of their 5 young stud starters to season-ending injuries but that is unlikely to happen. If the Mets are able to re-sign Cespedes and Blevins along with adding another key bat (preferably a center fielder) the Mets could be parading down the canyon of heroes next November.

How should the Mets upgrade their team this winter?

By Steven InmanSandy

The Mets came out of the All-Star break thinking if they could just get a little more offense in the second half they could go on a run similar to the incredible fireworks of last summer. The Mets offense in the first half was embarrassing, headlined by poor at-bats with runners on base. Somehow this Mets lineup has gotten even worse over the last few weeks to the point where the Mets are on the brink of being swept at home by a Rockies pitching staff that entered this series with a 4.87 ERA as a team. Pitchers like Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Anderson who were badly scuffling, easily shut down the Mets hitters. The Mets have scored just 4 runs in the first 3 games of this series. It has gotten so bad this week for the Mets that they have the Rockies thinking they can compete for an NL Wild Card.

The Mets are batting .202/.279/.318 with men in scoring position on the season, one of the worst triple slash lines with RISP in the history of baseball. While a lot of that is probably just being unlucky, the players must know how bad they’ve been. Asdrubal Cabrera was able to recite his recent 0-30+ AB slump with RISP to reporters after a recent game. There’s a good chance the team’s offensive futility with men on base is in the player’s heads to some degree.

The Mets have been active in trying to resurrect this offense through trades but with a lack of impact bats available it is going to take the last of the Mets farm system to acquire such a hitter. Even a miracle trade for a Jonathan Lucroy won’t save this Met offense. Instead I suggest the Mets turn around and sell.

Now obviously this isn’t going to be the popular opinion coming off a World Series appearance but this team without a major offensive overhaul isn’t going anywhere. The Mets don’t have a true center fielder on the roster except for Justin Ruggiano who they signed Saturday. With Matt Harvey out for the year and Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz clearly not the same dynamic players with their bone spurs, the Mets huge starting pitching advantage is no longer that big of an edge over other clubs.

Instead of trying to deal Zack Wheeler for Jay Bruce again (who doesn’t fit here as another corner outfielder) the Met should turn around and consider dealing free agents to be Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker and Bartolo Colon.

The Mets will get compensation picks for Walker and Cespedes if they depart since they are likely to offer the two arbitration but the Mets should be able to get more in a package in what has been an extreme sellers market.

The Mets really stripped down their farm system last season to acquire all the pieces that helped them reach the World Series. Trading Cespedes who will likely opt-out for a larger deal could bring you an elite prospect like Michael Fulmer who the Mets traded away at this time last year. Fulmer is 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA in 16 starts as a Tiger this season. While the Mets can’t get him back, they can get a good young piece who can really help next season with (hopefully) a healthy starting rotation. So far this month teams have shown they are willing to trade top prospects for rentals. The Yankees who are just a game back in the loss column to the Mets entering Sunday have transformed their farm system by trading elite relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller this week. Now instead of bringing back the same old team next season they will have blue chip prospects like Clint Frazier ready to make an impact in 2017.

While this will never happen as the Mets would never sell coming off a World Series appearance, the season continues to head in the wrong direction and if the Mets could retool here and acquire some assets that could help them in 2017, they could be looking at another trip to the World Series in the not so distant future.Selling off now could be the Mets best chance to extend their window to win a World Series.

By Steven Inman

When the Mets got swept by the Nationals last week, Met fans thought that this team was in major trouble due to a lack of offensive firepower. It seemed like no matter who Dusty Baker summoned to the mound for the Nats, they were going to put up a zero. Once the Mets returned home to face the Cubs everything changed. The Mets began clicking offensively and while middle of the order hitters Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker began playing the home run ball again, the key to the Mets recent turnaround is the re-emergence of Travis d’Arnaud.

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While the Mets called up their former spark plug Jose Reyes on Tuesday, the hitter that makes the Mets go now is actually d’Arnaud.

Last season when Travis d’Arnaud returned from the disabled list, the team took off. Yes obviously acquiring Yoenis Cespedes last year and then re-signing him this winter was crucial but this offense just seems to click when the Mets catcher is hitting. The Mets are 10-4 this season when Travis gets a hit, but just 4-7 when he doesn’t. He was 8-13 with a homer and 4 RBI during the Mets 5-game win streak.  Travis d’Arnaud put up 12 homers in just 239 at-bats last season. The backstop recently changed his stance to help him drive the ball better but for Travis it really comes down to him just staying on the field. It’s hard to get into a rhythm offensively when you miss a month or two every year.

Many thought the Mets were fine without d’Arnaud with Kevin Plawecki getting a real shot to be the everyday catcher. Plawecki badly struggled offensively and his throwing behind the plate wasn’t much better than d’Arnaud’s. Rene Rivera has been solid defensively in spot duty and Noah Syndergaard loves throwing to him but the Mets simply need Travis’ bat in the lineup. While d’Arnaud’s defense leaves much to be desired, his offensive potential could give the Mets a solid lineup the rest of the summer, even without making a trade. If #18 can stay healthy the Mets have a shot at catching the Nationals and winning their second straight National League East crown.

By Steven Inman

If you haven’t noticed, the Mets season is at a crossroads. The Mets offense is at a point where it’s hard to expect runs no matter who is on the mound for the opposing team. While losing Lucas Duda and David Wright has hurt, the rest of the team just hasn’t produced offensively. The Mets were counting on Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes to carry the load like they did in the second half of last season. Cespedes has cooled off dramatically since a hot April and Conforto is in the minor leagues after not being able to adjust to pitchers strictly throwing him breaking balls. The Mets have really had no answers on how to fix this lineup internally. Since then the Mets have brought back Jose Reyes.01-terry-collins-080915-getty-ftrjpg_dduuxh7xyqfg1ckk33738rts9

No matter what you think of Reyes’ off the field issues, it’s pretty clear that this isn’t the same Reyes that won a batting title in his last tour with the Amazins.  Reyes was never a gold glove caliber shortstop by any means, but his defense has dramatically regressed over the last few years with the Marlins, Blue Jays and Rockies. Now the Mets are relying on Reyes to be the dynamic spark plug he once was along with learning third base, a position he has never played in the big leagues. Reyes is a good enough athlete where he could adapt to third base or even the outfield but the Mets wouldn’t be asking this of Reyes if the guys in the lineup were producing. It seems pretty desperate to bring in Reyes and hope he can be the Reyes of old and not just an old Reyes. Expect him to be up at Citi Field next week.

Washington just swept the Mets and while there is still half a season still to be played, it’s hard to imagine the Mets offense being good enough to hang with Dusty Baker’s club down the stretch. The Nationals clearly look like the better team and the Mets starting pitching looks tired. It may be because of all the extra pitches the young starters endured in the postseason or perhaps some nagging injuries that we haven’t been made aware of but this rotation just isn’t the same as it was last year. That doesn’t mean the Mets should regret throwing their arms deep in the playoffs by any means but it’s clear that there’s some fatigue.

Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are both dealing with bone spurs in their elbows. While the Mets doctors have ensured the team that pitching through these injuries won’t make their elbows worse, you often see players develop new injuries trying to overcompensate from the pain they are dealing with.  Steven Matz has basically stopped throwing his slider in June, you have to wonder if that pitch was causing him pain. Matt Harvey hasn’t been the same elite pitcher this season and Jacob deGrom’s velocity has been down most of the season. Bartolo Colon at the ripe age of 43 is still pitching as strong as ever.

While there is still plenty of baseball to be played, the Mets are in a very dangerous part of their season as we head towards the All-Star Break…

By Steven Inman

As the Mets lone All-Star last season, Jacob deGrom impressed the baseball world with a strong inning of work at the 2015 All-Star game. The Mets have had just one All-Star each of the past two seasons.

Coming off of a World Series appearance and a strong start to the 2016 season, expect more Mets on the National League roster next month. With just 5 weeks until the annual midsummer classic, this year in San Diego, let’s take a look at who on the Mets has a chance at an All-Star appearance.

Noah Syndergaard: The mighty Thor has picked up right where he left off in the 2015 playoffs. Of this impressive Mets pitching staff, Syndergaard was the only pitcher for New York to win a game in the World Series last season. Syndergaard has dazzled with his 100 mph fastball and a low 90’s slider. If Clayton Kershaw wasn’t in the NL, there would be talk of Syndergaard as a NL Cy Young candidate. Barring an injury, it would be difficult to imagine Syndergaard not being invited to the All-Star game in what should be a great group of young stars on the NL staff.

Noah

Photo from Newsday

Yoenis Cespedes: After a breakout 2 month stretch with the Mets last summer, Yoenis hasn’t stepped off the gas pedal. The slugger has a team high 15 homers and to the surprise of many has played a decent center field through the first third of the season. Cespedes has a few nagging injuries which is the only thing that could slow down the MVP candidate in another walk year. It’s crazy to think what the struggling Met offense would look like without him. Cespedes could be elected as one of the three starting outfielders with the fan vote. He currently ranks 3rd in votes among NL outfielders. If he doesn’t get on that way, expect him to be an alternate in San Diego.

Jeurys Familia: The Mets closer has been perfect in save opportunities this season and is coming off one of the best seasons a Met reliever has ever had. While Familia hasn’t been as great this season as he was last year, he still has been very effective for one of the best bullpens in baseball statically. His 18 saves this season are tied for the most in baseball. Usually relief pitchers get All-Star recognition the year after their breakout season. With Terry Collins in charge of the final few NL roster spots, along with the replacement players, expect Familia and several other Mets to be heading to San Diego.

Steven Matz: The Mets lone rotation lefty has been brilliant after a blowup start against the Marlins in his first outing of the season. Matz has dealt with the injury bug throughout his young career but when he has been on the mound he has been a very pleasant surprise for the Mets. While pitcher wins isn’t the most noteworthy stat in 2016, Matz is 7-1 and has won 11 of his first 12 regular season decisions in his brief time with the Mets. Believe it or not Matz is still just a rookie having pitched less than 50 regular season innings last season. The National League is going to be stacked with pitchers and every club must be represented at the All-Star game but with pitchers bowing out with injuries, expect Matz with another strong month to find a way onto the club.

Neil Walker: While Daniel Murphy has taken his offensive game to a whole other level after departing New York, the Mets new second basemen has emerged as an All-Star caliber player as well. Despite moving to a pitchers park, Walker has found his power stroke, slugging 13 homers in just 53 games. Walker’s career high in homers is just 23 so barring a long slump he should shatter that. What is even more shocking about Walker’s home run total is his ability to hit homers off lefties. In Walker’s career entering this season, the switch-hitter had hit just 6 homers off lefties in 721 at-bats. He already has 5 this season in just 44 at-bats off southpaws. Walker has been streaky for the Mets but overall he is putting up career best numbers in what is a very weak class of candidates at second base for the National League. Only Daniel Murphy and Ben Zobrist are putting up All-Star caliber seasons at second in the NL. Walker has always been a dependable, solid player in Pittsburgh but he has never been an All-Star. Like Cespedes, Walker is also in a contract year.

Jacob deGrom: While everyone seems concerned with deGrom’s loss in velocity, the right-hander is still putting up top of the rotation numbers. Jacob’s strikeouts are down but he still has a strong 2.62 ERA in 9 starts. With all the talk about Matz and Syndergaard, deGrom has fallen under the radar. It seems unlikely the Mets would be able to get three starters on the NL Roster but deGrom can certainly make a case for himself with a strong month.

Addison Reed: With the number of quality closers in the National League this one seems unlikely but the Mets 8th inning guy has been fantastic this season. Reed, 27, has been stellar for the Mets since coming over in a trade last August from the Diamondbacks. With the number of shutdown innings, Reed is putting up, along with the fact that the pitching replacements are Terry Collins’ call, Addison has a shot at his first All-Star appearance. While Reed is unlikely for San Diego it cannot be ruled out.

Expect the Mets to have their most All-Star selections since 2006.

Who should represent the Mets at the All-Star Game?