Sign him. Trade for him. He knows about winning. It’s something we hear a lot in sports when teams are looking to improve. I’m guilty of it, too. Adding a player to the roster because he has playoff experience can pay off big time. So when the New York Mets traded for Javier Baez, there was a thought that maybe his postseason experience could help take the team far into October. First, they’d need to get there.
But what if the opposite is true? Baez already has a ring. His time with the Chicago Cubs resulted in playoff appearances in all but one of his full seasons with the team. Even in the year the Cubs missed the postseason in 2019 they were above .500 and playing meaningful games late into the year.
Adding an experienced playoff performer can be huge. However, it’s also helpful to have a guy who knows a thing or two about adversity in baseball to help pull them out of tailspins.
Maybe the Mets should have gone out seeking a guy who has experienced more losing
Anthony Rizzo is helping the New York Yankees have a different vibe on and off the field. A former teammate of Baez’s, he knows all about winning. He also remembers losing.
There is a major difference between the two. Rizzo first played for the Cubs in 2012, a year after debuting with the San Diego Padres. Chicago lost 101 games in Rizzo’s first year with them. It wasn’t until 2015 when they would finally turn things around and finish with a winning record.
Rizzo grew up with the Cubs. He went from one of the most important players on a bad team to a leader on a World Series-winning squad. Baez joined the Cubs right as things were beginning to turn around. While he did have his own struggles early on, the postseason was practically a lock for him. Baez rarely got the first week in October off from baseball over the last few years.
There’s no exact science to this and it’s all just a gut feeling. I won’t accuse Baez of lacking the right leadership qualities the Mets need or suggest someone else would perform better. Adding him made sense with the loss of Francisco Lindor. I wonder, as the season seems to slip away, if maybe a lesser player with a little more experience of surviving through the hard times would yield a different result.
The Mets have more than enough players with leadership qualities. This wasn’t the goal at the trade deadline. Those types of players are more like luxury pieces. In dire need of some offense, the Mets needed much more. They needed some fresh blood in the lineup to be the catalyst to run away with the National League East.
Baez has yet to show us the very best he can offer. As the team struggles around him, I worry he’ll fit right in under the storm clouds.
Rich Hill does fit a little more snug into my thinking. Who has faced more adversity than him with some winning experience sprinkled in when he bloomed late?
Want your voice heard? Join the Rising Apple team!
Hill can only achieve so much every fifth day. The Mets bats are the problem and analytical, statistical, and emotionally, I’m not sure anyone has the right answer.