The Mets have known about the heel issues, and spoken about them, but it seems clear they underestimated the severity of the problem — or, at least, they were unaware of how serious Cespedes believes it to be. Cespedes was officially on the disabled list for a mild strain of the right hip flexor, but Callaway said all of his ailments were connected. Cespedes will see a foot specialist in the next few days.
“We thought his heels were in a real good spot coming in, or we wouldn’t have activated him,” Callaway said. “He was good to go.”
But Cespedes was not good to go on Saturday, and has missed more than half the Mets’ games since signing his four-year, $110 million contract before the 2017 season. Recovery from heel surgery, as he described it, would probably bleed into 2019 — but without it, he might continue to be a perpetual injury risk.
In any case, Cespedes is only part of a long chain of Mets who have spent their 30s making lots of money while injured. Think of Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, Jason Bay, David Wright and now Cespedes — five stars whose biggest contracts cost the Mets more than $500 million.
Even the lesser contracts for veterans have blown up on the Mets. Last off-season, they guaranteed nearly $100 million in contracts for Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, A.J. Ramos, Jose Reyes, Anthony Swarzak and Jason Vargas. None have been healthy and productive.
All of them, though, are peripheral to Cespedes, whose presence seems to make all the difference, just as it did for the A’s. Since Cespedes joined the team on Aug. 1, 2015, the Mets are 22 games over .500 when he plays and 33 games under .500 when he does not.
Considering that, the most important question in the Mets’ universe should be: How do we make sure Yoenis Cespedes plays? Yet they seem helpless to answer it.