In Mets lore, the No. 17 has real positive connotations.
Of course, you think of Keith Hernandez – the Mets most famous No. 17 – who turned around the franchise with a deadline day trade back in 1983.
He was a game changer, bringing a credible bat to a thirsty Met lineup that was looking for someone lead.
Just three years later, Hernandez delivered. Seventeen years – there’s that number again – after the Miracle Mets won their first World Championship, No. 17 drove in the game winning go-ahead runs in Game 7.
That brings us to today. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson went out and acquired Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes for two minor leaguers at the deadline. For a Met offense thirsting for some help, it can’t get much better than this.
Here you have an All-Star outfielder hitting .293 with 18 home runs and 63 RBI. His 48 extra base hits are third in the league for outfielders behind Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.
Slot him in third or fourth and see how this lineup changes. The Mets haven’t have a lethal outfielder like this since Carlos Beltran in his prime and they haven’t acquired this type of game changer since Steve Phillips sent three minor leaguers to Florida for Mike Piazza.
And for those not doing the math, Piazza came to New York 17 years ago.
Remember when Piazza came here. The Mets – under Bobby Valentine –were doing ok. They were a young team with pretty good starting pitching that just needed that one guy in the lineup to ignite them.
Piazza made the Mets relevant again that year, which was a huge task considering the historic season that was happening in the Bronx.
Much like Cespedes, he was thought to be a rental, but that all changed when the team signed him for seven years during the off-season and in all likelihood, Piazza will become Hall of Famer to be inducted with a Mets cap.
Now, the Mets aren’t getting themselves a Hall of Famer here, but they are getting a guy who keeps the team in the conversation as football camps open. They went from a team that you hoped made to the playoffs, to one that you now expect to be there in October.
Travis d’Arnaud is back. David Wright is expected to start playing in rehab games. Wilmer Flores is now a folk hero. And Cespedes is now here.
All of a sudden you have yourself an offense.
You can tell things are different around Citi Field. The place – maybe for the first time in its history – has come alive. There’s an electricity in the air which it never experienced and even though there wasn’t a full house tonight, it’s pretty packed.
Just wait until tomorrow and Sunday. Just wait until they come home to play Jose Reyes and the Rockies.
The New York Post pointed out last week that the Mets have a pretty easy schedule, with 46 of the Mets’ final 61 games will be against teams with sub-.500 records. And 10 of the 15 games against over .500 teams – the Nationals, Pirates and Yankees are in Queens.
Seeing this, Alderson delivered and the Mets are primed for a run. Even with the deadline passed, they still can add a piece or two through waivers, but even if they don’t the Mets are looking good.
You might say 17 times better.