(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Mike Piazza threw out the first pitch before Sunday night’s Mets-Yankees Subway Series finale. He spoke to the media about what he thinks of Yoenis Cespedes and the Mets before the game.
“I’m excited for the team this season and, obviously, they’re having a great year and, without putting too much pressure on them, looking forward to, hopefully they do well in the playoffs, everyone stays healthy and, hopefully, that makes for an exciting postseason,” said Piazza.
Piazza said of the qualities he sees in this Mets team, “I think the true sign of a really good ballclub is a team that bounces back from adversity, a team that goes through challenges, be that pitching challenges or offensive challenges. This year, I kind of followed them a little closely just knowing earlier they had some offensive issues and they were able to kind of weather out that storm with some solid pitching and defense. Now, that they seem to be swinging the bats better, it’s taking the pressure off the pitching. A team that is going to be successful in any situation has to have a balance and you have to have a good synergy between the offense and the defense and the pitching, obviously the defense being part of the pitching because there’s gonna be times when you trip up and, when you do, you have to pick each other up. It seems like a nice balance, and you have to believe, and they’re starting to believe they can beat anybody.”
Piazza said of what Cespedes has brought to this team, “I remember him being with the coaching in Europe, the Italians told me about him when he was with the Cuban national team. It’s been long known he could swing the bat and, obviously, back to the home run hitting contest here, so, I mean, it’s fun to watch and fun to watch the energy that he’s been bringing the ballclub, the fact that the lineup has a good balance now with the lefthanders and the righthanders. As I said, they just have to keep doing what they’re doing, not do too much, and as you see now, it’s good he’s at that point now he’s realizing he’s chasing a few bad pitches and he just has to dial it back in and get ready for the postseason.”
Piazza said of how similar his arrival was in 1998 to Cespedes,’ “A little different in some ways I think, obviously, I came here a little earlier than he did so my baptism here was a little longer in a way, but I love that he came in here and was all business and really just focus and do what he was brought in here to do, and that’s to ignite the offense and really be a good foundation and anchor in the linuep and complement other guys, because, to me, I’ve always felt like, as a hitter, I tried to elevate the other guys in the lineup and I think he can do that. Even when he’s not swinging the bat well, you’re still a presence and that’s complementing on David and the lefties, so it’s a good balance and if the guys at the top of the lineup can get on base, they’re going to score runs, so that’s the biggest thing.”
On any similarities between this team and the 2000 team, Piazza said, “Man, that was a long time ago, let me think…do I see any similarities? I think each team is unique, I think that this team has some really amazing guys on the mound, and we did as well, but I think maybe we were a little bit more of a team that was improvised a lot. We had a lot of interesting role players that came forward that were kind of journeymen and things like that. So, this team again, it comes down to when you start to believe you can beat anybody., that’s the key, and it seems like they’re at that point now, and they know if they play their game, they’re gonna win.”