It was the great Yogi Berra, who offered this bit of baseball wisdom for the ages: “You can observe a lot by just watching.’’
As an example, observe the New York Mets, who reached into baseball’s scrap heap the other day to sign Jose Bautista.
Now if this were 2015 when Bautista hit 40 home runs, that would be a big deal. Instead, this is 2018 and Joey Bats in 37 years old. The signing tells a lot about where this team is these days.
With Yeonis Cespedes on his annual disabled list trip with a hip flexor and Juan Lagares done for the season with a torn-up big toe that required surgery, the Mets were down to three healthy outfielders, all of them left-handed hitters. This is a dangerous way to go about the business of baseball.
Faced with that crisis, the Mets msade two roster moves, swapping catchers and pitchers and leaving the three surviving outfielders on their own for at least a couple of days.
Eventually, New York reached out to Bautista, who looked suspiciously done last year when he hit .203 in Toronto. He generated no interest as a free agent last winter and was unsigned until Atlanta found itself shorthanded at third base and tried to plug him in there, signing him on April 18.
That idea did not go over well. Joey Bats batted .143 (5-for-35) with two home runs and five RBIs in 12 games. The Braves cut bait and Bautista was resting at home, waiting for the phone to ring when the Mets came calling.
It was an urgent call. With Lagares and Cespedes out of action, the only legitimate outfielders on the roster were Jay Bruce, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. Not a right-handed bat in the bunch.
Things were so desperate that the Mets were working minor league first baseman Dominic Smith in right field, you know, just in case. And there was always Jose Reyes, once a shortstop but now a bench player on the back nine of his career. He, too, was hitting .143, hardly a recommendation for a spot in the lineup .
So Joey Bats rushed to the airport, caught a flight from Tampa to New York and arrived at Citi Field in the nick of time to be in the lineup against Miami. He swooped in like Superman and doubled in his first swing. Unfortunately, the Mets managed just three other hits in the game, not nearly enough, and lost 5-1.
General manager Sandy Alderson will tell you that this Bautista signing is not a quick fix, short term bit of business. Oh, no. Bautista is a long ball threat. Or at least he was. And besides, he is an outfielder and the Mets are not exactly overflowing with players at that position. So he is going to be here for a while, even after Cespedes makes his way back.
Watch the Mets roster moves. You can observe a lot.