Phillies Opposition Roadblock: Yoenis Cespedes

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Yoenis Cespedes will have the Phillies game planning all weekend long

It is a day after another Philadelphia Phillies legend has been sent off to a competing team.  Carlos Ruiz deserves an article of appreciation as much, if not more than any oth recent heroic Phillie.

In short, he was a guy who said little, did much, and had us all cheering for relentlessly.

As we have done many times over the course of the last two seasons, we must move on realizing he did everything he could do for us.  The organization did the right thing by giving him one last chance to win a title.  Safe to say most of us will be hoping for a Texas vs. Los Angeles World Series this year.

For now, we turn our attention to the players we will have on the field this weekend.  Our Phillies head into Citi Field hoping to stand in the way of the New York Mets postseason dreams, something they have infamously done before.  The hope for the Phillies is to be competitive from here on out, but my hope is that the Phillies can find a way to finish in front of a struggling Mets team.

This weekend, the Mets come into play only 3.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot.  In case you are wondering, the Phillies are still floating 8.5 games behind at this juncture.  New York is happy to have their offensive stabilized by their big man in the middle, Yoenis Cespedes.

The last time the two teams met, Cespedes was battling a hamstring issue.  This time, the Phillies will not be so lucky.  He is fresh off a 15 day DL stint and has hit safely in five of six games since he has returned.  The big right hander was a key piece to turning the Mets fortunes around last season, and signed a deal with them in the Winter that will more than likely keep him around for two more seasons.

The 2011 Cuban defector has had a pretty steady career.  However, it seems as though he has gotten better as he has gotten older.  Not that he was ever a poor offensive player, but it seems he has seen success from his maturation as a hitter.  The last two seasons Cespedes has seen growth in almost every offensive category.

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Last season was the first time he scored more than 100 runs, knocked in a career high 105 RBI, hit a career best 35 bombs, and slashed his personal best .291/.328/.542 between his time in Detroit and New York.

He decided to return to New York this offseason, signing a three-year deal worth $75 million.  I mentioned this earlier and said he will more than likely stay around for the remainder of the contract.

Hard to imagine the two-time All-Star leaving $50 million in guaranteed money.  I do not see him risking it to test the open market.

The former Gold Glove recipient is having a very solid 2016 campaign, .291/.362/.563 with 25 homers, and 64 RBI despite missing 27 contests.  However, I do not see a team taking the risk to give him more than $25 million per at 30 years old with his injury issues and character questions.  This season, he was criticized for playing golf while on the DL.

For now, he is the Phillies problem though and Adam Morgan, Jeremy Hellickson, and Vince Velasquez will look to contain him the next three games.  Cespedes has the tendency to pull the ball and sits up on the plate.

He has a relatively difficult time hitting the ball on the inner half, but likes when pitchers miss away, so he can extend his arms.  They are best served trying to keep the ball in on his hands or above his waist on the outer half.

Next: Jorge Alfaro Called-Up

Cespedes has strong numbers against both right handers and southpaws.  He has an OPS over 1.000 against lefties and a strong .873 OPS against righties.  He is raking a very strong .286/.361/.559 with 12 of his home runs at Citi Field, so the big ballpark does not affect the big outfielder.

The Phillies can keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a good showing in Flushing, all while adding to the destruction of New York’s hopes.  If they are going to do that though, it will take a weak effort from Cespedes and that is a difficult task for Philly pitching.

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