If available, I would be buying stock in Yoenis Cespedes.
I think he's going to be a monster this season, lead the Mets to a franchise-best third consecutive postseason and get -- at least -- several MVP votes.
To say I have lofty expectations for Cespedes is an understatement. The thing is, from what I'm hearing, they pale in comparison to what he expects from himself.
In addition to playing less golf this winter, Cespedes has already been doing personalized workouts with the team's senior advisor of strength and conditioning, Mike Barwis, in Port St. Lucie.
According to the Bergen Record's Bob Klapisch, the Mets were slightly worried about Cespedes after he signed a three-year deal that he would eventually opt out of this past winter.
Mar 30, 2016; Cespedes (52) connects for a double at Tradition Field. Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
"I don't know if there was a family issue or personal issue over the winter, but he looks a little heavy to me," a team official told Klapisch in early 2016. "He's not in the kind of shape we expected."
However, that was then, this is now...
"Fast forward one year later and he sounds like a different man," Klapisch says about the early-arriving 2017 version of Cespedes. "He's got an edge."
I believe talk of Cespedes needing to be motivated by free agency, and this idea that he'll become complacent with a $100 million contract, is foolish and misguided. He is only portrayed in media as a diva. However, I know he knows that his massive ego and incredible confidence is a big reason why he's so powerful at the plate, which is why I don't think he will or should change.
Instead of slacking, I expect Yo to step up his game and be a leader on and off field. Instead of silly stories about cars and horses, I bet we start reading stories this spring about his hustle and dedication, his mentoring young players, being more vocal on the field and spending less time on his own and more time with teammates.
People that know him well all tell me he's oddly shy and humble in a small setting. It's when the lights go on and curtain opens that he becomes "Yo," the guy flipping bats and hitting 400-foot bombs.
They say he loves decadence, appreciates what he has, he loves to laugh, and he loves sharing success with friends and family. Similarly, he wants to share in success with his teammates, and with us -- Mets fans -- who have done nothing but welcome him with open arms since the minute he got to town.
"He wants to be New York's Big Papi," a person close to Cespedes told me earlier this year, referring to the fatherly role that David Ortiz played on the Red Sox during the final decade of his career. "He wants to be the guy Mets fans hold up and respect and appreciate, just like Boston fans did."
Aug 20, 2014; Ortiz (34) celebrates with Cespedes (52) at Fenway Park. Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Cespedes played in 51 games alongside Ortiz for the Red Sox in 2014, after which he was traded to the Tigers. Six months later, the Tigers traded Cespedes to the Mets.
He returned to New York the next season, but re-entered free agency less than a year later. Thankfully, despite interest from other teams, he agreed to a four-year, $110 million deal with the Mets.
"When the guy plays, we win," Mets GM Sandy Alderson said when announcing the contract. "It's hard to ignore that. So we didn't."
Since being acquired in 2015, the Mets are 106-74 with Cespedes in the lineup, but 18-23 without him.
"I said it long before this happened that I wanted to be with this team," Cespedes told reporters after signing his new deal. "I wanted to come back to this team, and -- God willing -- I will finish out my career with this team."
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is the lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to work with sports brands build digital content businesses...