by John Furgele
Willie Randolph is still the Mets manager—for now—but something tells me that he won’t last the season unless the Mets go on an incredible 14-6 run or something of that nature. You can’t gather much from watching games on TV, but the Mets just don’t look interested. But, perhaps even more important, they mayjusy not be very good.
The 2006 season was their year and Yadier Molina and the St. Louis Cardinals ruined that. After a strong 32-17 start in 2007, the Mets have been an under .500 team. Throw in the monumental collapse that ended the 2007 season and one has to question just how good this team really is. And, would a new manager, a new voice really help? And, if you do fire Randolph, you need a Jack McKeon/Larry Bowa type to replace him, not a Jerry Manuel.
Let’s look at the Mets
1B: Carlos Delgado: He’s old and looks old at the plate, swinging and missing with alarming regularity, and hitting .220
2B: Luis Castillo: a complimentary player at best, but always a good average hitter. When the team is going well, he’s one of those “intagible” players that you have to have. When the team is going poorly, he “never hits homers, drives in runs,” and fans want him replaced. Put Castillo on the Red Sox, the superlatives reign, but on the underachieving Mets, not so much.
SS: Jose Reyes: Has regressed and nobody really knows why. Still too early to give up on him, because when he’s going right, he is perhaps the most exciting player in the game. That said, something is bothering this kid and the Mets have to figure it out—SOON.
3B: David Wright: The best player on the team and his numbers will be there in the end. But, like many of the Mets has had instances of not running hard and as a third baseman, he can’t make the throws. How he won a Gold Glove last year is a mystery. Once Delgado leaves, he should be moved to first base.
LF: Moises Alou: Always hurt, never plays. The fact that the Mets are playing Nick Evans, a AA call-up says it all.
CF: Carlos Beltran: A very good player, but the Mets overpaid to get him. Fans mistake his long strides and easy going manner as not putting out effort. Simply put, Beltran is a guy who thinks of baseball as a job, a way to make a living. There are a lot of Beltrans in baseball, so to fault him exclusively is not fair. To me, just doesn’t have the passion that New York baseball fans want in a player. Would like to win a championship, but won’t be sad if his teams never do so. Once again, he is not alone here.
RF: Ryan Church: Has been a pleasant surprise, but he was ready to break out. When he was acquired by the Mets, most of the “experts,” didn’t think he could play full-time. Of course, they (and the Expos/Nationals) never gave him a chance. Remember, it was Davey Johnson who thought Lenny Dykstra couldn’t hit lefties, so he traded him to the Phillies for Juan Samuel. How did that work out?
C: Brian Schneider: A good defesnsive player, but nothing more than a .235 to .255 hitter. If you’re relying on him for big hits, good luck.
P: Johan Santana: Thus far, he has not been the stopper, the dominant losing streak-ender the Mets needed. At $26 million per season, they need more than 6 plus innings, 12 hits and four runs. The fact that he has trouble putting hitters away has to be a concern.
P: Oliver Perez: Great stuff, but up-and-down. If the Mets give him big money, it will be a mistake. Somebody will give him the dough, though.
P: John Maine: An average to slightly above average strting pitcher.
P: Mike Pelfrey: Pitches scared. Because the Mets show no confidence in him, he takes the mound thinking one more bad start and he’s off to New Orleans—or the bullpen.
P: Claudio Vargas: Who?
P: Pedro Martinez: Always hurt. The Red Sox certainly knew what they were doing when they let him walk as a free agent. Reenergized the Mets after the “Art Howe Era,” but was MIA in 2006 and 2007, and thus far, 2008. The fact that the Mets have no sense of urgency to get him back is disturbing.
RP: Aaron Heilman: He’s having one of those up-and-down relief pitcher years. One year, they’re great, the next year, they’re bad. Remember Chad Bradford? In 2006, he was super, but the Mets wisely let him go and he has been ordinary since. Heilman wants to start, and probably would be better off doing that, where giving up a home run or two during the course of the game doesn’t always cripple you. Ask Johan Santana
RP: Billy Wagner: A top five closer who will save 19 of every 21 chances, nothing to worry about here, In sum, the least of the Met worries.
The rest of the bullpen is average—at best. The bench is below average. For some reason the Mets love Marlon Anderson, but every other team he plays for winds up releasing him. Fernando Tatis? Raul Castro is a decent backup catcher, but breaks down in that role, and Damion Easley is a useful backup infielder, but there is hardly a threat, or more importantly somebody to push a starter. Delgado has to play everyday, because there is no Tony Clark on the bench to threaten him.
There you have it. The 2008 Mets. Omar Minaya says they have championship talent. Do you believe him?