Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 6, 2008
BASEBALL: Limping To The Starting Line

A lot of the rash of Mets' spring injuries don't concern me - stiffness and tightness and the like is par for the course for early spring. Ryan Church's concussion should be fine long before it matters. And while Ruben Gotay's busted ankle is too bad, the Mets have four other options at second (Castillo, Valentin, Easley and Anderson Hernandez) and were probably going to have some time-sharing there anyway, mainly between Castillo and Valentin.

But the injury to Moises Alou (hernia) combined with the recurrence of Carlos Delgado's hip troubles is a real problem. It raises again the issue of the Mets' outfield depth and their possible dependence on filling the corners with slap hitters like Endy Chavez, Brady Clark, and Angel Pagan. (By the way, I somehow goofed in composing that last post when I checked to see if Clark was right or lefthanded; Clark's a righty, which makes his presence in camp much more sensible to provide some balance off the bench. But playing him regularly for any stretch is a bad idea). Granted, Alou always misses a lot of time, and he's 41, so this can't be a big shock. But if the Mets don't get some real power production from him and Delgado they will have real problems scoring runs even with the Big 3 of Wright, Beltran and Reyes.

The good news is that 1B/corner outfield slots are the easiest to fill off the scrap heap, but if it comes to that, it will take some real effort for Omar Minaya to come up with people who can hit for a cheap price. The names being thrown around by the News aren't great:

The Mets had targeted Tigers outfielder Marcus Thames over the winter, but the price of acquiring the former Yankee would likely rise in light of Alou's situation. Scouts identified the Cubs' Matt Murton, Pittsburgh's Xavier Nady, San Diego's Scott Hairston, Oakland's Emil Brown and Texas' Nelson Cruz as righty-hitting outfielders who could be available.

Thames has great power (35 doubles, 42 HR in 617 AB the past two years), but doesn't do a lot else and batted just .209/.249/.456 against righthanded pitching last season. So I'd take him, but in a happier world you would use him as a platoon guy. One consideration should be trying to find someone who can play both first and the OF, if possible; Thames has played first, but I don't know how well.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:14 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Personally, I'm more than a bit concerned that Carlos Beltran still isn't running six months after what was supposed to be routine surgery.

Posted by: Jerry at March 6, 2008 1:47 PM

I think Beltran and Delgado need to work with McNamee. Crank, wish you were Cerrone this spring? I've been to PSL twice for spring training, but my experience pales in comparison to his.

Posted by: abe at March 6, 2008 2:09 PM

"And while Ruben Gotay's busted ankle is too bad, the Mets have four other options at second (Castillo, Valentin, Easley and Anderson Hernandez) and were probably going to have some time-sharing there anyway, mainly between Castillo and Valentin."

Wait, Valentin is making the club??? How can that be?

I've got 12 pitchers, 2 catchers, the 7 outfield and infield starters, and Chavez. That leaves 3 spots. Easley, Gotay, and Marlon Anderson, no? Where does Valentin or a scrapheap outfielder fit in? You need someone who can be sent down to AAA when Gotay returns, right?

Posted by: A.S. at March 6, 2008 2:43 PM

I'll be surprised if you guys get half a season from Mr. Alou. He was overly fragile as a Giant, and time is not kind to the injury-prone. If he doesn't hang it up soon, people will more remember him as being injured-reserve, than for his better accomplishments as an Expo and Astro. Of course, there's always that idiot kid Steve Bartman at Wrigley grabbing the foul ball away from Moises when it counted the most.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at March 6, 2008 2:48 PM

Alou is a candidate to crater completely, given his age. I'm saying that even though I love the guy, one of the best pure hitters with an unorthodox stance that I've ever seen, even late into his career. But Crank I think Thames has a bit more upside that youre granting him; he's never really got a true shot at a full time job, and his power is off the charts with a contract to play for. He's far better than replacement level in LF so the Mets would be wise to pick him up. By the way Crank what is your take on Beltran's knees? Worrisome in a big or small way?

Posted by: seth soothsayer at March 6, 2008 6:36 PM
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