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.