Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 19, 2009
BASEBALL: Infield Of Holes

Last night's Mets loss in extra innings was ... well, you can call it many things, but surprising would not be one, not when they faced a first-place (albeit Manny-less) team with the following lineup:

Angel Pagan - LF
Luis Castillo - 2B
Carlos Beltran - CF
Gary Sheffield - RF
David Wright - 3B
Fernando Tatis - 1B
Ramon Martinez - SS
Tim Redding - P

At least we have not yet been treated to Tatis at shortstop, where he is apparently now considered an option with Alex Cora on the DL.

The Mets' record may look good, but they have some serious issues to deal with. One is what to do about first base. The NY Post reports that "Carlos Delgado's surgery this morning was successful" and the Mets "expect him back in 10 weeks." That's good, but there's still a lot of season in 10 weeks. This is, unfortunately, a terrible time for Nick Evans to have been sent back to extended spring training because he was batting .093 at AAA. One solution may be to use first to get more playing time for Tatis, and another is using Murphy there more to get better gloves in the outfield, but those are probably stopgaps. Murphy really might end up as the longer-term answer at first than picking up a journeyman veteran like the suitcases-always-packed Aubrey Huff, but there's little enough reason to think Murphy can hit enough to be a league-average first baseman or better.

Then there's Reyes, who had just started getting hot when he got hurt, batting .444/.516/.630 in his last 7 games. John Harper thinks the Mets should bail on Reyes because of his mental lapses, but on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being Stan Musial or Jackie Robinson and 10 being Manny Ramirez, Reyes can't possibly be more than a 5 or 6 in terms of doing things to drive the manager nuts. His current injury is the first time he's been out of the lineup for any real time in years - the past 4 seasons, he's averaged 158 games and 741 plate appearances a year. Showing up on time and producing cover a multitude of sins. And I do think he's gotten a little better with time. Yes, Reyes can still make you tear your hair out at times, but it's just nonsensical to suggest that a contending team with no other options at short part with a 26-year-old with Reyes' talent and track record.

Reyes is a unique player: he's one of only three players ever to hit 15 homers and steal 50 bases in the same season as a shortstop, and one of only seven to hit.300, hit 15 homers and steal 30 bases as a shortstop. Being that Hanley Ramirez is on both lists, it's hard to really find a parallel to project his development forward, the closest possibly being Barry Larkin. Baseball-Reference.com's ten most similar players at the same age includes only one guy (Roberto Alomar, a much more patient hitter) who was within 100 steals of Reyes at the same age.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:12 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

When I was younger I used to look at Joe Morgan's stats and wonder what the hell the Astros were thinking when they traded him. I think it would be a mistake of similar proportions for the Mets to trade Reyes. That being said, if they are dead set on getting rid of him, I believe that Red Sox have some good young pitching to offer (Buccholz, Bowden, Bard, Hagadone etc.) that the Mets might find enticing. After the better part of a decade of Manny's antics, I doubt we'd even notice Reyes' sins here in Boston (and we could certainly use the production as short).

Posted by: Paul H. at May 19, 2009 2:36 PM

I think the Mets need to talk to the Pirates about LaRoche. His early season "slump" is about due to be over, so he ready to hit like an All Star for the rest of the season. His defense has always been above average.

BTW: I am a Pirates fan and would love for the Pirates to trade him for some good propect(s) before we lose him to FA. I say this in the interest of full disclosure.

Posted by: Lee at May 19, 2009 3:11 PM

The young(er) Reyes reminded me a lot of Gary Templeton, who didn't grow up until after his skills were gone. But unlike Templeton, Reyes has, for all his supposed air-headedness, managed to learn the one thing I never thought he would, which is plate discipline. I wouldn't be even considering trading him now, and I'd be highly reluctant to do so after the season either, unless the season goes severely wrong.

Posted by: Jerry at May 19, 2009 6:40 PM

Re: Mets Lineup

Hard to win many games without a catcher

Posted by: bensdad00 at May 20, 2009 12:31 AM

Ever notice that surgery is never described as anything other than "successful"?

I'm still waiting for a surgeon to say something like, "I blew that one. Delgado's done."

Posted by: John Salmon at May 20, 2009 9:57 AM

"Hard to win many games without a catcher"

Yeah, because if you don't have a catcher, you're likely to have a lot of passed balls!

/Casey Stengel

Posted by: A.S. at May 20, 2009 10:51 AM

BTW, gotta say it really sucks to stay up until 1:30 in the morning to watch the end of a Mets game, knowing you have to go to work the next morning, and then sitting through that 11th inning. I felt like I was in a time warp to 1962.

Posted by: A.S. at May 20, 2009 10:54 AM
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