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
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.