Monday, May 28, 2007

Who's In Left?

Following another disappointing series in the Mets personal House of Horrors, Turner Field, it was nice to see the team get back on track and back to basics, knocking around the Marlins and coming away with the sweep in Florida over the weekend. I've mentioned before about the killer instinct of this team, and it showed over the weekend, as the Mets went for the jugular and stomped on an inferior opponent.

But somehow all these victories turned Pyrrhic for the Mets, as now it appears Outfielders are dropping like flies (but fortunately not dropping flies).

Friday: Shawn Green fouls a pitch off his foot. The result: A hairline fracture. Out indefinitely. He thinks he can play through it, but it's still undetermined as to whether or not he's going on the DL.

Saturday: Carlos Gomez strains a hamstring running out a ground ball in the 2nd inning. First, Gomez was probably safe on the play. Second, it looked to me like it was an ankle he turned. But then, what the hell do I know from watching on TV?

Both of them are being tested. Gomez figures to be OK. Green may need some time on the DL.

Which begs some interesting questions. With Alou already on the shelf and not quite ready to come back, the Mets are now shorthanded in the Outfield. Beltran remains the constant patrolling in Center. With Green out, it's been Endy playing in Right. Yesterday, we saw second baseman Damion Easley out in Left. Although Easley certainly proved himself a more viable option in Left than, say, Todd Hundley, it's not a good sign when you have only 2 outfielders that can be trusted to play on a regular basis. And should both Green and Gomez need to miss extended time, the Mets have a problem, because the remaining options look something like this:

David Newhan, whom you all know I am just a huge fan of, and his .194 average.

Damion Easley, not an outfielder, but fairly serviceable, which would leave the Mets with plucky but punchless Ruben Gotay starting at second.

Ben Johnson: A mystery, hitting a rather punchless .282 in AAA, with 2 HRs and 6 RBI.

Lastings Milledge: Just got his foot out of a boot, and must now work on keeping said foot out of his mouth.

Jesus Feliciano: Middling. I don't know much about him but his numbers in AAA don't excite me.

Chip Ambres: Who?

(OK, I know who. Ex-Marlin castoff who never amounted to anything)

There's always stud outfielder Fernando Martinez, down in Binghamton, but the last time we rushed someone up from there, he turned into Jeff Duncan. Let him stay down there and get his feet wet.

The other thing that worries me is that with the injuries mounting, Endy ends up being pressed into an everyday role. Now, the case has been made by many that Green or Alou should simply be benched in favor of Endy, because of all he brings in the field and often at the plate. And because he's performed so well over the last couple of seasons, it's easy to think that would be true. But he's not an everyday player. A quick examination of his career stats will reveal that. In 2003, he played in 141 games, hit .251/.294/.354. He fared little better in 2004, going .277/.318/.351. In 2005, he was hitting .215 for Philly before he got sent to the minors. Leave him in everyday, and he will get exposed at the plate. Yes, his defense never suffered, but the Mets success depends far too much on the production out of a corner outfield spot, and if one of them is going to be filled by a rookie or an unknown, Endy could easily become exposed and become a liability at the plate. This was exploited last season during the NLCS. His success is contingent upon his use, and being used as a "secret weapon" type off the bench and a spot starter is his best role for any team. And that's the role that made him a fan favorite. He'll get his ABs, but he shouldn't get them all at once.

But, with that said, I still love you, Endy.

Of course, should either Green or Gomez be fine, all this worrying is useless.

Other notes from the weekend:

Good to see El Duque come back and look just as sharp as he had in April. I was a bit concerned with Vargas, although it's been said over and over that he has good stuff and was rushed by Florida, but I wasn't about to count on him to come out in a big game. What we learned while El Duque was out is that Jorge Sosa was indeed a viable option, and Chan Ho Park was the unmitigated disaster that we all knew he was.

Delgado showed some signs of life on Saturday, which was also nice. Having been dropped to the #6 hole in Atlanta, I can only imagine how much he must have been pressing. But he responded with a couple of hits on Tuesday, and a couple of long HRs on Saturday. But, much like the case with Wright, one good game is a start. But let's keep this going for a few weeks. Get that average above .220 and we'll talk.

Of course, the best sight of the weekend was seeing Pedro back in the dugout on Friday, smiling and goofing around. He says he feels like his old self, throwing in the mid-90s. We shall see. I'll take the Pedro that relies on guile, deception and improvisation just fine, so long as he's healthy. But if he's going to come back and be the Badass Pedro of the late 1990s, well, look out.

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