By Mike Steffanos
Another Monday, another Mailbag from Marty Noble at Mets.com. The highlights:
Diaz or Nady in RF?
The Mets want to win this year, and at this point, Nady appears to be a more polished Major League player -- in all phases of the game -- than Diaz.
Diaz may have a higher ceiling, as the scouts say, but Nady seems more advanced. Nady also seems more defensively adept than Diaz, and he provides an energy Randolph has noted and complimented.
Given that most people believe that Nady had the advantage going in (justify the Cameron trade, Diaz has minor-league options left, Nady doesn't) so far you have to say "advantage Nady". He's hitting well, Willie loves his firm handshake, and he's looking good in the field. Victor still seems to drift in a game, getting caught off second against the Orioles was the typical Diaz move that Willie hates. I don't like it either, and I'm glad Willie doesn't tolerate it.
I have a feeling that Nady is going to continue to struggle against RHP as he has done for 3 years. Since the vast majority of pitchers in baseball are right-handers, I'd be surprised if Nady gets those 500 ABs Willie and Omar have talked about. Diaz may have to spend some time in purgatory (i.e. Norfolk), but my gut tells me he could still be the RF at season's end. Maybe he'll grow up a little this year, too.
Randolph had the Mets playing hard throughout 2005. The sense of purpose and the intensity he helped produce were critical factors last season. The Mets might have had a better record. They would have with more hitting or a better closer or more of Mike Cameron or more from second base. But if there is dissatisfaction with New York's manager, it is meager to the point of being meaningless.
In-game decisions have impact, of course. But I believe in manager's prerogative. I guarantee Randolph and his staff know more about the players, their strengths, weaknesses and tendencies than the rest of us. Most times, managers know about tight hammies, sore elbows and tired legs long before the rest of find out. We're not privy to all the information any manager has before him. To a great degree, the game of second-guessing is based in ignorance. We can't know as much as any manager knows about his team.
I've supported Willie here and will continue to do so, but his answer regarding Keppinger's chances at 2B was bizarre, and after all his years in baseball he should know better. Even if a guy really does have no shot, you don't say it. You say all the right things about competition and earning your spot and all that crap. Sometimes Willie is hard to defend, even for those of us that like him.
AP: Tommy John Surgery for Padilla
Reliever Juan Padilla, who pitched well for the Mets last year, will undergo reconstructive surgery on his elbow tomorrow and will miss the rest of this season.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel: The Good Castro
Craig Barnes has a nice story on the Castro it's okay to like: Mets backup catcher Ramon Castro.
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