By Mike Steffanos
Marlins 9 - Mets 6
We're going to do a little something different here today. My colleagues Joyce and Dennis have, in their own unique ways, already covered important aspects of last night's inglorious defeat. I think I'll pass on talking much about the game.
Actually, the original plan for this year was to deemphasize game recaps in favor of more analysis and opinion pieces. That's still the plan. As regular readers of this blog know, Lisa and I bought a house a little while back and are in the process of renovating it to move into. I've been working my paying job everyday until 4:30 or 5, then going over to the new house to paint and other assorted tasks until 1 or 2 in the morning. The brief recap format seems to fit in with the limited amount of time I have to put into this blog. The move-in date is May 24, and things should lighten up considerably within a week of that day. There will be ongoing work to be done after that, but at a more human pace.
After two weeks of the above schedule, I feel both overwhelmed and burnt out at times. Then again, no one forced me to do what I'm doing. By painting the entire interior of the house ourselves, we saved enough money to redo the kitchen. So I deal with the fatigue and stress by looking long term. We love the new house, and understand the reward for whatever sacrifice we make now.
I can't help but look at the Mets season in the same way. If you want to have a stroke every time Willie makes a move you don't like, feel free. If you want to internalize every loss like it's a playoff loss, suit yourself. If you want to harp on the moves Omar Minaya did or didn't make this winter, go ahead. As for me, I like at the calendar and see "May 1", and I'm not ready to start pushing the panic button.
The rash of recent injuries have brought to the forefront complaints about the club's age. Yet we all knew going in that Orlando Hernandez wouldn't start 35 games, and that Jose Valentin and Moises Alou wouldn't get 550 ABs. While Chan Ho Park didn't cover himself in glory last night, he's not going to be 2007's Jose Lima. I can't fault Omar Minaya for keeping a promise to Park that he would get the first call up from New Orleans, as that allowed the Mets to hold onto a piece of insurance a while longer. The Mets have Jorge Sosa, Philip Humber and Jason Vargas to take over from Park, and by all accounts we'll be seeing one of them this weekend.
Valentin is the injury that most concerns me, as I think he's a large part of the glue that holds this team together in the field and at the plate. It's hard to imagine anyone hitting as well in the eight slot as Mr. Valentin. Still, Damion Easley is a solid ballplayer and a pro, and I feel better with him in the position than with Ruben Gotay or Anderson Hernandez.
Alou, if he is out for any length of time, presents a problem. With both Lastings Milledge and Ben Johnson out, the best minor-league options aren't there. By the way, you can harp on the age of this team, but 20-somethings Milledge and Johnson hardly qualify for AARP cards. Injuries are a big part of sports.
I know Milledge will be out for a while, but hopefully Ben Johnson isn't that far away. Even if Alou doesn't go on the DL, I'd rather see Johnson on the roster than Gotay. Newhan could spell Easley at 2B when needed, and Johnson could give the club a right-handed outfielder to occasionally rest Shawn Green, and also provide the Mets with a little pop off the bench.
El Duque's shoulder problems give Mike Pelfrey another chance to relax a little. By all accounts, if he can get his emotions under control he could help this team. Also, with Chan Ho punching his one-way ticket to Palookaville, there is an opportunity for Sosa, Humber or Vargas. The Mets stockpiled a lot of depth this off-season, now hopefully some of it can come through.
After I post this I will leave here and head out to the new house. I will drag my tired 48-year-old carcass through another long evening of painting. Not much fun right now, but the big picture is brighter. With respect, I still think the same could be said for the Mets. They have hit their first major bump in the road for 2007, and will have to overcome these injuries and more if they hope to be playing deep into October again. I still like their chances.