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What Now?

Mike SteffanosThursday, March 6, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

The bad news about Moises Alou has been dispensed, and the endless string of handwringing and negativity begins anew. The euphoria over the Santana trade is all but forgotten.

Look, we all knew that Alou was a crapshoot in LF this season. I thought John Delcos had it right in his blog for The Journal News:

Moises Alou in his prime would have been a big loss to the Mets. However, let's not forget the Mets were hoping for 120 games from him. That's tops.

So, to suggest it would be a huge loss to lose a player who in essence is a little more than part time, is taking it over the limit. The Mets will be fine in left field.

John must have missed the memo that decrees that all press coverage of the Mets must be slanted as negatively as possible. It should be full of predictions of impending doom and endless recitations of the current injured list. Everywhere you look the attitude seems to be one unrelenting downer.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm tired of it. I'm not immune to doubts about this club, and I'm certainly not going to put on a pair of rose-colored glasses and ignore it when things go wrong, but I hereby declare this site an official no handwringing zone. Look around the National League and you'll find a lot of fans who only wish they were rooting for a team that had a chance to win it. While we clearly recognize the obstacles in the way we will try to focus on options that can solve the current problems rather than wallowing in self-pity because things aren't going our way right now.

I think the Mets have enough OF options in camp to soldier on without Alou. Apparently Damion Easley is ready to start playing, and if he's come back from his injury he's a solid bat and a decent OF option. Marlon Anderson can do a credible job out there, and hopefully Endy Chavez can come back soon. Trading for Angel Pagan was a good move by Omar this winter, as was signing Brady Clark and Ben Johnson to minor league contracts. None of these guys is going to make the All Star team, but they're all useful players with experience and some skills.

I don't think the Mets are likely to be able to pull off a deal for anyone that great at the moment, but they do have some bullpen depth and a team that suffers an injury might come knocking. That's the kind of deal that can easily happen after the season starts. We'll watch Delgado, of course, and if it becomes clear that the hip is an issue the urgency level can change.

Kenny Lofton is a name that has been mentioned. While he is intriguing, he's a left-handed bat and still seems to want to be a regular. I'm not sure he'd be a good fit when the team's biggest need would seem to be for a right-handed 1B/OF.

I'd like to see Omar resist trading prospects for a Xavier Nady type until all other options have been exhausted. It really is time for him to concentrate on getting this team younger. With Alou on a 1-year contract and a $4 million buyout on Delgado after the season there should be resources and incentive not to gamble quite so heavily on older players.

As far as this year, though, the one thing I'm sure of is that the Mets will deal with their share of adversity. I'm not sure that this is a bad thing.

The 2006 Mets had to deal with so many things. They lost Pedro for most of the season, and he was only one of many starters to go down. I still cringe and whimper if someone sneaks up behind me and yells "Lima Time!" I remember how the team was written off in the playoffs when first Pedro and then El Duque weren't able to pitch. Guys stepped up and they beat LA and went 7 with the Cardinals.

That was a club that knew how to handle misfortune, and if we're lucky they just might rediscover that attitude. Maybe we as Mets fans can, too.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (7)

How about offering a package of relievers to the Yankees for Shelly Duncan? Right handed, some pop, 1b and very young. Some combo of Clark and Pagan can help fill in for ALou and platoon with Church if necessary. I think Church will hit lefties well enough though.

Great column, Mike. I agree with everything you said. To puy things in perspective, opening day is 25 days away. The regular position players only need 40 or so at-bats, 7 -10 days, to get themselves comfortable and get consistent swings at live pitching.

Here we go again Mike . 3 Years in a row now with mutiple injuries to the Team , and to others within the Organization . Is it the Mets Strenght and Conditioning program that is at fault for all these players getting hurt , just Bad Luck ? Or is it as usual , a continuation of the Mets making Bad Choices again when it comes to hiring personal ? Personally , I am at a loss in understanding all this . You ?

Thanks, Mike, for putting into intelligent sentences the thoughts I've been having since spring training began. It's not great news coming out of Mets camp, but it's not the end of the world, either.

stem50 has a good point about the team's conditioning regimen. But you can only work with what you've got, and all those limbs in their fourth and fifth decade on earth can only limber up so much. I wouldn't heap all the blame on Rick Slate, the Mets' strength and conditioning coordinator, just yet, but it certainly deserves a look, and a comparison with other teams that have a similar demographic. Like the Kids and the Kubs, for instance.

I'm reminded of a short animated film I saw several years ago, in which a banker picks up a newspaper whose headline reads "Hard Times Are Coming". He then denies the business owner the loan he was looking for. The business owner then gets evicted from the apartment he was renting, and leaves his family. The spiral continues, until hard times actually arrive for everyone. The kicker - the headline the banker originally read was from a newspaper printed twenty years earlier. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

Like you, Mike, I refuse to participate in the current recession of Mets optimism. I'm going for faith rather than fear, until I'm proven wrong.

Jason Huber!

(Trying to start a groundswell here.)

Boy! I remember a time we would have given the store away for Bonds, and now eventhough his stats would fill the void for us, we dont even want his name mentioned on this team, or any other for that matter. To bad for him and baseball, but self inflicted.

Chris - I haven't seen enough of Duncan to know much about him, but I doubt if the Yankees will be looking to help the Mets out.
AstoriaMetsFan - Agreed. Look, the Mets might as well get used to playing without guys now, because it will happen over the course of the season.
stem50 - You have to look at the injuries and the guys getting hurt. You have several coming back from surgery that aren't ready to play yet. You had 2 guys crash into each other. You have some fairly common leg injuries that happen a lot in pro sports. You have fragile guys like Alou and El Duque, and even Beltran to some extent. I don't see a problem with the strength and conditioning guys -- I see a team that REALLY, REALLY needs to get younger next year.
NostraDennis - Again, I think conditioning gets questioned when a team goes through injuries, but I think that the Mets just gambled on some guys who are older and, in Alou's case, injury prone.
dd - Maybe an on-line petition?
Al - agreed. They don't need that baggage. They have enough problems.

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