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Mets 08 Lament (with an eye to 09)

Dave MillsSunday, October 5, 2008
By Dave Mills

The second guessers are coming out in droves. As if its not bad enough to have experienced the pain and suffering of the past two Septembers, we now have to listen to a laundry list of reasons and less than expert fixes.

Joel Sherman of the Post suggests trading Jose Reyes. Others suggest moving Beltran and there has even been some innuendo regarding moving David Wright. Sheer and utter madness!

There is not a more talented left side of an infield in MLB. Period. Even better, both are under 26 or under and, barring serious injury, are both potential candidates for MVP, batting championships, gold gloves and even the Hall of Fame. They are also signed to very reasonable contracts for the next three to four years.

Sorry Joel, I don't care that you're looking to create some sizzle and pen a column with more edge than the rest of the field, but most of us have watched these two guys from the low minors and really like what we see. Real Mets fans do not get paid to comment. We pay to watch and be entertained. The Mets without Reyes and/or Wright would be far less entertaining. However, the Post, with or without Joel Sherman, is still a rag.

The Mets were flat out unlucky this season. While Omar could be faulted for relying on Moises Alou to man leftfield, he also went out and got a very talented rightfielder who plays hard and ended up seriously injured for most of the season. Ryan Church was arguably the Mets best player for the first seven weeks of a trying season. He excelled at every facet of the game and looked like he would have been the fourth member of the lineup to have had 25 HR and over 100 RBI.

Minaya nurtured the resurrection of Fernando Tatis. He signed him early in the 2007 season and rehabilitated his career with a season and then some at New Orleans. Upon joining the Mets in 2008, he was just what the doctor ordered, providing clutch hitting for power, surprising speed and better than decent outfield defense, especially for an infielder. During a remarkable midseason stretch he, Damion Easley and Ramon Castro quite literally carried the Mets offense. With less than three weeks remaining in the season, a separated shoulder ended Tatis' season and took an integral part of the offense with him.

A pretty good argument can be made that had just one of the injuries not occurred to either Alou, Church or Tatis, the Mets go to the postseason no matter what the bullpen configuration.

Injuries to the pitching staff were particularly profound as well. Losing Pedro to an injury that was compounded by his father's demise, along with Billy Wagner and John Maine going down during the stretch run, was reasonably profound and certainly consequential. As it turned out, it appears that Heilman had played through an injury all season, just as Schoeneweis had done in 2007.

Sometimes, bad luck comes knocking.

Nonetheless, the truly underachieving were not many. That list is led by Luis Castillo, Heilman and Pedro, all of whom apparently dealt with injury issues and difficult times.

As opposed to Carlos Delgado's very slow start, Duaner Sanchez was out of the gate with a fire in his belly. It didn't last. Perhaps he was used too much especially coming off his extensive injuries and rehabilitation? But it sure seemed like the entire bullpen fell prey to the lack of duration by the starting staff. And of course, El Duque missed the entire 2008 campaign.

Like the outfield, had just one of this trio--Pedro, El Duque or Wagner--not been injured, we likely would have seen the Mets in the postseason.

This is not an attempt at making excuses, just a rational way of looking at the 2008 season, so as to not promote doing something rash, like listening to Mike Francesa spew forth his particular brand of disinformation. Apparently, he has sources who tell him Ryan Church couldn't stand playing in NY. Yeh, he'd prefer to be back in a Washington uniform playing against opponents having a meaningful September.

The fixes are not really that difficult.

First, the Mets just did what they had to do and rehired Jery Manuel. He is a very competent manager, has the respect of his players and knew how to handle the rigors of the NY media.

Second is second. The Mets need a quality second sacker and at least two 31-year-olds could easily fill the bill. Orlando Hudson is available as a free agent and it would be difficult to imagine that Brian Roberts could not be available from the Orioles. Both of these players can deliver hits, runs, some pop, sa few stolen bases and very good gloves. They also appear to be leadership types. Perhaps a package of Heilman, Schoeneweis, Argenis Reyes and Nick Evans for Roberts? The O's might also be interested in Delgado, in which case the Mets can platoon Murphy or Carp with Evans at 1B.

Third -- how about a feast of four talented free-agent southpaws: Brian Fuentes, Joe Biemel, Darren Oliver and Jamie Moyer. While Fuentes will be expensive, he will be far less costly than Francisco Rodriguez. The other three should be quite reasonable. Signing the 46-year old Moyer is a no-brainer since the Mets were 1-6 against him this past season. He will likely pitch to 50.

Last, but not least, Omar must try to acquire Huston Street from Billy Beane, who will want some serious young talent like Daniel Murphy or Fernando Martinez. I would refrain from trading either prospect for a pitcher, but what about Church, Duaner Sanchez and a low prospect? One thing is proven by the injury to Wagner--a team must have a backup closer. Street has walked that beat.

What Minaya does with Castillo and Marlon Anderson is anybody's guess? Re-signing Tatis and Easley to compliment Endy Chavez on a talented bench seems logical, as does a bullpen of Fuentes, Street, Biemel, Stokes, Feliciano, Smith and Oliver.

Which leaves the starting staff...

Santana, Maine, Moyer, Pelfrey and...

Let Oliver Perez and a $15+ million a year deal take a walk. Seems to this Mets watcher that Pedro will find some way to win if his health is OK. An incentive laden contract is the only way to go. If not, Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell look like legitimate prospects with Dillon Gee not far behind. Of course, they can sign Kyle Lohse at a much higher price than last winter.

About Dave: Dave Mills, born in Kew Gardens, Queens, the day after Willie Mays' circus catch in the 1954 World Series, is a devout Met fan since 1962. The first game he attended was Mets v. Reds at the Polo Grounds on September 14, 1962. With the game tied 9-9 in the 9th, Choo Choo ("Bub") Coleman hit a game-winning walkoff HR down the rightfield line on to the tin roof. The sound is indelibly etched in his memory! Dave lives on Oahu, where he markets and writes about golf. His company, HawaiiGolfDeals.com is the leading deliverer of golfers to the Aloha State. His take on Golf in Australia is in the Oct/Nov issue of Fairways & Greens Magazine.

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Comments (4)

"Signing the 46-year old Moyer is a no-brainer since the Mets were 1-6 against him this past season. He will likely pitch to 50."

You are saying that Omar should continue to invest in the elderly? And a soft-tosser to boot? I'm not devastated, but a little puzzled at this suggestion.

Agreed with Metsforme on Moyer.

Does anyone out there have the latest on Seattle's J. J. Putz? His health I meam.

The guy was terrific, then he got hurt; meanwhile his team took a header. Today the Mariners need everything; they have no strong suits, nothing. The last thing they need is a market-price closer.

I have to believe Putz is available.

But who plays left? Or right for that matter?

Putz is available with Brendan Morrow taking over the closer role in Seattle.

I also don't want Moyer to join the Mets. I'd rather the Mets look at Derek Lowe and Jon Garland for the back end of the rotation, and consider giving Niese a shot at the rotation next year. I also actually would have no problem with the Mets trading for Barry Zito, provided that the Giants eat alot of his contract. He'd be a good #4 starter on the Mets. Seriously.

I don't have a problem with K-Rod coming in as a Mets closer, but I also have no problem with the Mets bringing in Fuentes and a slew of middle relievers who can each get lefties and righties out, unlike the current Mets' bullpen. The only specialist who should stay is Smith. I'm not against Huston Street coming in, but I think he's a bit overrated.

As for a bat, I'm on the Pat Burrell bandwagon. Get him OFF of the Phillies, NOW. He's a far better hitter out of Philly anyways, and will most likely sign for less than he got with that sweetheart deal a few years ago. He'd hit .275 33 HR, 100 RBI on the Mets and he'd be average in the OF at least. Plus, he's a righthanded bat, which is huge for the Mets.

Also consider signing Orlando Hudson, although keep an eye on Danny Murphy for 2B. And it's no suprise that Jerry Manuel HATES Luis Castillo. Look for Castillo to get traded, big time.

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