By Mike Steffanos
As I'm sure you already know, the Mets designated Brad Emaus for assignment today. It's at least unlikely that we'll see him in a Mets uniform again.
That the Mets made this move so quickly tells you just how bad things are going for them right now. If they were scoring some runs and winning some games they would have undoubtedly given the kid a few more ABs before making a decision on him. This move carries a whiff of desperation with it.
I suspect, however, that there was somewhat less than complete support for Emaus among the brain trust. In fairness, this was a kid whose career minor league numbers (.276/.364/.426 in 1,559 AB) never screamed potential star, and he looks overmatched against major league pitching. Then again, he has plenty of company in the Mets lineup right now.
In a way, Emaus epitomized this club in the early going. He played tight and seemed like he was trying not to fail. Maybe instead of shipping him back to Toronto they should have made him the mascot.
I'm really concerned about this club right now. In the post I wrote for Mets Today, I spoke about how important it is to for the club to shake that "soft team" label.
I don't define softness in sports as a failure of effort any more than I confuse toughness with pure emotional display. As I explained in the comments, I see toughness in sports as the ability to produce your best play under duress. I think a soft club plays tight and underperforms their skill level, and I think we're seeing that from the Mets right now.
It seems likely to me that dropping Emaus was a message to the rest of the club that management isn't giving up on them or this season. I don't believe the players are, either, but if they can't figure out a way to respond more positively to the relentless negativity that surrounds this club right now it won't matter. Maybe at some point they take this adversity and use it for motivation, but we haven't seen signs of that yet.
As to what move may be next, I wouldn't get too comfortable if I was Chin-lung Hu. He may have value as a defensive player, but Emaus' ABs have looked positively Ruthian compared to this kid's. He doesn't have a track record of hitting at all in the major leagues (.185/.232/.272 in 184 AB) and his glove is a luxury I don't think this club can afford now.
I know Scott Hairston looks terrible right now, but he does have a decent track record as a backup OF. I doubt they will make any quick moves with him. I actually think we might see Willie Harris go before Hairston -- I think he's slipped some defensively and I think you could find more offense than he supplies. Still, I don't see that happening anytime soon, either.