Friday, March 7, 2008

Let 'em Drop Now...


I have a lot of respect for Moises Alou. At times last year he was the lynchpin that held the Mets together, at times he was THE guy you wanted up at the end of the game. He is a uniquely experienced and remarkably proficient hitter, and also happens to be my wife's favorite Met, oddly enough, but in spite of all this, I'm not sobbing over his injury.

The timing of it is brilliant. One has to have accepted the inevitability that at some point this season, at least once, Alou would hit the DL, most likely for an extended vacation.

Imagine this happened in June, and in the motions of the season a serviceable replacement wasn't attainable. All of a sudden, after building up a small division lead in early June, a reliable bat in the lineup disappears, Endy Chavez just can't produce runs on an everyday basis, and Philly gets hot. Alou returns in late August, the Phillies have established a 6-game lead, and Alou is never quite back to form. We drop the NL east by a game, again.

Or if it happened after the trade deadline, and there were absolutely no question of outside help not named Sammy Sosa. Maybe F-Mart has had a hammy problem by this point and the team wants to shut him down so as not to risk a recurring injury.

Or maybe whenever he went on his DL trip it wouldn't make that much of a difference, who knows?

The point is that NOW, in Alou's case, there is a lot of room to maneuver. Rather than scrambling to deal midseason or ending up with Endy Chavez playing every day and hurting himself and our lineup in the process, or having to see the name Easley in the 7 spot on the lineup card on a consistent basis, now the F.O. has to face up to the fact that Moises Alou, while still a fine player when he's around, is not a very viable option in left field; not an option that can be counted on, anyhow. It's just not acceptable to me for a big-market contender to go in to a season with a guy saying "this is our left fielder, our #6 hitter" and not have any clue when he'll actually be there. Of course, any player comes with a certain risk of getting hurt, but most don't come with a guarantee. There are so-called "high-risk, high-reward" players, but they are never handed an assumed key role.

Now, management has to come up with some better options in the outfield, whether that means continuing to evaluate Pagan (who knew I'd be saying that, but he's just ripping it up so far in ST) and F-Mart, or acquiring one of the many names floating around, the Thameses and the Nadys and the Murtons of the world. It would seem that the best approach would be picking up one of these players that costs little to nothing to get, and letting them duke it out with whoever wins the F-Mart/Pagan March sweepstakes; give yourself some options. It seems unrealistic that Omar would be able to bring in a real impact OF, even a guy like Nady, via trade. This is the price we paid for Johan.

I just really believe that having a solid LF plan to start the year off that isn't at all contingent on Alou is a better way to operate, and this facilitates that.

Otherwise, the rest of the injuries seem like the sort that would heal in plenty of time, and we all know the deal with Beltran and his percentage points. The two that are somewhat troubling are Delgado and Church. It isn't so far from the realm of possibility that this hip thing could cause a season-long, if not rest of career-long issue for Carlos, and some rumblings from baseball folks has suggested as much. With Church, it's encouraging that he has spent his time still in PSL, and not in a hospital, but there has to remain some level of concern when a concussion is lingering...

Just gotta cross our fingers and hope all pans out at the end of the day, let the kinks be worked out in March, not September, right?

But I kinda hope I'm wrong about not getting Nady back.

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