The exercise was to visit Cot’s Baseball Contracts
website, take a look at each position need, and determine who’s worth
spending time and energy on.  The assumption here is that
everyone who’s on the Mets’ case for having deep pockets and a shallow
farm pool are correct, and that it would be better to spend money than
trade prospects.

Better Know A First Baseman: Carlos Delgado

The clock’s ticking on Carlos Delgado and the Mets to talk exclusively.  He filed for free agency on November 5th, and the Mets alone can talk to him until the 20th, after which it’s open season.

Carlos Delgado on the Mets is really only a matter for discussion the way I think bringing back Cliff Floyd should be a matter for discussion.  There’s a heartfelt desire to see the man succeed in a Mets uniform before passing him on to others. 

I recall watching Delgado smack a home run into right in one of my first games of 2009 and shouting something about how he’d hit his five hundredth homer as a Met before Gary Sheffield ever did.  Of course, Gary Sheffield then hit his 500th homer and everyone (myself included) jumped around like maniacs.

Medical science and Delgado’s determination could be two reasons to trust that he’d come back and be a beast of a hitter.  Getting jobbed by one’s own relentless pursuit of work, then getting jobbed by one’s desire to get back to relentlessly pursuing work, isn’t a disqualifier in many fields.  This country’s simultaneously raised a generation of workaholics and a generation of slackers.  It’s significantly more difficult for athletes, but the system’s set up such that a man like Delgado can tear a labrum on Tuesday, have it surgically repaired Thursday, be home by Saturday and rehabbing by Monday.  All while earning a guaranteed paycheck.  The system’s built for speed.  If he looks good, if he says he’s good, if he’s willing to play and willing to kill it, then by all means, let him try.

Rarely does the “grit” or “passion” (or, as I’ve happily had to reference previously,”grission“) argument come with some tangible measure of the quality.  The success of rehab from injury is one such tangible measure.  Duaner Sanchez arrives at Mets camp with more rolls than a bakery dumpster at midnight: he didn’t work hard enough.  Angel Pagan fires a bullet from left-center right on the heels from a return after shoulder surgery, or throws his body into the wall to make a well-timed grab: that guy’s got guts.

Science has provided the tools with which one can determine the amount of scar tissue surrounding an injury, and the muscle lost and regained; we can measure a man’s capacity to run and jump and throw. The rest we leave to their mental state. Can they still throw on target?  Can they still see the ball?  How fast are their reflexes, really, when the chips are down?

It would take me months to recover from hip surgery, and even when I had my full physical capacity I wouldn’t be capable of hitting the broad side of a barn, and being without my glasses for a full week now has proved that I am just absolutely blind.  Until he pulled that oblique, Delgado was still looking to come back to the Mets in 2009.  That’s surgery in May, return in late August.  Three months?  The man is a god.

A god who pulls muscles, but still a god.

The difference between Delgado at this stage and Cliff Floyd at this stage is straight-up production.  Delgado’s been a consistent home run hitter throughout his career, discounting the portion of 2007 that was Willie Randolph-ized.  He rakes and he walks a decent amount, to boot.

And his off-field problems are not, in fact, problems: he’s got opinions regarding the world he’s asked to interact with.  Good.  Before and after baseball, there’s a world going on, and if he can be unconscious on the field, he can be conscious off it.  The man’s a stellar humanitarian and philanthropist.

This is a man to whom giving money to produce should not be a hardship.  He’s not turning the cash into Champagne and pouring it slowly on buxom women in bikinis, who are fresh from a lap in his middle-finger shaped pool; he’s giving toys to kids and supplying equipment to help doctors in Puerto Rico make effective diagnoses.

I have to think he understands the level at which baseball is a business, and a supremely cutthroat one at that.  To continue doing what he feels he has an obligation to do, he’s traded on his body, and in 2009, his body crapped out on him.  The last thing I would ever question is the man’s resolve. 

It must be a simple logic path in his head: come back, prove I’m healthy, prove I can still produce, make more money next year, consistently produce, repeat until my body just can’t anymore.

Any reasonable effort should be made to accommodate a man this determined and this accomplished.  I’m not saying the Mets should finance Carlos Delgado’s slate of causes for the sake of doing so.  But if he’s okay with coming back on an Abreu-’09-style deal: one year at $5 million, I take a real hard look at it, because even if he’s half the man he was, he’s an upgrade over the failsafe option. 

Add incentives: $500,000 bonus if he remains healthy through the trading deadline; $1.25 million if he hits his 500th home run as a Met–again, before the trading deadline.  He can succeed as a Met, move on to be a DH for a team on the bubble, and set himself up to be a high-priced assassin in 2011.  Good for everybody.

Daniel Murphy, as fun and gifted a guy as he is and could be, has a half-year in the tank to give to Carlos Delgado, in the event it all falls to that.  Re-signing Delgado means the pressure would be on to find a young star left-fielder, but that should be Job One anyway.

I think there’s still something there, and yes, I’m making the grission argument.  But it’s grission somewhat quantified, and grission for a purpose.

…I think I just talked myself into Carlos Delgado for 2010, which I wasn’t really expecting I’d do.  At the least, I think I’ve added another person to The Jim Plummer List; anything I read that dismissed Delgado as an option out-of-hand will now probably make me quite angry. 

But when does anything NOT make me angry these days?  I woke up with my pillows thrown across the room, for no other reason than at 2a, I’d decided there were too many pillows on the damn bed.

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