Archives for posts with tag: Carlos Delgado

Some quite random and disorganized thoughts while I enjoy a quiet hour alone, undisturbed, and with some whiskey a friend today called “proddy garbage” (it’s Bushmill’s, and I’m drinking it because it was cheap and the only thing left in the liquor store on Christmas Eve):

–Jason Bay can hit home runs.  It’s proven he can hit home runs.  I don’t know how many home runs he’ll hit in 2010 for the Mets, if all goes well and he DOES sign, but as of yesterday the Mets didn’t have a guy in left field who could hit home runs.  Now it seems as though they might.

Good.

–Sixteen million dollars is a lot of money.  Sixty-six million dollars is a lot of money.  Eighty million dollars is a lot of money.  The interest earned on a three-month CD purchased at $16 million could retire my debt, my parents’ debt, and leave money for season tickets.

–I should come up with a novel way to make seven thousand dollars.  Like that guy who traded up from a paperclip and wound up with a house.

–Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor” might be underrated.

–Humble Pie’s version of “I Can’t Stand The Rain” is mesmerizing.

–What kind of season will 2010 be if Jose Reyes clocks in 2007 numbers, and David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Jason Bay manage to hit one hundred homers between them?

–Oliver Perez is still a Met.  Goddamn it.

–I’m glad I was back-breakingly equivocal about free agent pitchers.  Lackey?  Gone.  Halladay?  Gone.  Marquis?  Gone.  Garland? …Hold on… Nope, still free.

–I’ve been away QUITE awhile.  Next year, I purposefully go dark in the off-season so as to avoid the guilt of dropping off the planet.

–I need to know more people in high finance.  Honestly.  If anyone out there lives in the New York City area, has three to five years of managerial experience in the realm of finance and administration, and is interested in a non-profit career, email me.  Great pay, better benefits.  And you get me as an underling.  Exciting, nay?  Email me at omniality@gmail.com.  This is one hundred percent legit. 

Think of how cool it’d be that we have that going for us.  “How’d you find your new gig, [Director of Finance and Admin]?” “I was reading a blog about the Mets, and I was intrigued.”

–I’m a desperate, desperate man.  And we just started the search yesterday.  Christ.

–The Mets are still missing massive production from first base.  There was a time when Beltran and Wright were chasing 30/30 seasons, Moises Alou seemed to have found an endless supply of cartoon spinach, Jose Reyes was stealing underwear without taking off peoples’ pants, AND Carlos Delgado was crushing the ball to a reasonable degree.

Can Daniel Murphy manage twenty-four home runs in a season?  Can Jason Bay manage more than thirteen, and an OPS over .900 at once?

–Can Jason Bay stay healthy enough to play at least 150 games?

–Jason Bay’s not one of those outfielders that doesn’t give a damn about pesky things like stats, is he?  I mean, not like the guy out in right.

–I miss shouting, “Hit the ball, Chowdah!” at Jeff Francoeur.  Baseball’s been gone far too long.

–Even so, you wouldn’t catch me out at Citi Field tonight on a bet.  It’s FREEZING out.  And I know from freezing.

–No; Jason Bay’s a solid guy.  His numbers last year are quite solid.  An all-star, for Chrissakes. 

–That voting for all-stars is beyond reproach, too.  Also the plural isn’t “hanging chads.”  It’s “hanging chad.”

–Most people named Chad seem to be cruisin’ for a hangin’.

**

Credit where it’s due: the format of this post is inspired by “Jenna Is Awkward”‘s blog, The Art Of Awkward, which is refreshed most every Wednesday with a stream-of-consciousness assault on the rude, the oblivious, the downright creepy, and the obnoxiously entitled.  She also enjoys alcohol and keeps clear of children, and that speaks to me.  Furthermore, she’s a Mets fan.  Give her all the traffic you can by going to http://artofawkward.com.

The Wife is in town until the 12th, and as I may have suggested, I’m a little inundated with work that’s not Mets-related.  As much as I hoped I could get back to a normal schedule, I don’t really see that happening for awhile.  I will post as often as I can, but that will be really sporadic.  Fortunately, the forecast calls for things to ease up right around the start of the season.

So as Mets business heats up and I spend more time in front of the television or at games, I’ll post more.  Have yourselves a safe and great new year.  Pray for Oliver Perez, and by extension the Mets, in 2010.

Cheers.

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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: Adam LaRoche

You know, here at Sports Night, we get a lot of mail. Most of it goes something like this: ‘Casey, Dan, you two obviously know a lot about sports. But what can you tell us about legendary Italian song stylist Tony Orlando?’ Well, you should know that Tony Orlando is not Italian, and if you guessed that the man was of Latin decent, you’d be incorrect as well. Mr Tony Orlando hails from Greece, and we thought you should know that.”

Dan Rydell, Sports Night, “The Head Coach, Dinner And The Morning Mail”


David Adam LaRoche is Mexican.  I did not know that.

LaRoche played for three teams last year: the Pirates, the Red Sox, and the Braves, and in a spot of misfortune for the Sox, went 5-for-19 in Boston, prompting Paperbacknovel.com to sponsor Adam’s Baseball Reference page by writing the following:

“Only a pawn in the Red Sox game. What a screw up by Boy Genius Theo Epstein — trading LaRoche for Casey Kotchman. LaRoche finishes with a bang-up end of season for Atlanta — one of their key hitters down the stretch, while Kotchman was a dud.”

(Odd thing about LaRoche’s year: he had twelve home runs, forty RBIs, and a triple for Pittsburgh.  Upon returning to Atlanta, he notched twelve home runs, forty RBIs, and a triple.

No, it doesn’t mean much.  It’s just weird, is all.)

I gotta think LaRoche wouldn’t be too happy to note the vitriol on a page bearing his stats, even if it’s not directed at him.  Comments captured by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic, after Carlos Beltran got his Jimmy Rollins-on, show that LaRoche will call a man out for disrespecting him.

Of course, Beltran rarely says things he doesn’t mean, so he doubled down the following day (as captured by the Adam Rubin of the Daily News).

As unnecessary as the dust-up was, Rodriguez-Bruney it wasn’t.  And if Adam LaRoche could manage to work as a Met, I’m sure he and Beltran would have their talk and that’d be the end of that.  Would it make sense to even bother? 

LaRoche’s fielding is defense was above reproach in 2009, after a less-than-exemplary 2008 that saw six ground- or fly-ball errors out of eight total (between Luis Castillo and The Ole! Kid Daniel Murphy, such things cannot be ignored).

But this is about production.  And without trying to predict a trend, LaRoche has consistently performed better than the league average in OPS.  After a breakout 2006, the lefty’s found some consistency in home run hitting, naturally slamming right-handed pitching at a rate of three-to-one.  Assuming the sky doesn’t fall on the man or he doesn’t hit Renaissance II: Electric Boogaloo, one can assume a 25-home run, 85-RBI season.  For comparison, joyous days were when Beltran and David Wright were pushing for 30/100 seasons.  That happened, if you recall.  Two men on the Mets combined for more than a handful of home runs.

LaRoche’s value would be more apparent on a team looking to “get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in,” as is so annoyingly presented as the Mets’ bread-and-butter.  Last year, he drove in the runner from third with less than two out fifty-three percent of the time in 34 opportunities.  By comparison, Russell Branyan did it forty-six percent of the time in 2009 in a similar number (35) of opportunities.  Carlos Delgado did it fifty-eight percent of the time in 2008, with 43 chances.

By the way, feel me on this annoyance with “get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in,” I plead with you.  It’s remarkable, exciting baseball, but holding it up as a recipe for success is like me declaring I’ll come out on top this year because I’ve decided to wear pants full-time.  It’s the same thing with the curveball drill held at Mets 2009 Spring Training.  Of course they should be able to hit curveballs.  Of course they should be able to drive runners in.  That’s the job description.  They should also be able to knock tomato cans out of the game by taking meatballs served and whacking the bean out of the house.

(As of this writing, it’s 3a and I find my dinner left me wanting.)

So he’s gotta crush it.  He’s gotta crush it against the Braves and Marlins (who are righty-heavy), the Phillies (who are not), and the Nationals (who knows at this point).

My question is whether he’ll do it at less than $7 million a year, which is what he earned in 2009 as he bounced about.  My guess is no, seeing as how he’s a competent thirty year-old first-baseman who’s had all of a slight hamstring issue and a sore back in five years of service.  He’s not setting the world on fire, but players have signed for more and brought less.

Any multi-year deal for LaRoche at $7 million or more per is where I get off the bus.  Daniel Murphy reached somewhat near LaRoche’s RBI total in a hideous year for him and the Mets in general, and managed to drive runners in at about the same (two points higher) percentage.  And I get the idea that Murphy will spend at least some of the peanuts he’ll earn next year upgrading the stereo on his ’02 Honda Civic.

The above might all sound schizophrenic, but here it is in abstract: Adam LaRoche is not a bad guy.  He speaks his mind and goes where he’s told, and seems to be settling into a good life as a slightly above-average producer and defender at first base.  He’ll make some team looking for a solid citizen very happy someday soon. 

If he should happen to fall to the Mets, and be somewhat desperate, and that power production is supplemented elsewhere in the Mets line-up, AND the Mets decide to rid themselves of Murphy or don’t think he’s ready, worse things could happen than signing him.  But not for years and years, as looks like might happen elsewhere, and not at money that could be spent on trying to cash in on Delgado one last time, or roll the dice with Branyan.

He’s also not Greek, like Tony Orlando is (actually just of Greek descent).  But that’s beside the point.

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.

(I originally had first baseman in quotes.)

Where the hell have I been?

Been working.  Long days at my straight job, which pushed everything back.  Pushed back my screenwriting projects; pushed back my research for a freelance video project that’ll get going in about two months; pushed back the normal housework I have to do to keep from feeling like I’m in some Bohumil Hrabal-esque construct of eventual doom

It’s not that this blog is a low priority; it’s that making money, both in the short and long term, is a high priority.

The goal for the day is to try and catch up on the half-baked analyses I promised last week, now that my P.A. equipment is back where it belongs, and all my pay stubs are filed, and my spreadsheet workbook consistently calculates OTPS costs over a three-year period.  And now that I’ve wrapped up the first draft of Screenplay #3 in my ten-month plan to retire my debt.  If anyone out there is willing or knows anyone who’s willing to purchase a No Exit-style murder mystery set in wintry rural Massachusetts, drop me a line.

But that’s neither here nor there.  Grab your vegetables.

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: Russell “3TO” Branyan

So, would you prefer a thirty-three year-old first baseman with a herniated disc, who made $1.4 million last season, or a thirty-seven year-old first baseman whose recovery from hip surgery and subsequent conditioning caused him to strain (if memory serves) an oblique muscle? 

Keep in mind that the latter option wasn’t all that big on the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Russell Branyan is not the most flashy of options, no.  But for a team rumored to be profoundly cost-conscious, and perhaps waffling on the value of still-somewhat-unknown quality known as Daniel Murphy, a Russell Branyan looking to prove himself before a return to the land of the DH might make for a decent bet.

His age reminds one of Fernando “Let’s Turn Two” Tatis, and lately (the past three years), Tatis has had the distinction of seeming impervious to pain, either to himself or those subjected to his performances.  But the last time Tatis managed over thirty home runs, I was in high school.  Branyan did it this past injury-shortened season.  And the meta-story behind the Mets’ talent search in 2010 is home run production.

I’ll deconstruct that argument via hyperbolic hypothetical, and some rote.  Rote is important, however. A series of assumptions is worth squat if you don’t know how you arrived at those assumptions.  It’s time-consuming and tedious, but you’ll thank me in the end for showing my work.

Now, then: take a guy who destroys the baseball, like Albert Pujols (ignore 2009’s postseason; he was chippy).  Now surround him in the order with the infirm, the inept, and the inexperienced.  Give him some major-league caliber pitching to face.  He’s getting walked if there’s a base free, because chances are decent that the guy behind him will have a tougher time knocking the bean around.  Hell, if I’m batting behind him, then walk him even if the bases are loaded.  No way I’m scoring a run.  It’s too much pressure.

David Wright is not quite on Albert Pujols’s plane of existence when it comes to crushing home runs; neither is Carlos Beltran, nor Carlos Delgado.  Nor Russell Branyan.  They’re each legitimate run-producers, but any one of those guys ALONE in an order comprised otherwise of the aforementioned infirm, inept, and inexperienced, will find little protection and thus little opportunity to produce.  Protection is the name of the game.  And much like walking down Starr Street in Bushwick at night, protection comes in the form of a guy with a bat, who knows how to use it.

…I recently had to spend quite a bit of time in Bushwick.  My last visit was without my now-broken glasses.  Look at me on the right, there, in my profile picture.  I’m not scared of that punk, and I live with my demented self every day.

With Wright and Beltran back, and a year of Citi Field’s juju out of their systems, the Mets will be a quarter of their way toward presenting a solid batting order.  Assume Jose Reyes.  Assume Luis Castillo (because I doubt anyone else will).  Assume Chowdah and the pitcher’s spot, and we’re left with three holes in which to slot some protection.

So a guy coming off a shortened career year, and something to prove, might be worthwhile.  Fernando Tatis had something to prove in 2008, and didn’t do too bad for himself.  Dropping Russell Branyan into an everyday first baseman role proves to teams his range of motion and his ability to hit in a place that’s inaccurately rumored as death valley to power hitters.  Note: Ted Berg is not spreading said inaccuracy; he’s arguing against it.

(The video script for Marketing Citi Field To Power Hitters:

Liev Schrieber (V.O.): “This is Adam Dunn.”

INSERT: image of ADAM DUNN chowing down on a foot-high stack of funnel cakes, paper plates included.

LS (V.O.)(Cont’d): He’s thirty years old and his walk-on music is “In The Air Tonight,” by Phil Collins.

INSERT: ten-second clip of Adam Dunn hitting that 465-foot blast off JOHAN SANTANA on May 27th, 2009; include SNY BOOTH FEED.  REPEAT FOOTAGE FOUR TIMES.

LS (V.O.) “When considering your options for the 2010 baseball season, ask yourself: are you better or worse than Adam Dunn?”

RE-INSERT: image of Adam Dunn chowing down on a foot-high stack of funnel cakes, paper plates included.

FADE OUT.)

Delgado has the same things to prove, but given the years he has on most first-basemen, he can’t waste a year of power playing for the Mets and attempting to shag balls.  Russell Branyan can.

However, it seems as thought Russell Branyan probably won’t, as this post by Jim Street of MLB.com states.  Without knowing much about the Mariners, I’d say the reason they’d want him is the same reason the Mets would want him, and the only way they don’t get him is if he feels the money they offer doesn’t constitute fair treatment. 

The fine thing about the Mets is that they have that kind of fair treatment coming out the wazoo, and have shown a propensity for taking over-market flyers on redemption-seeking types with “experience.”  If all the stars align, I wouldn’t so much mind Russell Branyan on the Mets, as long as similar money isn’t spent on the same archetype elsewhere.

And as long as he’s not signed for three years and $36 million, or something similarly obnoxious.

For those who’ve taken a look at my Twitter feed, you know Halloween was a rough time for Old Man Vargas.  Ten straight hours of work starting at 7p, and settling for (an admittedly excellent) cheeseburger for breakfast the following morning.  I’m still feeling sluggish on the ride in, and the eight thousand calories I consumed over the course of the past 60 hours may have something to do with that.

All my talk of productivity yesterday went down the crapper, as well.  That’s why the site looks much the same as it did Friday.

Difficult still is all the pain-in-the-neck stuff which always accompanies big A/V events.  Two days later and I still have to pick up gear.  This will interrupt my Game Five watching (I have comment on Game Four, but I’ll wait), just as attempting to do a pick up destroyed my day yesterday.

Really, when it comes down to it, my estimates of time it’ll take to do something are far too conservative.  Deejay a party?  Five days.  Strike the set?  Seven.  Cook a sumptuous meal for dinner guests, including Mr. Wallingford?  Don’t even ask.  Just mix me a drink and stop complaining for ONCE in your life, Maude.  Stop complaining, or pack a bag and go to your mother’s.  Hell, I’ll DRIVE you.

But we’re at least still on track to talk free agents.

If you recall, 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 with this exercise 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.

Today, we review the free agents who’ve played first base, at least on occasion, that the Mets shouldn’t touch with a ten-foot clown pole.

Hank Blalock (TEX): Slipping into DH land.  Methinks an unorthodox option, but after Duaner Sanchez and John Maine, anyone who’s had shoulder surgery (like Blalock in ’06) to end their season is no one I want to think about.

Jason Giambi (COL)
: Surely, you jest.   Hey, you know who’s almost eighteen months younger and I still trust to field a ball every now and again?  Carlos Delgado.

Ross Gload (FLA): Brooklyn-born Ross Gload has never hit more than seven home runs in the majors, and was part of a Grade-A cluster… bomb.  Clusterbomb… of a trade in 2002.  Check it out (from Baseball Reference):

January 21, 2002: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Colorado Rockies with Craig House to the New York Mets. The New York Mets sent Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch to the Milwaukee Brewers. The New York Mets sent Benny Agbayani, Todd Zeile and cash to the Colorado Rockies. The Colorado Rockies sent Alex Ochoa to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Milwaukee Brewers sent Jeromy Burnitz, Lou Collier, Jeff D’Amico, Mark Sweeney and cash to the New York Mets.

January 26, 2002: Purchased by the Colorado Rockies from the New York Mets.

Catch all that?  Because I’m still stuck on how he’s never hit home runs in the double digits.  Christ, I trust Daniel Murphy to hit more than ten next year, and hopefully from the bench.

Aubrey Huff (DET) (B): The dark-horse darling of the “Why-Don’t-We-Just”ers of the class of 2009.  Never proved to be an offensive powerhouse in same said year.

Nick Johnson (WAS) (B): For no real reason, Nick Johnson reminds me of a story told to me by a couple of friends who are Knicks fans:

Mike and Nick are riding up an escalator into Madison Square Garden, a couple of years back when the Knicks were running their “Experience The…” campaign.  They pass a banner with a close-up image of Eddy Curry; the text reads: “Experience The Emotion.”

Mike turns to Nick and asks: “Is hunger an emotion?”

Kevin Millar (TOR): Riding out the twilight in Toronto.  Fewer than three hundred plate appearances last year.

Robb Quinlan (LAA): Yeah… just ’cause he’s listed as a first baseman doesn’t mean he actually played first base full time.  That goes for most of you, in fact.

Matt Stairs (PHI): See above.  Anyway, as I said last week: over my dead and violated body.  Matt Stairs is a University of Phoenix course and car wash ownership stint short of selling his 2008 ring, anyway.  See you in twenty-three years, Matt.  Don’t take any calls from Jim Cramer.

Mike Sweeney (SEA): He, too, has slid into DH-dom, and not regularly, either.  I think I’d take a flyer on Hank Blalock before Mike Sweeney.  But when you get to players over 35, the Carlos Delgado clouds begin to gather again.  Pay attention, as he’ll necessarily capture a lot of later discussion about the position.

Jim Thome (LAD): No, hunger is not an emotion.

That’s not a fair joke to end on; I’m sure Eddy Curry could devour Jim Thome, if given the chance.  But that guy’s been through enough, anyway.

Curry, not Thome.

Tomorrow, Russell Branyan and Carlos Delgado, in a “Good God, Just Eliminate The Position” Steel Cage Match.

Later tonight, some World Series thoughts, provided I don’t get trapped in a web of XLR cables and packing tape.

Labor Day is nearing its end.  Time to get back to work.

coney island.jpg

There’s a large part of Coney Island that can be called a hole, and that’s being charitable.  When my mother would take My Sister and I out to Astroland Park on too-warm summer weekdays, my father out working, I would try my best to enjoy it, but even then there was a seediness I could not abide.  The water in the flume ride reeked of oil; the bumper cars squealed and shrieked.  I couldn’t escape the feeling that the adults around were having a lot more fun than I was.  Maybe not so for my mother, who toted us about.  But the wacky ones on the dilapidated boardwalk: sure.
the dock.jpg
These days, there’s a patina of theme park on all the elements that make Coney Island a disagreeable, damned place. Feel the grime in the air as you use a restroom!  Chuckle at the locals, surly to the point of assault!  Wander through the urban desert which lies just beyond Surf Avenue!  And live to tell the tale!
This crystallized for me on Friday.  And it felt good to feel right about what opinion I’d formulated while being splattered with gear grease from the Cyclone.  The place is a dump.  Let people keep their homes, and don’t wreck the view of the ocean.  Besides that, take it down.  Raze it.  Salt the earth so nothing so obscene grows again.
Don’t know why I’m so belligerent about it; I had fun doing what I’d set out to do: drink beer, eat hot dogs, watch sailboats, and cheer on Carlos Beltran.  I guess I’m still not over that Jerry Koosman thing.  Ugh.  
I want to put my fist through a door every time I think about it.
No, I’m not drunk.  Last I was drunk, I was at a bar on the Lower East Side, watching a fifth NYU co-ed try to stay on a mechanical bull.  Add that place to the list of what should be scrubbed from history.  (By the by: there, no one knew who the hell Jerry Koosman was, either.  Pay your taxes, kids.)
All right, enough.  Carlos.

beltran in the field.jpgbeltran throwing.jpg

beltran to the dugout.jpg
Watching major league players in rehab stints is relatively new to me.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I watched Angel Pagan play last year, but then I considered him a bench player, and quite young.  He’s still grade-A bench player material, and still quite young.  Beltran took it easy.  I didn’t see him sprint, really.  He jogged carefully to the dugout; he jogged carefully to the outfield.  Best thing he did during the game was move a runner over in the first.
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That’s him running out from the box, stage right.  Beltran went 0-for-3 and the Cyclones lost, 8-2, victims of a seven-run seventh and a pre-game collective reading of Dr. Seuss’s Go, Dog. Go! 
I don’t know; that kind of thing would unman me prior to playing an adrenaline-fueled game.
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Those with the means to take in a Cyclones game during their playoff run should do so; it’s a fun park and the team is not half-bad.  I’m slammed with work and the boys out in Flushing, myself, but now that I know they’ve done away with the nutso sound effects following every visitor gaffe (SPROING!!! CLUNK!!!), I no longer have to worry about lapsing into a decibel-heavy Thompson-esque hallucination.  They DID keep the hot dog race.
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Brought a colleague from work to the game, who wasn’t paying attention until roughly this moment, and asked, honestly: “Are those supposed to be beans?”
I’d like to point out the Lowell Spinners third baseman, Michael Almanzar, whose expression you can’t see but who must’ve had money on the gig, as his attention is obviously directed at the hot dog runners.  Ketchup was sucking hind Relish until a beat before the end, when somehow it found a burst of speed and took the race.  Fix.
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Word is Beltran will be back for the game on Tuesday against the Marlins.  Same word has John Maine in action on Sunday in Philadelphia.  Roger Rubin (any relation to Adam?) reports Gary Sheffield and Carlos Delgado are probably done for the year.
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I’m most concerned about Beltran.  It was fun to have Sheffield while it lasted; it’s sad to think I’ll most likely never see Carlos Delgado in a Mets uniform again.  
Maine is out to sea.  I’ve no idea what to make of shoulder pain, except that I imagine it hurts worse when trying to throw a ball at ninety miles an hour.  It hurt
s when I sleep on mine for nine hours.
Perhaps it’s not about the machismo, this business of Beltran coming back for increasingly irrelevant games in September.  What the press has reported him saying–he’s a baseball player; he has to play because he knows nothing else–may come closer to it.
I wonder if it’s about needing to get that sense of anticipation back, that instinct that doubtless takes over when the pitch is thrown and a millisecond of fear gives way to more milliseconds of action.  That’s what I always considered to be at the core of getting one’s “timing” back.  To an extent, perhaps all that is the same as the reason given: he’s a baseball player.  He has to play if he can play.  The alternative–NOT playing–can be counted on to extend that millisecond of fear.  It must worry a man like hell to have such a livelihood taken away.
So very well, Mr. Beltran.  You want to play baseball? I’ll keep my mouth shut and hope for the best.  Produce, though, man: stand tall in the batter’s box and swing at pitches you can hit.  Do NOT challenge that bone bruise for supremacy; it knows no logic, it seems, and in Citi Field, there be some damned dragons.
**
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A grab-bag of notes (that image is the view I had from The Frying Pan on Friday; the end of baseball season means new shoes that I don’t have to worry about getting shelled, and I’m excited for that because these are starting to hurt like a mother):
  • David Wright ditched the Rawlings S100. He said it was an uncomfortable fit.  While some may ream him for this, I’m willing to take that at face value.  I watched the guy take hacks with it and it looked like it was sliding every which way.  
The helmet is supposed to make things safer for him; his protective gear rattling around on his melon doesn’t achieve that goal.
No excuse for getting the kinks worked out during the off-season, though.  I expect to see it and laugh all over again during Spring Training.
I miss the ’80s.  If Keith Hernandez had determined the better part of valor was to wear that helmet, and he got razzed hard for it, he’d’ve probably flipped some guys off.  I don’t see David doing that, nice guy that he is.
  • Greg Prince of Faith And Fear In Flushing wrote about the lack of Mets coverage in The New York Times.  His piece mentions Sunday’s paper, in a way that’s almost Fred Exley-esque.  But Mr. Prince, if you’re reading this: they’ve been quite late in posting material to the website, and this has been the case since at least last week.  Usually game recaps post within two hours of a victory.  All last week, they were coming in late morning/early afternoon-ish.  I would leave a comment on your site, but my browsers are wonkifying your comments module.  I would send you an email, but I’m afraid of what else lurks in that inbox.  My BlackBerry’s been blinking at me for days.
  • Speaking of the Faith And Fear folks: there’s another Amazin’ Tuesday event being held on September 15th at the Two Boots on Grand Street in Manhattan.  Though it’s my birthday and I’m winless at Mets events outside Flushing and my own living room and favorite bars, I’ve decided the Fates owe me one, so I will be there.  Jon Springer of Mets By The Numbers (see right blogroll for a link to his site) spilled the beans about who’s going to be there, and confirmation by Mr. Prince has only whetted my appetite.  I think it’s going to be a really fun night run by some quite engaging, and level-headed writers.  Plan to be there, if at all possible.  You are not obliged to say hello to me, or join me for post-game birthday karaoke.
  • Daniel Murphy was a double short of the cycle yesterday against the Cubs (W; 4-2).  He’s got nine home runs this season (eight + one: Subway sign-aided).  He’s committed, focused, and not a horrible embarrassment on the field.  If the Mets are destined to wander in the wilderness for a couple more years, and he maintains a level of competence, there’s no earthly reason to ship the man off.  Keep him within the organization.  At present, he’s at least deserving of a nickname more imaginative than Murph, and what we shout at him from the upper deck would be wildly inappropriate for consistent use.
  • I finished watching the first season of Commander In Chief.  Glad they changed the opening theme, which was bordering on plagiarism.  Shocked at the overuse of firing as plot device.  If the Mackenzie Allen Administration were a ball club, there’d be no NOBs on their uniforms.
  • There are some old posts that need some tweaking.  Less than a handful.  If you’ve found this blog and have been working to catch up, and notice an error, my bad.  They’ll be fixed Thursday night.
  • There’s this continued business of a Mets Hall Of Fame been discussed in and around the intertubes.  I had an idea from way back that, if time permits this week, I will attempt to explain cogently.  I’d planned to write about it in the off-season, but I feel inspired.
  • Nathan’s is delicious.  Mmm… nitrates.
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I will be at the park tomorrow for Mets-Marlins.  This game will be a Tim Redding joint, featuring more likely than not the return of Carlos Beltran, and hopefully the purchase of my very own Section Five Twenty-Eight T-shirt, which will be much appreciated, as I never washed my jersey after that last monsoon, and it reeks of urban rain and desperation.
Hope your Labor Day was fun and safe.  Time to kick it into gear for the stretch run.  Yes… the stretch run.
Let’s go Mets!

I imagine working on a post during the off-season will be much like trying to work on a post this morning.  It’s cold.  It’s dark.  The next room over, friends who freelance are in their fourth hour of drinking bourbon and working on their indie-rock-acoustic version of “Down By The River.”  And I don’t have much to say.

I’m excited for Josh Thole’s call-up like I was excited back when I still had magazine subscriptions and they showed at my door.  I’ll watch for his first hit and his first home run and when he strikes out in consecutive plate appearances for the first time, I’ll certainly head for the back pages and read as deep as I can into his stats.  But I’ll need something on the order of New York‘s Eliot Spitzer cover–post-scandal–to snap me back into focus.

Really, my deepest regret is that I probably won’t see Carlos Delgado play again in a Mets uniform.  It could happen, yes.  But I haven’t heard Word One since his oblique strain during his rehab. 

Makes me recall wistfully that I figured Carlos Delgado to reach five hundred home runs faster than Gary Sheffield.  Then I watched Gary Sheffield hit his five hundredth home run.

More and more, I think myself the Mets Angel of Death; I got excited, despite my constant harangue, about Carlos Beltran playing rehab out at Keyspan Park with the Cyclones, and began a quick think about how I might get to tonight’s game.  Then I recalled how I was in the stands when Angel Pagan hurt himself in his rehab assignment last year.

Proximity may not be a factor, and it needn’t even be a direct interest or direct suggestion of greatness or misery: I was watching the Houston-Minnesota preseason game with a roommate when we heard Chris Berman (you should refuse to call him “Boomer,” as I refuse) report Andy Pettitte’s perfect game in the sixth.  We switched to that game.  In the seventh, with one out…

Roommate: “Can you commit an error and still have a perfect game?”

Two outs.

Me: “No.  The game has to be perfect.  Twenty-seven up, twenty-seven down.” (In my head) “God, baseball’s an odd sport.  Nine innings, three outs per inning, twenty-seven the minimum number of hitters faced.  Ten innings and forty or fifty as a minimum: that satisfies a need for round numbers.”

The ball then ate up Jerry Hairston, Jr.  Man on.

Roommate: “But he can still get the no-hitter.”
Me: “As long as they score that ball an error.”

They do, and the next ball gets past Hairston for a hit.

Roommate: “Well, so much for that.”

I think in the off-season I’ll work on some back up plans: how to blather in the absence of blatherable material.  My mother likes the old saw about not saying anything when there’s nothing to say.  I once sat her down for ten minutes and told her why I thought that was an irresponsible thing for a creative person to do.

Besides, it’s September.  I love September.  Labor Day’s a mandatory barbecue day.  My birthday’s on the 15th.  I was hired to this no-longer-new job last year on the 22nd, and with it came money to pay bills and go to games.  And it’s cooler.  I love sweaters.  They make me look svelte.

David Wright comes back tonight, and so there’ll be something to talk about at the end of the day, surely.  That gives me enough reason to not bring my poison or voodoo or whatever it is to Coney Island and Carlos Beltran’s knees.  I’ll stretch the material like any good writer might do.

However, word is we’re closing early Friday.  If there’s any chance of seeing Beltran play on Labor Day weekend, I am there.

Those asterisks are my own. 

Anyone see 28 Days Later?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Bike messenger wakes from a coma to find London and, indeed, most of England, taken over by fast-moving zombie-like creatures.  If you saw I Am Legend, you saw the conceit yanked to an unfortunate computer-generated extreme; this Danny Boyle movie of which I speak does proper service to fear.  Though it was a shame to see the German Shepherd succumb in Will Smith’s vehicle (they are not two movies with the same plot; just similar-ish symptoms to a vague disease).

The problem I have with both films is I find it hard to believe that anyone THAT sick can move THAT fast, regardless if they have issues with ultraviolet light.  When I see guys go down, they move fairly slow.  Sometimes, they need carts to help them out.  Not intimidating.

The list of currently disabled Mets (or, if you prefer, Mets with disabilities):

  • John Maine
  • J.J. Putz
  • Billy Wagner
  • Carlos Delgado
  • Ramon Martinez
  • Jose Reyes
  • Carlos Beltran
  • Fernando Martinez

Add to that Gary Sheffield, who is day-to-day, and Fernando Nieve, who will be day-to-day, then placed on the DL once they find enough change to load up the MRI machine and stick him in there.

I’ve already excoriated the Mets front office with playing fast and loose with either their facts or their process of information gathering or their responsibility to level with the fans.  At this point, the training staff will need to book a crew from the HBO documentary set and give them unfettered, twenty-four hour access to the training room, the Hospital For Special Surgery, and any vehichle used to transport injured Mets across our local bridges and highways.

When David Wright wakes up from his daily coma, though, he doesn’t find terminally-ill position players given superhuman strength through dint of their virus.  Even if he did, I don’t believe Jerry Manuel to have the talent to persuade crazed neo-zombies to properly settle under a pop-up and catch with two hands. 

Luis Castillo has that going for him: he’s better than a neo-zombie.  But I kid Castillo, whose hitting streak is still alive.  Double-digits or bust, Luis. …Wait.  No.  No bust.  Do not bust.  Far too much busting lately.

So no open review of the Mets training staff is going to help the guys on the field.  But as no help seems to be imminent for the guys on the field, I do not withdraw my demand to get something of the sort.  The real hard work for the Mets is keeping confidence for this year in the face of long odds so that more confidence is not lost in the fan base next year.

I will gladly sit in cushy field level seats, don’t get me wrong; if fan confidence takes a nosedive then I expect I’ll be able to buy tickets for sixty bucks and take in the game within earshot of David Wright.  But if the fan base deserts, there may be scant money to get players in the house that will bring fans back that will give the Mets a chance at the postseason that will bring fans back the year after.  See what I’m saying?  Of course you do.

So aside from still trying to make a run this year–and as I’ve lived through a team losing a seven-game lead with seventeen to play, I’m not discounting such a run in the opposite direction or even interested in calling the hypothetical a miracle–the Mets have a responsibility to weigh actions to make next year a better one.  This is a tough thing to do.  But not impossible.

However, that job’s being botched by injuries and the treatment of injuries.  It seems even David, our bike messenger awakened to find a horror shop of pain and abject misery, has settled on injuries and plowing through those injuries as this year’s story.  Jerry Manuel’s joking out of turn about it (find it on Metsblog here and the Daily News here and… well, where have you been?) cements the point.  This is the story.

Mets, your job: control the story.  At this point in D.C. politics, an injury czar would’ve been appointed.

It may be that, as declared by frantic writing on the church wall, “the end is extremely ******* nigh,” and it may be that the only thing to do is to survive and plot and plan for escape.  But this movie’s gettin’ real dull without the cavalry.  Let’s just hope the season doesn’t follow 28 Days Later too closely.  I’d hate to think that Omar Minaya has Carlos Beltran chained up somewhere.

Given Beltran’s angry despondence over his knee, though, it may be wise for him to be so chained, for Mr. Minaya’s protection.

Because I’m between items on my agenda this Saturday (the humidity’s calling into question my desire to finally repaint my hallway), I thought I might take time to clean house here, a bit.

Example: I’ve been negligent in responding to comments, which is rude of me.  So, here they are, condensed:

After having the flu the other day, Ryan Church did have a great night last night.

Fernando
Nieve just had a bad night. It is going to happen in a young career, at
least it did not happen against a divisional foe like Philly.

But that is why we play three games series, the Mets just have to buck up and take the other two games.

Should be a great game tonight.

Rays Renegade

That from the owner of Rays Renegade (obviously).  Also, almost two weeks ago.  You can tell because, back then, Ryan Church played for the Mets.

“Pennies make dollars” is what my dad used to tell me, and wins like the one not had in this game are what hurt come late September.  It’s the same as the Phillies winning by 21 runs one night, then losing by one run the next.  The games don’t have to be against a divisional rival to have an impact on the race–and I don’t think Mr. Renegade was implying that–but they matter just as much as saving face and picking up slack a whole game at a time, rather than a half.

And God, is Nieve still kinda crummy.  Carriage, meet pumpkin.  He didn’t embarrass himself last night, but the start he had prior was abysmal.  The thing about Niese–indeed, the thing about the AAAA Mets as a whole this year–is that there seems to be no object lesson in teaching the opposition that they need to press.  With any pitcher not named Santana, the guys in the batter’s box must be thinking, “It’s just a matter of time before I get my pitch to hit.”

That profile photo, Mr. Renegade.  Fantastic.  I’ll need one similar, now.

This comment came the next day, as I tried to will the Mets to a win.  They were two games below .500 then; it only took a week to go five games below.  (That just means they can take them back in a week, too.)  From Susan, at Perfect Pitch:

Good advice. Just hard for them to follow. But here’s hoping!

My tactic? Laughter:

http://perfectpitch.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/07/fowl_play.html

I’m Section 314, by the way…most every single game. Say hello anytime!

Susan

I gave Susan a shout-out when the Mets won, saying we’d done it together.  However, for those trolling for hard luck writing who’ve stumbled onto this Mets blog and don’t know much about Citi Field, here’s something: those with seats in the 500s can’t really go down to see people in the 300s.  Trust me, I’ve tried.  You get a hard time from the ushers who think you’re trying to work a seat upgrade.  It’s more politely handled at Citi Field than it was at Shea, but it’s firm.

So, Susan, I’m sorry I haven’t stopped by.  I try to be a gregarious guy; I try to make strangers friends, because it’s one of the few natural thrills in modern comfortable life.  But I can’t get there from here.  Come by 528 anytime; no one cares if you stop by up there.  Row 6, right across from the start of 529.  

This one from Dillon, of Living The Baseball Life:

Injuries have been the biggest reason for the Mets’ non-success this
season. And yesterday Johan didn’t get a bunch of calls that he should
have gotten.
-Dillon

Amen, and no kidding, Dillon.  Since then, the Mets have lost Fernando Martinez to knee swelling, so the injury bug is spreading to the replacements.  I get the sense that David Wright’s pride is wounded, as well.

As for being a Yankee fan in Beantown… woof.  And I like Boston a lot; I’ve made good money there and have some good friends who still live in the area.  My favorite bar named after a writer (Charles Bukowski) is there, too.  But I can’t imagine not even really being able to see games.  Last time I checked, the cheapest seat for a game at Fenway was more than my total beer consumption on a Flushing night (and that’s not an inconsiderable amount of cabbage).  Perhaps you do better than I.  Good luck to you, sir.

This from mrmetnoel@optonline.net, on Tuesday’s day off:

That was a great article I enjoyed reading it & I agree some Mets gave up way to early still got 80 games left. LETS GO METS

I don’t think there’s necessarily a give-up with players; I meant that there was no game played that day, and that’s why they didn’t lose.  Thanks for the comment.  Let’s hope they don’t give up.

This from birdland of Birdland Blog:

hhahah, you have a very nice blog here. Sorry that the Mets are not in
first this year though. Who knows? Maybe they could make a push and win
the East? Maybe! My blog is birdland blog if you wanna comment! 🙂
-O’s birdland blog

Thanks for the kudos on the blog.  I don’t think we’re yet at the point of desperation.  Certainly they need to get on a good run and hope the Phillies and the Marlins and the Braves run short of steam, and both things happening are quite possible.  However, they both need to happen at once.

**

If the Mets offense can give the opposing pitching reason to be cautious, that’ll go a long way towards re-establishing parity in match-ups.  But veterans can’t catch up to the pitch they know they could hit, and rookies and super-rookies are too impatient to wait for them.  Prime-time stars are left hanging.

This is the long-term result of injuries.  It wasn’t by design.  It wasn’t on purpose.  But it’s what’s happening.  For all the back and forth on whether the trade for Francoeur was bad or good, we’re not addressing the fact that the team approach is incorrect at present.  Strong pitching, yes.  Flaweless defense, yes.  But offense: sit in there and work counts.  Make those games four hours long.  Tire them out on the other side.  Learn what’s coming from the pitcher and how the defense is going to play you in various situations.

If that program is sound, then I don’t know that getting Francoeur is going to help it.  I don’t know that getting young for the sake of getting young is reason enough to make a trade.  If the knock on Omar Minaya is that he prefers older players over younger players, then shouldn’t we be doubly grateful that he didn’t bring in another Hispanic player?  I mean, while we’re perpetuating myths and stereotypes…

Let’s see if bringing back that old chestnut stirs some conversation.

…The opposition may not yet be able to ascribe a narrative to your line-up, in part because they don’t have to: they can pick you off one at a time.  But you, Mets bats, need the team narrative.  Like when Jose Reyes would get on base, steal second, get bunted over (for better or horribly worse) by Luis Castillo, and Carlos Beltran would get him in with an opposite field double.  Then David Wright gets Carlos in with an RBI single.

It’s at this point that Delgado would hit a home run.  But, y’know.  Anyway, that was nice reliving those days.

Fellas, you need a story.  You need to write your movie.  The injuries are Act One.  The swoon is Act Two.  The rise is Act Three.  Work counts to get on base or extend the game and knock the opposing pitcher out.  Once you know that story and can tell it well, the opposition will try and upend that story.  The only way I can see to defending against a team that consistently works at-bats is to throw heat past the rookies and crafty stuff against the veterans.  And the rookies will hit the speed balls while the veterans smack that garbage around the field.

See?  It’s that easy.  Why am I not a manager?

**

David Wright should bat third only in emergencies.  This situation is a crisis.  It’s not an emergency.

Troubles rank in the following order, from least to most dire:

Issue
Problem
Emergency
Crisis
Ragnarok

Crises are prolonged emergency situations.  Problems are solvable in situ; Ragnarok is the destruction of the Gods. Which I guess means that, should we get to Ragnarok, the Wilpons will have to do battle with the evil Norse wolf Fenrir and Jormungand; think they traded those two for Shawn Green.  

Think about it: Ragnarok is to be preceded by three winters with no summers.  I’d say 2007 and 2008 qualify as winters of the nuclear variety.  And it’s pretty cold out in Flushing these days.

I can’t count how many line-ups Jerry Manuel has presented but I’m sure the number rivals the number of games won, if not games played.  But this lefty-righty nonsense has got to stop; these hitters have no margin for error on the bench, and need to learn to hit pitches from right handers and left handers.  Regularity will breed familiarity.  Familiarity is important, as the alternative–mixing and matching on a day-by-day basis–is obviously not working.

David Wright hitting third in a line-up does not give him the opportunity to produce, given the poor hitting usually placed ahead of him.  And look at the man: he desperately wants to produce.  He feels better when he does.  He feels looser.

I don’t have an answer as to how the line-up should be constructed beyond this, because we’ve not seen a consistent line-up, especially since the loss of Beltran.  Can Daniel Murphy be a great hitter in the two-hole?  How do we know?  He doesn’t hit in that position every day.  Can Gary Sheffield be trusted to hit doubles while in the three-hole?  I doubt it, but who’s to say he won’t instead hit a homer?

David Wright needs not the protection of power hitters ahead of him and behind, but the ego boost of contributing to the team offensively and defensively.  Captains need to feel useful.

Okay, okay.  I kid because I love.

In case you’d not heard, Jerry Manuel had a family chat with the team on Tuesday night, and the team rode over to Miller Park together Wednesday morning.  Then Mike Pelfrey pitched a gem, and the Mets beat the Milwaukee Brewers 1-0 to avoid the sweep.

In reply to a commenter on the previous post, let me say that it appeared by the encore presentation of the game that the Mets DID play some baseball.  There is the notable exception of the seventh inning, wherein Mike Pelfrey, like Bono and Alexander Haig before him, forgot a key nuance of his day job and committed a balk.  But they played ball, and I thank you for your words.  I like to think we had some part in it.

John Franco spoke some nonsense about David Wright not being a clubhouse leader, and David Wright retorted in quite fine fashion before going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. You can read about it from Metsblog here.  (UPDATE: Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News presents a transcript here.  Despite openings and closings not transcribed, I get the sense it’s otherwise complete.)

I’m a supporter of the idea that the Mets need a team captain.  I also think they need to trade Oliver Perez and bid a heartfelt farewell to Fernando Tatis.  But in all those cases, what does a team do if an injury takes that guy out?  Mark DeRosa went over to the Cardinals, sprained his wrist after three games for them, and will be out for the next three or four games.

And if the Mets trade Brad Holt and Bobby Parnell for Adam Dunn, and Adam breaks his hand trying to open a jar of pickles?

And if the Mets sell half of the Acela Club, Mr. Met, and his kids for Roy Halladay, and Halladay breaks down like a ’77 Dodge Dart? …Though I’d almost do that deal.  Swap Mr. Met for three minor-league mascot prospects, and make the call.

Any Mets captain would have to be resilient and magnetic enough to draw attention even if on the bench.  These attributes are not quantifiable; Mr. Franco was right about that.  But what he has wrong is not the need, but the reason for the need.  The Mets need a captain for our sake, not theirs. 

David Wright is right: we don’t know what goes on in the clubhouse behind closed doors. All reports are that Carlos Delgado is still at home recovering and Gary Sheffield’s a model citizen, so John Franco’s further afield than most.  They need to play as a team, and pick themselves up in times of trouble.  Playing coherent baseball as a team will keep the crew from air-mailing balls and throwing to the wrong bag and all that nonsense.  I think the 2009 Mets are working hard at playing as a team, with some glaring goddamn missteps.

But we need a captain because on any given day during this injury crisis, we’ve seen half this lineup play a few handfuls of games.  Argenis Reyes; Fernando Martinez; Nick Evans?  To the masochistic Mets fan, these names are familiar if not battle-tested.  To the casual observer, they’re nobodies.  The captain fills the gap in crowd confidence with his captaincy, like so much *Great Stuff.

Gratuitous link.

And when the captain goes into the locker room, he controls the message to the media hordes who demand to know just what they’re gonna do about all these injuries and do you think Omar should trade for a bat or some rotation help and oh my gosh oh my goodness gracious the 2009 Mets are a step away from 1962! 

(Ah, Suzyn Waldman.  When digital photo frames can reliably play downloaded video, I’m hanging that Clemens bit in my bathroom.)

When Delgado comes back and Jose Reyes comes back and Carlos Beltran and J.J. Putz and John Maine come back, we should see these guys as a team with a colorful history.  The captain can continue to control the message, but we really should hold no illusions that, when the door closes on the clubhouse, David Wright is going up to Carlos Delgado and telling Carlos how to play the game.  Carlos would be well within his rights to take an aluminum bat to the man.

The captain frees the rest of the team up to coalesce and do their job.  The captain takes the heat for the other veterans and the rookies.  For that, he’s awarded a slightly larger percentage of the glory and the pain.

From this perspective, the reason Mr. Franco believes the Mets need a captain is because he needs to hear a player voice of authority account for what’s going on at the park.  But to extend that to be the reason for the shoddy play is false.  The Mets have not played at their best because they are not at all at full strength.

A team in better shape, DL-wise, would be the Philadelphia Phillies.  They got blown out by Atlanta yesterday, no-hit all the way through to the seventh, and the Mets are now two games behind first. 

I’m sure David Wright wants to lead the Mets, Mr. Franco.  Tell me if anyone wants to lead this division.

*Great Stuff is a registered trademark of The Dow Chemical Company.  If you’re going to use it, WEAR GLOVES AND EYE GOGGLES AND CLOTHES YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT EVER WEARING IN PUBLIC AGAIN.