Bobby Bonilla: Hey he’s on the payroll anyway right?!
Daniel Murphy: Clearly he can play anywhere.
Jenrry Mejia: Gotta get him that Major League experience.
Mike Pelfrey: He’s clearly got a strong arm, and he’s tall for home run robbing leaps.
Tim Tebow: He can run and throw right?
These aren’t any crazier options than Jordanny Valdespin are they? What are some of your suggestions?
In all seriousness, if Andres Torres misses Opening Day, something that’s far from certain at this juncture, and Scott Hairston is also not back in time, Sandy Alderson would probably just acquire someone. There aren’t going to be great options, but some will shake out as we get closer to go-time and other teams cut some guys that didn’t make the team. These aren’t ideal candidates obviously, but it doesn’t sound like Torres’ injury is that serious.
Tim Byrdak will be on the disabled list until at least May. This opens up a competition for lefty reliever in a Mets camp that hadn’t previously had a lot of jobs available. Couple that with Scott Hairston‘s injury, and the door is open for some guys to make the team that previously didn’t have much of a chance.
This may not be a bad thing. Tim Byrdak settled down after a bad start, but he wasn’t making anyone forget Pedro Feliciano. Similiarly, Scott Hairston ended up with pretty decent numbers, but his numbers against lefties were down from his career numbers. Neither of these guys are what one would call irreplaceable, and opening up the job to others may result in the Mets finding some that even does the job better.
Certainly none of these jobs are high-impact jobs. Byrdak pitched merely 37 innings last year, and Hairston only had 145 plate appearances. So even if the Mets couldn’t find replacements that would do as good a job, the overall effect on the Mets will be minimal. Other pitchers will get a chance to get outs, and the right-handed pinch-hitting duties will be filled by someone that gets that job done. Ronny Cedeno and Justin Turner both figure to get some of them anyway, so it’s unlikely the Mets even notice Scott Hairston is gone, unless further injury happens.
Chuck James, Danny Herrera, Garrett Olsen, and perhaps Robert Carson or Josh Edgin, are the guys pegged to replace Bydrak. Vinny Rottino, Adam Loewen, Mike Baxter, and maybe Kirk Nieuwenhuis are the guys in line to replace Scott Hairston and were already competing for a bench spot. Now two of them will likely get a chance. None of these guys is likely to come in and make a huge difference, but it’s certainly possible they can at least approximate what Byrdak and Hairston did last year. There is also the possibility of Sandy Alderson adding someone late in Spring Training to fill a role.
Depth is what gets hurt when you have to go to the next in line. Even if the next in line guys are better you run the risk of further injury forcing you to play someone completely not ready, or not very good. Lack of depth has been a buzzword to describe the Mets this spring, perhaps unfairly. In this case the Mets have suitable guys on the depth chart to step in. That’s the not the case for every position certainly, but if you look around most major league camps you don’t find prospects nipping at the heels of most position players, and you certainly don’t find talented major league veterans just hanging out in AAA waiting to help out. The Phillies for example have guys like Michael Martinez, Ty Wigginton, and Scott Podsednik floating around on various parts of their depth chart. Depth is a fluid concept, and Sandy Alderson has suggested there’s room in the budget to make some in-season adjustments. So what you see is not necessarily the whole picture.
I’m interested in seeing how these guys do with a chance to crack the roster. Hopefully fostering this competition will be good for them, and the Mets will go north with guys ready to contribute in these roles.
With the exception of Chris Young, who was quickly replaced by Dillon Gee, the Mets starting pitchers have stayed healthy all season and not missed a start. (In fact, they’re the only ones to not miss time) Now that Niese will need to miss a start or two, and doubleheaders galore will force the Mets to use some more pitchers, where are they?
Rosters expand on Thursday, the first day they’ll need another pitcher, and yet first we’re going to see 40 year old Miguel Batista, and then R.A. Dickey is going to come back on short rest to pitch Friday. No Chris Schwinden, no Mark Cohoon. I know there aren’t a ton of healthy starting pitching prospects in the higher portions of the minor leagues, but why do we have to be subjected to fodder like Batista?
On the other hand, I’ll be in the ballpark Thursday to see Batista’s first, and perhaps last, Mets start on what’s his 11th team. He’s actually going for his 100th win and 1200th strikeout, which I guess is something.
Tags: chris schwinden, mark cohoon, Mets, mets depth, mets minor leagues, mets minors, mets pitching, mets prospects, mets starters, miguel batista, miguel batista's 100th win, New York Mets, new york mets starters
Letters to the NL East, Part 5.
Dear Beloved New York Mets,
Get angry. Seemingly everyone is against you and no one believes in you, but just because circumstances have worked against you recently doesn’t mean you’re out already for 2011. What do the experts know? It’s finally time to actually play some baseball, something you’re all pretty good at. It’s time to surprise some people. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a division winner, with the clinching game coming on Sunday September 25th the Phillies on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. Bobby Valentine will call the action.
David Wright says you need to practice beating teams and getting that swagger and confidence back. Do it. The first nine games are against the Marlins, the Nationals, and the Phillies. With the Phillies you get Hamels who pitches poorly against the Mets, Blanton who’s not very good, and Roy Halladay. It’s the perfect opportunity to get off to a fast start, get Bay and Paulino back, get guys healthy and on track, and start doling out punishment.
Remember, as much as the media wants to write about the Mets being in disrepair, the financial mess, and all the recycled story lines about grit and soft players that they’ve used in the past, if you give them a different story to write they’ll run with that too. People still write about the 1986 team, of which it’s the 25th anniversary of, because their story of beating up on the league and being unapologetic about it was fun to write. So give the writers a story about redemption and revenge. Cast the team, and Wright, as David versus Goliath. Treat everyone as the enemy and don’t let up.
The best thing about this team is it’s depth and balance. There aren’t a lot, if any, bad players on this team. No Jeff Francoeur, no Gary Matthews Jr. There are a variety of relievers that could’ve made the team that are waiting around in Port St. Lucie, and there are seemingly a half dozen different outfield prospects that could show up at any given time. Sure, no one ran away with the second base job, but no one threw it away either. Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner and even Ruben Tejada are right around the corner, or at the end of the dugout, should Emaus not be the guy. Your worst pitcher is either a second year prospect who could come close to 200 Ks, or a former All-Star who pitched to a sub-4 ERA in 66 innings last year in returning from injury.
You are not going to be easy to beat this year, and with some discipline and health, you could make it a really exciting season. Remember, no one gets a handicap for winning the division last year, or for having the best team on paper. It’s time to play the games.
Your Excited Supporter,
Optimistic Mets Fan
Tags: 2011 national league, 2011 nl east, Baseball, bobby valentine, clinch day, Cole Hamels, Confidence, david and goliath, david versus goliath, David Wright, david wright versus goliath, espn, espn sunday night baseball, jason bay, justin turner, letters to the nl east, Mets, mets depth, mets september 25th, mets team, New York Mets, NL East, nl east favorites, no francoeur, september 25th, swagger, when will the mets clinch