Life Without Moises

While few of us expected Moises Alou to play in more than 100 games this season, we did hope to see him at some point beyond the cameo appearances in spring training. After suffering a hernia, the latest news is that Alou may or may not have a fractured bone in his ankle.

This does not bode well for the light-hitting Mets, who despite their offensive “explosion” this past weekend, remain a few batters short of championship lineup.

Even if Carlos Delgado is truly out of his slump — and it looked that way yesterday — it’s doubtful he’s going to return to the monster he was two or three years ago. At best he’ll give the Mets a .260 / 30 / 110 line — good, but not enough unless both David Wright and Carlos Beltran put up MVP numbers.

That’s because after the #5 spot, there isn’t much firepower. Yes, Ryan Church is hot, but I’m not banking on him continuing his .322 pace (call me a pessimist). I do like Church as a #6 or #7 hitter, and do like his defense and hustle. But when he cools down to his mean of .275 / 15 / 70, and Angel Pagan falls back to earth (three hits in his last 20 ABs suggests the descent has begun), will the Mets have enough hitting at the bottom of the order to compete? I’m not so sure.

If the bullpen had a better start, and if either of El Duque or Pedro Martinez were in the rotation right now, I might not be so concerned — because great pitching beats good hitting, right? But the truth is, the Mets pitching overall is not great — it’s OK, potentially good. But not so dominating that the Mets can get away with scoring 3-4 runs a game.

In this era of the 5-inning starter, too many games are decided by the worst pitchers on each team — the middle relievers. It’s a crapshoot, really, and what it often comes down to is which offense can take advantage of the weakest arms in the 6th and 7th innings. If Delgado gets back into the groove, the Mets will be more dangerous in these late innings, because teams won’t be able to pitch around David Wright and Carlos Beltran. But the lineup still might not be deep enough to make up for the inconsistencies of the bullpen. There are too many “ifs” — if Delgado returns to form, if Pagan stays hot, if Church is for real — to keep me convinced there’s enough offense without Alou.

Of course, “if” Alou ever returns, I’m assuming he’ll be the .300-hitting RBI machine he’s always been … oh that’s another “if”, isn’t it?

Maybe it’s the gray skies and downpour that has me so cynical. A bright sunny day and a few more dingers by Delgado would really lift my spirits.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. whatdatmean April 28, 2008 at 1:10 pm
    reading this makes me think we should be looking to make a move right now for a OF[that can play 1b?] with power.

    i think it might be time to start shopping: nady, murton, inge, thames, j rivera, morales, etc…would all be good options.

    if alou’s results are [+] for a fracture…we should be proactive and do it before we get desperate.
    again…show, sosa, and endy are expendible from the 25man to make room for the new guy or in a trade package. some teams do have a use for these guys. pagan has shown that he can do enough things right to be THE 4th OF and start regularly…but he makes the lineup to light hitting.

    we are a light hitting lineup right now, until beltran de-funks himself, so power might be a necessity.

    BTW….anyone who thinks Fmart is the answer right now should slap themselves twice. he WILL be good…dont ruin him now.

    again, easley & anderson may be the answer for platoon in OF & 1B[on occasion]…they both offer power and marginal defense, but do you really want endy to be your top pinch hitter?

  2. isuzudude April 28, 2008 at 1:30 pm
    In regards to Alou, and the Mets lineup as a whole, I think you are justified in being cynical, Joe. At this point I don’t expect Alou to be back before August, if at all. And you make a great point that we can’t just assume that this 41 year old dinosaur is going to be the .300+ hitter he was last year. It’s time the Mets moved on to life without Alou. Which means it’s time to stop talking about acquiring a LF and do it.

    Who’s out there? What do the Mets have to sacrifice? Well, that’s stuff for Omar & company to decide. He’s done a fine job (with a few exceptions) of making all the right moves, so I trust he can find some help without seriously compromising the team’s payroll or minor league system. The point is it has to get done. A Chavez/Pagan platoon is not going to cut it, because, like you say Joe…
    1. Pagan is beginning to crash and burn, and is more of a 5th OF than an everyday starter
    2. Church is good, but he’s not this good, and when he starts to slump, Pagan or Chavez is going to need to be used to spell him from time to time
    3. His Super Sunday aside, Delgado is a shell of his former self and is not reliable for the type of production we were hoping and needing from him. I admire your optimism, Joe, when it comes to projecting Delgado’s final season stats, but I think a .260/30/110 line is closer to what Carlos Beltran will finish at. I think Delgado will be closer to .250/20/80, which, in this day and age, is not adequate enough from the #5 hole.
    4. Lost in all the Delgado trash talk is the fact that Jose Reyes is no better this April than he was last September. And if his struggles are more permanent than we’d like to admit, there’s another reason to beef up our offense.

  3. whatdatmean April 28, 2008 at 2:24 pm
    izu makes a very good point…with reyes struggling, the offense is going to suffer too. i think there is a way to remedy this while extending the lineup a little bit.

    castillo, reyes, church, wright, beltran, pagan/easley, schneid, P

    go ahead… it up…
    but i think there is a lot of good that comes from this…
    -logically…castillo has the skills of a leadoff hitter[high obp/avg/steals]. having him on with speed on base, typically you see more fastballs and less pitches in the dirt…both are advantageous to Reyes style. also, church + DW are hot right now, so having good hitters behind you tend to get more pitches over the plate.
    -psychologically…it may be too much pressure for him to HAVE to hit leadoff, be the catalyst, and always be on base. he seems to buckle from time to time, and taking some of that pressure off may help.

    this doesnt destroy his game bc 2 hitters get opportunities for rbi’s + steals. i really believe that he may do better there with that pressure off his shoulders, and generally, he would see better pitches with castillo on base or church and wright hitting behind him.

    *just a thought…teams may not be scared of the 2 hitters we are putting behind reyes. he seems to get a lot of pitches that he chases up and down in the zone. obviously, his discipline needs work. but as a starter, that is dangerous to chance a walk to reyes, bc a hard hit single can score him. then again…we have been playing musical 2 hitters + using the soft hitting castillo behind him, for a few years. seems logical to think that they are taking it to reyes bc our 2 hitters dont inspire fear.
    i dont have the stats…but it seems we scored more with church in the 2 hole[when reyes slump broke] … he does hit the ball hard and get a lot of EBH…
    maybe we have to put a hard hitter behind him to “protect” his flaws, where it would be more of a risk putting him on.
    just thinking out loud though.

  4. joe April 28, 2008 at 2:50 pm
    Good points all around. The Marlon/Damion platoon is intriguing, because both vets would provide decent punch down at the bottom of the lineup, able to hit mistakes out of the park on occasion. Combined they might throw up a .275 / 20 / 85 line, which is about what the Mets could use in the #6 or #7 spot. But as is pointed out, do you want Endy and Angel as your top pinch hitters? Might not be too bad.

    It would be great to pick up a Nady, Murton, Morales, etc., but I don’t see it happening because of the Mets’ lack of trading chips. Morales might be the only one the Mets can pry away, and could take over for Delgado in ’09 at 1B … but what do the Mets have that the Angels need?

    I don’t know about moving Jose around yet. His issue is discipline and waiting on pitches — something he did capably the first half of last year. One way or another he needs to re-discover what he was doing last March/April/May, and everything will come together.

  5. RockStar78 April 28, 2008 at 3:04 pm
    Regarding Reyes, I agree it’s the discipline that’s his problem. But how could he have just lost his approach like this? Second half 2006 and first half 2007 he was right on point, and now he seems to have reverted back to the free swinging 2005 Reyes. I just don’t see how plate discipline can come and go. That is something that once learned, should be sustained, right?
  6. Micalpalyn April 28, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    I think there is a 50 game barometer in place. But I also think the Mets are OK player wise. I mean Delgado is not Dougie Mink. I think Del even in a final-pre-retirement yr could be good enuff. The sectret is to get Beltran and Reyes on track.

    The best thing i got out of the Braves series was that the Mets hit the ball out of the infield.

    On Moises: Its ridiculous to include him in the discussion. As a .350 hitter he is great. But at 42yrs old, how did ANYONE expect him to play everyday. morelikely he is the alternative to acquiring Texeria in July. What I would Like is for that obvious 5-headed OF rotation to come up and see Moises NOT playing everyday, but every other day when he does come up.

    The Heilman implosion caused us to collectively sigh. But the re-awakening of Sanchez (for me) has disipated alot of the cloud.

    Sunday re-awakened the model Omar brought to us that made Pedro (of the bad shoulder) effective. He has shortened the game (again). The biggest knock on the Mets is less the offense but that the Starters were not pitching deep enuff and exposing the pen (& willie).

    But sunday I saw something that harkens back to prior to Dirty’s near fatal cab ride: Sanchez setting up Wags…but Heilman as a 6th/7th inning fireman. With a rotation of Santana-Ollie-Maine-(figgy/el-duque/Vargas/Pel)..the aim is 5-6innings then shut down work from Heilman-Sanchez-mighty Joe-Wags. Add in Sho and Sosa (and Muniz).

    We all know our Starters are as good as thru 5innings. The achilles heel is 6-7-8. Well sanchez just got rid of 8. If heilman and Joe can get rid of 6 and 7. We could be back on track early. I am not concerned with BP wear if Vargas can come up and relieve or Figgy moves to the pen.