Ricky Ledee Next in Line
How did it ever come to this?
After the Mets made Moises Alou their first, and most significant, free agent signing, the next thing Omar Minaya did was make sure he had plenty of horses behind the fragile Alou. As good as Alou is, it would have been wishful thinking — or downright stupidity — to expect Moises to play in more than 100 – 125 games. It’s hard to get any 40-year-old to play more than that (though HGH might help), much less someone like Alou, who already has multiple ailments and gives his body a daily beating with his all-out play.
Knowing that, Minaya wasn’t going to count on just Lastings Milledge to be the fill-in. He made sure to have a backup plan (Ben Johnson), and a backup to the backup plan (David Newhan), and one more emergency backup (Damion Easley). And if that wasn’t enough, he made sure to sign Chip Ambres, who played about half a season with the Kansas City Royals as their starting centerfielder.
Even after all that planning, here it is in early May and it looks very possible that the next outfielder the Mets promote is Ricky Ledee.
Hopefully, it won’t come to that. Maybe all Moises needs to do is drain his right knee, get some kind of shot, and he’ll be good to go in a few days.
If not, however, and Alou needs to be placed on the DL, guess who’s most likely to join the Mets?
Ricky Luh – DEE.
That’s because Blastings Thrilledge — the first man in line — is out indefinitely with a foot injury, the second man in line, Ben Johnson, is on the DL since spraining his shoulder in mid-April, and top prospect Carlos Gomez isn’t quite ready for prime time. Which means that if an outfielder is to be brought up, it’s between Chip Ambres and Ricky Ledee. Ledee (.266) is batting six points higher than Ambres (.260), but that’s not why he’ll get the call. The real reason is Willie Randolph, who has some illogical trust and bond in the talentless journeyman.
Though he never panned out as the superstar, 5-tool player the Yankees hyped him as, Ricky Ledee must have done something in his 192-game career in the Bronx (6-for-10 in the ’98 World Series?), because it had a lasting impression on then-coach Willie Randolph. Ledee’s most productive season came as a 26-year-old, when he bounced from the Yankees to the Indians to the Rangers and batted .236 with 13 homeruns and 77 RBI in 467 at-bats. Since that year, he’s meandered around the National League as a fifth outfielder and pinch-hitter, producing a .246 career batting average. His main role with the bat is underwhelming; he’s hit .213 as a pinch-hitter over the last three years. Similarly, his glove is adequate at best in this stage of his career, and though once fleet of foot, is not much of an advantage on the bases (though he won’t necessarily clog them). Plainly put, the 33-year-old Ricky Ledee is an all-around, average to below-average player, offering no one particularly strong tool. In other words, he’s Karim Garcia minus the off-field problems with alcohol — or, another “good guy to have in the clubhouse”.
Luckily, if Alou does go on the DL and Ledee is promoted, chances are slim he’d do more than occasionally pinch-hit. Ruben Gotay looks strong enough defensively to allow Easley to platoon with Endy Chavez and/or David Newhan while Alou recovers. And who knows, maybe I’m way off base here. Perhaps the Mets are looking to promote the swift-running Ambres — to have as a pinch-running option — or maybe they’re thinking about bringing up Andy Tracy or Fernando Tatis to give David Wright an occasional breather at third base. With Endy, Newhan, and Easley around, it’s not a necessity to replace Alou on the roster with another outfielder.
Of course, the best thing would be for Moises to not go on the DL. Maybe he can stave off the pain until Thrilledge or Johnson are healed.