A Righthanded Bat

Jeff Conine on the MarlinsSo Damion Easley is down with a grade-three ankle sprain (not to be confused with a third-grade sprain, which is common in kickball during recess), more or less nullifying his existence on the Mets’ roster for the remainder of the regular season. That leaves the Mets with … um … virtually no righthanded bat coming off the bench.

We say “virtually” because there is Sandy Alomar, Jr., Ruben Gotay, and Anderson Hernandez but none of those three can be considered viable options as pinch-hitters. Alomar — or Mike DiFelice — is the only backup catcher and it wouldn’t be smart to leave the team with no catching option. Gotay would be hitting closer to .370 (rather than .340) if not for his .227 average as a righty. AHern makes Luis Castillo look like Barry Bonds … and we’re still trying to figure out the logic of his promotion. I suppose his presence gives Willie Randolph a pinch-running option should the Mets be involved in a 17-inning game.

If by chance Lastings Milledge is not in the starting lineup, then he’s the obvious RH choice off the bench. But it’s looking more and more like LMillz is the starting rightfielder. And if that’s the case, the bench is particularly lefty-heavy: Shawn Green (or Carlos Delgado, depending on Delgado’s knee), Marlon Anderson, and the aforementioned Gotay, AHern, and Alomar. In a few days, AHern will be replaced by another lefty batter — Endy Chavez.

There’s been some chatter that Jeff Conine may be coming the Mets’ way, and he would be an ideal addition: a veteran righthanded bat with postseason experience and versatility (he can play 3B, OF, 1B). Just one problem: with the return of Chavez, how do you fit Conine onto the roster? All of a sudden the timing of Easley’s injury is kind of, well, convenient.

Think about it. Even if Milledge is the starter in right, there’s isn’t much chance of the Mets dumping Shawn Green. Marlon Anderson’s bat has earned him a permanent spot on the roster. You have to carry two catchers. The odd man out would be, unfortunately, Ruben Gotay — he of the .340 batting average. Which makes one wonder — if Easley doesn’t hurt his ankle, would Gotay be the one demoted upon Endy’s return? You’d have to think so, considering Willie’s allegiance to veteran players and Easley’s versatility.

The only other options would be to shave a pitcher from the roster (Aaron Sele?), or to release Green. Even though the emergence of Milledge and the presence of Anderson and Chavez make Green fairly expendable, I don’t see the Mets dumping him. And you’d have to think that Green offers more value to the team than Sele, who pitches only once every 12 days.

That said, if the Mets are truly shopping for a righthanded bat, we’d have to guess that Sele gets dropped from the roster. Surely the Mets can go eleven days without him (the rosters expand on September 1), and he likely wouldn’t be retained on a postseason roster.

Now if only they can find a righthanded bat who can also pitch some middle relief …

Postseason Planning

In eleven days, the official postseason roster must be set — in other words, the 25 men on the roster on August 31st are the 25 men who will be eligible to play in the playoffs and World Series.

Sort of.

Before we fans go nutty trying to squeeze Joe Smith, Chip Ambres, or Pedro Martinez onto the team before the end of the month, we need to understand the loopholes. First of all, anyone on the DL before the 31st (and therefore not on the 25-man roster) is still eligible to be on the postseason roster. So, let’s say Pedro and Ramon Castro are still disabled — no big deal, they can still play in the playoffs. Further, there is a rule that allows a team to replace any player placed on the 60-day DL with another player who a.) was in the organization before August 31st and b.) plays the same position as the player on the 60-day DL. As of now, the Mets have both Juan Padilla and Duaner Sanchez on the 60-day DL — which means they have carte blanche to add just about any current Mets minor league pitcher (or two) they want to the postseason roster. For example, if the Mets bring up Philip Humber and Ambiorix Burgos during the September callups, and they both pitch lights out, they can be added to the postseason roster in the place of Sanchez and Padilla. It doesn’t make much sense, since neither Sanchez nor Padilla has thrown a big-league pitch this year, but that’s the way it works (at least, that’s how I’ve interpreted the rule — if I’m wrong someone please post with a correction).

This makes the Damion Easley situation all the more interesting. If it looks as though Easley has no chance of returning by, say, mid-October, then it would make sense to place him on the 60-day DL as well. This way, if a minor league callup gets hot at the end of September, there’s the flexibility of sliding him into Easley’s spot on the roster for the playoffs. Since Easley played both the infield and the outfield, the “replacement” could play virtually any position. (Carlos Gomez is also on the 60-day DL, but he plays only the outfield, and therefore would need to be replaced by an OF. In addition, there’s a chance that he returns in mid-September.)

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. isuzudude August 20, 2007 at 4:33 pm
    As of the time I’m posting this, it’s not yet known who the Mets are giving up in the deal, but indeed Conine is coming to Shea. I can’t imagine it’ll be anymore than an Evan MacLane caliber player who we used to get Shawn Green last year. Conine will make a nice addition, seeing sparing time while spelling Delgado and Alou, but getting most of his atbats from the 7th to 9th inning pinch hitting against LHP. If anything, it means more playing time for Gotay, who is now the primary backup at 2B with Easley DL’ed and Hernandez on his way back to triple-A.

    Interesting when you look at the Mets roster at all the former Marlins we have. Castillo, Lo Duca, Castro, Conine, Alou, Delgado, Mota, Vargas, soon to be Hermansen. Who needs New Orleans when you have Florida?

    As far as finding a spot for Chavez, I agree that Sele is likely the odd man out. Go with a short bullpen for a week and a half until rosters expand. But that leads me to a secondary idea: hold off on activating Chavez until rosters expand. That way you don’t have to worry about losing Sele, or making any difficult decisions about how to fit 26 guys on a 25 man roster. It’s not likely activating Chavez is the key to winning the rest of our games in August.

    Question: how much do rosters expand Sept 1st? Ist it to 30, 35, 40? I can’t remember.

  2. Micalpalyn August 20, 2007 at 4:56 pm
    Sean henry and Jose Castro.

    2. Agreed. Conine is a nice addition I did not think would happen. Also 9/22 in PH.

  3. joe August 20, 2007 at 4:57 pm
    Good point on holding Chavez back … there’s no reason to rush him back with Marlon fighting Green and Milledge for at-bats.

    Rosters expand to a max of 40. Essentially the MLB roster is always 40, except that from Opening Day through August 31, when a team is allowed only 25 of them to be active for duty.

  4. sincekindergarten August 20, 2007 at 4:59 pm
    It’s 40. I’m kinda split on DFAing Sele–veteran pitchers like him don’t drop out of the sky, ya know? On one hand, his near-5 ERA is tough to stomach, but on the other hand, he soaks up innings . . . when Willie decides to use him . . . and he is 3-1. Somehow, I think that Sele deserves to be with the team.
  5. isuzudude August 20, 2007 at 5:07 pm
    So let’s petition for the Mets to keep Chavez in the minors until rosters expand (unless there’s a time limit issue for a rehab assignment?). Keep Sele, even if there is no intention to use him, just because it’s a rule of thumb to have 7 relievers at a given time.

    Of the 15 players to expand the rosters with on Sept 1st:
    1. Lo Duca (activated off DL)
    2. Castro (activated off DL)
    3. Pedro (activated off DL)
    4. Chavez (activated off DL)
    5. Smith (called up)
    6. Burgos (called up)
    7. Newhan (called up)

    The 8 others can be called up once the Zephyrs season concludes (as to receive maximum workload):
    Pelfrey, Humber, Collazo, Vargas, Gomez, Ambres, Ledee, Hernandez.
    Missing anyone?

  6. joe August 20, 2007 at 8:24 pm
    Anyone think Mulvey deserves a look-see ?

    He’s having a comparable year to Pelf’s first in AA, and projects as a Brian Bannister-type. Might be a good idea to get his feet wet against MLBers … the only thing is, maybe you don’t want to waste an option and a 40-man spot.

    Also might be a good idea to consider Brett Harper and Carlos Muniz from the B-Mets. Muniz is too old for AA, so let’s see if he can do anything up here. Harper had a good comeback year with the bat. But again, I don’t understand exactly how the option thing works, and not sure it makes sense to add guys to the 40-man.

  7. Walnutz15 August 21, 2007 at 9:24 am
    Milledge/Green (who’s hot, who’s not)
    Lo Duca/Castro (pick and choose, depending on who’s working best with the staff)

    Thinking about it, and I don’t see them keeping a 12-man staff for a short series.

    With Pedro back, Lawrence and Sele likely won’t sniff the post-season roster

    Wagner is more than enough in a short series.

    Schoeneweis and Mota will likely be in tow.

    11 pitchers, and they’d get to keep an extra bench spot — maybe Gotay does stick.

    Milledge, Chavez, Conine, Anderson, Gotay, and Castro. That’s a real nice bench.