The Mets: New Nails, El Hombre, Balance, Go Nats and Leaving Las Vegas
Perhaps I am clutching at straws, but the nagging hurts plaguing the Mets projected everyday lineup may prove to be a blessing in disguise. Because of injuries to a host of other players, Jordany Valdespin and Collin Cowgill have been afforded extended looks this spring and so far, both have played well.
Valdespin is hitting 348/388/609 thru last Friday, while Cowgill checks in at 311/380/578. They have frequently appeared at the top two batting spots of the order of the order, while also appearing (to these eyes at least) to inject some life into the lineup. I was very impressed how they combined to scratch out a first inning run against an otherwise unhittable Steven Strasburg earlier this spring. They have both maintained a high level of play since that game.
I get the sense that the Mets desperately want Cowgill to succeed so they can market his “grittiness” to an otherwise seriously disinterested fan base. I don’t think giving Colin Lenny Dykstra’s old number was just an accident. It wouldn’t surprise me however, to find that Valdespin’s success is a bit more unsettling to ownership and the front office. There is no shortage of news on his antics. I agree with one article that hinted he may never succeed here.
This reminds me a lot of the Jeff Kent saga. Both are somewhat socially inept but talented players who have attracted the scorn of both the press and team mates. Kent’s Met career was marked by incidents somewhat similar to Valdespin’s (this was in the pre-Social Media days) before he was run out of town. Not saying Valdespin will be that good, but Kent is Hall of Fame bound. What could it hurt to give a talent like Valdespin’s a chance? Manager Terry Collins has already announced that Justin Turner will start at second during Daniel Murphy’s absence. I think we have seen what Turner is: a 254/324/354 hitter with average range and below average speed. In other words, par for the course in the Met lineup. Collins won’t admit it, but he must be worried for his job and is making “safe” moves like this one.
Speaking of former Mets middle infielders, one of them might be in the running next offseason to replace Collins. No, not that one. I’m talking about Ron Gardenhire. You heard it here first.
If nothing else, a Cowgill-Valdespin-Wright-Ike-Byrd-Duda-Buck-Tejada batting order will be balanced, one through seven. Not much speed or power but the right-left-right-left–right-left-right march through the order maximizes what little leverage the Mets have offensively by creating the potential for favorable righty/lefty matchups. I don’t think Marlon Byrd is the archetypical #5 hitter, but spotting him there allows Lucas Duda to slot into the less pressurized six hole. The Mets are counting heavily on Duda. Putting a veteran like Byrd in the traditional RBI spot gives Duda a chance to get settled in. Ideally, Byrd stays perched there and provides the same service during Travis d’Araund’ s early days of replacing John Buck.
After a long winter, it is good to watch baseball again, even though I had to suffer through Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo’s dreadful calling of a recent Mets-Nationals game. Yes, Washington has a great team (good for Davey Johnson), but these guys take “smug” to a new level. Santangelo actually giggles during the broadcast and I can’t hear Carpenter’s voice without reliving his gleeful calls during what seemed like a nine game sweep of the Mets by the Nats during the 2007 collapse. Thank God for G-K-R!
I live nearby the home field of the Phillies Triple A affiliate and had looked forward the last few years to visits from Buffalo, the Mets farm team in the same league. Lost the ballyhoo of trades made or not made, free agents not signed and some of Sandy Alderson’s ill-timed quips, is the fact that the Mets Triple A farm team has been exiled to Las Vegas, perhaps the worst spot on the minor league map. This arrangement likely has little benefit to either the prospects placed there nor to the big club. I wonder how soon they can undo this move. After years of being in Tidewater/Norfolk, the Mets AAA team has nomadically journeyed through some of minor league baseball’s least desirable locations the past six years (New Orleans, Buffalo and now Vegas). Maybe they should send Norfolk’s native son David Wright down there to patch things up.
What do you think? Should Valdespin get a chance? Are there any broadcasters worse than the Nationals crew? Traveling to Vegas to watch baseball this summer? Sound off below!