Tag: carlos delgado

2009 Analysis: Carlos Delgado

delgado-fistImmediately after Johan Santana was acquired in February 2008, I made the bold statement that the “key” to the Mets’ season would be Carlos Delgado. Since the Mets started winning when Delgado began heating up, it seemed to me that the big man’s bat and health would be the key again in 2009.

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but the Mets’ fortunes seem to have paralleled the performance — and availability — of Carlos Delgado. His presence in the cleanup spot took the pressure off Carlos Beltran, gave protection to David Wright, and created a speed bump in the lineup where opposing pitchers had to slow down and proceed cautiously.

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Manuel Perpetuates Blame Game

manuel-ghandi-smAh, now it’s all clear. Perhaps I was too harsh on Frankie Rodriguez, Johan Santana, and Carlos Beltran. By blaming others, finger-pointing, and driving the bus over their teammates, they were merely carrying out the ethos set in place by their field general.

Because yet again, Jerry Manuel does his own finger-pointing to explain the Mets’ miserable season. When asked about the possibility of losing 90+ games this season, Manuel was quoted last night during the SNY postgame (and recorded on MLB.com):

“You have to go back to the health issue,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “If you don’t have those pieces in place, it’s difficult to do anything, and do anything well and do it consistently.”

(hat tip to TheRopolitans)

See? Blame game. It fits nicely. I absolves Teflon Jerry from responsibility. He can blame the circumstances around him for the Mets’ dismal record, as if he is somehow separate from it. How can he possibly win baseball games when he doesn’t have the “pieces” ?

Funny, though, that this time last year the media and much of the fanbase couldn’t congratulate Manuel enough for leading the Mets into the Promised Land (well, they never guessed ANOTHER collapse would occur in the final days). He was some kind of Zen wizard, regaling journalists with his koan-like bits of wisdom, and managing the Mets with a measured balance of father-like encouragement and stern discipline.

Heck, one journalist referred to Manuel as a magician, and suggested he could win “Manager of the Year”.

Carlos Delgado was a one-man wrecking crew because Jerry motivated him to do so. Fernando Tatis hit like Ted Williams for a month because Jerry gave him the chance. Daniel Murphy looked like the next Wade Boggs because Jerry “worked so well with youngsters”. Jose Reyes was fulfilling his superstar promise because Jerry knew how to keep him focused. Carlos Beltran and David Wright were MVP candidates because Jerry was giving them just the right amount of rest. Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez turned their seasons around because Jerry had them working with Dan Warthen.

And if by some miracle the Mets did NOT make it to the postseason, everyone knew exactly why — because the bullpen would fail.

Huh … sound familiar?

Even amidst all the miracles Manuel was spinning on his way to sainthood, there was a built-in excuse. It would be the fault of the men in the bullpen — not the man managing it — if things turned sour. Jerry’s irresponsible abuse of arms from June through August would be forgotten when the relief crew collectively and colossally collapsed. It would be the fault of Joe Smith, Aaron Heilman, Scott Schoeneweis, or the injury to Billy Wagner, if the Mets blew it again. Anyone but Jerry.

This is the culture that Jerry Manuel created — one where the team learns to find reasons why they lose, rather than creating solutions to win.

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How Bad is Mets Power Outage?

Quick, what do Miguel Olivo, Garret Jones, David Wright, Gary Sheffield, and Grady Sizemore all have in common?

All four players lead their respective teams in homeruns, but have hit less than 20.

power-outageHere’s where it gets scary — the season totals for these four:

Olivo (Royals), 19
Jones (Pirates), 19
Sizemore (Indian), 18
Wright and Sheffield (Mets), 10

Now, homeruns aren’t everything, but they do have a significant place in today’s game of watered-down pitching and emphasis on offense. And 20 is just a number — though most would agree it is something of a benchmark. A player who knocks at least 20 balls over the fence is generally considered to be a “power threat” — the type of hitter one needs to pitch carefully to in tight situations.

Yes, the injuries to Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran had something to do with the Mets not having a 20-HR hitter this year (though the pace of each suggested barely hitting 20 through 600 ABs). But Wright’s 15-day stint on the DL wasn’t the reason he is unlikely to reach that milestone. Further, the only other players on the Opening Day roster who had hit as many as 20 in a season were the 40-year-old Sheffield and Fernando Tatis (whose 34 in 1999 smell mysterious).

And before you point to vast expanse of Citi Field, consider that opponents have hit 75 homeruns in Flushing — or, a dozen more than visiting teams have hit in Coors Field. Chew on that one for a moment.

In fact, the Mets have hit 46 of their dingers in their home stadium, compared to 39 on the road. So Citi Field may have stolen a few fly balls, but that doesn’t explain the lack of power when visiting other parks.

Now consider this: there are currently 71 in MLB right now with at least 20 homeruns. In fact, 19 of them have 30 or more. Not one is a New York Met.

With a shade less than 20 games left in the season, there’s a very real possibility that the Mets finish the year as the only team in MLB without a 20-HR hitter. I’m not sure of the last time that has happened to an MLB team, but I know it hasn’t happened to the Mets since 2003, when Cliff Floyd and Jeromy Burnitz hit 18 apiece. You have to back another ten years, to 1993, to find a sub-20-HR guy lead the team (Bobby Bonilla, with 19, if you care).

Can a Major League team make it to the postseason in this day and age without at least one power threat? Some may argue a playoff-bound team requires at least three. Going into this offseason, the Mets are likely to let Delgado go, leaving Wright and Beltran as the only players under contract with the potential to hit 20 homers in a season — though they have an arbitration / non-tender decision to make with Jeff Francoeur, who has hit as many as 20 HR once in his five-year career. Assuming Francoeur returns, will those three “sluggers” be enough power to contend in 2010?

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Mets Injuries: Not Bad Luck

After having his knee examined, Oliver Perez has been shut down and scheduled for season-ending surgery because of patella tendon tendinosis. No word on whether he will have his head examined.

Johan Santana will have elbow surgery.

J.J. Putz has been shut down for the season, due to new fraying in his elbow near the ulnar collateral ligament and a slight tear in his right forearm. He will NOT have surgery to correct the condition.

No word on Carlos Beltran , Carlos Delgado, John Maine, nor Jose Reyes.

There are others on the DL and/or lost for the season, but I mentioned the above for a specific reason. Can you find the common thread?

If not, I’ll make it plain and simple: in each of the above cases, the player’s original injury was misdiagnosed and/or rehab was mishandled.

In other words, all this talk about the Mets being “unlucky” because of all the major injuries suffered is a bunch of bull. Maybe some of it is luck, but at least half of it is due to incompetence.

Though, I tend not to fault the Mets’ medical staff — I have a hunch they know what they’re doing, and making the proper recommendations. In the end, the doctors and trainers have no control over whether a player goes back on the field or to the disabled list — that decision is made by the front office.

If you’ve been paying attention since spring training, you don’t need me to re-hash each individual case and point out where the team went wrong. And it goes back further than the spring — last year’s handling of Ryan Church and Billy Wagner are the most obvious examples from 2008 (you can put Maine in there as well).

In every case, a player continued to play despite an injury. Now, we know that all athletes have to learn to play with pain, and can often play through injuries without causing further damage. But over the past several years, the Mets have been grossly negligent in the evaluation and assessment of injuries.

We know this because:

– the manager, general manager, and player are rarely ever on the same page in terms of information
– the general manager cannot “remember” serious injuries to vital players
– the manager has admitted to allowing injured players to talk him into letting them on the field
– the team has admitted to hiding injuries and allowing players to continue to play through them
– the team has consistently waited too long to place players on the DL
– cortisone shots have been administered so frequently and easily it has become an industry joke
– more than one player has sought a second opinion from outside doctors, without the team’s recommendation
– Maine, Putz, Reyes, Beltran, Delgado, and Church all experienced failure in the rehab process

The only successful injury rehabilitation in the past year was Billy Wagner’s recovery from Tommy John surgery. Is it any coincidence that Wagner, for the most part, rehabbed on his own, at his home in Virginia?

Yes, there is some luck involved in a player becoming injured, and recovering from injury. But bad luck is not a valid explanation for this level of medical failure. In addition to personnel moves, the Mets need to make sweeping changes in the way they a) prepare and condition their ballplayers; b) evaluate and assess all injuries; and c) make determinations based on the recommendations of their medical staff.

** UPDATE **

David Lennon at Newsday has written a similar, more in-depth piece. Good thing to see the professional journalists are seeing things similarly to the fans and bloggers.

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Cavalry Updates

In the old westerns, there would be an image of the cavalry arriving from the distance. But the men on horses would be moving TOWARD the camera, not AWAY.

In the case of the Mets, it appears the cavalry is moving away from our point-of-view. Or perhaps it is an optical illusion.

Carlos Delgado, who had been “very close” to returning, has suffered a setback — a strained oblique. His hip feels great, though. Yee ha. According to the new face of the Mets John Ricco:

“The thought is possibly in a couple of weeks he could be back swinging”

Well super-duper. A “couple” weeks takes us into September. And “swinging” is not necessarily “playing”.

While Billy Wagner is pitching well and should be joining the Mets this weekend in Flushing, there is no news on John Maine nor J.J. Putz. Further, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes remain in New York, rather in Florida rehabbing. And we’re all on the edge of our seats wondering what’s going on with Ramon Martinez … I mean, how long does it take to heal from a dislocated pinky?

In regard to all the disabled players, and the fact there are less than 50 games left in the season, Ricco went on to provide this breaking news:

“You’re going to run out of days at some point”

Ricco may speak slightly more eloquently than Omar Minaya, but the messages are just as mixed and useless.

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Mets Promote Angel Berroa

angel-berroaYou know it’s a slow news day when the headline is Angel Berroa.

The Mets — who signed Berroa on July 11th and assigned him to AAA Buffalo — have added the veteran infielder to the 25-man roster, replacing Argenis Reyes.

I liked the idea of Berroa as far back as late May, and still think it’s a low-risk move that isn’t going to hurt anything.

Berroa is a slick fielder with a cannon of an arm, no plate discipline, but has shown occasional pop in his past history (none of it recent, unfortunately). I doubt he can come in and replace Alex Cora at shortstop, but there’s an outside chance he can be more productive than Argenis Reyes off the bench as a pinch-hitter. Going along with Mets’ train of thought and scouting analysis, I imagine the next paint for the wall would be Wilson Betemit, assuming he can be pried away from the White Sox (maybe they’d take Angel Pagan? I mean if the Braves took Ryan Church for Jeff Francoeur …).

Back in 2003, Berroa was the AL Rookie of the Year Award, hitting .287 with 17 HR and 73 RBI as Kansas City’s starting shortstop. He hit .270 with 11 HRs as recently as 2005, but his career went downhill quickly ever since. I’m sure it’s only a coincidence that steroid testing began around that time. And I’m sure that Dominican birth certificate is legit, and he’s really 31 and not 34 or 35. In any case he’s ours now so woot-woot!

In other news Omar Minaya said Carlos Delgado won’t be ready to come back until August, there is no update on Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes “might” be back before the end of this month. For those wondering, the Mets do not play at home until July 27th against the no-draw Rockies. I’m sure the information about Reyes had nothing to do with potential ticket sales — so stop it, all you conspiracy theorists!

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Keith: Latin Players Reason for Willie Randolph’s Firing

keith-hernandez
In case you missed it, Keith Hernandez was a guest on the Leonard Lopate Show yesterday afternoon, talking baseball and promoting a book he wrote with Matt Silverman called Shea Good Bye: The Untold Inside Story of the Historic 2008 Season.

The entire interview was enjoyable, and I recommend you give it a listen, as Keith spoke honestly on a variety of subjects. Two of them, specifically, caught my attention …

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What the Mets Do Next

Much of the Mets’ chances for success this year relied on the bat of Carlos Delgado, who is out until at least mid-July. But, Gary Sheffield stepped up and filled some of the void in the middle of the lineup — though, it wasn’t enough with Carlos Beltran suffering from a stomach bug and Ryan Church on the DL. Still, with Beltran healthy and Church on the way back, it looked as though the Mets could tread water while they waited for Jose Reyes to return to the lineup, which was reportedly “any day now”.

After an MRI revealed a tear in Reyes’ hamstring, that “day” may be in August. To compound matters, J.J. Putz may need elbow surgery — which could knock him out for the rest of the season.

There’s a real possibility we’ll next see Billy Wagner in a Mets uniform before Delgado, Reyes, or Putz.

What will the Mets do next?

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