I cannot help but think the Mets now own a very deep ball club. The have two catchers that can contribute meaningful innings, they have pop off the bench, four outfielders when Alou returns that can contribute, the bullpen has turned it around a bit and even Sele has looked good, the rotation is deep and set to get deeper, etc.
However, there are few things that have irked me. As Gary pointed out, the Mets have been carrying three catchers and Willie failed to use Ramon as a pinch hitter outside of one time. Why even bother carrying three then? He started in four of those games and pinch hit in one since July 4th, which is when Alomar got called up. One of those starts was after a seventeen inning game in which Castro only made it into the game during the bottom of the seventeenth to catch Wagner. Just let that sink in...three catchers and only one caught until the bottom of the sixteenth with not even a pinch hit appearance for Castro, who has shown pop this season.
My thing is that if you have the depth, use it. I would not suggest sitting LoDuca for the hot hand because I have my reservations about Castro getting exposed if given a daily spot, but Castro can certainly play more than once a week. Speaking of hot hands, Willie is notoriously a hot hand kind of guy. Sitting Gotay for three games straight after collecting six hits in thirteen at-bats is curious to say the least. We've spoken about how Willie feels obligated to Valentin, who now might be done for the season, for whatever reason and you never like to see Major Leaguers lose their job due to an injury (isn’t that how Valentin got his job last season?), but enough already. I could see giving Valentin a start or two, but Gotay needs to be in the lineup. He is hitting and this team is struggling on offense. It is time to let commonsense prevail and let Gotay have second until he proves otherwise. He might prove us otherwise, but his bat looks lively.
Damion Easley has some pop off the bench, but the guy is buried so far on the bench it is mind boggling. Here is the scenario...5-4 San Diego up on the Mets. It is the ninth inning with Trevor Hoffman on the mound. Lastings Milledge is up representing the tying run. If he gets on, the Mets have some life. On deck, David Newhan. Newhan! The guy who got cut literally ten minutes after the game was going to usurp a perfect chance to Easley to flash some pop off the bench. His batting average as a pinch hitter is Newhan-esque, but Newhan has much more than double the at-bats and I would like to Damion get more chances and see some platoon time with Gotay. Why he is not is curious to say the least.
Finally, when Alou comes back, there is mention of LoDuca moving back to the two hole. Two things on that one. First, if he is going to move there, why is he not there now? If it is believed that is where he should hit, what does Alou have to do with it? Is he batting sixth to provide some missing pop in the space that Alou left? I'm not missing the connection. Second, why move him up into the two hole? He should be moving down further. He is a singles hitter that had done nice things in the two hole last year, but better options have emerged. I'd prefer a Reyes, Beltran, Wright, Delgado, and Alou lineup or a Reyes, Gotay (or whomever is at second), Beltran, Wright, Delgado, and Alou lineup over anything with LoDuca batting second. Part of me wants to get Alou as high up in the lineup as possible, but I know Willie's thinking and his apprehensive stance on stacking righty/righty and lefty/lefty bats in the lineup in the top six spots. Whatever....
This team is coming into its own and taking shape. Sometimes teams need a while to sort things out and figure out what they have. It has happen with many teams before and while the Mets did not have that issue last year, they did have some turnover and injuries and things were not settled. They are now for the most part and I want Willie to start optimizing the team. I have liked things he has been doing like getting Feliciano more meaningful innings and not trying to ride him everyday. He is trying to spread opportunities around and keeping Joe Smith in the mix despite a rough patch, which I think is the right move. I like his edict of making pitchers contribute in every facet of the game. He has been doing some good things, but again, he gets a bit stubborn. It is time to start doing things in a more efficient manner so this team can continue to surge.
Although Ruben Gotay has been excellent, Anderson could certainly see time there. “He’s a pro, man,” Randolph said of Anderson. “He knows how to play the game.”
Riiiight. I love Marlon off the bench and I think he helps this team, but that outlines Willie's greatest fault. He thinks all vets 'know how to play the game' while young guys are too bereft of intellectual ability to know how to play the game.
The Mets’ first draft pick this year, reliever Eddie Kunz, is still not signed. Agent Dan Horwits said yesterday that the sides were “making good progress the last few days.”
Get the kid signed and get him some work immediately. I expect him in the bullpen by mid '08.
"Yet another anti-Met article from Wally. Is he dense enough to believe that the Mets will actually sell over 40,000 season tickets? Of course there will be tickets, and of course there will be plans. Does he even take that into account? Of course not, because such facts get in the way of yet another negative story by him."
- Angel, Bronx
I do not want to state the obvious, but you do not need to sell 40,000 separate season ticket packages to fill up 40,000. Something like 54% of the seats are on field level. Field level is notoriously a corporate area and those boxes come in chunks of eight or six. In packages of six, they would need 3,600 companies to fill up half the stadium (I have no idea how many are going to actually buy them of course and have no way to make a reasonable estimate so I’ll shoot off unsubstantiated claims in lieu of real information) . That is before individuals jump into the fray and ticket brokers, who will undoubtedly buy plenty of season ticket packages to broker off tickets in high demand. How many partial packages (if any) do you think will be available? How many years in a row did SafeCo and Camden sell out? Factor in this being New York. You might not be able to get a ticket outside of a scalper for a looooong time. Red Sox tickets are pretty much gone by February and I’m not so sure this situation would be much different.
Maybe I'm off here and let me know if I am missing something. Maybe I shouldn't complain until the 2009 season actually hits. I don't mind buying tickets for 10 to 20 games off the bat and essentially making my own package (it is not like they are discounted or anything with my current package), but life is easier with partial packages. I do think that 81-game season ticket packages are going to account for a lot of the seats and there is precedent here. If places like Colorado, Seattle, and Baltimore can sell out for years and years in a new stadium without a tremendous product in place, New York should be a frenzy to put it mildly. Overall, I think they might have been slightly misleading to partial season ticket package holders. Granted, I don't expect people to make business decisions five years ahead of time. That obviously is not smart business and I know they are trying to maximize their dollar, but I think they owe it to the fans to accessibly in some form.
The Nationals, however, know him as a 25-year-old who isn't a free agent until after the 2009 season and who has saved 108 games with a 2.63 ERA in his less than four full major league seasons.
However, another thought came to mind. With Hoffman's 500th save, someone had made a comment that 500 should be the magic number for Hall of Fame closers. There should not be any magic numbers anymore in today's game. Being 25 with 100+ saves is Cordero’s best asset. He can close for another 15+ years and just accumulate saves. Does that make him a Hall of Famer? I think the game has migrated away from magic numbers these days because of so many guys that are good, but not spectacular over a long period of time thanks to modern medicine. In another ten years, would it surprise you to see few guys that are 50 playing a role on a big league club?