Another new face to the Mets this year, 32-year-old Alex Cora joins Luis Castillo and Jose Reyes up the middle and gives manager Jerry Manuel yet another left-handed bat off the bench. Cora is often confused for his brother Joey, even though he is 10 years younger and has not seen the same success Joey did during his 11-year career.
Having played for the Boston Red Sox since 2005, the pressure of playing in New York should not be a problem for Cora, and just as everybody else is, he should be well aware of the expectations riding on this season.
For many fans, 2009 seems like a "now or never" type season, even though that is clearly not the case. Instead, it is just one of the many thorns on the rose that is New York sports.
During his time in Boston, Cora did not see very much success as a role player off the bench for Terry Francona. In 2006 and 2007 he hit .238 and .246, respectively, in a combined 179 games. However, in 2008 Cora was forced to fill in for the injured Julio Lugo for almost the entire second half of the season, and he did a decent job in doing so by hitting .270/.371/.349 in 79 games.
If he can bring that sort of production to New York off the bench, fans will not necessarily be jumping in the air, but they shouldn't be complaining too bad considering their bench production in 2008.
Even with the rejuvenated (so far) Luis Castillo impressing folks in spring training, there are still more than a few concerns as to whether he can stay healthy or not. Given his recent history, the possibility that Alex Cora will be the Mets' second baseman for a good portion of the 2009 season does not seem far-fetched.
The question is, have the Mets struck gold with another 2007 Marlon Anderson-type bench player? Or will Alex Cora just be another guy fans will love to boo?
Personally, I don't have high expectations or high hopes for Cora in 2009, and if the Mets are forced to play him at second base for more than 70 games, then they will be in serious trouble. However, I have been wrong before, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing, either.
2008 Stats (BOS)
75 G, 152 AB, 0 HR, 9 RBI, .270/.371/.349
58 G, 140 AB, 2 HR, 14 RBI, .265/.350/.330