Pressure on Omar Minaya as Injuiries and Illness May Spell Mets Doomsday
This is not how Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel thought the 2009 season would be written when the Mets congregated for Spring Training in February.
For a franchise coming off two infamous collapses at the finish line, the Mets needed to have a season to remember in 2009. They rebuilt a beleaguered bullpen, brought back Carlos Delgado, own the rights to the best pitcher and best center fielder in the game, and yet the Mets might very well be on death's doorstep and it is barely June.
It began with Delgado's hip impingement, sending the Mets most leathal bat to the disabled list for two months, and possibly forever if he can't rehab in time to make an impact in August and September.
Then, like a set of domino's, the rest fell one by one.
Ryan Church hit the DL with a strained hamstring. Alex Cora riped a ligament in his thumb. Oliver Perez is suffering from patella tendinitis and a bruised ego. Brian Schneider had back problems. John Maine suffered through a stomach virus. Angel Pagan strained his groin, and Ramon Martinez fractured his pinkie finger.
Carlos Beltran missed a better part of the week with a nagging knee injury and a stomach virus, but is now healthy enough to make an impact.
Now it looks like Jose Reyes and J.J. Putz will join this elite group of the disabled. Reyes, already on the DL with a calf injury, now is suffering from a torn hamstring tendon. J.J. Putz, on the other hand, is experiencing "sharp pain" in his right elbow, and who knows what an MRI in New York will reveal Friday morning.
If Reyes and Putz should miss large amounts of time, consider the Mets D.O.A.
The Mets say that they will rest Reyes for two days before allowing him to rebut his rehab assignment. Problem is, history tells us not to trust the Mets with an injury like this.
Remember how the Mets flew Ryan Church from sea to shinning sea last year when the man was living with a severe concussion? Remember that the Mets flew Reyes to San Francisco and L.A. two weeks ago, and let him play when he was experiencing discomfort in his calf muscle?
It took the Mets more than a week before they admitted that Carlos Delgado needed to be shut down for the long term, allowing him to play and make his injury worse.
Hamstring injuries are tricky. A bad move here, and a tweak there and Reyes could make that little tiny tear, into a tear the size of a moon crater. Obviously the Mets will have to be careful with Reyes.
For all of his flamboyance outside the dugout, Reyes is the Mets catalyst. Without him the Mets offense is as vanilla, just look at the last two weeks as the Mets swapped between Luis Castillo, Pagan, and Cora to lead off for the team.
If the Mets make the wrong move with Reyes, and rush him back, they could lose him for the rest of the season. That would be a disaster.
It doesn't help matters, that the Mets makeshift lineup full of rejects and never will be's from Triple-A Buffalo have done little to help the Mets win at the major league level.
Sure, the minor league Mets found a way to win five of six games in the most recent home stand, but a three game sweep at the hands of the pathetic Pittsburgh Pirates is a bad sign.
With the Philadelphia Phillies now three and a half games ahead of the Mets in the NL East, the Mets front office will have to do something to shake this group up if they intend to make it to the playoffs.
For starters the Mets have to make a decision on the likes of Delgado, Reyes and Putz. Will either be able to return to the lineup in July? Delgado is the most likely to be lost for the season.
The team is experimenting with Dan Murphy and Fernando Tatis at first, but neither has really produced much in the way of offense, putting extreme pressure on David Wright, Carlos Beltran and a 40-year-old Gary Sheffield to get the big hit every single night.
If Murphy and Tatis continue to fail at the plate the Mets will have to make a move for a first basemen.
Aubrey Huff, Nick Johnson, Todd Helton, and Adrian Gonzalez have all been rumored to come to the Mets in a trade, but the team will have to part with the combination of Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, and Bobby Parnell. History shows that Minaya is not willing to part with any of these young players.
Things could get really interesting if Reyes and Putz should miss a lot of time, and it forces to Mets to go out and get an infielder, a la Marco Scutaro of the Blue Jays, or another reliever, almost impossible to do with the lack of good bullpens in baseball today.
Add that to the fact that the Mets don't have a noticeable bat in the middle of the order between Beltran and Wright, and the fact that the team needs another starting pitcher to complement Johan Santana.
Matt Holliday would be a solid addition, if the Mets could find the right prospects, draft picks, and even major league ready players to deal to the Oakland A's to get him. Holliday would take care of two major holes for the Mets: left field and the clean up spot in the order.
Holliday is hitting around .280 with seven homers and 33 RBI; he would take a lot of pressure off of Wright and Beltran, and would be a solid clutch bat in a lineup that is dying for clutch hitters.
Easier said than done of course. The Mets will have to sign Holliday to a major deal after a trade is completed, if, for nothing else to ease the possible blow that Fernando Martinez or Jon Niese become stars by the Bay.
As for the rotation, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine have been fairly inconsistent; Tim Redding and Oliver Perez have been awful, and Livan Hernandez is your typical number five starter.
Fans have been calling into WFAN, pleading that the Mets trade for Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays, but a deal like that is probably not happening. (1) The Blue Jays are a contending team this year, and as long as they keep winning, Halladay will be their man to lead them to the playoffs.
(2) The Mets would have to give up just about everything, i.e. Reyes, or Wright, along with their top prospects to get a pitcher like Halladay, a move that Minaya may not be willing to make.
No matter how you cut this pizza pie, the Mets are in big trouble. The Mets lack of diagnosing injuries of their major players, and failure to provide them the appropriate medical treatment immediately could doom this team before the month of June is over.
Minaya has to make a move, the ball is in his court. History tells us that Minaya is not likely to make a major deal before the July 31 deadline. Last season, many wondered if Minaya would make a play for Manny Ramirez, but the GM never made a move with the fear of giving up Martinez or Niese.
In 2007, the team never made a big move at the deadline, and in 2006, the Mets only big deal was bringing in Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez, a deal that is not looking to good today.
If Minaya makes one move, maybe he should fire the Mets training and medical staff, since this marks the second straight season that injuries have plagued the Mets season. The clock is ticking, and ticking fast on the Mets season.
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