There really are a lot of things to be happy about if you're a New York Mets fan. The season has seemed to of turned around, and Pedro Martinez made his triumphant return in San Francisco last night (6/3/08), but there is one very dark cloud still hanging over manager Willie Randolph's head.
Willie seems to like the veteran players over the youngsters.
This would not bother me in most situations. Let's talk about the facts, when in the lineup Moises Alou is an extremely productive hitter. In his glory years, Carlos Delgado was one of baseball's greatest hitters. Fernando Tatis once hit two grand slams in one inning!
The problem is that times have changed. These once All-Star caliber players are not all they're cracked up to be, and at times are really hurting this team.
Let's start with the guy on this short list that I have the least problems with. Moises Alou is a fantastic professional hitter. When in Willie's lineup, he makes a lot of contact and provides an extremely noticeable lift to the batting order.
The only problem I have is with his lack of playing. I think they need to make sure he is at 100% before bringing him back up again. We all know his rap sheet, he's going to get injured, but the Mets need to make sure that in August and September he is ready to play ball.
Second on the list is everyone's new favorite New York Met. Of course, I am referring to Mr. Clutch, Fernando Tatis. Again, I will throw this one right at Willie Randolph. I understand that Mets fans in general are starstruck by Fernando Tatis and his amazing success story, but enough is enough. I do think that he has a place on this team.
He is a great asset as a utility infielder, and he gives the left side of the infield a day off here and there, but an everyday player, in the outfield? That is not something I can live with as a Mets fan. Not when Ryan Church is back in the lineup and Endy Chavez is sitting on the bench.
My main concern with Tatis is not with him as a person, I'm sure he is a great human being. My main problem with him comes when he steps into the batter's box and faces anyone who can throw more than 93 MPH. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen this guy (live and on TV) get a 95 MPH fastball thrown right by him. Pitchers should know by now that to get this guy out, that's the trick.
Any pitcher that ever shows him an off-speed pitch or changeup is dumb at this point. I want him to succeed, but he has to be able to hit a fastball in 2008, which is quite a bit faster than in 1999 when he hit his two slams in one inning.
Come on Willie, you have to be able to hit the fastball to play, let's see a little more Endy.
Finally, my biggest quarrel with Willie Randolph. For now, let's keep money out of this debate, although I understand the team would be taking a large monetary hit over any changes that look like this. Carlos Delgado has completely lost touch with hitting.
As bad as his defense has been, I would definitely call that his stronger suit right now. Maybe Willie thinks that this is the best the Mets can do right now at first base. He would be way wrong.
Let's take a look into who could play 1B for the New York Mets, if Carlos Delgado were to sit on the bench as a defensive sub.
We'll start with the AA Mets. The future first baseman for the New York Mets is currently tearing up the Binghampton league. Mike Carp is currently batting .342 in 187 at-bats, with six home runs and 29 RBI. Compare that to the 36-year old Delgado, who is batting just .227 in 203 at-bats with eight home runs and 26 RBI. Is this even being debated?
Of course, as it always goes, there is no guarantee that Carp will have even close to this production at the major-league level, but wouldn't we rather see the future than the past?
Next, we move down to single-A Port St. Lucie, and look at the numbers for another up-and-coming first baseman. His name is Lucas Duda, and he is a very large 1B from California. His numbers are not quite as good as Carps, but still overshadow Delgado's. He is currently batting .289 in 225 at-bats, with five home runs and 36 RBI. Those numbers, although not as impressive, would still let Mets fans see the future while resting and fixing Delgado.
Finally, we take a trip to the most likely choice, and the person who could start tonight if Willie was so inclined. This job would, of course, go to Nick Evans.
Nick has been playing a lot of left field with the absence of Ryan Church. Now that Church has returned to the lineup, Tatis has moved back over to left, and Evans has been seeing more bench time. Although he is another un-proven rookie, he is a natural first baseman with, in my opinion, one of the best eyes for balls and strikes I've seen from a young player.
So there it is, Willie. Can we see a little more youth and little less from some of the aging veterans on this team. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that if someone's going to fail, we would rather see the future than the past.