Last night, in a 1-0 loss to the lowly Washington Nationals, the Mets watched another corner outfielder go down. This event has become quite routine for the team from Queens. They also watched their lead in the NL East disappear, as the Phillies held on to beat the Atlanta Braves 8-7.
The injury came when the Mets needed just one more out to get out of yje inning. Fernando Tatis, a third baseman by trade who was playing left field at the time, aggressively broke on a line drive with the intent of making a diving catch. When he landed, the ball was not in his glove and his shoulder was not in its socket.
After a delay for Tatis' injury, Mike Pelfrey, who otherwise pitched beautifully, walked Willie Harris on four pitches, then surrendered a ground-rule double to Christian Guzman for the only run of the game.
While the Mets anemic offense is too blame here as well, one is left to wonder why a third baseman is forced to dive for a ball hit to leftfield. Nick Evans, a first basemen who was recently called up from Binghamton, was put into the game in left. All the while, speedster and excellent defender Endy Chavez watched from the bench.
Chavez is a career outfielder and a good one. Those who watch the Mets have seen him make tough plays look easy with his tremendous range, athleticism, and excellent judgement. Many even go as far as to say that Chavez is the best fielder on the team, and this is a team that contains 2007 Gold Glove winners Carlos Beltran and David Wright
Chavez has been a Met since 2005, yet the team seemingly goes out of its way to avoid using him. During his stint with the Mets, Chavez has watched just about any player start over him, from injury-prone players like Moises Alou and Ryan Church all the way to infielders like Tatis and Evans. Chavez has quitely accepted his coaches' decisions and has been happy to help late in games as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement.
Chavez is known best for his play in Game Seven of the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals. He seemingly defied physics by snow-coning a ball that most outfielders would have considered an unreachable home run. Chavez then threw the ball into the infield where the tremendous catch turned into into an inning ending double play.
Chavez is no stranger to impact plays though, whether it be through fine defense, base-running, or merely advancing a runner. Chavez has proven time and time again that he is worthy of more playing time than he receives.
One example: In an April 24 match-up against Colorado in 2007, Chavez laid down a walk-off suicide squeeze drag bunt with two outs to send Shawn Green home and the Mets to victory.
While the Mets threaten to again make non-playoff history with a late September collapse, one must question the management and its use, or lack there of, of Endy Chavez: baseball's best kept secret.