Back to Reality

April 7, 2010

Bad starting pitching?  Check.  Bad bullpen performance by anyone not named Feliciano or K-Rod?  Check.  Horrible baserunning blunder?  Check.  Bad managerial decision?  Check. 

Now that Johan Santana’s opening day start is in the rear-view mirror,  this combination of events is certainly troubling to witness.  After all, this was a game that the Florida Marlins were desperately trying to give away.  On a positive note, you have to give the Met hitters some credit for hanging in there against the Marlins untalented group of relievers.  However, on a night where the Met bats were a little sleepy, it takes more than quality at-bats that create walks to actually win a game.   

John Maine was very unimpressive in his first start of the season, as his fastball rarely broke the 90 mph mark.  This is awfully disturbing for a guy who has been injured for two seasons.  Jerry Manuel stated that we need to “throw this start away” due to the fact that it was Maine’s first start coming out of spring training.  We’ll see, but excuse me if I have my concerns.

We all know that the bullpen is going to be a mess this season, as the Mets will bounce back and forth between unproven and untalented relievers  trying to find a diamond in the rough.  If the Mets can not capitalize and win a game while Pedro Feliciano or Francisco Rodriguez are still in the game, we surely will see plenty more of what we saw tonight.

Fernando Tatis’ decision to break home on a wild pitch with limited real estate behind home plate, and late in a close game, is inexcusible.  This play just made us feel like 2009 never ended, as baserunning gaffes were the norm last season.

Lastly, how could Jerry Manuel take the bat out of Jason Bay’s hands by having Wright steal second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning?  His answer was, “We have good hitters behind Bay in Gary Matthews.”  This was followed up by the same reporter with the question of, “Why then is Jason Bay being paid sixty plus million to be here?  Wasn’t it to have him hit in these situations?”  Right on Mr. reporter, whoever you are.  Jerry just deflected this comment with the same nonsense that he originally stated, perhaps truly believing that Matthews is in the same league as Bay when it comes to hitting a baseball.

Ahh, welcome to 2010 Met fans.  Are you ready for more?

Continuing our trip around the bases, we arrive at second base and the expectations that come from the position in 2010. 

Luis Castillo – I can not believe that I am about ot say this.  Luis Castillo was one of the few bright spots for the 2009 New York Mets.  

There.  I said it.  I know others have said the same when reflecting back at last season.  However, since I was one of his biggest critics, I feel that this speaks volumes.  

Let’s take a look at why this is true.  He finished second on the team, behind only David Wright, in runs scored.  He was fourth on the team in batting average, behind two players who only played half a season in Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan.  He was also third on the team in on-base percentage, once again trailing just Beltran and Wright.  More importantly, he led the team in walk to strikeout ratio, posting 69 walks to only 58 strikeouts in nearly 500 at bats.  This facet of his game is nothing new, as he has always shown the propensity to foul off a pitch when needed.  His speed has deteriorated due to nagging injuries, as he only swiped 20 bags while being caught 6 times.  A 77 % success rate for steals is not terrible, but nothing to write home about either.  His inability to drive the ball with any authority whatsoever (a .346 slugging percentage) is something every Met fan will point to with anger.  However, I believe that he has been a major league player for reasons other than power throughout his entire career.  The truth is that it was the lack of production behind Luis that decreased his overall productivity, mainly keeping his runs under 100 for the season.  A .387 on-base percentage with 500 at bats usually leads to nearly 100 runs scored with any semblance of productivity behind a given player.  If Luis can produce these numbers this year again, I think Met fans should take it and run to the bank. 

Now we get to the negative side of Castillo.  Defense.  His defense has taken a nose dive in recent years, unfortunately coinciding with when he became a New York Met.  The stats will not illustrate this point at all, as his fielding percentage was quite good.  I am also not talking about that Yankee game disaster either.  He was torched enough for that by everyone that there is no need to expand on the topic any further.  It is in the range that he displays, whether it be to his left or his right that is most troubling.  He has clearly lost a significant first step when breaking on a ground ball.  This is a man who was once one of the best defenders in the league for many years.  We all know it as Met fans, seeing him on the Florida Marlins for ten years.  He seemed to rob us on a nightly basis back then.  He is no longer that player, nor is he close.  What he is now is an average defender who will be portrayed as well beneath that level by Met fans for that Yankee game gaffe. 

Alex Cora – Cora is a nice utility player.  He filled in admirably before falling to the epidemic of injuries that befell the Mets last year.  If he is healthy, his defense is solid enough that you do not cringe when he is in the game.  His offense is below average however, with 2008 being a bit of an offensive aberation. 

Anderson Hernandez – This is not a player that you want to see on the field for the Mets in 2010.  If he does play, chances are someone of significamce is injured again.  He does not excel in any given area as a baseball player. 

Luis Castillo was the least of the problems for the 2009 New York Mets

If Castillo can stay healthy (something that can be said for nearly every Met player), than I believe that he will produce well enough as the number two hitter and second baseman for the Mets to compete in 2010.  I respect what he brings to field enough to say that.  It is everyone else that I am quite unsure about.

Wow, did I just say that?  I just slapped myself to see if I was thinking clearly.  What is particularly scary is that I believe I am.