Carlos Delgado thought it would be easy to overcome a couple of off season surgeries, the birth of a new child and being the cleanup hitter for a team that was considered by many to be odds on favorite to become National League champs and compete in the 2007 World Series.
He was expected to be the offensive catalyst that helped the Mets win the NL East in 2006. Back then, his powerful bat enabled Carlos Beltran to post the best offensive numbers of his career while hitting in front of one of the most feared sluggers in baseball. Even though the Mets didn’t win it all in 2006, it wasn’t because of Carlos Delgado who simply exploded in his first ever post season action and led the Mets in Batting Average, RBI and Slugging Percentage. Simply put… he was everything the Mets had hoped for.
Last season it all came apart for Carlos Delgado. It got so bad that opposing pitchers and managers were intentionally walking Beltran and Wright just so they can get Delgado to whiff on an inside pitch in the dirt. His decline in production affected the entire team as they failed to produce runs the way they did in 2006. That fact became painfully evident as they collapsed in the final month of the season, failing to protect a seven game lead with only two weeks left to play. All Carlos Delgado could do at that point was watch while he began his recovery from a broken wrist.
"I had a horrible year," Delgado said "and I don’t think I have an excuse."
Fast forward to January 2008…
What lies in store for the Mets and for Carlos Delgado as they struggle to repair an image that lost it’s shine in 2007?
They are joined at the hip for better or for worse, and any baseball fan will tell you, that the Mets offensive future still heavily relies on the former All Star first baseman. With Brian Schneider firmly entrenched in the eight spot of the lineup, every Mets hitter will be expected to pick up an extra part of the offensive load to keep up with last years run production which was already down from the year prior.
Will the Mets get another big year from the ageless Moises Alou?
Will Luis Castillo continue to produce at the same level as he did in his prime?
Will Endy Chavez and Angel Pagan fill the void if injuries strike the outfield like they did last season?
Those are just some of the questions that can only be answered as the new season unfolds. However, those questions all pale in comparison to the mystery regarding the Mets’ $20 million dollar man, Carlos Delgado. No Met will earn more than Delgado in 2008, no Met in team history ever has. Omar Minaya knew what he was getting when he traded to get Carlos Delgado. He understood that it was a heavily back-loaded contract in which the Marlins got him for the bargain price of just $4 million dollars. Here are the details of the deal…
05:$4M, 06:$13.5M, 07:$14.5M, 08:$16M, 09:$16M option ($4M buyout)
We need Carlos Delgado to start performing like he did when hit 30 or more homeruns for ten straight seasons. It was a string that came to an end in 2007. We need Delgado to give us just one more 100+ RBI season before he says goodbye to the New York Mets. In his 14 year career, he has driven 1,374 runners and scored 1,130 runs. He has slugged 431 homers while flashing an impressive .386 on-base percentage. We need Carlos Delgado to reach down deep within himself and give the Mets everything he’s got and more.
Do I think he can pull it off?
My answer is an emphatic yes!
Here is what he recently said on the topic…
"I’m going to show up to Spring Training in top shape, and I’m just going to go out and play the game and keep it simple — just play the game the way I always have played it. I think at times last year I would think too much. I was trying to be too perfect, instead of just going out and playing. We’re very hungry to get back to where we were, Last year was very disappointing, because we knew that we had the best team. And I believe we still have a great team."
A resurgent Carlos Delgado will brush away any concerns the Mets may have about their starting pitching and their bullpen. I think he is going to produce, and produce in a big way.
And you know what else…
I believe we still have a great team too!