Mets Need “QUALITY” Versatility

An article by posted on January 17, 2010

Okay Fans. It’s time to put to bed all the foolishness that has enveloped the Mets this past week. Make no mistake. It is ALL foolishness. We can try to ascertain who is at fault, who was right, who was wrong. Analyze it. Whatever. The bottom line is we’re missing, arguably, our best player for at least 2 to 4 weeks of the regular season, and probably a little longer.  (Let’s be hopeful it won’t be)

Luckily, Angel Pagan is still with us as a 4th outfielder. He is now our starting center fielder. Mr. Pagan showed us all some intriguing skills last year.  Given the playing time to prepare in Spring Training, I believe Pagan will do well.  However, what if the injury bug that stole our and the organizations’ 2009 season away returns, and that insidious little injury bug bites Angel too? It has previously with Angel…

Lest we forget what truly decimated the Mets last year was a lack of depth beyond not only the starters, but quality replacements around the diamond, and across the whole New York Met system.  That’s not to say the Mets lacked replacements for their injured, fallen stars. We just lacked quality replacements. Let’s just be honest, without being completely disrespectful, Cory Sullivan? Wilson Valdez? Angel Berroa? ANGEL BERROA for goodness sakes!  I’ve seen better players in the Independent leagues. 

Granted, the injuries that the Mets had throughout their system last season were of nothing like I’ve seen any major league team go through. I can’t recall anything quite like what we witnessed since I’ve been watching baseball.  At one point the Mets had nearly an all-star team on the disabled list, or so it seemed. The organization had to scurry and scramble to find replacements for the replacements.

All of this begs the question:  Why won’t the Mets sign a quality hitter who is versatile enough to play multiple positions? Is this in contrast to an organizational philosophy that preaches defense first among its backup players? It can’t be that. If defense is so important to the organization why was Daniel Murphy our starting LF coming out of the spring last year? Why is Carlos Delgado being considered to be brought back when we all know he’ll struggle with mobility and his defense around the 1st base bag this year?

I believe Omar and the front office have been doing an exceptional job this winter in letting the market come back to them when it comes to procuring talent.  In one aspect of this approach I differ with the Mets:  I believe big market teams with big payrolls like our Mets shouldn’t allow themselves to be fooled into not paying up for quality versatility. It’s the one thing I see occur year after year with the Mets. 

Using this winter as an example, a guy like Alex Cora gets 2 million dollars. I’m not trying to disparage Mr. Cora, or his skill set, but I’d have rather had Aubrey Huff who’s played 1B, 3B and the outfield in his career for the 1 million more it took for San Francisco to sign him. (Huff got 3 million) He’d have been available as an excellent left handed bat off the bench or, if that insidious injury bug bites, to play at 1st or 3rd or one of the corner outfield spots, He’s not the greatest defender but is a quality hitter. At least then, a player like Wilson Valdez or the recently departed Argenis Reyes makes sense.

These types of players are out there.  Ryan Garko who can hit and play the outfield or 1st base, I’ll take him.  How about inquiring with the Orioles about former Met Ty Wigginton? He plays everywhere! There are quality utility men available in both free agency and via trade.  Jerry Hairston Jr. is decent. I’ve seen him linked to our Mets in the wake of the Beltran fiasco.

So the question to be answered is this: When you have a payroll in the 150 million dollar range is it better to be thrifty with the money needed to make up your bench?  Is it not more prudent to increase the payroll 5 to 8 million dollars over what you expected to insure against a repeat of last seasons debacle? Especially considering that the 5 to 8 million will mitigate what could turn into a repeat of 2009, and thereby render the Mets premier acquisitions a waste of good money.  

The answer should be easy. It should be to increase the payroll to insure no repeat debacles.

At worst, if no players are injured, and you are cruising along, doing well with those players you have signed to insure that no repeat of last year occurs, You can either keep them for the season and hopefully post season, or deal them at the deadline for prospects…

Instead of the Beltran injury foolishness I’d rather Wednesday’s presser to have been about Beltran’s surgery and the Mets signing quality backups to guard against his loss for a protracted period of time…

Analyze that!

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