Grapefruit action seems to be dulling the panic that echoed throughout Mets camp following news of Jose Reyes missing possibly 8 weeks of action due to a thyroid condition. Frankly the club has shown many positives in pre-season action, the negativity was clearly premature and their greatest area of concern, pitching, has shown great promise. That said, I tend to withhold all judgments until regular season action begins in less than a month. Preseason is a nice barometer, but like a digital scale in Kirstie Alley’s house, completely unreliable.
I decided to look at the Mets three cornerstone players in Reyes, Beltran and Wright, and ponder why they seem to have institutionalized their respective positions in a league which can be a cruel and unusual mistress towards even tenured players, especially in losing times. It’s a rarity to see a position secured in Major League Baseball; Cal Ripken and Brooks Robinson will always be Baltimore’s infield, as with Derek Jeter in the Bronx, Barry trotting out to left, so on and so forth.
Such acclaim, reward and status come from years of reliable service, usually a championship or many winning years, and god-like numbers. I’ve seen players expended in sport that have dropped my jaw as I’m sure we have all. I think someone needs to relay the message to young Mets bench players that they can play for starting roles on this team. Idyllically thereby “lighting a fire” under the starters and possibly seeing the emergence of young talent. The recent signing of Russ Adams is especially intriguing to me as he was an emerging star with the Blue Jays, but was overshadowed in the infield by the future all-star Aaron Hill.
I decided to do some number crunching from 2009 on the Mets cornerstone guys paid to delve the team in championship posterity. Why? Too much time, the fact that I believe little knowledge can be gained from watching pre-season ball, and most importantly the fact numbers don’t lie, Pete Rose lies but numbers never do thus producing a culmination of.
2009: G 261, AB 990, R 156, H 305, TB 451, 2B 68, 3B 6, HR 22, RBI 135, SB 49, AVG .303
David Wright in particular, who is nothing short of a human highlight reel, came off a career worst season hitting. Injury aside the trio managed to step-up to the plate almost 1000 times producing less home runs than Jack Cust (random comparison), RBI’s than Prince Fielder and a lower combined average than Erick Aybar. These are simply concerns I believe will need to be addressed should the trends continue. My thesis is this; all the talent in the world won’t do a team any good sitting on the bench. I expect and hope for strong healthy seasons from the Mets three, but should a torrid repeat of ’09 reoccur, the organization may need to look in new directions before the guys get labeled those two career compromising words, injury prone. But like I said earlier, there are 162 games to produce an answer to this question.
What is just as important as a quick return by Beltran and Reyes, is the hope that once they return, it’s for good. That and a return to form by all three.