Just When We Needed An Unsung Hero…
In Doug’s Dugout today, we talk about unsung heroes, dropping like flies, and other moronic thoughts:
My primary thrust today was focusing on replacing Mike Pelfey’s innings (the Chris Schwinden experiment failed), but then Mike Nickeas and Jordany Valdespin had the audacity to interrupt me with last night’s heroics against the Phillies.
How dare they!
Sometimes it is the unsung players, who reside in the shadows that emerge to provide scintillating moments for a ballclub. Last night it was Nickeas, that stroked a big double while replacing the woozy Josh Thole (more on that later) to keep a drive alive, and Valdespin golfing a Jonathan Papelbon pitch for a three-run home run and 5-2 victory.
(Is it my imagination, but have I seen this movie before against the purse-lipped Pappy, starring Omir Santos? Yes, back in 2009 at Fenway Park.)
David Wright had tied the tilt at two apiece, doubling over the third base bag against Doc Halladay. The best right-hander in baseball was en route to a three-hitter before the Mets clawed back.
Maybe it was the free pass to Andres Torres or Ike Davis’ liner off his hip that unhinged him. Probably not. He’s a horse, but give the Mets credit for not leaving early to beat traffic.
Valdespin, who should lose the necklace (rookies!) – got his first hit and what a doozy. Conjures up thoughts of Benny Agbanyi. Guess when you wear number one you are not a shrinking violet.
Nickeas, who delieverd a big two-out two-RBI hit pinch hit over the weekend against Arizona, stepped up again and is showing he’s vastly improved. He’s one of the players’ to root for. He stays ready, is a hard worker that possesses a positive attitude, and realizes it’s a privilege to be in the major leagues.
Now, getting back to replacing Big Pelf. Basically, five starters must put a massive dent in a minimum 1,458 innings per year. Pelf has averaged 195 innings the past four. That is a gapping hole to fill.
Moreover, if the Mets had gone the extra mile, and made a reasonable offer to Chris Capuano (Dodgers 2 years, $10 million) they wouldn’t be in this pickle.
What team doesn’t stash a sixth starter somewhere?
The Mets did in 2011 with Dillon Gee when Johan Santana was infirmed… And that paid off handsomely with 13 wins from left field. Sandy Alderson left himself wafer-thin this year on the starting pitching front but that’s not a news flash. Oh, and he better watch out or he might pitch himself out of New York with a few more sterling starts.
Unless he feels Miguel Batista, or a chorus line of broken winged hurlers (see Chris Young) are going to fill the void. He’s emphatically stated the young bucks at Buffalo (Matt Harvey, et al) will not be on a shuttle anytime soon. Fair enough.
Then, let Alderson bob-and-weave until early summer and then rent a fifth starter. If the Mets are within sniffing distance of a wildcard he owes it to Mets fans to snatch the checkbook from the clutches of the Wilpon’s hands.
Otherwise, every fifth day will resemble a spring training game. Terry Collins and Dan Warthen might drop from the plethora of trips to the mound, and the denizens of the bullpen fitted for a sling before the all-star break.
Speaking of injuries, the Mets continue to drop like flies (or like Knicks’ point guards). Two starters in two days (First Reuben Tejada and then Thole had his bell rung by Ty Wigginton). At that rate forget promoting the entire Bison’s roster, the B-Mets might commandeer a Greyhound and head to Flushing.
It’s just bad luck.
Speaking of bad luck, a thread would not be complete without a Jason Bay musing. Do you know what the Mets could really use? A right-handed slugger who can support Wright. The Mets third baseman is seeing too few fastballs with Davis hitting .165 and Bay in witness protection (again).
Now in his third year in a Mets uniform, he can take his sweet time coming back. I’d rather see a bevy of lefties vs. lefties battling during at-bats, than one more Bay feeble plate appearance (who knew he was this brittle-wrap that rib and lets go, you are making $16 million a year!).
However, if it was Alderson’s design to have at least four lefties (Davis, Lucas Duda, Thole, and Daniel Murphy) in the lineup at a time, it has swelled to five with the emergence of Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Now with Valdespin playing shortstop they could have an astonishing Six lefties in the lineup at once.
Poor Collins. He’s managing with one arm tied behind his back. He’ll just soldier on like always.
Finally, they say injuries on a baseball club are sometimes contagious. It’s true. Last night I hurt my elbow lifting my drink to my lips.
About the Author: Doug Branch
Doug has been sports writing since 1983. He first wrote about the Mets at spring training that year, and his first interviewee was surly catcher Ron Hodges. He currently writes for Mets Inside Pitch, among other magazines published by Scout Publishing-which is owned by Fox Sports. He began following the team during the Wes Westrum era, and redeemed many Borden milk coupons for free Saturday baseball. The night of Tom Seaver's imperfect game against the Cubs, he was in line to buy a ticket when the windows slammed shut and abject disappointment ensued.
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