While the coaching staff became the scapegoat for the 2008 Mets’ season-long woes, you can look no further than two big moves by GM Minaya that have contributed big-time to the problem… and to a lesser extent, “normal injuries.”
Injuries are a part of the game, but two players stand out:
- Moises Alou
- Luis Castillo
Both of them have been hobbled since arriving on the team. While Alou is one of the great right handed hitters in the game, his inability to stay off the injured list has proven to be a major problem. While it’s okay to platoon players (by choice), Alou’s uncertain availability has quietly put a lot of pressure on the team to carry 4, 5, or 6 (quality) outfielders, none of whom are capable of producing the way a prototypical starting corner outfield should. I’d imagine you should be able to get a minimum of 15hr/75rbi output from the corner outfield positions, right? (corner outfielders are a dime a dozen, aren’t they?) The concussion issues of Ryan Church have also made the situation that much more unstable, not to mention Angel Pagan’s complete disappearance (wasn’t it just a bruised shoulder?). For all intents and purposes, we’re starting Beltran and our 5th and 6th string outfielders.
And interesting to note, Beltran was coming off knee surgery in the off-season, so at least in some part due to him being less than 100%, he had a slow start. That’s fine. His production has more or less caught up to a point where he’s still on pace for a 30hr/100rbi season.
The Castillo situation was probably one we could have avoided – Minaya signed him to a 4 year deal, fresh off a hobbled partial season and off-season surgery. Sure, Valentin was/is in no shape to play, Gotay shaping up to be a journeyman utility guy (with suspect defense)… so there was a need. But at Castillo’s price for damaged goods, come on.
With 2 players with a predisposition to injury and Ryan Church’s woes, you’re losing 3 quality bats in the lineup. The player that suffers the most from this? Carlos Delgado. While Delgado’s surely shown that he’s not quite the MVP-level performer he was back in his days with Toronto, his decline in production has been exacerbated by the fact that he lacks quality protection in the lineup. My personal theory on Delgado’s decline are the various surgeries to his elbows/wrists (carpel tunnel syndrome) in the 2006-7 off-season messing with his hitting mechanics and hand/wrist strength.
In total, the malfunctioning & inconsistent Mets offense has put huge amounts of pressure on the pitching staff. In Santana’s recent 6 game winless streak (the Mets lost all 6 of those games), the team scored a whopping 12 runs. It’s not even fair. It’d be interesting to look at how many games the Mets have lost when their starters have given them “quality starts”.
What’s the future looking like for the Mets? Well, in the 2nd half, we can only hope that Church finally puts his post-concussion woes behind him and can play 50-60 games. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to rely on Alou – his body is just too fragile for us to count on him on any given day. Castillo’s knees were surgically repaired in the off-season – perhaps he’s just taking longer to reach 100% – or maybe he’ll never be 100% for the rest of his career. Who knows yet.