Sunday, March 23, 2008

Coop's Keys to the 2008 Season: Part Two

What up, MSF faithful. First off, Happy Easter to those who celebrate it. My mother gave me some Easter chocolate and I have been living in denial about eating it all day. Anyway, back to the matter at hand and this is the METS and the keys to the season.

This week, I am going to concentrate on Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo -- 3/4 of the Mets starting infield for those keeping track at home.

Where can I start about Mr. Manolo Delgado (for those not aware, my trade proposal for Delgado was a pair of 7.5 size Manolo Blahniks, for me)? First, he was one of the key movers of the 2006 season, not just the regular season, but for the ill-fated postseason as well. I remember talking to friend Paulie Vee about who deserved MVP should the Mets win - no question, to me, it was Carlos Delgado.

So when he got off to a slow start last season, I said give him time. I remember on Opening Day 2006, Uncle Gene and Mr. E were talking about cutting him already. Since he was one of the guys that got them "there" (and by there, I mean the NL East championship), I was willing to give him the Benny Agbayani of the Doubt. Next thing I know, I am in Milwaukee with Metsgrrl, talking about nicknaming Delgado "Mr. Futility."

Judging from the finish of the 2007 season, with a .258/.333/.448, his BA only took a slight hit from his stats on the 2006 season, .265/.361/.558. I won't even touch his slugging. Anyway, my theory about Delgado was not the obvious drop off in the production numbers...the thing that KILLED the team last year was the drop off in home runs (24 as compared to 38 in 2006), walks (74 to 52), and whoa nelly, the piece de resistance, 87 RBIs as compared to 114. EEK.

This drop off too had nothing to do with injuries or prolonged sits. Willie Randolph barely sat his fat ass down when he should have, and used Shawn Green more at 1B. But the lack of RBIs really killed the Mets where they needed help the most - the dreaded runs-in-scoring-position or lack of driving them in.

This spring, the pink suede elephant in the room has been Delgado. But I gotta tell ya, out of all the mashers on the team, Delgado is THE guy who needs to perform. He seems determined to make it work. But he gets off to a slow start, expect to hear the wrath of the Shea Faithful.

Next up - Luis Castillo. There have been a few theories abounding about Castillo's contract extension - 4-year, $25mm, pretty much chump change compared to other larger contracts doled out this year. But why? Mets fans have an affection for Ruben Gotay - whose defense is shaky, but offense more than makes up for it. Another is Anderson Hernandez, whose defense is phenomenal but he can't hit the broad side of a barn if his life depended on it. Luis Castillo at least is fair-to-good in those categories. His defense and offense are equally as...bad. OK, I'm mean. But I can give props -- he was the only one I complimented at the end of the season when all the other guys were scheduling tee-times. He played his ass off, so that I can commend him for.

The theory behind his extension though is that apparently he was an unofficial ambassador for the recruiting of Johan Santana. If true, then that $25mm retainer is money well-spent. But after offseason surgery, missing a better part of the pre-season...is Luis Castillo that much an impact player?

Well, technically he doesn't have to be. Just stop those ground balls coming to the right of the first baseman and do what you do. Castillo though, with a high-ish career BA at .294, is a definitely offensive upgrade over Hernandy AND Gotay. And not to mention, a little more consistent than what we did have in 2007 -- Jose Valentin, Damion Easley and Gotay. Oh did I mention that save Gotay, Valentin and Easley both suffered season-ending injuries?

I'll just be curious to see how he starts off.

Now last but certainly not least, the player most representative of the Mets struggles last year was none other than Jose Bernabe Reyes.

What can I say about Jo-zee? Well, he started off the season hot, managed to make the starting All-Star team for the NL and was basically anointed MVP before the season began. His play of the game was muy caliente, infectious and exciting.

But then something happened? Possibly the picture in my mind is the game against the Phillies in August, the third game out of a four game sweep at the Cit, when he was picked off first base. Twice. By two different pitchers. I noticed something. He seemed tired, lackadaisical. And that ugly word that Delgado brings up - COMPLACENT.

Not to mention, his overall stats were, well, to be kind, decent. I remember someone bringing up in a forum somewhere that if someone told us four years ago that Jose Reyes would hit .280, steal 78 bases and play in 160 games in the 2007 season...we'd have been MORE than happy.

Now while his walks were significantly up from 2006 (77 to 53), his OBP remained the same at .354. On the surface, his numbers really didn't taper off that much, just the BA. He also was a catalyst in 2006, one of those intangible qualities that statisticians do not pick up. In fact, the only true stat that would affect his performance in 2007 was his slugging. Yet, I have no idea how that could have impacted his play.

He was also responsible for several running errors and fielding errors. Remember that game against the Phils in September at home, the team committed something like 7 errors in the game. It may have been less, but I am too lazy to look it up now. Pitiful display.

And Jose Reyes is supposed to be the "heart" of this team? When he starts to pout like an overpaid egotistical cry-baby, that's not heart. That is truly sad.

He needs to come back this year. I would say for sure he is more vital than Delgado is. Delgado is who he is - an aging slugger who has a propensity for home runs. Jose is young and can carry the team.

Even more so than David Wright, which as you will notice I left off this list. He is not a Coop Key, since he is who he is. Wright is a perennial MVP candidate and you know what to expect from him.

But the other 3/4 of the infield. The team's success is contingent upon their performance.

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In other news, My Summer Family, Brooklyn Met Fan and friend-of-the-bloggers CoreyNYC has started his own new blog called Metsie. Visit or ELSE! Just kidding. But it's nicely done. Congrats Corey!

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The season begins in a week!!!! And of course the blog-hosted parties will be in full force. Go Big Pelf parents BMF will host the annual kick-off party on March 31 at Blondies.

Two days later, blogatrixes (blogatrices?) Zoe and The Coop will have our own little shindig at the Blind Pig for the April 2 night game against the Marlins. Send me an email, let me know if you will RSVP. And I may not be drinking, but I will definitely let you buy me some jalapeno poppers!!

Be back later.

1 comment:

Sassdawg. said...

The Dawg's on the shelf and is looking for a doc to fix a torn ACL. Any recomendations?