Monday, March 24, 2008

Mets 2008 Preview: Infielders

Going into the last week of Spring Training, I will be providing pre-views of the Mets team, not because this isn’t information that you could find on, the Post, or any one of a dozen other Mets blogs, but because this is a sports blog and sports blogs do this sort of thing. Today we are starting with infielders:

1B: Carlos Delgado
Chinese Zodiac: Rat
Career AVG/OBP/SLG: .280/.386/.549
Last year was one of Delgado’s worst, and the Mets are sincerely hoping that he bounces back. Now that Santana is on the team, a Delgado renaissance is not as essential for the Mets as it had been before. Still, there are a couple of questions surrounding Delgado’s struggles: were they the result of nagging injuries, or the fact that after the age of thirty-five, many left-handed sluggers start having trouble picking up the fastball? A guy who I met in some bar observed that all last year Delgado had been having trouble pulling the ball, which my knowledgeable source (the last game of the ’69 world series was on the tube, and this guy knew exactly what Nancy Seaver looked like) said was a problem that could be caused by a wrist injury, like the one Delgado was dealing with all last year. So, outlook: good.

2B: Luis Castillo
Chinese Zodiac: Rabbit
Career AVG/OBP/SLG:.294/.368/.358
If this was, like, five years ago the right side of the Mets infield would be ridiculous good. As it is, every time a ball gets hit between first and second, the doctors at the Hospital for Special Surgery start dreaming of new golf clubs. I love what Castillo brings to the team, in terms of his offensive skill set, patience at the plate behind Reyes, and a sort of hustle-ey, veteran-ey, vibe that he gives off. He just seems about as durable as a $2 umbrella. I find it really odd that he was able to get such a long-term deal. FUN FACT: the foul ball that Moises Alou was trying to catch during the Steve Bartman incident was hit by Luis Castillo, who went on to draw a walk in the at-bat. I’m sure they’ll get to spend lots of time reminiscing, when they’re both on the disabled list.

SS: Jose, Jose Jose—Jose, Jose
Chinese Zodiac: Pig
Career Avg/OBP/SLG: .284/.330/ .426
Other than the obvious, injury related issues (who will play in left field, who is the 5th starter?), Jose and the collapse are perhaps the team’s biggest question going into the season. Obviously, Reyes will be better than he was in September. On a larger level, the collapse calls into question just what the Mets have in Reyes, forcing us to examine the possibility that Reyes might simply be a good player, having a few exceptionally good years, rather than a great player, metamorphosizing into a legend, as we had been inclined to believe earlier. Clearly, this year will be pivotal in answering these questions. Venturing a guess: I think Reyes will be awesome.

3B: David Wright
Chinese Zodiac: Dog
Career AVG/OBP/SLG:.311/ .388/ .533
For all that went wrong in ’07 there is the consolation that David Wright is clearly turning into one of the profoundest hitters in the game, and, even after the acquisition of Santana, the young offensive talents of Wright and Reyes remain the most exciting thing about the Mets. In his stupid auto-biography, Juiced, Jose Conseco blames a lot of his problems on the fact that he, a Latino, came up with the A’s at the same time as Marc McGuire, and they were cast into racially stereotypical roles, Conseco the swarthy rogue, McGuire the all-American Wunderkind, for marketing purposes. Might something similar be happening on the left-side of the infield in Flushing? Hopefully not. Conseco claims that he and McGuire injected each other in the buttocks with steroids before nearly every A’s game. Is an eroticized fantasy of Wright and Reyes doing likewise lodged deep in the subconscious, under the gelled hair, of more than a handful of a certain sub-set of Mets fan, as they drive their muscle cars down the L.I.E. to the gym?

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