Thursday, June 07, 2012

N.Y. Mets ~ Rebuilding Middle Infield Not Going So Well.

From the desk of:   HEAD-BUTTUNG MR. MET

Shortstop is Turning Into a Problem.
But Second Base Has Been A Decade Old Problem.

What's on Second.  I Don't Give a Damn plays short.

This isn't Abbott and Costello.  This is the Mets.

With the 12th overall pick of the June Amateur draft, the Mets selected a high school shortstop out of Louisiana.  Gavin Ceccini batted .413 in his recent campaign playing for Barbe High School.  He hit seven home runs, drove in thirty-two runs, and even had thirty-two steals.

Paul DiPodesta, the Mets' VP of Development and Scouting, is on record saying, "We love middle of the diamond players."  I couldn't agree more, and it's a good thing too.  The Mets are having their troubles keeping people on the field at shortstop ever since the departure of Jose Reyes.  I'm not lamenting the issue.  It is what it is.

The main replacement, Ruben Tejada, incurred yet another setback in his recovery from a thigh injury.  At last report, he has been pushed back at least another month.  At least five or so other players have manned the position since Tejada went down in May.

Compounding the Mets' problems at shortstop are additional injuries to Justin Turner, and Ronnie Cedeno.  Then add a recent rash of game costing errors committed by Jordany Valdespin, and Omar Quintanilla to the mix.  Also ponder that even David Wright played a game at short this season, and the only thing one can conclude is the Mets' have a legitimately huge problem on their hands until at least July.  And, humor me here, without Ruben Tejada in any scenario, the Mets have troubles for the foreseeable future as well.  Because let's just say Ruban Tejada was not in the picture, a prospect like Wilmer Flores is still at least a pair of seasons away from playing in Flushing.

Once upon a time, the Mets had another hot prospect at shortstop.  This season, he was just named player of the week in his league.  He slugged a triple, three doubles, two home runs, had thirteen RBI, and scored seven runs last week.  Jonathan Malo was drafted in 2002 and started his Mets' career in Brooklyn.  He ascended through the system and most recently played in 2011 for the Buffalo Bisons.  In 2012, he is finally having a break out season.  Too bad he is doing it in the Independent Canadian - American League for the Quebec Capitales Ball Club.  Sandy Alderson parted ways with the former Mets prospect after last season and after several seasons of underachieving play.

Before then GM, Frank Cashen, made a trade to acquire Howard Johnson, the Mets had gone through at least a thousand players at third base ever since their inaugural season.  Second base now seems to suffer from that overly transient malady.  The next warm body to play shortstop for the Mets will be the 119th player to man the position in the fifty-plus years of Mets' baseball.

Ever since Edgardo Alfonzo stopped wearing a Mets uniform for a living, the position of second base has been a constant revolving door.  In the classic catching lightning in a bottle, Jose Valentin hit seventeen home runs during the 2006 season, including two in the N.L. East clinching game versus the Marlins.  But, even prior to Valentin's season, back to Roberto Alomar and the failed Kaz Matsui experimental days, and not incidentally ever since, the position has been a who's who of mediocrity and migraine headaches.  Luis Castillo need not even be mentioned nor ridiculed here, for he was just another wrung on a ladder descending to nowhere and a product of defective decision making.

Daniel Murphy, even though you can't help but like him, still represents only the latest attempt to shore up the position.  And second base is a position by the way, which at one time was totally foreign to Murph, and at times still appears that way - like Wednesday night against the Nationals.  He committed two more errors, and now has nine misplays on the season; the most for a MLB second baseman this season.

The Mets' failure to adequately man second base has roots in the minors as well.  Reese Havens was projected to be a viable option by now.  But after his first season in Brooklyn-A, his entire minor league career has been slowed, if not hampered by injuries.  And quite honestly, his Mets' window may be closing in Sandy Alderson's view as well.  He just might find himself playing independent ball along with Jonathan Malo by next season.  In any case, Sandy has shown a willingness to sever ties with players rather swiftly.  Just ask infielder Josh Satin, who just became the latest Mets player to get designated for assignment by the General Manager.

Then there was the foolish case of middle infielder, Mr. Daniel Muno.  After getting drafted by the Cubs in 2010, he re-entered the draft in 2011, got selected by the Mets in the eighth round, and was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones-A club.  After thirty-eight games playing for St. Lucie this season, Muno recently earned a fifty game suspension for using performance enhancers.  And now his Mets' future is in doubt as well.

While the problem at shortstop is a recent dilemma only because Jose Reyes has manned the position since late in the 2003 season, the situation at second base has been far more unstable for a decade now.

Such has been the luck of the Mets in their efforts to shore up their middle infield.


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