Cranky Friday Hodgepodge

None of the following items warranted a full post so I put them together. Here goes:

1. Brian Stokes entered the game Wednesday vs. the Rockies in the 8th inning with the score tied 2-2. He proceeded to give up 3 runs and Francisco Rodriguez came in to mop things up. Anything seem backwards here? The team's best reliever, Frankie, was only brought into a game after another reliever imploded. Why not bring him in to start the inning? The Mets' offense stinks, so keeping the game scoreless at that juncture was quite important. Frankie was obviously available to pitch and should have been brought in to a high leverage spot. Seems pretty simple.

2. Cory Sullivan has been not-terrible for the Mets this season but let's get real -- he has no future with the big club except as an emergency injury fill-in. He's a 30 year-old below average hitter only capable of playing non-premium corner outfield positions. There is no intelligent reason to continue depriving Nick Evans of major league playing time in favor of Sullivan. Evans has displayed potential to be a decent major league hitter, especially against left-handed pitching. As BlueAndOrange.net noted recently, he has spent some more time in the outfield this season. Even if his future with the Mets is as a bench player, he could provide some decent value as a masher of lefthanded pitching in lieu of paying the Julio Francos of the world $1-$2 million. Play Evans in September.

3. I'm late to this party, but Dave Cameron at FanGraphs wrote that he couldn't care less about who wins the individual postseason awards, specifically the AL MVP. Some AA readers agreed but I don't. In a vacuum, I agree that the Cy Young and MVP voting don't really mean much. But when reading every offseason that BBWAA Hall of Fame voters base their choices on previous Cy Young and MVP voting, I start to care. The Hall of Fame is important, much moreso than postseason awards. For the foreseeable future, the BBWAA will be voting on both accolades. So when I read Sean McAdam's rationalization for exluding Bert Blyleven from his Hall of Fame ballot, I am annoyed:

For a guy who pitched 22 seasons, he received Cy Young votes in four years. Put another way, only once every five years, Blyleven was considered one of his league's 10 best pitchers. Sorry, but that doesn't exactly scream "all-time great" to me.

Why should past buffoonery by voters preclude a player from induction into the Hall of Fame? In 20 years when Joe Mauer is Hall eligible, and hasn't won any MVPs despite deserving like 7 (meanwhile Mark Teixeira and Ryan Howard have 4 apiece), how fair will Jon Heyman's Mauer-less ballot be ("he didn't win any MVPs, hence wasn't dominant")? Why not judge players by their on-field accomplishments rather than the subjective opinions of men who didn't have a clue 30 years ago? I understand some of the backlash against the FJM type snark in the Internet baseball community. Sometimes enough is enough. However, this doesn't mean faulty reasoning and poorly constructed arguments, especially by voting members of the BBWAA, should be given a free pass by people who know better.

4. Back to the Mets. Matt at Metsblog ran a piece this week about Jose Reyes. The key words:

is he [Reyes] ‘that player,’ you know, the guy who shows signs of greatness, who i believe is a super star, but who then drifts in to struggle, then back to greatness, then back to struggle, all interspersed with the occasional injury, talk of immaturity and a magazine cover…["snip", credit Rob Neyer]…in other words, i know jose can be great… my question is, will he be great… or, like olney says, will he end up being the team’s great white whale

Before I comment any further, some Reyes facts/opinions:

  • Reyes is 26 years old.
  • At worst, Reyes is one of the top 5 most valuable shortstops in baseball. At best, he is only behind King Hanley Ramirez in terms of awesomeness.
  • He is almost certainly the best shortstop in Mets history.
  • Yeah, he dances. This pisses off Phillies fans and announcers, who have bestowed upon themselves the job of determining what constitutes acceptable celebration.

Let's get one thing straight. Jose Reyes is a superstar, 2009 injury or not. He is one of the top 25 most valuable position players in baseball and is signed through next season at a major discount. In case anyone has forgotten, there are only 30 teams in baseball, meaning Reyes is good enough to be the best player on at least 1 team (nevermind that David Wright and Carlos Beltran also fit this criteria, but stay tuned for item #5). Jose Reyes is great. Yet for some reason, I can already sense the offseason "let's trade Reyes" calls from Mets bloggers and fans. Nonsense. His value is actually pretty low because of injury, as commenters noted on this thread, and even so it would be almost impossible to receive equal value in return for our homegrown shortstop. I was happy to see Matt follow up to his original Reyes post, providing some clarification:

To be honest, the bitter tone in my post from yesterday, here, was probably the result of me being frustrated with this overall season, while missing Jose’s energy and attitude on the field… frankly, the Mets don’t feel the same and are far less entertaining without him.

There's a difference between wanting to see better performance from Reyes and labeling him a disappointment. Heck, I want to see more from Albert Pujols, I think he's even better than his numbers dictate. At the same time, I don't think I'll ever say that Pujols or a 5-6 WAR Mets shortstop is a disappointment or not a superstar. To paraphrase a smart Mets fan, let's not crap on our laudable players, while lauding our crap players.

5. Jayson "Worth The Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies" Stark's Mets Ether made the rounds yesterday, resulting in a concise and effective FanShot by johnmac7512. The money quote from Stark's piece:

What do the Mets need? We heard terms like "gamers" and "blue-collar players" over and over. To be a truly great team, said one scout, "you need grinders, not stars. And the Mets have been All-Stars and no grinders."

What, Daniel Murphy isn't blue collar enough? Boy, I would do anything to become one of the infamous "anonymous scouts". It would be fun to throw a wrench into the standard drivel being spouted by these "credible" sources. To quote Matt Damon as Colin Sullivan in The Departed, "Qui gives a sh*t" if a guy is a "gamer", as long as he is a valuable player. Marty Noble's latest comedy act mailbag also touched on this no-longer-infuriating-because-I-am-so-used-to-it nonsense:

My sense of the division race then was that the Phillies had several players -- Shane Victorino, Werth, Rollins and Raul Ibanez -- who enjoyed every moment on the field and didn't want to leave it until they had buried their opponent. And they had dominating talent in Howard and Utley.

I didn't see those characteristics in comparable quantities with the Mets. I thought too many Mets players were too easily satisfied and that not enough of the players with dominating talent delivered in critical situations. The 2009 Mets, more than Mets teams of the three previous seasons, were fundamentally flawed and tended to make grand mistakes.

Define "grand mistake." How about foolishly raising your arms to signify ground-rule double as an opposing team's hitter legs out an inside-the-park home run? Or dropping a routine pop-up then throwing the ball away, allowing the batter to make it all the way home? What about failing to cover 2nd base after an opposing player draws a walk, allowing him to sprint to 2nd? Yep, these are all flawed accomplishments of the New York Mets Philadelphia Phillies in 2009! (and these 3 plays are just off the top of my head) All teams make boneheaded mistakes. There are no "perfect" players (sorry Steve Phillips). Yes, it seems the Mets' mistakes this season came at unopportune times and maybe Ryan Church should have touched 3rd base, but these things don't only happen to the team in Flushing. Stuff happens.

I worry about stories like this because of the negative impact they have on the legacies of David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran. These are 3 potential Hall of Fame players, yet I can see New York sportswriters and fans unfairly remembering them as chokers. As players who failed to live up to their ability. And that really sucks. Short of bringing fake blood capsules onto the field and exploding them on their faces after crashing into the outfield wall or diving into the stands, I don't know what else the core trio can do to truly become "grinders." I've been inspired to write an alternate reality short story, where the 2007 collapse didn't happen, the Mets won a World Series, and Wright, Reyes, and Beltran are paraded around New York City like conquering heroes. Stay tuned for that, at some point.

6. Josh Thole means business. It's been said. Now let's not say it again and just observe the development of the organization's top catching prospect.

7. Hey Brian Bruney -- maybe you should learn how to throw a strike before you run your mouth.

8. First and last time I'll post this. Follow me on Twitter, if you want to read more cantankerous ramblings about the Mets and pop culture.

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