"There's never gonna be a moment of truth for you/While the world is watching/Because all you need is the thing you've forgotten/And that's to learn to live with what you are" - Live With What You Are, Ben Folds
Moises Alou isn't coming back anytime soon.
Uhm. Possibly never.
He was admittedly quite good when he was healthy but in the time-tested words of Skank in the motion picture adaptation of "The Crow", "there ain't no comin' back, there ain't no comin' back, this is the really- real world, there ain't no comin' back!"
The greater the mountains of brief Pravda-rian moments of vague optimism alternating with weeks of awkward silence grow, the more likely it is that he's not gonna see too many more at-bats as a Met and, indeed, as an MLB player.
The good news is that no one signs Moises Alou in the year 2007 without a back-up plan and the Mets had a few of them. Endy Chavez, Lastings Milledge and Carlos Gomez, to be precise.
Except that... y'know.
Lastings went deep into the DL while languishing down in the Big Easy and while his future as a major league corner outfielder is still significantly rosier than his future as a rap mogul flossin' on the cover of Fortune...
It's still weeks before he'd be Queens-ready, even if he tears the cover off the ball down on the farm...
...and just as Endy was, as some said, starting to show signs of being over-exposed as an everyday starter (if you're the type to call a .292 average with sparkling speed and defense over-exposed and I'm not that type of guy) he went down for your standard four-to-six as well.
...and Gomez is still somehow getting his at-bats stolen by a rotating freak show of has-beens and never-weres that could only be called "major league" if you mean it in the sense of the guy from Quantum Leap and the guy from L.A. Law phoning in the tail end of a cinematic trilogy.
No, not Star Wars. The other one.
Newhan-Ledee Johnson, it sounds like a mild venereal disease. It hits like one too.
To mangle a line from some country singer:
"I shaved my bullpen prospects for THIS?!"
We've danced this dance before, of course, Willie's "gut" trotting Cliff "It's Only A Flesh Wound" Floyd up to the plate with all the grace of Steve Hawking on ice skates instead of giving Milledge the ups he needed to contribute from the bench in the playoffs.
At the end of that particular waltz, Lastings was set back a year in his development and Cliff Floyd... held together only by wads of bubblegum and a child's faith in Santa Claus... had three groin-grabbingly ugly ABs in the NLCS, full of sound and fury, signifying 0-3 with a strikeout.
Would a semi-seasoned Milledge have been able to be the 25th man who turned on one pitch that Floyd or Tucker (or Beltran for that matter) couldn't and taken them to the Promised Land or, at least, to Detroit?
We can't know that, of course, but we know that Floyd didn't and couldn't have.
Well, I mean, I have a machine that allows me to view alternate timelines that I inherited from a distant uncle and, yes, he would've laced a double in every single at-bat.
But I've accepted that no one will believe me when I'm making things up so we'll table that particular point just for the sake of continuing discussion.
What we do know is that Milledge would've been a lot more ready for this season, would've been mixed into the lineup more instead of sent down after three ups in April and would've been ready to fill in when Alou and then Carlos "Mr. 85%" Beltran and then even Shawn Green went down with injuries.
Do we know he wouldn't have gotten himself injured in New York the same as he did in the Big Easy? Well, I have this machine and... crap, I've already mentioned that.
I don't know if it's Willie or it's Omar or whoever but someone in the organization prefers Names We Kind Of Remember From Ten Years Ago to letting young talent develop in the major leagues.
Is it Willie's appendecular (i.e. something evolution should've gotten rid of by now) Yankee-ness bubbling up, tired old Torre-isms about "good guys" and "good team guys" and "good team chemistry guys" and "good team veteran chemistry guys" instead of guys who can play tonight and for the next five years?
Is it Omar's fearfulness of getting pilloried in the Post if a rookie falls on his face at first leading him toward always shooting for that lesser crucifixion when a guy who was totally a minor star in 1994 according to the Beckett Guide falls flat on his face fifteen times in a row?
Is it that the next time we caught up with the ownership, they were in Jake the Snake's hotel room smoking crack?
It's such backward-ass pre-Sabremetric pre-free-agency pre-Honus-Wagner old school thinking that even my patented Crisis-On-Infinite-Earth-u-lator can't figure it out.
But it's time to let go of these childish things.
A team too veteran these days looks more like a Veterans Day Parade than a team these days, gamely limping forward and showing off their medals to people more confused than anything by their wild disjointed tales of "three-inning saves" and "the Federal League" and something called a "Seattle Pilot"?
...probably some kind of hovercraft.
As Lastings' next hot single might well say "sometimes ya gotsta just roll with the new, son/lest you go into hiding like Vonnegut in Drez-done". To repeat and elaborate:
Alou is gone and Delgado is in no way at all playing like a guy who could ever be possibly in any way hiding some sort of arm or upper body injury...
And if you believe that, I've got a left-handed relief specialist with no detached stuff in his leg I'll sell you too. Only nine million dollars and change for the next three years. An absolute steal!
As Morgan Freeman, or maybe Morgan Fairchild, once said "Get busy living or get busy going four for eighteen in the first three weeks of June."
I guess what I'm saying is I call shenanigans on the whole damn deal.
The very near future is the time to show that the Mets are ready willing Cain and able to develop young talent on the field, the middle of a pennant race, and goddamn The New York Times, The Daily News, The New York Post and Newsday too.
Ain't no blockbuster trades coming down the pike, kids, that don't boil down to trading the next ten years of Metropolitan Baseball (i.e. Gogo Gomez, The Edge, F-Mart, Pelfquest & Remember Remember The Philip of Humber) for a rental on a guy who was totally third on the All-Star Ballot back when Stephanie MacMahon still had the shaneomacs God blessed her with at puberty.
Ain't nobody getting DFA'ed and magically being revived by the tutelage of Rick "No, Seriously, If You Just Swing At Everything, We'll Get On Base More... A Wizard Told Me This I Wasn't High At The Time... What Are You Implying?" Down to swoop in and save the day.
But you've gotta fix the outfield problem somehow.
There's never gonna be a moment of truth for you while the world is watching.
Some day you're gonna have to let the rookies hit or they're never gonna be veterans.
Can't hide 'em behind questionably-maintained levees while cycling through a disturbing parade of usetabes forever. No more Cliff Floyds, no more Moises Alous and no more wire hangers, either, for good measure.
Because all you need is the thing you've forgotten and that's to learn to live with what you are... or in this case, how to work with what you've got.
First of all, we'll throw out all the logical sane ideas that, because they are as such, would never be approved by Omar and the ownership.
As much as it would make sense, we can't cut Julio Franco with the gift of a gold watch, a coaching position and the promise of being on the September 40-man roster every year... to get three or four at-bats where he can not catch up on fastballs to his herbal-tea-and-organic-chicken-fueled heart's content... until he dies of natural causes or the damn stars go out, whichever comes first.
As much as it would make sense, we can't lock Delgado in a room and force him to look at gory MRIs of Rocky Horror Picture Show's mangled leg until he admits he's been playing with a broken wrist for the last seventy-two games and is sent to the DL until he can swing the bat for two days in a row again or until the Mo Vaughn Insurance kicks in and can be used to fill a dump truck with money in hopes of buying Mike Jacobs or Casey Kotchman in November.
As much as it would make sense, we can't blindfold Tricky Dick Ledee, put him in a helicopter and drop on an island where billionaires hunt the most dangerous game of all... washed-up outfielders who couldn't even hit back when they could hit.
Even if we could pull any of these right-under-your-nose solutions off, they'd just call up David "Cut Me and, uhm, Twenty Years Ago My Father Will RUIN You" Newhan or Ben "Dear God, Why Didn't They Listen To Billy And Give Heath A Real Chance, Why Am I Asking God, If We Ended Up With Ben Johnson, God Ain't Paying Much Attention" Johnson and we'd be back at square one.
Okay, all that said.
When Milledge and/or Endy comes back, there's a way to make this work to the Mets' advantage and all it will take is a mindset... less from the days when the Senators were in Washington being watched by no one and more from the days when the Senators are on Versus and being watched by no one.
If there's anything that the June Swoon © ® and its aftermath has taught us, Beltran and Green both play better with ample rest and... even Carlos "No, You Can't Sign My Cast Because I Don't Need A Cast" Delgado seems to find his occasional 2-4s with a dinger after an off-day of icing his completely-not-injured arm and sticking it all the way up to the totally-healthy elbow in a hyper-baric chamber.
And even if Green is not the greatest defensive first baseman on this cold deserted Olerud-less Island Earth, he isn't gonna try to cough up a 0-0 tie twice in two innings.
So lets say that you rest Beltran every six games that he might stay up at a sturdy 87.638%, rest Oh-God-No every six games and put Green on a schedule of four days in right field, one day at first and one day on the bench, excluding High Holy Days and broken feet, of course of course.
Suddenly, you have nine outfield starts open over those six games... more than enough starts to justify keeping Gomez and Milledge both in Queens and developing for a day when even Willie and Omar can no longer consider seeing if Miscellaneous Corner Outfielder With Fifteen Nagging Injuries And Some Power #587 is out there on the market looking for work.
Throw in garden variety pinch-hits, situational match-ups, pinch-runs and defensive replacements and suddenly...
You're dividing forty-five-or-so at-bats a calendar week between one of the most potential-laden rookie outfield tandems I've ever seen and, remember, my Infinity-Gauntlet-52-Countdownamatron can see a large spectrum of alternate universes.
I even saw one where Americans gave a damn about soccer!
...y'know, just the one in...all the endlessness of creation but... at least one was more than I expected to find. I mean, it's like watching your buddies play Pong. It's not even like playing Pong yourself it's like watching other people play Pong.
But I'm digressing, aren't I?
Lovely positional flexibility, seasoning two potential future All-Stars and no one being able to bitch that they're not getting enough at-bats, how they should be down in Nalins getting pitched to by guys who are in triple-A precisely because they can't pitch major league at-bats and so the value of those at-bats are vastly over-rated.
I mean, it's awesome to go around beating up ten year olds, we all do it to cheer ourselves up now and again, it's an American tradition like apple pies and open-ended war commitments but...
It doesn't matter how many ten year olds I beat up, it's not gonna help me when that biker in the bar down the street doesn't appreciate the trenchant wit with which I deconstruct the boundless awful that is "Family Guy"...
If Pig Knuckle thinks that a baby who talks like the gay dude from "Lost In Space" and a third rate copy of Homer Simpson with a scrotum chin are funny, I'm gonna end up only slightly less injured than a certain relief pitcher who will go Scott-Schoeneweis-less.
No matter how many middle-schoolers are notched into my belt. Whole. New. World.
So I call it "The Electric Kool-Aid Super Platoon Test" and I think it'd work.
And you, you in the frown and the "Let's Trade The Entire AAA Team For Eric Gagne and Mark Tusharianahuffingpostdotcom or However You Spell It", I know what you're going to say:
"What happens when Endy comes back?"
Friend, I direct you to Beltran's comments about how he's not gonna be 100% until he gets to sit for a couple of weeks and to YouTube footage of Delgado fielding his position as though he was smashed in the temple with a ballpeen hammer and had his ass filled with quick-set cement... and he likes it like that.
Let us worry about the embarrassment of riches when it comes. Or as Jesus put it so eloquently, "Judas, give it a rest and let the lady rub my feet with perfume. There will still be banged-up outfielders long after I am gone." Something like that.
I would personally go further, call up a third catcher from AAA to sit on his hands on the bench at the cost of Franco's roster spot, and play mix-and-match at first with all the Mets who could possibly play a little first... Green, Castro, LoDuca, Easley, Valentin, Gotay... until Delgado ever started at first two days in a row again.
If the only time Delgado seems to be able to get healthy enough to contribute is after an off-day, why not run with it and make sure he's always starting after an off-day?
But I've come to accept that the world is so in love with the human interest story "48 Year Old Man Still Able To Play Major League Baseball, Albeit Very Very Poorly" that we won't see that certain bit of sanity accomplished.
And how about you, you there with the glandular problem and the tear-stained naked photo of Scott Kazmir, I know what you're gonna say, too:
"Platoons never work! Platoons never work! Bring back Xavier Nady if it takes trading Jose and DarkWingduck to get him! Give me a home run hitter or I'll poop my didey!"
...I lay unto the magic words, Mookie and Nails.
Gimmie a team of Wilsons and Dykstras at their personal bests... and throw me in some Rickey Hendersons and John Oleruds in their primes... and you can have all the Adam Dunns and Cliff Floyds and Sammy "No Speakee English, Mister Senator, Sir" Sosas in the world... and they will kick your ass from here to Cooperstown and back.
And I will laugh at you.
Big crazy Baron Harkonen hangin' out with Sting laughs. Pullin' out your heart plug while a dude lances my boils laughs. Al from Quantum Leap and Captain Picard hanging out as extras biting down on poisoned teeth "fear is the mindkiller" "my name is a killing word" laughs.
Full-on crazy "Dune" laughs is what I'm saying.
In the words of the one Kid in the Hall who probably actually liked looking at lady parts "greatest hits albums are for housewives and little girls" and in the words of a fat guy sitting behind a keyboard in Van Nuys California "home runs are for rubes".
I dunno if "chicks dig the long ball" or not but awesome people, women and men, dig hittin' around .300, running the bases strong and playing plus-defense. Even if that doesn't make such a great bumper sticker.
There's a lot of succinctly stated horrible ideas on bumper stickers, kids.
Alou ain't coming back, Delgado ain't looking any better and all the trades open for us on the market are suicide pills waiting to happen. Now is the time to work with what we have in our system and start managing the roster like it's some point after 1899.
Five-man uber-platoon for the outfield and first base. Learn to live with what you are.
I think it could work.
Or we could move onto our next debate:
"Is Schoeneweis our Jar-Jar Binks or is that too insulting to George Lucas?"
Your call, kids.