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Having just dispatched the also-ran Houston Astros in three straight to close out Craig Biggio's last trip to New York as a big leaguer, the Mets anxiously await the arrival of the Atlanta Braves for a three-game set, the outcome of which should answer the question on everyone's lips: Will the Braves come up just short of the division crown or will they finish well short. I'm guessing the latter but I would be equally entertained by the former.

I just finished reading Dan Brand's thoroughly enjoyable Mets Fan, a collection of essays spanning the laughable but lovable chronology of the Mets' franchise from the point-of-view of one of its many beleaguered fans, and hope to have a review up in short order. I also began reading Richard Grossinger's The New York Mets: Ethnography, Myth, and Subtext, which has likewise been very entertaining thus far.

In other news, somebody actually sent me a question about the Mets and asked if I could answer it. I was about to fire off an e-mail response when it occurred to me: Why answer the question for just one person when you can potentially entertain two or even three people at once by posting the response on your weblog! So here we are with the first installment of something I like to call "E-mail Replies To Be Enjoyed By The Masses". Or maybe just "E-mailbag". I'm still deciding.

I am trying to figure out what the Mets will do with their outfield in 2008. Beltran is a lock in CF. They have options on Alou and Greene [sic], but will they exercise the options or will they turn to youngsters Gomez and Milledge? I figure Chavez is a 4th OF and defensive replacement and won't figure into the regular starting lineup. How do you see the 2008 lineup shaping up?


Let's just get Shawn Green out of the way first: The Mets will be declining his $10 million option for 2008 just as soon as Major League Baseball's rules allow them to do so. I don't think it's out of the question that they might look to bring him back at a substantially reduced salary to play situationally in right field and at first base, and it certainly doesn't appear that Green is good enough to start at either position for another big league club.

The Mets hold a $7.5 million team option on Moises Alou for 2008 or can elect to pay a $1 million buyout. If we consider the buyout a sunk cost then we are only looking at $6.5 million to bring Alou back next year. Unless the Mets plan on making an offer to Barry Bonds I think they are going to have a hard time finding a better offensive outfielder than Alou. Health is always going to be an issue here, and this season was no different. Alou is on pace to play 85 games or so, perhaps short of expectations but not dramatically so; he appeared in 98 and 123 in his last two seasons in San Francisco. I think he is probably worth the $6.5 million for 90-100 games, but next time around the Mets need to be better prepared with someone to step in when Alou inevitably goes on the disabled list with some malady or another.

Lastings Milledge has done a fine job with the Mets this year, hitting .291/.350/.446 in 163 plate appearances. His plate discipline could definitely stand some improvement but he *is* still just 22 years old and has shown solid power numbers in 2007. Look for him to be the starting right fielder come 2007.

If you ask me, and I guess you did, Carlos Gomez could benefit from some additional time in Triple A. He drew just five unintentional walks to 26 strikeouts in 120 plate appearances with the Mets this season and I think he needs to work on his approach at the plate. He has plenty of talent and his speed rivals (perhaps surpasses) that of Jose Reyes, but he just didn't look much like a big leaguer during most of his time at The Show.

Endy Chavez has another year of arbitration eligibility and the Mets are almost certinly going to bring him back. His bat isn't really strong enough to handle an everyday role, but he probably won't have to on this team. His defense is remarkable and he's a fan favorite around here, and he hits enough to remain useful in a backup role.

Thanks for writing in, Rick, and keep those electronic mail messages coming through the series of tubes.