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Fish, Barrel, Shoot: Fun with the Mailbag

I  have a very low tolerance for the utterance of stupidity. Therefore, I tend to avoid listening to WFAN for anything other than game broadcasts and never turn on my TV for a night game before 6:30 lest the final moments of Loud Mouths induce an urge to fling my remote at the screen. There is one exception to this rule, however: the (usually) weekly mailbag column on, a mixture of often absurd questions from Mets fans, answered in often equally absurd fashion by friendly neighborhood beat writer Marty Noble. It's the gift that keeps on giving, providing a number-happy, snarky Mets fan with the material to indulge her most Fire Joe Morgan-esque impulses. Follow along with this week's mailbag as I poke some fun at the contents:

The first question is from a reader who wasn't happy with Marty naming David Wright as the Mets' most valuable player. Noble starts off with a fairly reasonable defense, reminding us that having a bad batting average with runners in scoring position this year does not negate Wright being really, really good at baseball. But then he takes it a bit too far:

The MVP ballots distributed to the 60 voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America include few instructions, but they do urge the constituency to consider the numbers of games played by candidates. Wright played in 160, Santana made 34 starts.

This is the sort of argument that's usually advanced to justify excluding pitchers from MVP consideration, and quite frankly it's a load of bull. If you think of baseball as a series of pitcher/batter confrontations, it stands to reason that the more showdowns a player participates in, the more opportunities he has to impact the outcome of a game. In 2008, David Wright had 736 plate appearances. Johan Santana faced 964 batters.

There's a reason so few starters win MVP Awards, or even place among the leading candidates.


And by the way, when Santana was elected unanimously as the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2006, he placed seventh in the MVP balloting, one place behind teammate Joe Mauer, and well behind MVP Justin Morneau, also a teammate.

There's a message in that.

That message has nothing to do with whether a player is deserving of MVP consideration and everything to do with how those who get to vote see things. (Also, if one wishes to argue for the wisdom of those who cast MVP ballots, referencing the year that Morneau won despite having two clearly superior teammates probably isn't the best example to use.)

Later on, there's a question about the coaching staff:

Who do you think will round out the coaching staff for 2009? It's important to bring in more qualified people. Luis Aguaya did a bad job. Some others I would like to see get a chance would be Gary Carter, Wally Bachman or maybe Bobby Valentine -- still one of the best baseball minds -- as a bench coach.
-- Stephen W., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

I'm not sure what's funnier: the misspellings of Aguayo and Backman or the idea of Bobby V. returning to the Mets as a bench coach, something that seems about as likely as a snowball fight in hell.

Another reader asks Marty for his take on the "Ryan Church doesn't like playing in New York" rumor, and I'm still trying to figure out what Noble means by

In a word, no. If I he was uncomfortable, he performed quite well before the second concussion.

Finally, we have our Reality-Challenged Trade Proposal of the Week:

I would like the Mets to forget about Carlos Delgado (old and better-suited for the AL) and Oliver Perez (not worth the money he will demand). I'd prefer they pursue Mark Teixeira as a free agent and a trade for Jake Peavy. The money would be better spent for a younger, switch-hitting first baseman, and since the Padres are shopping Peavy, who likes the NL, why not take a shot?
-- Shawn, Albany, N.Y.

There's no way that the Mets can acquire Peavy without doing something utterly stupid and self-destructive, so naturally we'll be hearing plenty of rumors about him all winter.