Ask any Mets fan to describe 2009 in one word and the answer is: injuries. Ask the same fan to describe 2010 and you are likely to get a bunch of different answers. But the lineup turnover has been just as dramatic this year as it was in the cursed 2009 season. Here is the Opening Day lineup compared to what they used Thursday night against the Marlins”
|Opening Day||August 26th|
|Alex Cora||Jose Reyes|
|Luis Castillo||Angel Pagan|
|David Wright||Carlos Beltran|
|Mike Jacobs||David Wright|
|Jason Bay||Ike Davis|
|Gary Matthews Jr.||Jeff Francoeur|
|Jeff Francoeur||Josh Thole|
|Rod Barajas||Luis Castillo|
Only three players – Wright, Francoeur and Castillo – remain in the lineup from the group that started the first game of the year. Here is what happened to the other five players:
Cora – released after batting just .207
Jacobs – released after batting just .208
Bay – on the DL with a concussion
Matthews – released after batting just .190
Barajas – placed on waivers and traded to Dodgers after batting just .225
And this could easily be worse as both Castillo and Francoeur are hardly lineup regulars these days
Now let’s go back to 2009. Last August the Mets had 11 players on the DL. Not surprisingly, the lineup they trotted out on August 26th bore little resemblance to the one with which they opened the season. Here were the respective lineups:
|Opening Day||August 26th|
|Jose Reyes||Angel Pagan|
|Daniel Murphy||Luis Castillo|
|David Wright||Daniel Murphy|
|Carlos Delgado||Jeff Francoeur|
|Carlos Beltran||Cory Sullivan|
|Ryan Church||Fernando Tatis|
|Brian Schneider||Brian Schneider|
|Luis Castillo||Anderson Hernandez|
Only three players – Murphy, Schneider and Castillo – remained in the lineup by late August. Here is what happened to the other five players:
Reyes – on the DL with leg injuries
Wright – on the DL with a concussion
Delgado – on the DL with an injured hip
Beltran – on the DL with a knee injury
Church – traded to Atlanta
The big difference in the two seasons was the ability of the Mets to look inside the organization for answers. In 2010 Davis, Thole and Ruben Tejada have come up from Triple-A to help fill the lineup holes. Last year the Mets had to go outside the system for Hernandez, Francoeur and Gary Sheffield.
In 2009 the Mets did a poor job of stocking their triple-A team in Buffalo with major league talent. This hurt in two ways, as it got the club off on the wrong foot with its new affiliate and it left the major league team in a bind when injuries hit in waves. The Mets simply did not have the upper-level talent that one might hope and then they compounded things by not bringing in adequate minor league depth.
This year the Mets brought in, among others, Russ Adams, Chris Carter, Kiko Calero, Elmer Dessens, R.A. Dickey, Jesus Feliciano and Mike Hessman for Buffalo. The results have been a better ballclub in Buffalo and guys who have turned into useful parts for the Mets, especially Dickey. The improvement in the Buffalo team this year was also aided by prospects lIke Davis, Lucas Duda, Thole, Fernando Martinez and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. It’s all added up to a club with a 70-61 record and a second-place spot in its division.
In 2009, Buffalo went 56-87, one that Buffalo News reporter Mike Harrington called, “a train wreck of a first season.” Many felt Buffalo should shop for a new major league affiliate when its contract with the Mets was up after the 2010 season.
But in July of 2010, New York and Buffalo extended their player development contract for two more years. Bisons President Jon Dandes told the Buffalo News:
Last year was interesting. It was obviously awful. We were not happy. The Mets were not happy. One could not say at any point in last year’s season that they didn’t try. In many ways, they were not capable of improving at the Triple-A level.
What they did in the offseason .‚.‚. was to say we’re going to create in our minor-league system a philosophy and a method of operation that is going to create winners up and down the line and provide a good pipeline for the major leagues. What we saw was a real change and philosophy for a commitment to get that done.
So, the Mets have displayed “real change and philosophy for a commitment” in at least one level of their organization. Perhaps there is hope they can bring that “change” and “philosophy” to the major league level for 2011. Change the manager and commit to stop filling up the roster with overpaid role players like Cora and Francoeur.
And maybe fans will use the word “exciting” when asked to describe the 2011 season.