Since Omar Minaya took over as the Mets’ general manager, much has been made in the mainstream media about the team’s emphasis on Latin players. Everyone seems to harp on Los Mets and with the club importing top talents such as Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Johan Santana under Minaya’s watch, it’s not hard to understand why.
But the 2010 version of the club will likely rise or fall on the strength of its European-Americans. David Wright, Jason Bay, Daniel Murphy and Jeff Francoeur, in some order, should make up the club’s 4-7 spots in the lineup. Eventually, Josh Thole should be added to the Fighting Whiteys mix, too. Many people point to Jose Reyes as the key to the Mets’ offense but Wright and Bay play equally important roles.
Reyes could turn in the best season of his career, but the Mets will still struggle if Wright’s power is AWOL again. Also, the Mets are counting on Bay to essentially replace Delgado in the lineup. If he gets spooked by Citi Field, it could be another long year trying to manufacture runs.
Even if Wright and Bay perform to expectations, the offense still needs production from Francoeur and Murphy. And anyone who tells you with certainty what the Mets are going to get from either of these players is not being honest. Personally, I am more optimistic about Murphy than Francoeur, but there is little doubt that Francouer will have a longer leash.
In the last three years, Murphy has had one stretch of 182 PA where he did not hit. Contrast that with Francoeur, who has had 977 PA of poor hitting in the same time span. Murphy’s slump last year coincided with the injuries to Reyes and Delgado and his move to first base. His resurgence at the plate came very close to the team’s acquisition of Francoeur. Plus, we know that Francoeur hit much better last year in New York than Atlanta.
Could the two be related?
In Atlanta, Francoeur had the veteran Chipper Jones, 12 years his senior, leading the way. When he joined the Mets, he found himself among Wright (13 months older than Francoeur) and Murphy (15 months younger). Did the Fighting Whiteys bond and help each other feel comfortable? I don’t think we should reject that notion out of hand.
And now Bay joins the mix. While he is older than the other three White guys, it is not the generation gap that perhaps existed in Atlanta with Jones. If nothing else, it will be different to see four consecutive Whites come up in the heart of the order and be counted on to do more than Brian Schneider.
Four does not seem like an excessive amount of White stars for a team. Let’s compare that to the expected lineups for the other NL East clubs.
Atlanta – Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, Troy Glaus, Nate McLouth
Marlins – Dan Uggla, Cody Ross (feel free to include Chris Coghlan and John Baker as stars)
Nationals – Adam Dunn, Adam Kennedy, Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Willingham
Phillies – Chase Utley, Jayson Werth (Shane Victorino?)
So, the Mets should have equal Caucasian representation among their batting stars as other clubs in the division. Hopefully, this year will end the silliness of the Los Mets meme in the mainstream media.
I look forward to all of the Fighting Whiteys stories when Wright and the other Whites lead the Mets back to the playoffs this season. And if John Maine, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey play big roles on the pitching staff, so much the better.
And nothing would make me happier than if Santana won 20 games, Reyes scored 120 runs and Francisco Rodriguez converted 50 saves while the Fighting Whiteys were doing their thing. This is a team and I, like all Mets fans, want to see everyone do well, regardless of the color of their skin.