Now Mets Need Delgado To Contend In National League East

Published on: 6th January, 2010

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Carlos-Delgado
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New York — Jason Bay said hello to Mets fans yesterday at a Citifield press conference to announce his signing to a five year, 60 million dollar contract. While the Mets are high-fiving each other about adding a 30 homer, 100 rbi left fielder to their lineup, they should immediately book their flights to Puerto Rico, go visit Carlos Delgado where the former Mets first baseman is playing winter ball, and get his name on a two-year contract.

Why Delgado? Hasn’t he already played out his welcome in New York? Wasn’t he something of a locker room divisive force during his time here? Isn’t he too old and, coming off of hip surgery, too much of a risk to bring back?

Whatever Delgado didn’t acccomplish in his previous stint with the Mets, one thing he did do against National League pitching was hit and hit for power. If there is one thing the Mets needed last year, when Delgado missed most of the season with his hip injury, it was his power supply in the middle of their lineup and the respect he garnered from opposing pitchers. It could be easily argued that David Wright’s powerless season was directly attributable to the lack of protection he was afforded last year. There was no Carlos Beltran for most of the season because of his injured knee and there was no Delgado in the cleanup spot. In their place were Daniel Murphy at first base who hovered in the .250s for most of the season with little power and Nick Evans, Angel Pagan, Cory Sullivan, Jeremy Reed, Fernando Martinez, and the dear-departed Gary Sheffield. Marlon Anderson, Ryan Church, Fernando Tatis. The Mets leading home run hitter, Murphy, had a pathetic 12 dingers. Wright, the All-Star third baseman, finished with ten home runs after averaging 29 home runs over his previous four campaigns.

Simple, here’s the Mets’ potential lineup with the 37-old first baseman in the fold:

Reyes – SS

Castillo – 2b

Wright – 3b

Bay – LF

Beltran – CF

Delgado – 1B

Francoeur – RF

Santos or Molina? – C

Santana – P

This lineup has no holes in it. It’s got speed (Reyes) and bat maneuverability (Castillo) at the top, power in the 3 – 7 slots, righty swingers and lefty swingers, three switch-hitters, and veteran leaders who have been through pennant races. This would be a team that cannot be easily pitched-to, much like the Phillies have a lineup of power, speed and role hitters who move runners along.

Would Delgado be a risk? Of course. At his age, the potential for injury and decreased production exist. That’s why the Mets must have a more than competent Plan B for first base if Delgado can’t cut it. Voila! Daniel Murphy, the lefty-swinging third-year player who was so heavily derided last year as a near bust but whose final season statistics and development at first base showed exponential growth as the season wore on, would be an excellent Plan B, despite the Murphy-bashers’ agony.

Will the Mets get enough pitching to support the run-production a lineup inclusive of Delgado (or not) will put up on the scoreboard. Unless John Maine, Mike Pelphrey, and Oliver Perez morph into consistent 15 game winners, chances are the Mets will be embroiled in lots of 9-7 games. Omar Minaya, the Mets G.M., knew what he was doing by signing former Angels and Blue Jays pitcher, Kelvim Escobar to a one-year contract.  The bullpen is going to have to be a strong point this season, with competent long relievers capable of eating 3-4 mid-game innings when the Mets starters get knocked out.

Enter Escobar, an 18-game winner in 2007, who missed nearly all of the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels because of shoulder trouble. If healthy, he would be a low-cost ($1.25 million), low-risk option to eat bullpen innings, a crucial strategy for the 2010 Mets unless they sign a pitcher or two who can give them six innings every start. From the free agents remaining on the market, there doesn’t appear to be that type of rubber-armed hurler so get ready for inconsistent starting pitching, Mets fans.

The 33-year-old Escobar has extensive relief experience from his days in Toronto. He came up with the Blue Jays in 1997 and saved 38 games in 2002.

Escobar was cleared a few weeks ago to pitch by Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek, who performed shoulder surgery on Escobar in July 2008.

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