Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rainy Sunday Mets Musings

Moises Alou and Shawn Green are 40 and 34 years old, respectively. Shawn Green is a former home run hitter who now struggles to hit the warning track and looks ancient in right field. Moises Alou is going to be 41 before the season is over and is clearly not getting any younger, or more agile. Least year Shawn Green hit roughly .270 between Arizona and New York, hit 15 home runs, and 66 RBI, which is frankly God awful for someone who's not even that good in right field. Moises Alou was actually still productive with San Francisco last year hitting .301 with 22 HRs and 74 RBI, but he missed 64 games due to injury. Actually, hitting 22 HRs and driving in 74 is pretty good for only 98 games, but he was clearly missed in the games he didn't play.

All of this begs the question: Why isn't Endy Chavez playing more regularly? He started his first game of the season yesterday and had 2 hits, a leadoff triple (didn't score even though Beltran, Delgado, and Wright were behind him) and a double. And on top of that he made a great play in left field to save a certain double. Last year Chavez hit .306 in limited action and had 22 doubles and 5 triples. He's not a power hitter, but he definitely hits for average, hits left handers just as well as right handers (actually hit .333 vs left handers last year against .298 vs. right handers), and is a threat to steal, drive in runs if there are runners on, and otherwise add to the Mets lineup. Not to mention the fact that he's probably their best outfielder, which is saying a lot given that Beltran is also spectacular in the field.

As much as I love Paul LoDuca, isn't the Mets lineup even scarier with Chavez in the #2 slot? He's got speed, can steal bases, and the combination of Reyes, Chavez, and Beltran is downright lethal. They could generate runs for days if the three of them were at the top more consistently. I mean, if Reyes gets on base, then Chavez could a) bunt him over, b) let him steal and drive him in, or c) hit and run since Chavez is more or less a contact hitter (44 Ks in 353 at bats last year) and Reyes could steal the base even without contact. And if Reyes doesn't get on base, then Chavez might, and then he could steal the base and let Beltran drive him in.

The drawback to this is that LoDuca's role in the lineup would be essentially scratched out. The things he does well are putting the ball in play, and moving the runner over. He rarely strikes out and he's not a bad #2 hitter, even though he's not a prototypical #2. Moving him down in the lineup probably would just make him a net zero since the bottom of the order has no speed. But I think Chavez would add far more to the lineup than is taken away by LoDuca's absence. They would be far more dynamic in the 1-6 slots just by inserting him in there.

Imagine a lineup of Reyes, Chavez, Beltran, Delgado, Wright, Alou, LoDuca, Valentin, and the pitcher. I like that a lot even more than their current configuration. I know they are playing a lot of money for Shawn Green, and the general feeling is that Endy Chavez is not an everyday player because he gets lazy when he plays every day, but I feel like he got over that last year when he got extended time due to injuries from Beltran and Floyd. He has adjusted his swing for base hits as opposed to looking for just power, which is why the Phillies and Expos ultimately gave up on him. Chavez is 29 years old, in his prime, and is, for my money, the best option they have in the outfield.

Given the ancientness of Alou and Green, couldn't some sort of platoon situation be worked out where Chavez would at least play 3 times a week? It seems like the plan is for him to play every Saturday, when LoDuca usually rests and Castro catches, and take LoDuca's spot in the lineup. Yesterday he played left field and Alou sat out. Couldn't he take another day of the week and take Green's spot? Green and Alou have not been bad up to this point, but I don't see either of them being consistent performers as the season wears on. I'm hoping Chavez can get some more time if and when these guys start to break down.


Side Bar said...

I was totally ready to disagree with this suggestion when I first read it, but after looking at Endy's numbers, it's tough to dispute that he would be a better choice in right field than Shawn Green on an everyday basis. I was really surprised at how infrequently Endy strikes out (last year was not an aberration; the most he has ever struck out is 59 times, in a season where he had nearly 500 at-bats). The comparison on defense is not even close; same for speed on the bases. I guess you could argue that you lose some power with Endy (though we haven't really seen that yet), but with Wright, Beltran, Delgado and Alou, I'm not sure I really need home rums out of the right field position on this team.

I really love having Endy on the bench (and I never understand why Julio Franco is Willie's first choice to pinch hit in every game, Friday's win notwithstanding), and I like that he can come in for hitting, running, or defense at any point in the game, but that can't be the reason to keep him on the bench. Can it?

ChuckJerry said...

I think the logic is that they are more dynamic with Endy off the bench. Green or Alou couldn't come in late in the game as a defensive replacement or as a pinch runner. Either could pinch hit, but Chavez is probably better suited.

I think this is a case where Endy's versatility actually gets him less playing time.