2/21/13

Reese Kaplan - Why Settle for Proven Mediocrity?

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There are two types of baseball fans – particularly around Fantasy League time.  Some people want to go with known commodities and others are willing to roll the dice on someone without a track record at the major league level in the hopes of capturing something better.

This thought popped up when considering the articles being fed to the journalists about how Marlon Byrd has the inside track on the right field job for the New York Mets.  Really?  Marlon “PED” Byrd who WITH the assistance of his special juice hit a whopping .210 last year?   How poorly would he have fared had he not been following in Barry Bonds’ footsteps? 

Yet here’s the conundrum you hear over and over again from this franchise – we want proven major league talent.   If you think about the history of the team’s operations, Kirk Nieuwenhuis didn’t get a chance to play on merit.  He was forced to play when another over-the-hill never was named Andres Torres pulled up lame after about 2 games.  Ruben Tejada was rushed to the majors due to Jose Reyes’ injuries.   Dillon Gee got to pitch when others were on the DL.  Even Lucas Duda got his moment in the sun because Ike Davis went down with his never-ending ankle injury.   This year Bobby Parnell is named closer not because he sported a 2.49 ERA last year, but because there is an injury to the pitching equivalent of Marlon Byrd.  Sometimes you can catch lightning in a bottle as you did for an unexpected year from Jose Valentin.  More often, however, you diminish with nary a whisper like Frank Catalanotto.

No matter how much Jay Horwitz and company try to spin that the team is not punting 2013, the fact remains there are a lot of holes that need to be filled and what better time to test drive players than during a lost cause season?  Marlon Byrd, to use Sandy Alderson’s phrase, is not a “difference maker.”  Now is the time to find out if the Collin Cowgills, Mike Baxters and Andrew Browns of this world actually have enough talent to stick around in the major leagues.  Throw Jordany Valdespin in that mix, too. 

Instead we’ll see the litany of 30-somethings like Byrd, Quintanilla, Patterson or worse taking playing time away from people who MIGHT have a future in the game.  Terry Collins was hired because he had a reputation of working with the kids.  Let’s see if he really can motivate them to overachieve for a short time a’la Billy Martin.  The team may not be any better with the kids than the veterans, but it sure would be more interesting to watch.
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