Posted by Reese Kaplan at 10:00 AM
The recent downward spiral has a lot of people on the hot seat yet little changes (or can change) to hope for a positive correction. Let’s take a look at how the team has been performing thus far:
Well, during the off-season they said they wanted to see the big guy improve against left handers. Thus far he’s done that and then some. He’s actually hitting nearly .400 against lefties. However, at what cost did this new-found productivity come? He’s roughly 1/4 of the way through the season and has just 3 HRs and 13 RBIs. Quadruple those numbers and then remember he’s the big run producing bat in the lineup.
To some extent you have to cut him some slack for starting off poorly with the bat. After all, his hamstring injury robbed him of the prepartory time on in Spring Training. Consequently it’s understandable that he looked a bit lost in the early going but over the past painful few weeks he’s actually been one of the few productive bats. Overall his numbers don’t stand out -- just .250/2/18 -- but considering how anemic he was in the first 3-4 weeks that’s a huge improvement. He’s always been a streaky hitter, so the current upswing in offensive production could stop at any moment. For now we’ll leave off the usual raft of baserunning gaffes and defensive miscues.
No one has been under a greater microscope than the young Venezuelan infielder. To hear most people, he calls to mind the old joke about what he and Michael Jackson have in common -- they both wear a single glove for no apparent reason. In between all the criticism about his defense (or lack thereof) he quietly has assumed the team lead in HRs with 5 despite spending most of the season batting 8th with no lineup protection. In the past few weeks he’s moved up to 7th and then 6th but it also coincided with the period when the wheels came off the team. To put his defense in perspective, he’s working on a pace to have about 31 errors for the season. Three time All-Star Garry Templeton once had 40 in a season, so let’s not exactly make him out to be the worst SS of all time. There was an eye opening piece in "The Read Zone" on Friday showing Flores in the upper half of all shortstops defensively and near the top offensively (and the Mets most productive hitter since moving up in the order).
Here’s one of the major culprits of the team’s demise. Brought in to add stability and power to an often moribund lineup, the 36 year old Cuddyer’s biggest attribute this season has been his health. While he’s been able to stay on the field, he hasn’t done much while there. His slash line thus far is .233/3/13. Now wait a minute, you’re thinking, you’re practically giving Duda a pass for what he’s done yet when Cuddyer produces the same HR and RBI totals you go ballistic? The difference is they’re paying Cuddyer a lot more money based upon several years of being a professional hitter. This season was a “Let’s see him do it again” campaign for Duda (who despite the poor run production is hitting .296).
With the way he plays defense, as long as he’s over the Mendoza line he’d likely contribute positively to the team. Fortunately he’s hitting .276 with 1 HR and 13 RBIs -- as many as cleanup hitter Lucas Duda and batting champion Michael Cuddyer are contributing thus far (and better than $16 million man Curtis Granderson).
With all the positive press the man has been getting he’s still not earning his bloated paycheck. He’s on track to hit 11 HRs, 38 RBIs and .239. Ugh!
We can’t really evaluate the contributions of David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud who will soon have spent more time not playing than they did playing. Suffice to say the parade of replacements -- Eric Campbell, Ruben Tejada, Kevin Plawecki, Anthony Recker and Dilson Herrera have not contributed much to help the team win (Recker’s two homer game in a losing effort notwithstanding).
Aside from regulars getting healthy, how can the team jump start its offense? I’m all for a shakeup but unless trader Sandy Alderson makes a cameo appearance, there’s not much reason for optimism. They could cut some of the dead weight and hope some AAA hitters could help, but it’s mostly bench players who are considered expendable. I think it’s time to roll the dice on some pitching for hitting deals that might be available.