18.2.05

Ready, Steady, Go!

Yesterday, Mets pitchers and catchers reported to camp and it didn't take long for the first sickening thud to register.

That thud would be the realisation that Hamstring Jose admitting he's probably gutted another season with obstinance and overconfidence when it comes to his most fragile body. What we learned was that:

"In a telephone interview Wednesday, Mackie Shilstone, a sports-performance expert based in New Orleans, who suggested last season that the Mets needed to address Reyes's recurring hamstring injuries aggressively, then took on Reyes as a client, said he examined the 21-year-old Reyes for three days last October and determined "in no uncertain terms" the root of Reyes's problems, which in addition to his hamstring woes included a stress fracture of his fibula that kept him out of the lineup for most of August and September. Shilstone said he advised Reyes to visit him for two more weeks before playing in the Dominican Winter League and to see him for two weeks after the league ended to make any necessary adjustments to his conditioning regimen.

"He chose none of the above," Shilstone said. "We didn't get to put all the pieces together. So I can't sit here and tell you the deficits are gone. I think the jury's out."

Shilstone said he gave Reyes a "partial plan," about a fourth of an overall regimen that Shilstone feels is necessary to really put Reyes on safe ground. Shilstone surmised that Reyes, following his plan, began feeling better and thus assumed he was healthy. His strong and injury-free play for the Gigantes team in the Dominican league this winter probably fortified that feeling.


So there you have it. Isn't a comfort that Hamstring Jose, who has the near majority of his career on the DL, knows more about fitness than the renowned fitness expert hired to keep him fit?

I wonder what the over/under is on Reyes making it out of Spring Training without a prolonged stint on the DL? It will be a miracle if he survives.

*****

Although it isn't my ideal, Piazza's back, looking thinner - has he too kicked steroids in the offseason or is the excitment of marriage thinning him down? In either case, since we're stuck with him and his jalopy arm, hopefully he can make up for all the stolen bases allowed by hitting 40 homers and over .300. Otherwise, you could sum his career up as in a heavy downslide:

He hasn't hit .300 since 2001. The last two season's have seen his batting average go from .288 to .266. His production in those two seasons combined has been a mere 31 homers and 88 RBIs whereas he averaged nearly 36 homers a season in the five seasons before that. Granted, he's been injured on and off for the better part of two seasons but if this is his modus operandi for the rest of his career, he won't do anyone much good.

Interesting Piazza stat: he's stolen base 17 times in his career and has allowed 1,335 bases to be stolen whilst he's been sat behind the plate playing a catcher in real life. He's managed to throw out 437 runners in his career. In other words, runners have about a 75% success rate running on him.

Fittingly, Piazza says he's eager to focus on being a better hitter, not a better catcher. That's been his moniker all career. All hit no catch. If ever there was a player made to be a DH, Piazza is it.

The one blotch on Omar's offseason was not getting rid of this defensive liability.

*****

At the other end of the spectrum, you've got the Kaz Man who, unlike Piazza, doesn't whinge about learning a new position where he can do less damage defensively. Unlike Piazza, he isn't going to try and learn during the season whilst playing his old position for most of Spring Training, like Piazza did last season.

"Matsui said he practiced at second base for about an hour a day for 20 days while in Japan this offseason, fielding slow rollers and fungoes. This is BEFORE Spring Training even started. Too bad his double play partner is going to spend most of the season on the DL anyway.

*****

The normally astute Jon Heyman of Newsday gets some real genius points for pointing out that Willie Randolph isn't the same stiff as Art Howe.

No kidding. Did we need an entire article on this?

Heyman points out that "there's no explanation for Wilpon choosing a mannequin like Howe (and paying him $2.35 million annually!) over Randolph, whom the Mets bizarrely said was ill-prepared for his interview."

Sure there was. Up until the Wilpon Idiot Collective started listening to Omar Minaya, the father and son team were, well, idiots. Of course, he's never managed a team before so the jury is still out on Willie Randolph but it would be very difficult to imagine, without the use of hallucinagens, that he will be any worse than the corpse-like Howe.

*****

More optimism than negativity should abound though. Andres Galarraga, at 43 and a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, might not just be on board for the Spring Training ride. There is a real possibility that he might help the Mets as a first base backup for Doug Mientkiewicz.

Not to mention the excitment in having Pedro in camp early and, as it's still early, the dreams that Mr Anna Benson and Carlos Zambrano might yet prove to be the pitching bargains of the year. Ho ho. Spring Training is more like Christmas Eve than anything else. Full of promise of what is to come yet also shaded by the possibility that what comes might not be what we asked for.

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