24.2.06

No Second Best This Season



Simply had to include this photograph of Kaz Matsui reaching for the stars in Spring Training yesterday because it's the most athletic move we've seen him make in two years.

Signing Kaz Matsui two years back was somewhat imperative for a limping Mets franchise, or so I we thought. Yes, he's disappointed mightily but now he's come full circle. The expectation is not only that he'll fail where others would have succeeded, but that his season is doomed before it even begins with Brett Boone sputtering along attempting to rebound from a horribly ageing season and Anderson Hernandez looming on the horizan.

The interesting part of this of course is that the Kaz Man is playing in the last year of a thus far wasted contract, Boone is playing for his career and Hernandez is trying to stay in the Major Leagues. All of them are playing a high stakes game from which the Mets can only benefit. One of them is going to have a great Spring and one of them is going to be the starter. Hopefully we won't be subjected to another season of uncertainty. Not now, in this season of high expectations.

As usual, barren of parade of supporting numbers and statistics and charts and spreadsheets, we rely here upon instincts and guessing. And the bet here is that Kaz will win the job outright and will surprise doubters with the type of season he was brought over to produce in the first place. This means hitting at least .280 and not making the type of bone-headed errors which will in turn force him to pressurise himself at the plate to make up for it.

When I'm feeling particular optimistic, (not an easy thing to do with the Pedro Toe hanging over the team like a guillotine,) when contemplating the potential complexity of a Mets batting order wherein a throw-away like the Kaz Man is hitting .280 in the 7th or 8th spot in the batting order and the Victor Diaz/Xavier Nady hybrid doing the same.

Not only that, but Kaz took Wagner deep during live batting practice. Glass empty of half full. Is Kaz getting better or Wagner just getting warmed up?

*****

With Pedro having announced his intentions to miss the first round of the World Baseball Classic, no one is quite sure how to disseminate this information. Relief? Fear? We aren't certain of the motives.

On the one hand, relief that he isn't going to place the added stress and burden on his arm. On the other hand, if he isn't ready for the first round, is this just the first step towards admitting he isn't ready for the round thereafter and then of course, not ready to be the Opening Day starter, etc., etc. This could spiral out of control or this could finally just be a measured, sensible response for an ageing pitcher with a dodgy toe and a dodgy shoulder. Don't place unnecessary stress and strain on the season by trying to do too much for yourself and your country. Just work for dems dat pays you, i.e., the Mets.

This weekend he hopes to throw off the base of the mound and thereafter, who knows, anything is possible.

"Hopefully during the weekend I'll be able to," (throw off the base of the mound,)he said. "I'm going to start doing it on my own, getting off the slope of the mound and seeing how the ground feels. On the grass is not the same as the ground. Grass is tough. The mound is different."

*****



We'd like to see more of this Cliff Floyd smacking balls over the outfield fence but there is one seeming certainty about the Mets 2006 season and that is that Cliff Floyd is not going to make it through unscathed.

I have to admit I was somewhat surprised that in his three seasons here I never knew his first name was Cornelius. Not that it matters really - not as much as him having played in 150 games last season.

But have a look at something - in 1998, Corny appeared in 153 games for the Marlins and then the following year, managed only 69.

In 2002, a year after he appeared in 149 games for the Marlins, he was bounced from the Marlins to the Expos to the Red Sox in one season, still somehow managing to appear in 146 games combined.

In all the years between, Floyd has averaged 120 appearances in his 13 seasons but if you factor out last season, 1998 and 2002, he has averaged only 87.4 games per season or just a little over half the games his team played. We're guessing here that Cliff Floyd will be somewhere in between, perhaps defying the potential of season-ending injury early on because if this is to be the Magical Mets season, they are going to have to be extremely lucky with injuries.

Thus, the Over and Under on Cliff Floyd game appearances for 2006 is hereby set at 100.

2 comments:

jdon said...

which might be another reason why Nady is here. I can certaibnly see him spotting Cliff in left field this year. anything is better than the popgun offense our sub outfielders: Anderson, Woodward, etc., provided last year.

Jaap said...

Indeed. Then again, I'm hoping Victor Diaz isn't going to be chasing hot dog wrappers out there in right field again this season...

By season's end we might be congratulating Omar on his foresight, dumping Cameron for Nady...one can hope.