The New York Mets who aren’t hurt are sick – a flu that raced through the team and the visiting Marlins. And the ones who aren’t sick might have been made so by the continuing struggles of J.J. Putz.
With Mike Pelfrey following his three-balk night of the “Yips” with nothing more worrisome than forgetting to get off the rubber at Fenway before asking umpire Joe West if he could blow on his fingers, it appears the list of Major League victims of “Steve Blass Disease” and its related maladies will remain at 17.
Last month I introduced you to Wilbur Huckle, the latest apparent inductee into a very unfortunate, star-crossed club: guys who were on big league rosters, eligible to play in big league games – and never did.
HUCKLE CALLED UP TO VARSITY†
San Antonio’s Wilbur Huckle, who was named the all-star shortstop in the Class A Carolina League, has joined Casey Stengel’s Mets.
Huckle flew from Raleigh to New York Tuesday to join the parent club. “He didn’t know whether the Mets planned to play him any, or whether they just wanted him to work out with the club a few days,” his father, Allen Huckle said Wednesday. “We’ve been hoping to see his name in a box score.”
Wow. That last line – given that they never would, is particularly poignant.
The advent of the Mets’ annual visit to Dodger Stadium always reminds me of one of the greatest baseball stories nobody tells.†
Did you see Matt Capps of the Pirates, after Friday Night’s meltdown, warming up before last night’s tilt with the Rockies?
The McCarver Theorem was just validated again here at Yankee Stadium (go to a game, you’ll always see something, or a combination of things, you’ve never seen before), when Brian Buscher of the Twins hit into a sacrifice fly double play.
I think Jayson Stark started this Player “A” jazz. I’ve stolen from him before, I’ll steal from him again.
Player “A” has three homers, 11 RBI, and a .295 average in 23 games (just twelve as a starter).
Player “B” has three homers, 15 RBI, and a .209 average in 24 games (but was up to .294 in his last five games).
And it’s good news that Player “B” won’t go on the disabled list, and will return to his team’s line-up this week, replacing Player “A”?
They are, of course, A) Micah Hoffpauir, and B) Derrek Lee. There may be 44 guys in this country not named Hoffpauir who think it would be worth the Cubs’ while to let Hoffpauir succeed D-Lee right now. I’m one of them. It’s tough to think in those terms of a man who slammed 46 homers just four seasons ago. But considering he’s produced only two full, healthy seasons, since (averaging 21 homers and 86 RBI in each) and with this largely untreated bulging disk in his neck, is not likely to make this a third full season, nor reach those production numbers, it’s time to face the fact that he’s no longer among the game’s elite sluggers.
He hit five homers after July 1st last year. He hit .258 “close and late.” He hit .205 against the Cards last year and .239 against the Brewers. As he slides into his mid 30′s you begin to look around and say, salary considerations included, which teams would happily trade their first baseman for him, straight up?
It can get late early out there at first base. The Cubs might have been serving themselves well to put D.L. on the D.L. for two weeks and see if Hoffpauir has the chops on a daily basis, that he seems to offer sporadically. It’s a damn tough thing to bench a richly-compensated player, and a good guy, and a veteran. But, especially without Aramis Ramirez in the line-up, the Cubs need more than the vague hope that their first baseman will be healthy enough to finish the year with 20 homers and 85 RBI. Hoffpauir may not be the solution – two weeks would’ve given Chicago a better ability to guess.
I just don’t think guessing that D-Lee is going to perform worse, not better, requires very much ability at all.
* With PEDs.
I’ve mentioned elsewhere that annually, Terry Francona lets me sit with him, on the bench, during a spring training game. This is half out of friendship and half, I think, to remind me how little I actually understand about managing – or baseball itself – compared to the pros.
The Closer Carousel never stops; the only true accomplishment is knowing when it’s going to start spinning dangerously like the merry-go-round at the end of Hitchcock’s “Strangers On A Train,” and if the carny is going to get to the shut-off valve in time or if the entire bullpen is going to get launched in the general direction of the cotton candy machine.