maandag, december 09, 2002

Correctamundo, Fonzie's Gone

The smashing of idols is in itself such a preoccupation that it is almost impossible for the iconoclast to look clearly into a future when there will not be many idols left to smash.
- Walter Lippmann

Naturally, the recent Fonzie purge immediately brought to mind the fact that the Adynamic Duo of Wilpon & Son dumped the wrong guy, yet again. After all, with Ordoñez still hanging around on the club's roster about as useful as rubber lips on a woodpecker, the process of elimination as to which infielder to ditch should have been pretty simple. The much-rumored Scott Erickson for Ordoñez trade which might qualify as the first intelligent move of the off season for the Mets, hasn't been pulled off yet. Erickson, at age 35, would be a perfect fit for the senescent pitching staff of senior citizens Wilpon has collected to date. Although he underwent Tommy John Surgery in August of 2000, by July of 2002, he seems to have recovered well enough to get busted for assaulting his live-in girlfriend and now seems prepped for a full recovery beyond the mediocre 5-12 5.55 ERA numbers he posted last season. Besides, if the Mets can find Anyone gullible enough to take on a malignancy like Ordoñez when no one in their right mind seems interested in him, they'd better leap at the chance.

The two nice things that jettisoning Alfonzo does is: 1.) Does not allow them to overpay someone whose career has been on the downswing for the last 2 years yet still expects a big salary increase. 2.) Allows them the chance to sign Norihiro Nakamura to fill Alfonzo's empty shoes at third base. Nakamura has hit 88 homers and driven in 247 runs in the last two years playing in Japan. And yes, playing in Japan is a caveat to any batting statistic but consider this: everyone's superhero Hideko Matsui, in the same league over the same two years, hit 86 homers and drove in 211 runs. Nakamura would be well cheaper than Alfonzo and could hit for more power than Alfonzo. While a few pessimists have questioned his fielding range at third base, the Japan Times indicates he has already won three Gold Gloves at that position.

This still leaves the question of finding someone to fill the cap of Ordoñez's fat head at shortstop, but it shouldn't be impossible to scour the benches of other clubs to find a less bombastic, debauched and waning no-hit shortstop to step in. Deivi Cruz comes to mind immediately, one who has a higher lifetime fielding percentage than Ordoñez and certainly hits better. His agent wants a two year deal. How much he wants over two years and how long it takes Jose Reyes to turn into the next Honus Wagner will have alot to do with how desireable Cruz remains. My ideal scenario of a month ago had the Mets re-signing Alfonzo and moving him to back short to allow Nakamura to take over at third but, I suppose in the interests of payroll concerns, Alfonzo didn't deserve the $8.5 million per year any more than I do.

The good news of the weekend was how the unceremonious way Captain Jackass dumped the quiet, steady and effective lefty reliever Mike Stanton gives Wilpon another chance to redeem himself by adding a solid lefty to the bullpen and sticking it to Steinbrenner simultaneously. Stanton, unlike Glavine, has a very successful postseason history, compiling a 1.54 ERA in the World Series games he has appeared in and a 2.10 ERA in all post season games he has appeared in. If the Mets are serious about making their move now then signing Stanton makes all the sense in the world and after being humiliated by the Yankees, Stanton would likely cherish a chance to rub their faces in it right here in New York leading the Mets' bullpen. Speaking of the bullpen, another move I'd like to see is Armando off to some other circus. Against the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies over the last four seasons Benitez has surrendered 28 earned runs while only 14 earned runs to the Marlins and Expos, during the same amount of time. If we are looking to go deep into the post-season, we need a bullpen closer who doesn't choke against our top rivals and better still, one who can get an out with more reliability than Kenny Rogers when the post season comes around. Someone in dire need of a closer might overlook Benitez's perpensity for playoff pyrotechnics. We might even fool someone into giving up someone of value for him. The Armando Dump and examination of possible trade partners, is for another discussion, another day. Suffice it to say that if he could be packaged with someone else we don't want with a fat contract (read: Burnitz or Cedeno) and maybe we could get a decent outfielder in return, then by all means, the move should be made and no time should be wasted.

For now, I'd be happy just to read Ordoñez is gone and Nakamura and Stanton has been inked. While this wouldn't even begin to solve the Mets migraine tension headaches it might at least give me some incentive to believe that the Mets' new "demand-based" ticket pricing system might have something in demand worth paying for next season. Until then, the Wilpons and their boy blunder sidekick, Steve "Fool Me Twice" Phillips had better get busy to appeasing the rest of us.

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