They Can Pitch, Revamped Mets Should Be a Hit
Hanks’ aging rummy of a manager said in the wonderful A League
of Their Own, “There’s no crying in baseball”. And that’s
a good thing, too–or Mets fans everywhere would be shedding tons
of tears over the team’s shoddy spring training performance.
Let’s face it, 9 wins and 17 losses was not what anyone envisioned
after General Manager Steve Phillips so thoroughly revamped last
Luckily, spring training is more than just lush green grass, wonderful
Florida weather, and fans getting a chance to get thisclose to
the players on the small Port St. Lucie field. It’s also a time
to work out kinks, get all the new gears in the machine humming
In the spring you don’t worry about results,” star catcher Mike
Piazza said. “You don’t get a trophy for the Grapefruit League
or at the end of April, so results in the preseason don’t count
for anything. Anyway, it takes a team with this many new pieces
a while to jell.”
The question is, did owner Fred Wilpon and all the championship-starved
Met fans get the right pieces for their $102 million? On paper,
the team looks promising and exciting, all right. But there are
also too many questionmarks to feel relaxed or safe.
Phillips, who had the most active offseason of any GM in baseball,
has addressed the offensive problems – the Mets scored the least
runs in the major leagues last year – but may have gone one step
too far. After adding the great second baseman Roberto Alomar,
ace leadoff speedster Roger Cedeno, and power hitting outfielder
Jeromy Burnitz, he went into overkill mode in trading for first
baseman Mo Vaughn. The cost — top pitcher Kevin Appier–appears
way too high.
Pitching, after all, is the name of the game in baseball. And
the onetime great Vaughn–the 1995 AL MVP– hasn’t played in a full
year due to a torn bicep tendon.
Phillips’ myriad of moves left the Mets with a lineup that should
be tough to hold down–they should score runs in bunches–but perhaps
not as tough to beat. The pitching staff seems Ally McBeal-thin,
both in the rotation and in the bullpen.
Phillips acknowledges the problem. “Sure, to some extent, we robbed
Peter to pay Paul,” he said. ”We took some risks–but that’s what
you do and then you hope for the best.”
The biggest risk, in more ways than one, is the 300-pound Vaughn.
In addition to the risk factor of the injury, there’s his weight,
his lack of mobility at first base, and the fact that he’s spent
his entire career in the American League so far. Do you leave
your pitching staff vulnerable for an out-of-shape 34-year old
with injury and weight problems who could become not much more
than an overly expensive bench ornament?
we need to make one or two more moves to make this a championship
team, we will do just that,” said Phillips.
It may very well come to that. Outscoring the opposition is one
thing–but having to outscore your own pitching staff night after
night is never a good idea. It may prove to be a too-heavy burden
even for this star studded Mets lineup. #
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