Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Willie Speaks

Ever thoughtful, Mets manager Willie Randolph took time out in this Daily News article to reply to some of my critiques of his lineup construction. The following are some of his more choice quotes:

1. Carlos Beltran: "When I see Carlos in the big picture, he's a guy we've invested a lot in," Randolph said. "He's going to hit wherever I put him. But I see him prototypically as a guy who is going to be in the meat of our order."

A short recap of Willie's statement: we pay Beltran a lot of money. The money he earns impacts my thinking about where we place him in the order. In spite of criticisms, and in spite of last year's failure to produce from the 3 spot, he's still our 3 guy.

Really, I am not here to beat a dead horse. But come on- "invested a lot in"? There is no bigger mistake than allowing the salary of a player to have any impact on playing time or placement in the batting order. The money paid to Beltran is a sunk-cost. At this point, the most rational use of Beltran would involve placing him in the order where he is most likely to help the Mets. Anyone who watched him in 2005 knows that is not in the 3rd spot- and to hit him there even partly to justify his large contract is mind-bogglingly bad baseball. Might he return to the Beltran-like form everyone expected? Perhaps. But to reserve that spot for him in the lineup while he's still "adjusting" to NY baseball is ludicrous. All I can say here is it is a testament to some hypocrisy on Willie's part that David Wright is still proving himself (see rest of this post), while Beltran doesn't have to prove anything. In fact he is given a free-pass to arguably the most important spot in the lineup- regardless of production. Beltran should have to earn his lineup spot just like anyone else- and to date, this seems to not be the case.

Just for fun:
Beltran, 2005 (proven producer): 582 AB/.266 AVG/.330 OBP/.414 SLG/16 HR/78 RBI
Wright, 2005 (needs to prove himself!): 575 AB/.306 AVG/.388 OBP/.523 SLG/27 HR/102 RBI

2. David Wright: The manager countered that Wright might not have had as good a year had the manager not protected the youngster by placing him down in the order early in the season."No one really gave me credit for doing what I did. They just criticized me," Randolph said. "There was a little method to my madness, if you will. This year is going to be the same thing. I feel confident he can handle it, but I still want to make sure going into the season that we don't just feel like, 'Okay, he had a great year last year, so, bam, he should be here.

Good god. Willie still wants to "protect" Wright, and still wants him to prove himself. And insinuates that Wright benefitted from being misused in the lineup!
Wright doesn't need protection by Willie- he needs protection from him! At least he acknowledges the "madness" part, though.

3. LoDuca/Matsui and the 2 hole: Lo Duca's low strikeout total and bat control suit him batting second, but Ramon Castro may catch 30-35% of the time. Though Randolph suggested it's not disruptive shifting a player between the second and third slots, he agreed it's probably better to anchor Beltran mostly in one position. Kaz Matsui could emerge as the No. 2 hitter when Castro catches, provided he staves off Bret Boone. "If he [Matsui] is healthy and shows a certain patience, he might be an ideal No. 2 hitter because he's a switch-hitter, he can run and he can bunt," Randolph said.

Matsui, 2005, from 2 hole: 171 AB/.269 AVG/.312 OBP/.351 SLG/22 K*/8 BB/6 SB
*No stats available at press time as to "whiffs at balls in the dirt"

It's actually amusing to me that Willie's reasons for Matsui being an ideal 2 hitter are more true for Beltran than Matsui.


Anonymous Matt said...

If Willie bats Wright lower than fifth even ONCE, I am boycotting the Mets until Willie is fired.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006  

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