Tag:Carlos Delgado
Posted on: May 18, 2009 9:39 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2009 10:12 pm
 

What's in store for Mets without Delgado

LOS ANGELES -- The New York Mets say they're not going to panic while Carlos Delgado is gone for what could be two months or more. They say they're going to use a combination of Fernando Tatis and Jeremy Reed at first base with maybe a little Daniel Murphy thrown in.

And that's all well and good.

Until the Mets, leading the NL East by half-a-game over Philadelphia heading into Monday night's games, hit one of those infamous valleys they've had a habit of slipping into over the past few summers. Then all bets are off.

"The team is playing well," says Tony Bernazard, the Mets' vice-president for player development. "As long as we continue to play well, I don't see any need to make changes."

Question is, are these Mets (21-16) capable of continuing to win at a .568 clip without Delgado?

That's a question that will come with a multi-layered answer over the next several days and weeks:

 Gary Sheffield, 40, will see more playing time in the immediate future, and for the Mets' sake, that cannot come with diminishing returns. He was hitting .254 with a .390 on-base percentage, two homers and seven RBI in 31 games heading into Monday night's. For a guy who looked nearly finished in Detroit, he's shown some life at the plate. But what's the shelf-life of that if he plays every day?

"These are the things we have to find out, and we don't know until we go through a stretch of games in a row without off days," Mets manager Jerry Manuel says.

Short-term, expect Sheffield to serve as designated hitter some this weekend in Boston when interleague play begins.

 Manuel's managing acumen will be tested. Because he's going to have to find the right combination of pushing Sheffield with more playing time than anybody originally planned, but by pulling back if Sheffield tires, his swing slows or his body begins to ache.

"I'm going to have to manage him," Manuel acknowledges.

The Mets like Sheffield in the middle of their lineup because, even though they acknowledge he's not the hitter he once was, he's a presence. That helps make up for the presence they've lost in Delgado (.298, four homers, 23 RBI).

 Now is a good time for third baseman David Wright, 26, to step up and lead. Wright's place in the Mets' clubhouse hierarchy has been debated before in his development. It's reached the point where it should be his team, but when longer-tenured and older veterans like Delgado are around, that's easier said than done.

Now, with a clear void, does Wright step into it?

"That's a good question," Manuel says. "I think you want a guy in the infield taking charge. It's difficult to do that from center field. To be a third baseman and out there every day performing, it's definitely a good opportunity. And I think I've seen some of that (already)."

 Wright, Carlos Beltran and shortstop Jose Reyes have to be careful not to try and make up for the loss of Delgado by themselves, but they need to produce.

"Of the two Carloses, Reyes and Wright, we've always wanted two of the four of them hot," Manuel says. "Now we want two of the three hot. As long as it's still two. ..."

 As for the first base combo, the right-handed Tatis and the lefty Reed should get most of the playing time at the bag. Tatis, 34, has been impressive so far: .308 and a .365 OBP in 23 games (65 at-bats). Reed, 27, is hitting .357 with a .400 OBP in 32 games (28 at-bats).

Murphy's time at first likely will depend on how much time Sheffield spends in the outfield and how Tatis and Reed are doing at first. While none of the three is a natural first baseman, that doesn't bother Manuel.

"We made a real good run last year with people not at their natural positions," he says. "We had two third basemen in the outfield (Tatis and Murphy) and they responded well."

 If things to falter and the Mets look to the outside for a trade, two names already floated are Baltimore's Aubrey Huff and Washington's Nick Johnson.

For now, the Mets will find out what they're made of.

They hope the answer is more positive than when they faced that same question in each of the past two seasons.

Posted on: March 16, 2008 7:25 pm
 

Bonjour, Mr. Gagne

MARYVALE, Ariz. -- Brewers manager Ned Yost has learned to say "good morning" in French to Quebec native Eric Gagne, but other than that, Yost mostly is hands-off. And truth be told, is paying closer attention to folks other than his new closer.

Mostly, Gagne has been honing his skills on the back fields while preparing for the season. He's worked in only two "A" games so far, and three "B" games.

"He's a different animal," Yost says. "He's been in the game for quite awhile. He knows what it takes to be successful. The main thing that kicks in with guys like him is adrenalin, and you're not going to see that with Gagne until the season starts."

Yost is completely dismissing Gagne's struggles in Boston last summer when he went 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA and practically was booed out of town.

Instead, he points to the 16 saves and 2.16 ERA earlier in the year in Texas.

"Two different jobs," Yost says.

Gagne also is a different animal in that he essentially missed two seasons, 2005 and 2006, with injuries, then did well in Texas for part of last season and then was terrible in Boston. Plus, he was named in the Mitchell Report as a suspected steroids user.

So how can a manager be completely confident that Gagne will become Mr. Dependable Closer? Blind faith?

"Absolutely he's ready to go, and it's not even blind faith," Yost says. "It's solid faith."

Gagne says he is throwing "awesome. I'm feeling good. No pain. No stiffness. I'm throwing free and easy."

He's got no restrictions physically, and he's thrown all of his pitches -- including his nasty change-up -- in each of his past two outings. Before that, he says, he only threw his fastball while working on arm strength and location.

"That's why I like 'B' games," he says.

Meantime, the man who signed a one-year, $10 million deal is very happy in his new home.

"They're young here," Gagne says. "They've got a lot of energy.

"It's pretty cool."

Likes: Prince Fielder mimicking batting stances from other players -- both Brewers and non-Brewers -- in the Milwaukee clubhouse, and outfielder Mike Cameron nearly doubled over in laughter. ... Justin Upton ready to start in right field for Arizona at 20. ... Barry Zito winning a Cactus League game despite surrendering seven runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. The ball flies in the thin desert air. ... Monti's Steakhouse in Tempe. ... Chatting with former Oakland skipper Ken Macha in Tempe the other day. Macha, entering his second season after being fired by Oakland, is itching to get back into uniform. ... Butler in the NCAA tournament, but not playing South Alabama in Alabama. Come on, the Bulldogs deserve better.

Dislikes: The Mets' Carlos Delgado needing stitches after getting speared by a broken bat. Forget, for a minute, base coaches now being forced to wear helmets. Talk to anybody in uniform over the past few years, and one of the greatest fears is a jagged, broken bat doing some serious damage, and possibly killing someone. Thank goodness Delgado got out of it with only four stitches. ... Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur getting beaned in the lip by St. Louis pitcher Todd Wellemeyer. If the situation was reversed, why do I have the feeling that Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa would be starting World War III, and going on about how it's never an accident when a pitch sails near somebody's head? ... Arizona coach Kirk Gibson turns 51 in May? When did he turn 50?

Sunblock day? We avoided the predicted thunderstorms -- at least, in the Phoenix area -- and got a mix of sun and clouds. But the temperature dropped toward the 50s. More long pants and jacket day than sunblock day.

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"This old heart of mine been broke a thousand times
"Each time you break away I feel you're gone to stay
"Lonely nights that come, memories that flow
"Bringin' ya back again, hurting me more and more"

-- The Isley Brothers, This Old Heart of Mine

 
 
 
 
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