Delgado’s Absence A Big Issue

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There still appears to be no timetable for the return of first baseman Carlos Delgado, out since May 10 with a hip injury. Delgado appeared in 26 games this season before being placed on the disabled list and though he had only 4 home runs he was the Mets only legitimate power threat. Delgado’s line for the year so far: 94 AB, 15 R, 28 H, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 12 BB, 20 K. Over 162 games this projects to the following: 586 AB, 93 R, 175 H, 25 HR, 143 RBI, 75 BB, 124 K.

Since Delgado’s been out the Mets have been going with Fernando Tatis and Daniel Murphy at first base with a little bit of Jeremy Reed too. Their combined line while playing first base (all three have pinch hit and played other positions since Delgado went down) over 33 games has been: 119 AB, 9 R, 24 H, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 15 BB, 16 K. Over 162 games this projects to the following: 584 AB, 44 R, 118 H, 10 HR, 79 RBI, 74 BB, 79 K.

Looking at these numbers you can see why it is so important for the Mets to acquire someone (whether it’s at first base or corner outfield) that can replace this production. When Delgado went down the Mets lost 49 R, 57 RBI & 15 HR. That’s not easy production to replace. Even if you throw away the home runs and settle for a small ball player you still need to replace the runs and RBIs and you won’t do that from within the organization.

It didn’t take a genius to see how thin the Mets were in terms of the makeup of the lineup and possible injury replacements during the offseason. That’s part of the reason why fans were clamoring for Manny Ramirez. (Ramirez being the best player available in free agency was a major factor also. It remains to be seen if he will maintain that stature after his return from his PED suspension but that’s a different discussion.) When the Mets said they weren’t interested in Ramirez the buzz went away even though there were still top flight bats still available.

The one that sticks out in my mind is Adam Dunn since he seemed to be such a good fit. Corner outfield was the Mets biggest issue last year. And even with a healthy Ryan Church it didn’t take a genius to see this would be a problem again this year. Dunn would also provide some middle of the lineup insurance in case a big guy went down (like delgado). Dunn ended up signing a 2 year, $20 million deal with the Washington Nationals. That’s a contract that the Mets could have easily afforded.

But my point is not so much to second guess a non-signing. It’s to state the importance of a need in the lineup. The Mets don’t necessarily need to acquire Dunn but they need to do something (a smart move and not a trade just for trades sake) because when Church is your #5 hitter (as he is tonight) something is seriously wrong.

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