Home MLB'Weekly' Hit Ground Ball Weekly Hit Ground Ball: If the Mets didn’t have bad luck …

Weekly Hit Ground Ball: If the Mets didn’t have bad luck …

by Matt Smith

Many smart people have devoted countless hours to analysing all aspects of baseball over the years.  They have challenged preconceptions and conceived wisdom, attempting to strip away the vagaries of luck to reach clear conclusions based on solid evidence.  I find much of it interesting and thought-provoking, but I’m afraid the Mets’ 2009 season has forced me to divert from their considered path for some answers.

Sorry: there is no other explanation that I can accept. Omar Minaya must have walked under a ladder outside Citi Field on Friday 13th, before breaking a mirror while opening up an umbrella once he got inside their new ballpark.  He probably knocked over a salt shaker as well for good measure. 

As an A’s fan, I’ve become well-versed in seeing a team torn apart by injuries over the past few seasons.  Eric Chavez alone has been the cause of more ‘nearly back to 100 per cent’ comments and painful setbacks than some MLB teams have endured for their entire rosters in a whole year.  However, the Mets have been hit shockingly hard this year to the point of disbelief. 

The core of the Mets’ roster matches up against any team in the Majors. They have a multiple Cy Young winner in Johan Santana leading the rotation and build their offense around Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes and David Wright.  Tune into a Mets game right now, as I did for their early game against the Cubs on Friday evening, and you will not see any of them on the field.  All five are on the DL.  Imagine the Phillies without Hamels, Howard, Utley, Rollins and Werth.  Or the Yankees without Sabathia, Jeter, Texeira, A-Rod and Cano.  Every team has to cope with injuries over the course of a season, but no team can cope with losing the core of their roster.

Delgado and Reyes were the first to depart the scene and in both cases their scheduled returns have been hit by setbacks. Carlos Delgado went down in mid May with a torn labrum in his right hip and the first baseman strained his right oblique during his rehab from surgery.

Jose Reyes was next in late May with what was said at the time to be a “slight tear” in his right hamstring tendon.  He has suffered a series of setbacks ever since and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.  The New York Daily News claimed this week that Reyes has actually ruptured the tendon and will need surgery, although in response to the reports the Mets so far have only confirmed that surgery is a possibility.

Carlos Beltran is currently working his way back from a bone bruise in his right knee. He played in pain for a month after taking a cortisone shot (ala Freddie Flintoff) but the bruising just got bigger and he ended up on the DL in late June.  While it would make sense for him to call it a season, Beltran wants to return to the field.

David Wright is another guy who has to be told to take a rest, but it surely makes sense to be patient with his recovery from a concussion.  I still flinch every time I see the footage of Matt Cain’s 94 MPH fastball cracking off Wright’s helmet and the third baseman falling to the floor.  He could sit out the rest of the year, but Harold Reynolds made the point in a video on MLB.com that if he is healthy enough to get back on the field, it might be best from a psychological standpoint that he faces Major League pitching again as soon as possible.

Wright may have a personal reason to return to action in September, but the Mets’ season is over.  That’s one of the reasons why Johan Santana has gone off to have surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow.  Get the operation out of the way and get him back for Spring Training 2010.  September 2009 isn’t going to count for much, not least because they’ve lost plenty of other players to injuries as well.

John Maine hasn’t pitched since the start of June due to soreness in his right shoulder.  Thankfully recent examinations have shown that there is no structural damage and the pitcher is on course to be back on the mound this season.   However, one bit of good news is always followed by bad with the Mets this season. JJ Putz had three rough outings in a row at the end of May and start of June before he landed on the DL.  He had “surgery to remove a bone spur and fragments of bone from the back of his right elbow” and the Mets announced that he would return for their series in Denver next week, only for an MRI to reveal a slight tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.  He’s now done for the season.

Oliver Perez will have surgery on his right knee. Jeff Francoeur is having surgery to repair a torn left thumb ligament.  The list goes on and on.

No doubt numerous studies will be undertaken to try and pinpoint why the Mets have suffered so many injuries this season.  I’m sticking with the bad luck story. 

Boone back soon?

The injury woes of the Mets have been disruptive and painful, but they have paled in comparison to the health scare that the Astros’ Aaron Boone has been recovering from.

Boone underwent open heart surgery earlier this year and could be added to Houston’s roster on Tuesday, when Major League teams can expand their rosters from 25 to (up to) 40 men.  He has never been a star, but Boone has made the most of his ability during a solid Big League career.  And of course he has left his mark on the game as the scourge of the Red Sox in the 2003 ALDS and the unintentional cause of Alex Rodriguez’s trade to the Yankees in the following offseason.

If and when he does step back out onto a Major League diamond this season, I’m sure he’ll get the warm reception he deserves.  He’s not scheduled to play in Boston in any case.

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Mark Harrison August 30, 2009 - 10:16 am

The Mets are having the same luck as Everton did last season. I’ll have to start “supporting” teams I actually hate…

Joe Cooter August 31, 2009 - 1:07 pm

What can be said about the Mets that hasn’t already been said. They certainly have been a train wreck this season. Off course a lot of there problems have been because of injury, but they’ve also lost games because of there own mistakes. Two incidents stand out. Ryan Church’s failure to touch third base in a game against the Dodgers and Louis Castillos drop of Arod’s pop up back in June. The mets have blown a few games that they should have won, As bad as their record has been, they could have performed somewhat better inspite of their injuries.

But a lot of their problems haven’t been limited to the field either. Some of the teams inability to replace injured players can be blamed on the teams ownership, who don’t have the money to buy new players because they decided to invest money with Bernie Maddoff. Infact, rumours have persisted that the losses Fred Wilpon suffered because of the Madoff swindel have been so great that he may have to sell the team.

But Wilpon’s problems don’t seem to end there. He’s also managed to upset many Mets fans because he seems more willing to celebrate the accomplishments of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants more than he is willing to celebrate the accomplishments of his own team. This has been evident is several ways. The Met’s new ball park, Citifield looks like it was designed to emulate Ebbetts Field, the former home of the Dodgers. Also, there have been may pictures of former Dodgers and Giants greats on display in the concorse at Citifield. This doesn’t sit well with Mets fans, many of whom are the children of fans who had their hearts broken by the Giants and Dodgers when the two clubs moved to California. Mets fans want their ballpark to celebrate their club and not two teams that have long since abandoned New YOrk. IT didn’t help when, two weeks ago the Mets work replica uniforms of the 1904 New York Giants. Why the Mets decided to honor the Giants is beyond me. The Mets have not done a very good job of honoring their own history and that has dispointed their fans greatly. I feel sorry for them in that regard.


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