July 5, 2010
Not Least the NL East
Signed CF-R Willy Taveras to a minor-league contract, and assigned him to Gwinnett (Triple-A). [7/3]
You can take this flavor of apparent unhappiness any one of a number of ways. Is it a bad sign for Nate McLouth's recovery? Possibly, considering he's having trouble adapting to hitting outdoors in summer temperatures without getting light-headed. Is it a matter of adding depth? Probably, given that Melky Cabrera and Matt Diaz both have bad starts to overcome, Eric Hinske is wilting in full-time play, and how far do you want to invest in Gregor Blanco? But Wee Willy? Sure, why not? Assuming he never becomes a regular, it's easy to see how he could be helpful, as a defensive replacement in center and as a deluxe pinch-runner, and in scenarios where he's on a post-season roster for those duties alone, he makes more sense to carry than a third catcher or a seventh reliever or a fifth starter.
Designated INF-R Brian Barden for assignment; purchased the contract of INF-R Donnie Murphy from New Orleans (Triple-A). [7/3]
Barden got into a whopping 35 games, just four starts, and 32 plate appearances spread across three months, which is basically a statistical confirmation that he was a bit of a roster afterthought. Fredi Gonzalez didn't really have an idea of what he was for, just that he felt Barden had earned the slot after a good camp, another instance of the silliness that can attend the meritocratic impulse to use spring training as a challenge, for players to “win” their jobs.
What good did it do Barden? It garnered three months of service time for him, but very little else. He can't play shortstop except in the last extremities of need, he's a natural third baseman for chrissakes, and if his virtue as a utility infielder is that he'll outhit most middle infield types, the only way to accrue that value is getting him the playing time. It's no surprise that, once his elevation from temp to full-time skipper Edwin Rodriguez was secure, it looks as if Rodriguez asked for and got his shortstop at New Orleans, Murphy, to use as his middle infield reserve in Barden's place. Murphy had hit well while playing short everyday, delivering at a .277/.335/.519 clip that translated to a shortstop-respectable .249 True Average. Amusingly enough, after not dropping a successful sacrifice for Rodriguez with the Zephyrs, that's exactly what he was asked to do—and executed successfully—in his first Fishy at-bat. That sounds like the virtue of knowing what your players can do, as opposed to being left wondering subsequently what you were thinking when you picking your roster.
Placed 4C-R Fernando Tatis on the 15-day DL (sprained shoulder); recalled LHP Raul Valdes from Buffalo (Triple-A). [7/5]
As ever, it's hard to take the Mets too seriously when they say something about a player, but when they disabled Tatis, the announcement of his shoulder issue was portrayed as a season-long issue. If that was the case, why carry him on the active roster, but not play him? At least he'd been effective in a pinch-hitting role, but it's also worth keeping in mind he had considerably less utility on a roster where they now have everyday regulars at all four corners. It's to their credit that they've left Ike Davis alone at first base (besides which, the kid's hitting lefties), and it isn't like Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur, and David Wright were going to come out of the lineup against southpaws. So finding time for Tatis was already a difficult proposition, whether or not he had an injured shoulder all season. But the position-player proposition's going to be crowded in the weeks to come, with first Luis Castillo and later Carlos Beltran coming back from the DL, and while dispensing with a third catcher seems like one obvious solution, even that choice isn't being made any easier by Josh Thole's refusal to do aught else but shine in his time. So losing Tatis for the time being is terribly convenient for a club that decided it needed a seventh reliever, even if that reliever is Valdes, who joins Ryota Igarashi in the “only reach for with oven mitts” portion of the pen. But even there, with Bobby Parnell helping complete a useful quartet of relief options with Francisco Rodriguez, Pedro Feliciano, and Elmer Dessens, the pen's not hurting that badly. There's the little matter of trying to make Fernando Nieve's problem pitching against lefties; it would be better than swell if he was a less efficient cookie-delivery mechanism than Mrs. Fields, but we'll see if they get that sorted out.
Outrighted MI-R Brian Bocock to Lehigh Valley (Triple-A); purchased the contract of INF-R Cody Ransom from Lehigh Valley. [7/3]
Better late than never to get the blitheringly obvious correct, I always say, but it's amazing that they've wasted even this much time on the 40-man on Bocock, let alone placed him on the active roster for any stretch. Leave it for injury and necessity to co-deliver the invention of Ransom's reincarnation as a Phillie.