Monday, July 31, 2006

Rise and Fall

An up and down afternoon today as I awaited updates on the Mets, ending predominantly on the downside.

The worst news of the day was the first news of the day, with word coming that Duaner Sanchez, who was putting together one of the finest seasons by a Met reliever in ages, suffered a season-ending separated shoulder in a car accident in Miami. That the accident occurred while Sanchez was riding in the back seat of a taxicab only added a dose of insult to this key injury. For those of you not keeping track, that’s two out of the past two serious injuries to baseball players riding in cabs that happened to front-line Met pitchers. It’s time to alter a stale motto of yestermonth, Mets: It’s Limo Time.

The next batch of news wasn’t any more musical to my ears, though I stand somewhat alone in my assessment of it. Xavier Nady was dealt to the Pirates for ex-Met Roberto Hernandez and ex-pitcher Oliver Perez. While “experts” and much of the Township deemed Xavier Nady expendable time and again, I was always a fan of the guy. I think he was more clutch at the plate than he was ever given credit for, and though he’s had more than his allotted ration of “interesting” plays in right field, he’s also dabbled in runner-gunning at key moments as well. A flawed player, but a more than solid part of the Mets lineup, now gone for . . . well, let’s take a look.

Roberto Hernandez put together a strong ’05 campaign as a set-up man, back before we knew what outstanding set-up campaigns looked like. He’s a poor man’s Sanchez, and he’s another year older. Here’s hoping he can offer a semblance of what we’ll miss. Meanwhile . . .

Oliver Perez is a poor man’s Victor Zambrano. People like to throw words around like “upside” and “potential” when they speak of Oliver Perez, but I am super-down on this guy. He had one brilliant season amid several other seasons of hapless ineptitude. What accounts for this is beyond me, perhaps something mental, something mechanical, or something . . . uh, chemical. But the fact that remains that he’s a significantly more challenging Peterson project than V-Zam was. Yes, I know, that comparison incorporates a little bit of fruit medley, but Perez is still a nothing addition to this deal, in my feeble mind.

Somewhere in the midst of it, the Worldwide Mis-Leader informed us that Oliver Perez was promptly dealt, along with Heath Bell, to San Diego for set-up man extraordinaire Scott Linebrink. This was brilliant news, and I took back the grumblings I hurled Omar-ward. Sadly, within an hour, this story was recanted by other news sources and deleted into revisionist history by ESPN. Thanks for nothin’, Bristol.

So, who comes up from AAA to replace Nady? All signs would logically point to Lastings Milledge. Of course, Milledge was last heard from making ego-laden remarks to the press in a Bizarro-Wright fashion. He was last seen getting thrown out of yesterday’s game against the R-Braves in the first inning, then chest-bumping the umpire like a . . . oh, let’s say a poor man’s Carl Everett. Would a AAA suspension keep him from being promoted? Frankly, with Mets not quite desperate these days, a little humbling (by calling up the vastly inferior Victor DiaZ) would be nice to see, but it’s probably more important to get him some more AB’s and TC’s at the major-league level and make his Fenway failures a distant memory.

On the whole, it’s been a bad day in Metville, but they largely heeded my “stay the course” advice and held fast for the unveiling of the next two months and beyond. Of course, when I offered that so-called wisdom, I wasn’t factoring in more metered havoc. Bring on the Roberto Hernandez Era, Part II. (Sequels are usually so terrific, no?)

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