Notes and Observations

Most news involving the New York Mets has been focus on how poorly the team is playing and how there are inevitably going to be changes in the front office. Lest we belabor the point, submitted for your approval are some Notes and Observations meant to distract and divert from a poor season in the midst. So without further ado, "hey, look over here!"

Darryl Strawberry

For all the drugs and parole violations, how does he remain such a sympathetic figure? Is it because he was a great ballplayer? On some levels, the public does seem to forgive a man easily if they were a sports hero, but at the same time, the issue goes deeper with Strawberry. For Strawberry it was the story of lost potential. For every time we saw him try and succeed at the plate or on the field, we have since seen him try and fail as a human, but somehow, somewhere, we know he's trying, and that's why he's so hard to love.

Every fan who grew up with Darryl Strawberry wants to see him succeed and come back to the Mets as the prodigal son. There is a stumbling block though, and his name is Fred Wilpon. Wilpon has shown great distaste (or at very least an aversion to) the Mets teams of the late 80's. The 1986 team is rarely celebrated in an official fashion. Jerseys should have been retired long ago that may now never be hung, and now that Strawberry is out of jail, which baseball owner is offering him a job? Mets owner Fred Wilpon? No. George Steinbrenner.
You can hate Steinbrenner if you want, but if every owner in baseball were like him, baseball would be in better hands. Steinbrenner is smart, wants to win, and will use cash to do so. Half the owners in baseball can claim at most one of those three attributes. On top of it all, and in no way to spite the Mets, Steinbrenner gives the greatest Met outfielder another chance to set his life back on track. Wilpon could learn something here. Kudos to you, Mr. Steinbrenner.

Home Warriors

Remarkably, the Mets have a winning record at home this season. Granted, 8-7 is nothing to write home about, but the problem is that they have been outscored at home 72-60. It means the Mets are getting timely runs and just barely winning games, and that cannot go on forever.

This is where numbers can be a little deceiving if we don't know how to interpret them. Yes, the Mets have been outscored 72-60 at home, and yes, that would mean the Mets are getting lucky, but then if we look at the results of each game, we will be reminded of an opening day game which we had hoped to forget. On March 31, the Mets lost to the Cubs at Shea Stadium 15-2. Taking out this game, the Mets are 8-6 at home and have outscored their opponents 58-57. 58-57 should equate to a .500 record, so Mets fans should not get excited. Besides, it is not really fair to just throw out that first game of the season, just keep in mind that with or without that opening game, the Mets are about a .500 ball club at home.

Mike Piazza

Piazza is still a great hitter. He is still far more valuable as a catcher than he would ever be as a first baseman. He should not be moved to first base until as late in his career as possible.

He should stay at catcher, but be prepared for a decline in his numbers. It is only natural. It is silly to think he will be as good at 34 as he was at 28. While he should remain on of the top catchers in the game for the remainder of his contract, the thought of trading him suddenly becomes more of a good idea.

The Heart says, "No way! Piazza is the heart and soul of this team, if we trade Piazza, we'd be giving up! We might as well bring back Butch Huskey and Mark Clark back!"

While the Brain replies, "But wait, he'll be a five and ten man soon, and his trade value is still very high. He'll probably have a sharp decline in the next couple of years due to all the catching he's done, and we do need to cut back payroll. Perhaps we can dump Cedeno onto whatever team takes Mike."

The Brain sounds like Patrick Stewart when it speaks.

Mo Vaughn

It is a sad, sad thing when a fan is happy a player lands on the DL. It is a far sadder thing when that fan thinks the 15-day DL is not enough.

Well, what we have here is a sad situation, or depending on how you look at it, a very happy one. Mo Vaughn will miss approximately 15 games, and Tony Clark will come in to play every day during Vaughn's absence.

Clark is listed as 30 pounds lighter than Vaughn and six inches taller. I wonder who is in better shape. Not only that, but Clark will be a much better target for Met infielders. We won't see many balls flying over his head.

Will Clark be better offensively than Vaughn? Clark is a solid player, and had several strong seasons as a Tiger and was an all-star in 2001, but two things hold him back as a Met. Last season he suffered through back troubles and posted a meek (at best) OPS of .556 in 275 at bats for the Red Sox. Can he stay healthy for the Mets? On top of his health problems, his numbers as a Tiger were never great, in his prime, he was better than Vaughn was last season, but that doesn't say much.

Then again, Clark is leading the Mets in home runs in less than a third of the plate appearances that Roberto Alomar has. He has only drawn one walk so far, but historically has more patience than he has shown this season.

Putting it succinctly, there's a chance Clark will be better than Vaughn, and if he is, should get the everyday job when Vaughn returns, despite what their salaries are. But there's also a chance, age and injuries will catch up to Clark and he'll be no better than Vaughn. Which would again, be a sad, sad thing.

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