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Don’t Throw the Tatis Out with the Bathwater



By Howard Megdal ~ May 5th, 2010. Filed under: Howard Megdal.

Just wanted to follow up a bit on what Mike wrote earlier today regarding the Mets’ bench. There seems to be a tendency, though not from Mike, to equate Fernando Tatis’ early struggles with those of Frank Catalanotto, Mike Jacobs, Gary Matthews Jr. and Alex Cora.

But the reason to be down on the potential production out of those latter four early in the season wasn’t the extremely slow start each one had. Instead, it is the track records from all of them in the preceding years.

For Jacobs, the .208/.296/.375 was ugly; it was also right in line with his 2009 line of .228/.297/.401. For Alex Cora, the .162/.262/.243 is terrible, but he only managed a .630 OPS last season, and has been below .700 in four of the past five seasons.

While Catalanotto is well below his typical production, Mike is right that he is a bit redundant with Tatis around. Moreover, he has just three games at second base over the past seven years- otherwise, he plays some left, some right and some first base-just like Chris Carter.

Still, Matthews Jr. is the most frustrating. His .417 OPS may be low for him, but he was below .700 each of the past two seasons. And when someone has trouble catching up to any fastball, even that of Jamie Moyer, it may simply be that he is past his sell-by date.

But we all know why he’s on the team: the Mets need a backup center fielder. The problem is, Matthews is not a backup center fielder. He’s a horrible center fielder. A man is not a center fielder merely because a major league team puts him in center field, is he? Maybe that’s a philosophical question, but for winning baseball games purposes, the answer is no.

Put it this way: Chris Carter could be every bit the backup center fielder Matthews Jr. is. He shouldn’t be playing in center field. He shouldn’t be playing. Jeff Francoeur should spot Pagan, if absolutely necessary, since he’s already on the team, and can actually play baseball at the major league level.

Meanwhile, Fernando Tatis is also struggling so far. His .603 OPS entering the game went down after he hit a loud flyout to the center field wall Wednesday.

But Tatis, over his past 707 major league plate appearances, has an OPS of .811. He can play first, third, left, right, even fill in at second base. Tatis belongs on a major league roster, and is immensely valuable.

Here’s hoping the Mets don’t clean house in a way that includes him. And fans owe him a far longer leash than the others.

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Howard Megdal is the Editor-in-Chief of The Perpetual Post. He covers baseball, basketball and soccer for Capital New York, MLBTradeRumors.com, New York Baseball Digest and has written for ESPN.com as well as numerous other publications. He is the Poet Laureate for SBNation New York. His book about Jewish baseball players, “The Baseball Talmud,” is available for purchase on Amazon.com and wherever books are sold. His next book, "Taking The Field", is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and will publish in May 2011.

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1 Response to Don’t Throw the Tatis Out with the Bathwater

  1. CASHonly

    Catalanotto should be cut ASAP. Perhaps the Mets signed him because he is a Long Island native. Even in his prime, he mostly was a platoon player. It’s questionable he could still DH if he was in the other league.

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