There were murmurs about his attitude, his alleged low baseball IQ, the player’s sulky and self-absorbed clubhouse demeanor. The problems, we were to infer, ran deeper than the numbers in the box score. He was not a fit moving forward. From those reasons it was understood that Terry Collins and the Mets braintrust had made a decision:
Angel Pagan had to go.
And so he went, in one of Sandy Alderson’s rare trades that involved players on active MLB rosters: Angel Pagan and cash in exchange for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez.
The trade was met with shock: “The Mets had cash?”
Kidding aside: Let the record show that the trade struck me as perfectly fine at the time. I accepted the fate of Pagan, a talented guy who didn’t work out. Happens. Though I never liked Andres Torres, not even a little bit, I hoped that Ramirez would make a solid addition to a bedraggled bullpen. Sometimes you have to flush the system. Thumbs up. The pen needed the rebuild and, well, Angel had to go. Right?
Of course, in 2012 Angel Pagan put up a pretty good season for the Giants, and amazingly ended up 32nd in MVP voting (I shit you not), tied with Chipper Jones, Miquel Montero, and Hunter Pence with one misspent vote apiece.
All of which is preamble for my real subject of the day, the Mets’ 23-year-old bad boy, formerly known as “a great kid,” wayward Ruben Tejeda.
Forget Lindsay Lohan’s media troubles. If anybody needs to fire his public relations firm, it’s Ruben Tejeda. He’s lost the media war. For a couple of years, Ruben was the kid who played the game right, bright and innocent, working deep counts, making the most of his skills. Steady and reliable and smart. Easy to root for. Homegrown.
Yet all that acquired good will circled the drain this spring, suddenly he was fat and lazy and he didn’t care. Now the club would rather run Omar Quintanilla into the ground — a shortstop with no future with the Mets — instead of giving young, chastened Ruben the slimmest shot at redemption.
An interesting turn of events.
We know that Ruben is not great, and will never be. But it’s not impossible for him to return to the form of his age-22 season — .289/.333/.351 with 26 doubles in only 114 games — and perhaps even improve upon it by a notch or two.
It could be that he’ll become a steady, unspectacular player for some other team, or teams, for years to come. However, that team is likely not going to be the New York Mets.
And you know what? I’m okay with that.
And if someday a misguided writer casts a stray MVP vote in Ruben’s direction, well, shrug, we’re all going to have to live with it.
It’s time to aim higher.
NEWS ITEM: MATT HARVEY ON DL. “Noooooooooooo!”
My college son texts me, “We just can’t win.”
This morning I wrote a rough draft for a blog post for later this week. Here’s one part of it, below. Look, I think injuries happen, especially to pitchers who throw hard sliders. That’s a tough pitch on the arm. So I don’t want this to be about blame. But nonetheless, this is what I was thinking this very AM:
>> Remember how Terry talked about how tired David Wright was, how Terry had to somehow find David a day off somewhere in the schedule. Maybe next Tuesday in Chicago, etc. But he just couldn’t, you know. Even when Wright pulled up with a tight hammy, there was still no rest, no adult in the room. Well, that worked out great, didn’t it?
In Monday’s Daily News, Collins said this about Wheeler and Harvey:
“You’re trying to win games, we’re trying to put people in the seats out there, and having Matt Harvey out there every give days helps us. We still know down the road we’ve got to keep this guy healthy. You back off the bullpens, you back off the running program a little bit, so he’s not so fatigued.”
Ditherment, thy name is Mets.
Here’s the deal with Harvey. He should have 3-4 more starts left, about 25 innings, and that’s it. Done. There’s nothing else to say. The idea that there’s value in finishing out the entire season is total and complete bullshit. This is Wright’s captaincy all over again. The talking, talking, talking. <<
Moving on, it’s worth clicking here at Craig Calcaterra’s post on Hardball Talk about “the blame game.” Money quote:
No, Harvey getting shut down and likely needing surgery doesn’t appear to be a matter of the Mets abusing Harvey or some awful mechanical flaw. It’s just a matter of pitching living to break your heart. Maybe someday there will be a viable theory that predicts and can help prevent elbow injuries in pitchers, but for now it just feels like chaos and sadness. A chaos and a sadness that seems to have visited Mets pitching prospects in disproportionate fashion over the years.
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