It’s hard to believe that the Mets haven’t won back-to-back games since June 23rd when they did it against Detroit. Yet, the streak continued on Sunday with a 6-5 loss to Philadelphia. The Mets did fight back but unfortunately, and so customarily, they fell short. It was a game that saw Fernando Martinez get his first start of the season in left field. At 9 games back in the division and 7.5 back in the wild card race, it appears that the Mets have decided to give some of their up-and-comers a shot. What the heck.
There were some trade rumor grumblings and suspicions that both Ruben Tejada and Martinez might have been part of some trade package. Seattle seemed to have been the interested party and word was out that Jeff Francoeur might have been included in a deal that would have sent Chone Figgins to the Mets. But as of yet, that trade has not materialized. Instead they were both brought up to the parent club and Alex Cora was let go. A move that was long overdue.
Martinez will get some much needed Major League experience and it will also allow the Mets to showcase him a little in case there are suitors for his services. Ike Davis made an impression early on with the Seattle Mariners so much so that Seattle was willing to trade Cliff Lee to the Mets for a deal that included Davis. The Mets balked at the deal, but Martinez hasn’t really made the strides the Mets were hoping that he’d make. He’s already gotten a reputation for being injury prone and has been dropping steadily in Baseball America’s prospect ratings year after year. In 2008, Martinez was the #20 ranked prospect in baseball than fell to #30 in 2009. In 2010, he slipped to #77. The Mets might be more inclined to include Martinez in a deal that made sense.
While the Mets are trying to infuse some youthful energy into their daily lineup, the arrivals of Martinez and Tejada has been off-putting to some. Francoeur has been told that he will be platooning with Martinez in right field. A few weeks back, Francoeur was having to come to grips with the fact that he was going to be losing playing time to Angel Pagan with Carlos Beltran coming off the DL. Francoeur appeared OK with that. He understood that Beltran’s bat needed to be in the lineup and Pagan has been one of the more consistent and surprising Mets players all year. But with Jason Bay out, the Mets needed Francoeur to step back into his right field role. But now, Francoeur seems a little less flexible with sharing time with Martinez. So much so, that Francoeur has had some closed door meeting with Jerry Manuel.
Tejada’s arrival also means that Luis Castillo will be riding the bench more. Castillo will still hit better than Tejada but Castillo’s slash line of .259/.322/.315 since the All Star break, won’t win him any medals, so if the Mets are wanting to cultivate Tejada, it would seem that Castillo will find a nice warm spot next to Francoeur on the bench.
None of these maneuvers are game changers. However, neither Francoeur, Castillo or for that matter Cora are difference makers that will help to win games on a consistent basis. The Mets are trying to change the complexion of the team and that means that some players, and some good guys, have to sit or be let go. These are the tough and sometimes unpleasant decisions that a team struggling for direction need to make.
Unfortunately, the most obvious decision and the one the Mets are still unwilling to make is the release of Oliver Perez. Now that would be a game changer.