Mets Should Have Dunn Deal in Winter
When the Mets headed into the season with question marks in the two corner outfield positions, their lack of depth showed in more than just left and right field. By counting on the Carlos Delgado who hit with a vengeance and was healthy during the second half last year was a risky proposition and his absence now has greatly affected the line-up in more ways than one.
The 36-year-old's chronic right hip problem finally came to a head and he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum, remove a bone spur and address an impingement on May 19. The earliest that he is expected back is 10 weeks, but there has been some chatter in the medical community that he may be done for the season.
Regardless, one of the main bats in the Mets' order will be missed greatly. After a slow start in 2008, Delgado hit .271 with 38 home runs and 115 RBI and so far this season he was hitting cleanup with very pedestrian production at .298/4/23.
What has been a trickle down effect from the Delgado injury has exposed what may have been a major non-move by general manager Omar Minaya. Adam Dunn, a power hitting corner outfielder/first baseman was available and on the open market during the winter. The former Red and Diamondback eventually signed with the Washington Nationals at a very affordable two-year, $20-million deal and is hitting a surprising .281 to go along with 12 long balls and 32 RBI.
The lumbering Dunn, 29, has had hit 40 or more home runs in six consecutive seasons and driven in at least 100 runs in five of them. A career .248 hitter, Dunn has a tendency to strike out often, averaging 180 a year through his first nine major league seasons. He does draw many walks, if that is any compensation.
While Dunn is far from perfect, he may have been a perfect fit for the Mets and would have come in handy now. Come to think of it, he would have looked just fine as the starting left fielder all along. Young Daniel Murphy, a converted infielder, has been atrocious out there since Opening Day and is now slated to get some reps at first base. According to manager Jerry Manuel, the outfield experiment for Murphy is over, but the semi-confused field boss has been known to flip-flop on decisions.
Minaya has stated that he will stand pat and first base will be manned by a combination of Murphy, Fernando Tatis and Jeremy Reed, neither who are natural first baseman or have any extensive experience there. Will that rear its ugly head such as the numerous misplays in the outfield?
With Murphy in that mix, a door opens for more at-bats for 40-year-old slugger Gary Sheffield. That may be a good thing - if he can turn back the clock. Also, Ryan Church - who suffered two concussions last summer - should see steady action in right field without having to look over his shoulder.
With the Mets playing so inconsistent, waiting until the trading deadline in July may be too late. There are too many holes and question marks in their line-up and a paper-thin bench is not going to be any help.
A versatile player that can put the ball over the wall on a regular basis is not only a luxury but also a necessity. Instead of reaching out to the Nationals about the possible availability of Nick Johnson they should make up for an earlier mistake and deal for Dunn.