Friday, April 10, 2009

Met backups: Old-timers sitting on a bench

Aside from 27-year-old Jeremy Reed, the youngest player on the Mets' bench is 33-year-old Alex Cora, who is a few months younger than 33-year-old Ramon Castro. Then there's Fernando Tatis, 34, Marlon Anderson, 35 and Gary Sheffield, 40.

It may or may not be a coincidence that one of the few times the bench has come through so far was when Reed singled home the tying run with two outs in the ninth tonight against Florida before the Mets lost, 5-4, in the bottom of the ninth.

At least Anderson figures to get dropped Saturday when Livan Hernandez is added to the roster. This is what passes for an Omar Minaya youth movement - Hernandez is a mere child of 34 (if you believe his listed age).

The Mets are leaving lots of men on base and, with the exception of Reed's hit, the bench has been no help in manufacturing runs. Besides Reed, there are no possible pinch-runners here. If someone gets on base (which is enough of a challenge for this crew) the only way they will score will be station to station, as opposed to building runs as Jerry Manuel preached in spring training.

If the Met had more youth and speed elsewhere on the bench, the Gary Sheffield experiment would make at least a little more sense. But this bench makes Sheffield an even poorer fit. Imagine how different the bench would look with 23-year-old Nick Evans instead of Sheffield. Or even 29-year-old Cory Sullivan or maybe 32-year-old Bobby Kielty, both now at Triple A Buffalo.

Younger is not necessarily better. Last year, Minaya hit big with Fernando Tatis. But the Mets also scored by promoting Daniel Murphy and giving him a chance to play.

The Mets' bench should not consist mostly of players as likely to end up on the DL as they are to make a significant contribution.

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