A convenient excuse to pile on Alex Cora

So I spent some time on Omar Minaya’s conference call with reporters earlier this afternoon, and found out that Jose Reyes will be home “watching movies with his family” for the next 2-8 weeks and cannot elevate his heart-rate or perform any baseball activities until his thyroid levels stabilize.

That’s bad. Not downright terrible, I suppose, given how strange the whole vague thyroid news was, especially since Reyes’ agent Peter Greenberg stressed that the condition will be treated without medication and that doctors are certain everything will stabilize soon enough.

But it’s bad because a 2-8 week setback means Reyes will very likely miss Opening day. And the problem is compounded by the fact that, instead of having one of the best shortstops in the Majors hitting third and prowling the middle of their infield, the Mets will most likely have Alex Cora there.

Maybe they could weather Alex Cora’s weak hitting if he could save them some runs on the field. Or maybe he could make up for all those extra grounders he lets roll by if he knocked a few balls out of the park.

None of those things is likely to happen, though. Instead, Cora will just go on being the league’s most overpaid and overplayed replacement player.

But hey, great guy.

The other option — and one Minaya alluded to on the call — would be to call up young Ruben Tejada to fill in at shortstop until Reyes is ready.

Tejada’s only 20 and he’s not a hugely regarded prospect, but he held his own in Double-A last year (especially considering his age), posting a .289/.351/.381 line and by most accounts exhibiting decent range in the infield.

The young Panamanian would complete the Seven-Nation Army situation I speculated about a couple of weeks ago, but I fear he wouldn’t hit very much at all. As decent as he was in Double-A last year, and even accounting for some improvement as he ages, Tejada’s only a year removed from a brutal .229/.293/.296 line in High A ball in 2008.

CHONE projects a .291 on-base percentage and a .316 slugging for Tejada in 2010 and a .318 OBP and .338 SLG for Cora.

Is Tejada better enough than Cora on defense to make up for the difference offensively? I don’t know. I can say that after seeing a couple of Spring Training innings with Cora and Luis Castillo in the middle infield, I’d rather see just about anyone else out there when Citi Field opens in April, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Mike Pelfrey feels the same way.

It’s a bit more complex than that, of course. Tejada would have to be added to the 40-man roster, and though the Mets have an open slot now that Jay Marshall’s been sent back to Oakland, they may have been hoping to use it for someone like Hisanori Takahashi or, ugh, Jenrry Mejia. And I’m sure there are plenty of other mechanics at play that I’m not even considering.

Of course, none of that would matter if the Mets had signed a backup shortstop who could adequately back up shortstop. Certainly, no one could have predicted Reyes would miss time with a thyroid condition, but predicting Reyes to miss time didn’t exactly require a great soothsayer after the way his 2009 went down. And the Mets signed only Alex Cora to back him up.

But hey, great guy.

18 thoughts on “A convenient excuse to pile on Alex Cora

  1. Maybe Russ Adams can sneak in there and pick up the open roster spot? I’d rather see him up there than Cora or Anderfail Failnandez.

    • That’s an incredible nickname, and I didn’t really consider either him or Adams in the above post, I guess because Minaya didn’t mention them on the call. Hernandez, to the eye, looked pretty bad at short last year, plus he can’t hit either.

      Adams might be a tiny bit better than Cora with the bat, but according to the stats, he’s been an awful fielder at shortstop in his career. It’s not a huge sample and I haven’t seen him much, but I can’t say I trust the Mets to scoop up good-fielding infielders for their Triple-A club.

  2. The team pays a below-league-average salary to a below-league-average player in Cora. How is that such a big scandal?

    Cora’s raise was more than justified. Not for Cora, but for the rest of the roster. Cora stepped in and played hurt, and was quite properly rewarded for that. They drop him, and this year no one will want to put in any extra effort. If they’re hurt, go on the DL so they don’t risk getting more hurt.

    It looks like you’d much rather prefer a team’s players to just phone it in instead of playing hard. Cora’s signing is first-class human resources management, which always pays off in the long run.

    • By that logic, Albert Pujols would be fairly compensated at $3.5 million. Above-average player, above-average salary.

      For one, when vastly superior players to Cora (like Felipe Lopez) are signing for 1.75 million, Cora’s contract is ridiculous. When it includes a completely gratuitous vesting option, it’s even worse. And when it’s signed at the beginning of free agency, before the market has a chance to shake out, it approaches a scandal.

      I’m sure this is where Tom Glavine would step in and remind me that scandal isn’t the appropriate word to use here, and it should be saved for serious things like Clinton-Lewinsky or Tiger Woods, so I apologize for the hyperbole.

    • If they’re hurt, they probably should go on the DL and not risk getting more hurt. It’s great that Cora played through his injury, and they certainly needed someone to play the infield, but they were overpaying him last year too.

      I’m not sure where I said I’d like to see players “just phone it in.” I appreciate a good work ethic as much as the next guy, I just appreciate it a lot more when it’s complemented with Major League talent. Also, I’m generally willing to give Major Leaguers the benefits of the doubt because I don’t think many people reach the big leagues by phoning it in.

      Honestly, I fail to see how this one’s going to pay off in the long run. The Mets will likely have Cora as their starting shortstop on Opening Day instead of a more competent player. Do you think that, if they let Cora walk and signed Felipe Lopez or Adam Everett for less money, David Wright and Daniel Murphy and Johan Santana would just say, “Bah, you know what? I’m not gonna try this year”?

      You might, and you’re entitled to that opinion. I just happen to think otherwise.

  3. Luis Hernandez is another option, he hasn’t done much this spring, but he is a true SS and has major league experience.

    The Mets can’t give Cora 80 starts and have his option vest for next season!

    I would love the Mets give Bowman a few spring starts at SS.

    • Hernandez keeps booting balls, though. I don’t think it’s a fair way to judge him, but it’s killin’ me.

      I was thinking the same thing about Bowman. I don’t think it’ll ever happen, but he looks so good at third. He’d be pretty huge for a shortstop, though — he’s Cal Ripken’s height with a few pounds on him.

  4. And Bowman is on the 40-man roster. But a switch to ss during your first ML camp, without having ever played AAA ball, is a lot to ask for.

  5. What about Reese Havens? He had a good AFL and although not called into the ST with the big boys he’s still predicted to be ready by fall for prime time.

  6. Havens is not in the mlb camp, and not ready defensively to be a mlb ss. Nor is he on the 40-man roster. I think the Mets have already started transitioning him to second.

    This really sucks. But we could still catch a break with Reyes. This was a good diagnosis because he does not have any chronic condition or disease which will require any surgical intervention or life-long treatment. Its quite plausible that his thyroid levels will decrease and stabilize in a week, but there’s just no way of knowing for certain and hence the vague prognosis of 2-8 weeks. Gotta keep those fingers cross, and hope Pelf doesn’t go off the deep end watching all those groundball basehits get “past a diving” Cora and Castillo. Pelf should be humming that song, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you…”

  7. My son’s teacher always talks about cantalanto or however his name is spelled, because he’s from this part of long island. I have to stop wearing so much mets crap.

  8. How soon after opening day will Pelfrey go on the DL with a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head after getting fed up with his infield D?

  9. I imagine someone has already brought this up but the worst part of this situation is probably that if Cora breaks camp as their starting ss until Reyes comes back there’s a decent chance his option will end up vesting. I almost feel like no matter how bad the other options are, and I imagine it’d be hard for them to be worse than Cora no matter how bad they were, it’s worth playing them over him just to prevent the option from vesting.

    • Agreed. But Jerry and Omar might not appreciate that it would be bad for the team for his option to vest. They have ostensibly deluded themselves into believing that he is a valuable bench player.

      I’m stilling willing to bet Jose is back in a couple of weeks, and all these concerns will be rendered moot.

  10. I am not a person who is easily satisfied but I have to say your piece blew me away. So much thought and relevant detaisl that you put into it made me see your position. Thanks for contributing your rational inputs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s