Final Destination? Fate – with assist from WBC — has it in for the Mets

(Clockwise from top right) Delgado, Maine, Perez, Wright, Putz, Niese, Beltran and Reyes have all fallen victim to various maladies

Never have I seen a team as cursed as this year’s Mets. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve brought it on themselves in certain ways, and GM Omar Minaya’s press conference where he called out a reporter will go down as one of the most notorious moments in New York sports history.

But it’s simply incredible to see a team completely decimated this way by injuries. It’s sad to see during the first season at a new stadium. They’re resembling the early-90’s version of this team in terms of the product they put on the field, but those teams weren’t ravaged by injuries as much as what we see here.

It’s almost like the movie Final Destination, where some sort of bad karma is picking off the Mets one by one. I’m not quite sure what they did to deserve this – Minaya’s conference came after the majority of these injuries – but God help me if I ever do the same.

To recap the grim details, here are the various appendages that have malfunctioned:

  • John Maine’s right shoulder – Not a surprise here after offseason shoulder surgery and a hitch in his windup that results in, well, this.
  • Oliver Perez’s right knee – I guess there really was some problem here; when it cropped up, it seemed like it was just an excuse to exile him to the Minors. Of course, the real issue here is his 10-cent head, not to mention his 55 walks in 60 innings. At least he’s back now.
  • Carlos Delgado’s right hip – Right before he was shut down, Delgado scored from first base against the Phillies. How bad could he have been, right? It turns out he had the
    A-Rod injury. Now that he’s near a return, Delgado strains an oblique. Instead of bad luck, I think the real issue here is that he’s older than dirt. 
  • Jose Reyes’ entire right leg – Reyes gets a pass from me, Not a great movie -- even worse when it happens to your baseball teambased on my own experiences. When your calf goes, it’s easy for your body to overcompensate and injure other stuff, as I’ve discovered over the past few months. That said, Reyes is a weird, flaky dude. I’m not convinced he’s going to be a Met next season. For all his incredible natural talent, it’s still undetermined whether Reyes actually wants to be a great baseball player, much less a suitable teammate.
  • J.J. Putz’s right elbow – Perhaps one of the most disappointing injuries in terms of how intriguing the trade for Putz was. Combining Putz and Francisco Rodriguez at the back end of a game was supposed to lock it down after the seventh. But like Maine, this is not a surprise: Putz has had elbow issues in the past.
  • Carlos Beltran’s right knee – A bone bruise is a bone-on-bone situation due to a loss of cartilage. What they should have done is have the microfracture surgery right away and maybe have him ready for next spring. What they did instead was have him attempt to play through it, making the injury far worse. I fear that Beltran will have to have that microfracture surgery anyway at some point, except now he’d miss a decent portion of 2010, not to mention that he’d potentially never be the same.
  • Fernando Nieve’s right thigh – Nieve was a great surprise last month until his leg disintegrated during the arduous sprint to first base.
  • Fernando Martinez’s right knee – Inflammation downed the Mets’ best position player prospect – and trade chip. He didn’t hit in the Majors, and now he’s getting a rap for being injury-prone, which may be deserved.
  • Luis Castillo’s left ankle – It didn’t keep him out long, but the fact remains that he injured himself falling down the dugout steps. Unreal.
  • Jonathon Niese’s right hamstring – Another big disappointment. The kid rebounded from a tough start and was leaning heavily on a solid curveball before doing a split while covering first and tearing his hamstring off the bone. Watching him develop would haveA scary sight -- Also, note Gary Sheffield playing the role of Eddie Murray on this team, except he actually seems to care about his teammates been one of the few compelling reasons to watch the Mets down the stretch.

Even Mets cult hero Endy Chavez suffered a season-ending injury, though he was playing for Seattle.

    And now today, David Wright gets nailed in the head by a Matt Cain fastball, landing him in the hospital with a concussion. He was the last man standing, and you had to figure he was a  marked man. He even saw it coming. Two days ago, Wright said this about the potential to use more effective batting helmets:

    "I’m not worried about style or looking good out there. I’m worried about keeping my melon protected.

    Are you kidding me?

    I’ve never seen a team torn to shreds by injuries quite like this. Consider that if you include Wright, the Mets’ four best players, setup man, No. 3 and 4 starters, and most promising rookie pitcher and position player – plus Nieve and journeyman Ramon Martinez – have all been significantly injured. Remarkable.
    That said, the Mets built a team around four core players, plus Johan Santana. If even one got injured, it would create major problems. And now all four of them have. Meanwhile, Delgado was no spring The Mets' WBC contingentchicken, Beltran had knee issues as recently as two years ago and Reyes had a tendency early in his career to have leg injuries that stick around forever.
    In addition, the World Baseball Classic did a number on the roster. Delgado, Beltran, Wright, Perez and Putz all played. That’s over a fifth of the Mets’ roster that didn’t get to properly ramp up to the season, and is now on the shelf. I don’t think it’s a coincidence in the least. (Though you can’t blame Wright’s injury on the WBC, you can perhaps wonder if it had at least something to do with his eight home runs.)
    Francisco Rodriguez, Alex Cora, Nelson Figueroa and Fernando Tatis were also among the Mets who played in the Classic, though none have been hurt – except Cora, but he’s not a key member of the team and is back now. That said, Tatis hasn’t been nearly as good as he was last season and Rodriguez has tailed off markedly after a fast start.
    The fact is, nobody will have sympathy on the Mets, who have the highest payroll in the Senior Circuit in an attempt to cover up a farm system that was woefully underprepared to replace injured stars, though I’m not sure any organization in baseball could have handled this.
    You have to think things will be better for the Mets next season, at least on the injury front, though every time someone stubs a toe next year, the sky will be falling all over again by extension. The whole series of events demonstrates a team that probably has to just clean house and start over to a large extent.
    But until then, the Mets have to hope that whatever cosmic forces they’ve unleashed on themselves get it all out of their system before fall turns to winter.
    I can see it now: Johan Santana’s tragic snowmobile accident…


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