Saturday, August 19, 2006


The case against Shawn Green

I have nothing against Shawn Green. My "case" is that the Mets should not acquire him. I hope their rumored interest is bogus and that Omar Minaya is too smart for that.

Clearly manager Willie Randolph is. He's told reporters about the outfield "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." I read that as code for "Shawn Green isn't going to provide more offensive production than we're already going to get from the revolving combination of Michael Tucker, Endy Chavez and Lastings Milledge."

Green is pushing 34 years old, and is on a dramatic decline in his offensive production. A former power hitter, he's on pace to hit 3 or 4 more home runs this year for a total of 13 or 14. Yet he's earning something like 11 million dollars this year, and is owed $9.5 million next year and something comparable in 2008, though he can be dumped by paying a $2 million buyout.

That Green is even being considered is a result of the distorted picture of player performance created by steroids. Would any general manager, before the improbable careers of Mcgwire, Palmiero, and Bonds, have been dumb enough to suppose that a 33 1/2 year-old slugger with 28, 22 and 10 home runs in the past 2 and 2/3 seasons is going to bounce back and hit 25+ homers? Well, yes, but only the dumbest ones.

Shea Stadium -- a pitcher's park with nastily demanding fans and the infamous New York media crush -- is really not the place for overaged, declining hitters like Green to regain their former glory. It's where they come to die.

The Mets have a long, sorry history of signing sluggers over the age of 32 who joined the team, performed disappointingly and just took up space: Dave Kingman, George Foster, Mo Vaughn, to name the most recent.

And we've already got Carlos Delgado. Delgado has helped the team tremendously, putting up great numbers for the first half a season and contributing to the great clubhouse chemistry. He's a charming, intelligent man who gives the impression of a wise soul. So I really hate to say that he has probably become a drain in the cleanup spot. He's no longer producing, but they have to keep batting him fourth for reasons of personality and clubhouse diplomacy.

The only incentive to get Green is to help the team out of a jam for less than half a season and the post season -- assuming Cliff Floyd can't return. But Green really won't help more than the Chavez-Tucker-Milledge trio this season, and his big salary for next year will put undue pressure on Randolph to give him playing time, and stand in the way of acquiring an outfielder who's better.

And Green is a pretty mediocre right fielder, too.
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