I decided to spend the five minute drive to work this morning checking in with the Mets' Nation. I tuned the radio dial to one of the many local sports talk shows, and waited for a Mets fan to call in...It didn't take long...
"I think the Mets need...NEEED...(ed. note - 'They' all talk like they have their own talk show now.)...to OVERwhelm Minnesota," the caller says, "I mean I am a die-hard Mets fan...and...my blood still boils after September." (ed. note-"Which should almost be in quotes, the caller says it with such sad remembrance.")..."But whatever it takes," the caller continues, "Milledge, Humber, Pelfrey...and thank God! they got rid of Mota...but you gotta overwhelm Minnesota."
The radio host had a measured response to the effect of, "You have to see how Minnesota values the Mets prospects, it's not how good Mets fans think they are." The host then continues to say that New York would probably have to part with both Pelfrey and Humber and either Milledge or Carlos Gomez.
When I arrive at work, I approach the one Mets fan I know and lie to him. "Rumor is the Mets offered Pelfrey, Humber, and Milledge to Minnesota for Johan Santana."
"I would definitely make that deal," the Mets fan says. "You're talking, realistically, about two back-end, of the rotation, fourth or fifth starters...Pelfrey's got a good fastball...but what was it you called it...last year?"
"I think I said 'laser-straight', or something similiar," I respond.
"Exactly...after a few innings, major-leaguers can catch up to it," the Mets fan continues, "Pelfrey's fastball is kinda straight, and Humber will be an innings-eater who has to get five or six runs from the Mets to win his starts...for Humber or Pelfrey they probably will need four to five runs a night. And Milledge you said?"
"Milledge or Gomez," I contin-
"What do you mean OR?" the Mets fan catches on, "Did they make an offer or not?"
"No," I admit.
"Nice. But seriously," the Mets fan says, "Well...Gomez has already passed Milledge...but Gomez and Milledge are both basically bench players right now, or sharing right...with Alou(Moises) in left and Beltran(Carlos) in center...if you trade one the other plays right, I'd do that for sure, for Johan Santana? Definitely," the Mets fan concludes.
And this exchange gets me thinking...Four of the five teams in the NL East don't have starting center fielder right now? The Mets have Carlos Beltran....
...But Andruw Jones left Atlanta. The Braves just acquired outfielder Josh Anderson from the Houston Astros in exchange for pitcher Oscar Villareal. Anderson has hit .290 in 5 Minor League seasons since being drafted in the 4th Round of the 2003 Draft, and in 21 games and 67 at bats with the Astros last season, the twenty-four year old hit .358, with 24 hits, 3 doubles, and 11 RBI's.
I check in with my brother, Scout, Braves fan and Source for All Things Baseball and offer the premise to get a Braves fans' reaction, "Only one team in the NL East has a clear-cut center fielder with the exception of NY, what are the Braves going to do?"
"I don't think they're going to 'do' anything," Scout says, "I think Willie Harris starts in center field, Jeff Francouer in right and Matt Diaz in left."
The Braves depth chart at atlanta.braves.mlb.com, which says it was updated 11/24/07 and if it's a reliable representation, it has Josh Anderson listed atop Harris in the center field grass.
In Philadelphia, the Phillies are going to have to replace the most-likely-departing Aaron Rowand. The Phils have Shane Victorino in center on the Depth chart at philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com, with Pat Burrell in left and Jayson Werth in right.
Victorino will be twenty-seven when the '08 season starts, and the fourth-year pro had career bests in HR's with 12 and doubles with 23, and tied his RBI high of 46 in a season last year. Werth's a career .259 hitter in 5 seasons, though he did hit .289 in 94 games last year, and Burrell averages 30 and 100 each season, but I don't know if I'd want to try to compete in the NL East with that outfield Philadelphia?...The Phillies did acquire Chris Snelling?...
In Florida...the Marlins started with Alejandro De Aza last season, and Reggie Abercrombie and Cody Ross, and Brett Carroll and Alfredo Amezaga. Maybe the Marlins acquire a center fielder when they trade Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera? Who owns the Marlins again? Who knows? I do like Willingham though...
So the Washington Nationals aren't the only team in the NL East that doesn't have their starting lineup figured out, which means the closed-door meeting the GM's have at an open-bar somewhere in Nashville, Tennessee on December 3rd could see the Hot Stove heat up significantly...