17 December 2002

All Things Must Pass...

The Dream Team lost. Thankfully, it was the mediocre and inappropriately arrogant Dream Team, but hey, they lost.

Napolean was defeated. Twice.

The Beatles broke up.

Yes, George, it turns out that you were more right than you knew, all things (and people) must pass away, and all streaks must end.

In a related story, Tom Glavine and Mike Stanton are now New York Mets. These two are the only players in MLB who have played in every postseason since 1991. Glavine, of course, has been with the Braves until recently, while Stanton has been with Atlanta(1991-93), Boston (1995), Texas (1996), and the Yankees (1997-2002). But not next year. In October of 2003, I expect that Glavine and Stanton will get to experience the thrill of criticizing Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan's skills as post-season commentators, right from the get-go. Because the Mets are not going to the Promised Land.

The Mets, who continually seem to be patching old garments with new silk, have added yet another high-priced, aging free agent to their pitching staff, and are no closer to returning to the postseason for it. Stanton's been great, but he's not as dominant as he once was, and he was overused the last two seasons, and his strikeout rate was cut nearly in half last year. He'll get away with that a little more in Shea Stadium, a park that forgives flyball pitchers with relative ease, but he won't be worth $3 million next year, certainly not when he's 38.

The Mets are going to have to do some serious soul searching if they want to win next year. You'd expect a slight improvement from...well, almost everybody.

   Name     Pos  BA / OBP/ SLG ('02 OPS/Car OPS)

1) Cedeno LF .260/.318/.346 (.664/.721)
2) Alomar 2B .266/.331/.376 (.708/.824)
3) Piazza C .280/.359/.544 (.903/.964)
4) Vaughn 1B .259/.349/.456 (.850/.910)
5) Alfonzo 3B .308/.391/.459 (.851/.812)
6) Burnitz RF .215/.311/.365 (.677/.838)
7) Perez CF .295/.331/.437 (.768/.730)
8) Ordonez SS .254/.292/.324 (.616/.594)

Alomar, Burnitz, Cedeno, Vaughn and Piazza all saw dropoffs of at about 60 OPS points or more in 2002 as compared to their career numbers. Ironically, two players who actually produced slightly better numbers than their career averages, Fonzie and St. Rey, are now gone to greener (in Ordonez's case, tealer) pastures. Of those who are left, you would expect (or at least hope for) a rebound in '03, even if it's just something close to the career averages, for Alomar and Burnitz, if for no reason other than that Burnitz couldn't possibly be any worse. Cedeno and Vaughn could bounce back as well, and if Piazza drops no more, he'll still be the best hitting catcher in baseball. Highly-touted rookie Jose Reyes can't possibly do any worse than Ordonez did, but they'll have a very hard time matching Alfonzo's production at third, unless they sign 3B Norihiro Nokamura, and he doesn't suck. So whatever they make up in regression to the mean from, Alomar, Cedeno, Vaughn, Burnitz and/or Piazza, they are likely to lose in a steep dropoff from Alfonzo to his replacement at third, and the Mets are right back where they started. Unless they buy some new wineskins, or get rid of the old wine.

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