The Pitfalls of Playing in a Pitcher's Park Near Poughkeepsie
The New York Mets now have at least $29 million invested in 2003 in the top four spots of their rotation after re-signing Steve Trachsel to a two-year, $8 M contract. That's pretty hefty for a number three starter in these parts. But a team may as well play to its strengths, and the Mets can't hit a lick. Besides Trachsel has pitched well over the last season and one half and he is the lowest paid member of the staff.
What seems odd is that Edgardo Alfonzo is being so easily jettisoned by the Mets. I understand that his salary demands may be out of their ballpark, but the aspersion-casting is getting a bit silly. The AP had this to say about the erstwhile Fonzie:
Alfonzo's production dropped off dramatically the past two seasons after two strong years in which the Mets reached the postseason in each.
Is that true? Alfonzo was second among all major-league third baseman in On-Base Plus Slugging, behind Scott Rolen but before Rookie of the Year Eric Hinske and Oakland Superstar Eric Chavez (as a third sacker). He also led all third baseman in on-base percentage and batting average. What works against Alfonzo are the two big seasons he had in 1999 and 2000 and the relatively low home run and RBI he has had since. His 2001 season was sub-par and when his 2002 statistics resembled 2001 more than his glory years, people wrote him off.
Well, Alfonzo had a very good year in 2002. He just played in a pitcher's park on a poor offensive team in a year in which production came down to earth somewhat. If you adjust his OPS for the era and the park in which he played his 2002 season was superior to his breakthrough 1999 season (130 adjusted OPS to 127) even though he had almost half as many RBI in the former. That is more an indictment of the Mets offense than anything else.
Anyway, Alfonzo is only 28. He will move on to another team. The A's like him so much that they are willing to sign him with a star third baseman in Chavez. I expect a big year from him, one that will be heralded as a comeback. But trust me, he never left in 2002.