A preview of the 2008 Mets, presented in the expected batting order, followed by pitching rotation, followed by impact bullpen/bench players. Today we focus on first baseman Carlos Delgado.
2007: .258 avg, 24 HR, 87 RBI, 71 runs, .333 OBP, .448 SLG
A year ago, it was second base that was looking like the Mets' big weakness, and I predicted that Jose Valentin, though he was the starting second baseman at the start of the season, wouldn't end the season the same way. This year, I'm making that same prediction for the Mets' first base situation.
I don't know who might unseat Carlos Delgado, but unless he plays better than he did last year, the Mets will need to find an alternative.
There's one potential saving grace here - Delgado is in the last year of his current contract. There is an option for a fourth year, which would be next year, or a buyout. Perhaps the fourth year will be an incentive that will cause Delgado to produce Carlos Delgado-type numbers (read: about 10 more homers and 20 more RBI than what he gave the Mets last year). And if not, because it's the last year of the contract, the Mets might turn elsewhere sooner than they would have otherwise.
There's one other piece to Delgado's poor season last year. I wonder how much the steroid rumors got to him (and whether or not there is some sort of legitimacy to them....but I'm not going to go there). You look at everything Roger Clemens is going through, and what are the first years the allegations against him come around? His Toronto years, when the numbers of his teammate Delgado also spiked. There were all sorts of reports last year about how slimmed-down Delgado looked, and his numbers certainly took a nosedive in 2007....but could that just have been because he knew of things in Toronto, and didn't speak up? Or because he was involved in them, and was afraid he'd get dragged into the report? Either way, that's now free and clear, and maybe he'll play 2008 with a clear mind.
So there's a couple of ways to go with Carlos Delgado. He could continue this slump that lasted most of last season, and continue to look like his career is coming to a quiet end. Or he could have one last hurrah in a contract year. Or he could bounce back from a slumpy season with a season more indicative of the type of player he has been throughout his career. If it's option one, I think the Mets won't waste their time going with some other option at first base. If it's either of the last two, it will be nice to have a version of Carlos Delgado with the Mets closer to the more productive 2006 version than the disappointing 2007 one.