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 outfielder Endy Chavez.
2007: .287 avg, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 20 runs, .325 OBP in 71 games
Quite possibly the worst thing to happen to the Mets last year was the injury to Endy Chavez. Or, rather, the biggest contribution to the worst thing to happen to the Mets last year (missing the playoffs) was the injury to Endy Chavez.
Chavez suffered a left hamstring injury early last year, resulting in him playing in just 9 games in June, July, and August, and overall, in less games than Moises Alou. For the Mets to have as much success as they hope to have in 2008, Chavez needs to appear in more games than Alou, and he needs to stay healthy.
The chances of that looked like they took a hit in December, when Chavez had to have an MRI after a slide into home during winter ball resulted in an ankle injury and an injury to his right hamstring. Luckily, Chavez reported to spring training in good shape, and that injury isn't expected to be a problem.
Chavez is the entire package - for a guy whose role is to fill in. He's fast, so he serves as a pinch-runner. He's an excellent defender (and suffers the most of any of the Mets for the 2006 playoffs loss - his catch in Game 7 of the NLCS was outstanding, and was recognized as such, but it has been de-valued by the Mets going on to lose that game). He's a good hitter...and an excellent bunter. And he's comfortable with his role.
Chavez doesn't complain about not being a starter, and he knows that his chances will come, with Moises Alou aging in left, Carlos Beltran needing rest every so often in center, and Ryan Church a big question mark in right. Come playoff time (fingers crossed), Chavez's role becomes even more pronounced, as we saw in 2006. He's a late-innings defensive replacement, but when that role puts him in a position to hit, the Mets don't suffer.
Chavez's patience might be put to the test if the Mets' outfielders stay healthy . Will he start asking for more playing time if Moises Alou doesn't suffer a long-term injury? (That's probably a bad example, since Chavez will get plenty of fill-in time for Alou to rest.) Hopefully, though, playing time for Chavez won't be an issue until 2009, when Alou's contract is up, and the left field job is expected to be inherited by phenom Fernando Martinez (who could make an appearance there this year, at age 19). But that's well over a year away. Hopefully, in Chavez's stat line, that's still about 130 games away, plus another 15 or so in October.