Can Mets Win While Cutting Corners?

Much has been made of the fact that the Mets don't want to meet Pedro Martinez's contract demands to settle their messy fifth starter situation once and for all. Is it because they think Pedro's done, truly too expensive or has Omar Minaya been cut off while the Mets deal with their Madoff losses and gird themselves for an uncertain summer of revenue?

At the end of the day, though, it probably won't be a choice that determines their ultimate success or failure. Every team, nearly every team anyway, has questions at the back of their rotation and the fifth starter is rarely the tipping point of a season. Left and right field, on the other hand, are two spots that can make you sink or swim.

At The Hardball Times, John Walsh takes a look at the Mets choice to go with Daniel Murphy and Ryan Church at those two spots, with Fernando Tatis figuring in somewhere. He takes issue with Jerry Manuel's assertion that Murphy is the better hitter against lefties, but generally seems underwhelmed with the idea that these two guys will hit enough to carry two spots that are usually vital to a team's offense.

There's reason to like each player. Murphy's 151 plate appearances in 2008 were full of offensive goodness, and Church was doing great until a concussion ruined his season. There are also red flags, though. Murphy wasn't particularly impressive against lefties in the minors and had just 13 plate appearances against them last summer. He'll need to prove that he can handle lefties, while simultaneously adjusting to a National League that's now familiar with his game.

Church, on the other hand, has played more than 100 games just twice in his career. He can hit, there's no doubt about that, but is he going to be able to hold down the job without having too many at-bats pawned off on lesser players? Tatis had a good 2008, but it had been almost a decade since he'd been a productive major leaguer before that.

The Mets seem quite content with the guys they have, but it would have been nice to see the Mets make a little more of an attempt to address the depth in the corners. A righty bat of surer production than Tatis to swing between left and right would have been a strong addition, although it may have cost them a bit more than they were willing to spend. Cutting corners can get where you need to go quickly, but it can also come back to cost you in the end.  

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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