Mets fans don’t have too much to get excited about lately, so when something good happens, ya gotta relish in it and enjoy the moment. Yesterday’s 4-3 comeback walkoff win over the Cubs was such an occasion. But let’s not get too crazy here.
Optimistic Mets fans (and delusional ones at that) are pointing to Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ 3 run, game winning dinger as a sign that he’s “figured it out” and needs more playing time to be the significant contributor Mets brass hopes he would be. It’s not. It was a lucky home run. It’s a fluke. That’s not to say we can’t enjoy it – but to be perfectly realistic, he’s still a pretty bad baseball player and doesn’t belong anywhere near the major leagues if not for the inability of the Mets player development personnel to develop players in their organization.
Remember when Collin Cowgill hit that game winning grand slam and everyone chanted “More Cowgill”? Remember when John Buck got off to that hot start and everyone started saying “Travis d’Who”? Remember when Ruben Tejada hit .289 and no one missed Jose Reyes? Remember when Jordany Valdespin hit a few nice pinch hit homeruns and everyone wanted him to start?
It’s the same thing here. Oh, we’ll take the walk-off. And oh, we’ll be really happy about it (especially since it averted another sweep at the hands of a god-awful team) – but have no illusions that Capt. Kirk should be thought of as anywhere near the long term future of this ballclub.
There’s only really three signs that a bad hitting baseball player is “fixed” and it’s less likely to ever happen than Lindsey Lohan leaving rehab sober because it’s so hard to teach. You know a player is a real major league hitter when:
- He can go at least 15 consecutive at-bats without a strikeout
- He hits the ball hard consistently, even if the at-bat results in an out
- He can recognize good hitting counts and consistently hits the pitches he’s supposed to hit. Nothing is more indicative of a bad hitter than constantly swinging through 2-1, 2-0, 3-0, or 3-1 counts. It’s extremely frustrating to a hitting instructor – and it would be even more frustrating if the Mets actually had one!
And that’s it. It’s called “hitting fundamentals” and for whatever reason, NO ONE on this team has them. That’s why it’s so hard for the Mets to score runs or sustain any “rallies” when the runs a) don’t come from a homerun and b) aren’t driven in by outs such as sacrifice flies or ground-ball double-plays. We can’t say Nieuwenhuis is ready until he can do the above three tasks – and I don’t see it ever happening with this guy.
Do we want Nieuwenhuis to all of a sudden “find it” and become the next Ichiro? Of course. Is it going to happen just because of yesterday’s theatrics? Of course not. Nieuwenhuis is playing solely because the Mets choice of outfielders is so horrendously bad. As Rodney Dangerfield once said: “If you want to look slim, hang out with fat people!”