Monday, October 20, 2008

Ryan Church: Behind The Blow

Well, another red letter season has come do an end (and that red letter is F ... I'll let you figure out what that stands for.) And believe it or not, I still have s**t to say. The following is random stuff I'm posting in the comments section about a person or persons of my choosing. These are your New York Mets: Behind the Blow.

Here's what's funny about these Behind The Blow entries: There aren't that many left. There are a few blank entries left to feature certain guys with pretty pictures and titles, but were sitting in my draft box otherwise empty ... lonely ... and sad.

One of those entries was this one, Ryan Church.

As I'm eternally trying to get a handle on what to say about Church, I get a comment from James Allen, a frequent commenter. But it's not really a comment, he wrote a whole Behind the Blow for Church! This is how you know you've made it in the blogging world: People want to do your work for you. It's like when elves come in the middle of the night and lay out your Christmas presents, eat your cookies (they only tell you they give them to Santa), and wax your floor (so you'd slip in the morning ... I've learned that elves have a strange sense of humor.)

Or maybe the commenters are trying a hostile takeover because they're tired of my heavy-handed rule and this is the first step in softening me up. Yeah, that's probably it. (I knew I should have offered free biscuits to the readers.) In any event, I give you James Allen's Behind the Blow ... Ryan Church:

"The saga of Ryan Church in 2008 has to be one of the greatest roller coaster rides in baseball (if you only count the initial drop of the coaster.) From decent corner outfield picked up in the somewhat controversial Lastings Milledge trade, to the hitting juggernaut early in the season, to a horribly handled concussion case (his second in 3 months), to his general uselessness at the plate late in the season, the words "what if?" apply to Church more than any other Met. I mean, what if Yunel Escobar's knee didn't get hit with Church's skull on May 21, 2008? After that date, the Mets corner outfield production basically was in limbo while numerous guys were trotted (no pun intended) out there until Tatis and Murphy (two infielders) pretty much asserted themselves at the head of the pack. Similarly, the 2-hole was given back to guys like... well, you know.

I think the Mets didn't get enough criticism in the handling of Church. Sure, they got some from some quarters, but it wasn't nearly as sustained as it could have been. Someone in the NY Post put it best, the Mets cared more about Moises Alou's knee (and any other injury for that matter) than Ryan Church's brain, making him fly to Colorado shortly after the injury so Ryan could have headaches at high altitude.
(Editor's note: Mets brass probably doesn't know any better in this regard, thinking "Well we work without brains just fine ... why can't Ryan Church? After all, you don't need a brain to play baseball." All right James, continue) This obviously stemmed from some sort of desperation on the Mets part, as the rash of injuries early (to Alou and Pagan specifically) made Mets management think they could roll the dice with a head injury. It was stupid and careless and Omar and whatever silly medical staff the Mets employ should be held accountable. If the Mets doctors were from a hospital and Church was just a patient, they'd still be being sued as we speak.

When he finally did come back he wasn't his old self, putting up a second half .612 OBP in the second half (to go with the .882 OBP for the first half), looking particular dreadful the last month of the season. Is he shot? Hard to tell. Even with his dropoff at the end, his overall numbers were at his career norm, so maybe he can go into 2009 blackout free and contribute at least at those levels, but, to be blunt and somewhat cold, the Mets seriously have to look at improving their corner outfield and take into account that Church may not come back at 100%. As an added bonus, he's going to be compared to Milledge, who started to come alive in the second half, more and more. Will he end up being the unfortunate casualty of what may turn out to be another bad trade on the Mets part? (Schneider sure ain't going make up any difference.) We shall see. As it is, I'm pulling for the guy, and hope he can avoid getting his bell rung again."

Take a bow James. Here's my epilogue:

A good point was brought up when James mentioned how Church's numbers turned out to be right in line with his career averages. The way the numbers got there, with a hot streak in the beginning, the long layoff with the concussion, and the horrid slump at the end bring up the question of just how much did the concussion hurt him this season. Was Church putrid at the end of the season because of the long layoff? Or was he still feeling the lingering effects of his second concussion of the year (first one being in March against the Dodgers in Spring Training)? Or was it just the law of averages catching up with Church?

As much as I think Church is nowhere near the hitter he was at the beginning of the season and that his numbers were bound to regress to the mean in a healthy season, I can't help but think Church's numbers were affected by the concussions, and the way the Mets handled it ("Hey, let's put a dizzy guy on a cross country flight, it'll be fun ... hey, what's that we said about doing this without brains?") So a real determination of Church's future in New York can't be reached until after the 2009 season.

With that in mind, if you're not sure that you can depend on Church to carry the production of both corner outfielders, then trading a bad contract (cough Castillo cough) for a guy like Juan Pierre may not solve anything. Trading that contract for a guy like Jose Guillen might to the trick. And hey, you want a guy to make things interesting in the clubhouse? Guillen can do that. Heck, Guillen is the kinda guy who will light somebody's pants on fire and walk away ... and unless those pants are your pants, then what's the harm in that? Chemistry changed. And here's what else Jose Guillen can do: hit a home run once in a while, which would be more helpful than Juan Pierre.

And if he gets out of line? Snoop Manuel won't just bench him ... he'll kill him. Problem solved.


James Allen said...

Wow. When I saw "Ryan Church: Behind the Blow" I though it was us having the same timing. Glad you could use it in the main entry.

The more and more I think about it, the more I think Castillo is going nowhere. I mean, Guillen? A "malcontent"? Isn't that how we got here in the first place (i.e. they wanted to get rid of Milledge because of his "attitude"?) The Mets seem to have a problem with guys like this, which is probably why the face of the team is David Wright, who is a good kid and all, but has all the personality of a slice of stale toast (and doesn't have the smooth boringness of Derek Jeter). And also why Reyes gets way way too much shit about his dancing. Face it, this team doesn't want a leader, a spark plug, a crazy dude, etc. (The closest thing they had to a "crazy dude" was Pedro, who's been on the downside for the better part of three years.)

They want boy scouts, they want good soldiers, they wa--- [snoring].

Ha- wha? Sorry, I zoned out there. So, when the free agents start declaring next week, I will look for the Mets to sign the most boring guys available (being former Expos players/farmhands is an added plus.)

And please don't misunderstand where I'm going here. I don't mind boring guys if they can play, but they can't be afraid of having a little personality if they are going to move away from two straight... you know. If they are bent on keeping "the core" they need to add a someone who not only can play, but can shake them up from time to time. A Zeppo, if you will. (No that's a lousy analogy, um... a Ringo? Nah... A Cartman? Oh, screw it, I think you get my meaning.)

James Allen said...

And oh yeah, I look forward to Scott Kazmir and company (including other old friends like Cliff Floyd and Chad Bradford) getting a World Series ring. Of course, if the Rays didn't cough up game 5, the good game he pitched (as well as the general beat down the Rays were giving the Sox up to that point) would've resonated a little more, but hey, it don't matter how you get there, just that you do. And the bat is still sitting on Beltran's shoulder. Sigh. (Sorry, I don't know why I just went there. Couldn't help it, I guess.)

schneck said...

I want a biscuit.

Unser said...

Great points by both of you. Anyone remember his first game back after the second concussion - the one where he hit a home run and looked so out-of-it that he might have trotted through the first base bag and out into the Mets' bullpen? What if, even after both concussions, Church sat out an entire month and then returned?

Bad job by the Mets, and not just because they lost this year. Anyone see what happened to the poor Montclair High School hockey player last week after he suffered a concussion and kept playing? Tragic.

I would give him the RF job next year. He deserves it. Tatis is there if Church proves he can't hit lefties.

Go Rays . . . please.

The Metmaster said...

Is there anything to the rumors reported by Mike The Fatman on WFAN that Church hated playing in New York this year? Could that have had something to do with his dropoff in numbers?

fyi: the Montclair kid was a football player. Same deal as Church with the medical staff. The staff rushed him back too soon, the kid made a tackle, and now he's dead. Concussions are serious stuff.

Ed Ryan said...

I'm honored by the mention...

Church had a hip flexor in Sept. he played through that he didn't want mentioned....

James Allen said...


I realized I made a couple little mistakes in my post. This is what I get when I don't go through my writing more than once for a comment. Or I'm too busy eating my breakfast while typing.

Church's second concusion was on May 20 (the night half of a doubleheader sweep in Atlanta, yay!), not May 21 (also a loss, by the way, but more run of the mill).

Also, I made a reference to Church's "OBP" when I meant "OPS". Given the numbers involved, I'm sure that mistake was easy to figure out.

Finally, I'd like to mention that as a sort of cherry-on-top capper to a bad finish, Church had the ignominious distinction of making the last out in the history of Shea Stadium, an out that obviously eliminated them from the post season. Not a knock on Ryan of course, merely the (bad) luck of the draw, but a somber way for his a mostly lost season to end nonetheless.

Metstradamus said...


I just plunked down $4,000,000 for a season ticket to the Jets on the 50-yard line. Not in the stands ... ON THE FIFTY YARD LINE. In fact, I'm their offensive coordinator next week.

So I have nothing left for biscuits.

Charity said...

okay so that wasn't as BAD as I thought it could be. I still love me some Ryan Church and I will continue to wear the number 19 proudly next season!