By Ernie Palladino
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Sandy Alderson would probably trade places with Brian Cashman in a minute.
Cashman’s biggest worries right now are the condition of Phil Hughes’ back, Mark Teixeira’s and Curtis Granderson’s forearms, and his own busted leg and dislocated ankle, suffered Monday after he jumped out of a perfectly good airplane — for the second time, no less — to create awareness for the Wounded Warriors project.
The best part about Cashman’s position is that he doesn’t have to hit or play the field. He gets all his work done over the phone, sitting in an office chair. As far as anyone knows, the cell service remained intact, even if his right fibula and ankle didn’t.
Alderson, on the other hand, has plenty pain of his own, even if it’s not the physical type. He’s got a starting pitcher in Johan Santana who he’s not really delighted with right now. He’s got zip for an outfield. The Mets’ only star, David Wright, is off playing with the WBC. And his organization is trying desperately to sell tickets to another season of potential irrelevance.
Yeah, a great big tetanus shot in exchange for a solution or two probably looks like a good trade to Alderson right now.
Would you blame him? The Santana issue is turning into a real mess, with Alderson basically accusing his soon to be 33-year-old ace of lazing around too much over the winter. He hasn’t exhibited great arm speed, hasn’t pitched in a spring training game, and as of now stands as a long shot to open up the season.
Alderson’s position is that Santana didn’t do enough throwing over the winter to rebound from the back and shoulder fatigue that shut him down over the final six weeks of 2012.
Maybe Alderson’s right. Maybe not. Either way, ticking off a come-backing 14-year veteran probably wasn’t the best move he’s ever made, especially since Terry Collins backed Santana in a Monday morning conversation.
As disturbing as the Santana situation is, let’s face it, it’s one start every five days. The bigger problem lies in what’s behind the infield.
Last year’s rising star, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, has a bone bruise. It would be nice if promising Mike Baxter comes back from the right collarbone displacement that cost him most of last season to become a productive hitter. Even nicer if Lucas Duda turns into a consistent power hitter.
Those are all questions, however, and the presence of Matt Den Dekker, Marlon Byrd, and Collin Cowgill won’t make Collins or Alderson sleep any better at night. Nor should those names create unbridled optimism among the few willing to shell out full price for Citi Field tickets this year.
If anything, it’s as confusing a situation as any in the majors, a conglomeration of mediocrity unmatched by most any professional franchise. Collins is so underwhelmed by that group that he said he has no idea who will comprise his starting outfield.
Basically, what the Mets are looking at now is an outfield by committee, and not a particularly great committee at that.
The Yanks will eventually get Hughes working, whether it’s the first or second week of the season. The fact that Teixeira’s bruised forearm will take him completely out of the World Baseball Classic will probably turn out to be a blessing, as he’ll once again come under the direct eyes of the Yankees’ medical staff. Granderson’s arm will heal.
Cashman? He’ll hobble around. General managers don’t need legs.
Compared to the long-term and potentially expensive troubles Alderson is looking at, the Yankees’ problems seem almost enviable.
Which team is in worse shape? Yankees fans, Mets fans — let’s hear you in the comments…