The 25-man roster has apparently been decided. Several things jump out.
1) Three catchers. DiFelice joins Lo Duca and Castro, freeing up Ramon as a potential righty pinch-hitter. I like that aspect. RC was swinging the bat very well over the weekend. Sure, it would be nice if he could bring a pinch-runner with him, but he may be the righty bat we can count on for a bit of pop. With him and Franco (hot, at last) and Woodward (who used to be good), the bench doesn’t look as bleak. DiFelice will presumably sit on his hands unless an emergency arises. And whoever heard of a backup catcher getting into a playoff game? Next thing you’ll tell me a future Hall of Famer once got hurt, was replaced by his caddy and that guy smacked a series-winning home run off Matt Mantei.
2) Eleven pitchers. That’s probably all we need. If you’re dipping into a twelfth pitcher, you’re going home anyway. Everybody in the pen is a reliever by trade. Not much chance that John Maine will be the long man, which isn’t the worst thing, considering he made only one relief appearance in the regular season. Pedro’s calf ‘n’ cuff probably paved the way for Roberto Hernandez, who was my odd man out when we our starting was more imposing. As composed, Bert is seventh on the depth chart, depending how desperate we are to use Darren Oliver. Gads, I love our pen, the two situational guys leading into our big three. C’mon starters, six innings apiece. Is that too much to ask?
3) No Dave Williams or Oliver Perez. At least not for this round. Perez could have been a secret weapon or he could have blown up in our faces. Williams never stopped intriguing me, and part of me wants to hand him the ball for Game Three over Trachsel or Maine, neither of whom I trust completely (and both of whom I distrust not a little). I think he made only one cameo down the stretch, so I guess he was never considered.
4) Michael Tucker. He’s my dark horse candidate to get a big hit (nice cursing him with expectations, stupid). I’m probably reading way too much into that tater he toasted in Washington in August, but I see him as a latter-day Matt Franco minus the famous uncle. He’s the lefty stick off the bench to be sure. The other one will be some combination of the three outfielders who aren’t Beltran.
5) Cliff Floyd. Wow, he is not running well, not at all. But he can still swing. I don’t think there’s anybody who’s watched him for four seasons who doesn’t, ideally, want him in left, in the lineup with a chance to do something great. But I don’t think there’s anybody who doesn’t wonder whether he’s capable of being ideal in his condition. With Shawn Green at last not lunging at every low, outside pitch he sees, I feel OK about him in right. Then it comes down to Cliff or Endy. For starting, I have to go with Cliff, not because of longevity or emotion or because he’s walked to the plate with the Sanford and Son theme in the background or because he makes deep and clever observations about the light at the end of the tunnel or who in his family makes the doughnuts or even because we feel bad about him losing his sister. I have to go with Cliff because he looked pretty formidable at the plate in D.C. and I don’t have enough confidence in him as a pinch-hitter. I’m guessing it’s harder to go from the bench to the lineup than the other way around and expect a solid contribution. Endy’s been coming out of the dugout all year and I suspect he’ll be finding the field yet again.
6) No Lastings. I really thought Milledge would make a case for himself Timo-style in September. No such luck. I wonder if his omission is a not-so-subtle message from the higher-ups as regards his behavior or just the result of his not quite setting the world ablaze. I’d like to have that speed and that quickness (two different things), but there are still liabilities in his game. I imagine if Cliff can’t make it to a next round, if there is a next round, Lastings would get the call. Gosh, I hope he would, considering the alternative would be Ricky Ledee, who’s also not on the roster and I’m not complaining about that oversight. Milledge sure doesn’t seem like the next great product of the farm system as he did in early June, does he?
7) No Anderson Hernandez. There’s no Kevin Elster role available on this team. Nobody’s gonna pinch-hit for any of our infielders. But his glove is nonpareil and he did show a flash or two of offense of late. In the era when you could carry nine or ten pitchers and not sweat it, I’d want him around. I didn’t feel that way a month ago. His stock shot up in September.
No other surprises. Glavine, Duque, Wright, Reyes, Delgado, Valentin are the only other names not mentioned or alluded to above who will trot to the foul line Wednesday afternoon.
Though his absence will not doom us, I sure do miss Pedro Martinez.
To fill the void, how about a shirt?