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Play Him or Trade Him

Just trade Jordany Valdespin so we can get to the part where the Mets gave up on him too soon. When he has a good game or a string of them or, for all we know, a career of them, we can just throw the Valdespin trade on the pile with Jeff Kent and Jeromy Burnitz and whoever the Mets in moments of pique decided wasn’t worth the trouble of tolerating growing pains or unorthodox personalities. Or if he fades from the scene due to a lack of refinement and/or maturity, Valdespin can be Lastings Milledge or Fernando Martinez, guys who legendarily never got the message.

But if you’re not going to trade him, let him play and do his thing. Work with him on adjusting his thing if his thing is so overwhelmingly offensive to the delicate sensibilities of the people who contract the vapors every time this guy claps his hands or makes a face or shows a pulse. Jordany Valdespin, like every position player who isn’t John Buck, is a flawed Met, but he’s an exciting Met and, at the moment, a generally effective Met. In Wednesday night’s Hefnerrible loss [1], Jordany recorded the following: three infield hits; two diving catches; one jog between third and home that wasn’t consequential given Daniel Murphy’s misguided sense of direction [2] yet not exactly an endorsement of headiness; and one bases-loaded, full-count, caught-looking, inning-ending, rally-dousing strikeout on a filthy Kyle Kendrick pitch that caught the inside corner of the plate after Hefner was mysteriously sent up to bat in a situation that cried out for a pinch-hitter.

He may have also worn a t-shirt [3] on the team bus. I’m not sure.

This was all the night after Valdespin tripled to maybe spark a little life into a dormant attack in a ballpark where we’re constantly reminded no lead is safe (the Phillies led by six in the fifth) in a sport where we’ve been told a triple is the most fabulous play there is (better than sex, according to a noted expert [4]). Valdespin congratulated himself on the triple. Everybody else admonished him for enjoying the moment, even after he directly scored on a passed ball. He had brought the Mets a little closer in a game where the object was to win and we watched in the hopes the Mets could win. Yet Valdespin upset the unwritten code or perhaps darted into the visiting clubhouse to try on another t-shirt [5].

Maybe the guy is a royal pain in the rear when you’re actually around him. Maybe he’s just that caustic in close quarters. Maybe he’s the “1” in Steve Phillips’s old “24 + 1” A-Rod equation but doesn’t have the goods to back it up. Maybe he’s impenetrable to the wisdom the Mets unfirable corps of coaches [6] dispenses, assuming they dispense wisdom. Maybe the Ambassador [7], in his role as Captain, has given him numerous talkings-to that just won’t take. It’s also possible that Jordany Valdespin plays the game the way it was played by the national team that won the World Baseball Classic, given that he’s from the same place, and it doesn’t always translate. Team Dominican Republic exuded “passion [8]”; Jordany displays “histrionics [9]”. Maybe it’s all about context.

Several of the Mets’ announcers can barely conceal their contempt for him. Most of the beat writers run their Thesaurii ragged to take nonlibelous shots at him. His manager can barely stand to look at him [10] and has to force himself to write his name onto the lineup card, whether he produces or not. At the moment, he’s producing. The Mets outfield, despite Terry Collins’s stated preference for everyday assignments [11], is a six-card monte [12] affair most nights.

Lucas Duda’s commenced an assault on National League upper decks. Collin Cowgill was last week’s catalyst (or cattle-ist), is this week’s afterthought. Marlon Byrd had a big hit a few days ago. Kirk Nieuwenhuis isn’t a backup infielder, which would make him more useful. Mike Baxter, he of the historic great play, made one pretty bad play and one pretty lucky play last night. And Jordany Valdespin, hitting .400, robbing opposing batters and being, shall we say, fascinating in the process, isn’t simply sent out there every game for several games in a row [13] for some reason. Or for obvious reasons. Or reasons obvious to those who make decisions but not to me.

Give him a chance to succeed and grow up. Or give him a ticket out of here if his presence bothers you so much. Maybe you can exchange him for a fifth starter. We have a pile of those, too.