As the hand-wringing continues about the Dodgers’ shrinking division lead (hey, Helene Elliot – didn’t the Dodgers just take 3 of 4 against the Cubs? Odd time for a panic article) just remember that it could always be worse; you could be rooting for the Mets. With the news that Johan Santana is likely headed for elbow surgery really putting a capper on their unholy debacle of a season, imagine what the Dodgers lineup would be right now if they had the same injuries the Mets do? Remember, this was a team that Sports Illustrated predicted would be facing the Dodgers in the NLDS. Granted, not all of these players have all been on the DL simultaneously… but a scary amount have and still are, so it’s close enough. The Mets also have (smartly) realized that they’re just doomed, and so haven’t made trades to fill the holes. We’re going with the same idea here.
Caution: may contain 2005 flashbacks of Mike Edwards and Jason Phillips. Proceed at your own risk.
Mets: Brian Schneider (back, calf, knee), though he is playing currently
Dodgers: Without Russell Martin, Brad Ausmus would be next in line. However, the Mets did trade their veteran backup in Ramon Castro, and so Omir Santos has caught the most innings for them. Our Santos equivalent (i.e., 28 year old non-prospect) is A.J. Ellis.
Mets: Carlos Delgado (hip)
Dodgers: The Mets converted outfielder Dan Murphy to play first, but the Dodgers don’t really have anyone like that. We can’t go with Mark Loretta, as you’ll see, so who’s next at 1B? Doug Mientkiewicz, perhaps, if only because it’s not fair to assume that the Dodgers would have both the Mets injuries and their own. I’d cast a vote for Mitch Jones, though.
Luis Castillo’s shockingly stayed healthy all year, so Orlando Hudson gets a reprieve here.
Mets: Jose Reyes (leg)
Dodgers: It would be Juan Castro, but he’s unavailable (see below), so it’s back to Chin-Lung Hu.
Mets: David Wright (head)
Dodgers: If Casey Blake took one off the beard, at least Blake DeWitt is an acceptable alternative. Better than Fernando Tatis, anyway.
Backup Middle Infielder
Mets: Alex Cora (thumbs)
Dodgers: There goes Juan Castro, and with Hu as the SS, this gig probably goes to Tony Abreu.
Backup Infielder/Pinch Hitter
Mets: Ramon Martinez (finger)
Dodgers: That eliminates Mark Loretta, though the way he’s been hitting this year that might be a plus. I’m starting to run out of names here. Hector Luna? The Mets are actually going with yet another Dodger castoff, Wilson Valdez.
Mets: The Mets don’t really have a left fielder (six guys have played at least 80 innings) but Gary Sheffield, of all people, has played the most and he’s been on the DL with leg and hamstring injuries, so we’ll go with him.
Dodgers: It’s probably not fair to take on all of the Mets injuries and still have to deal with the actual Dodger injuries as well, so without Manny or Juan Pierre (see below), this job goes to Xavier Paul.
Mets: Carlos Beltran (knee)
Dodgers: Without Matt Kemp, and with Paul in LF, who’s next? Jamie Hoffmann?
Mets: Ryan Church and Jeff Francoeur, traded for each other, have each been hurt this year. Church spent time on the DL before he was traded, and Francoeur just hurt his thumb and may need surgery.
Dodgers: Geez, without Andre Ethier and with Paul and Hoffmann both already playing, I suppose Jason Repko gets yet another shot.
Speedy Backup Outfielder
Mets: Fernando Martinez (knee)
Dodgers: Juan Pierre as Martinez isn’t a perfect fit as Martinez is a highly-touted prospect, but it’s close enough here. With Paul, Hoffmann, and Repko already in the lineup, this might require a Dee Brown sighting.
So how’s this for the lineup you could be seeing tonight?
With Abreu, Luna, Brown and maybe Ausmus on the bench. Actually, while that team would be offensively dreadful and win about 60 games, that might be the best defensive squad in MLB history.
It doesn’t get much better on the pitching side. While we could say that Jonathan Broxton (Francisco Rodriguez) is still standing and that Chad Billingsley (Johan Santana) made it through most of the season, you’re looking at your top young starter destroying his hamstring in August (Jon Niese/Clayton Kershaw), your veteran righty starter missing from June onwards with shoulder weakness (John Maine/Hiroki Kuroda), and your veteran lefty starter missing months with knee injuries (Oliver Perez/Randy Wolf). In the pen, your top setup man and former AL All Star closer would have had arm surgery (JJ Putz/George Sherrill), in addition to whatever you want to use Billy Wagner as.
The point is, yes, there’s a lot on the line tonight against Colorado. But that’s a good thing, because wouldn’t you rather be here than where the Mets are?