Yakkin' About Baseball: Lucas Duda and the Infinite Sadness

Opening Day: a day to summon hope where possible, bust on Shane Victorino as necessary, and try not to make eye contact with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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David Roth: Are you excited for Opening Day? I'm just asking, as I've already moved on, personally.

David Raposa: Well, there was that Astros-surge-into-first-place thing on Sunday, but by all means, continue.

David Roth: I've just moved on to game-planning things for the 2014 Mets. Where does Casper Wells—btw the Mets trade for the recently DFA'ed Casper Wells and he turns out to be pretty effective—slot in, going forward? And how did they get Jose Reyes back wow that's weird. There is more of this, by the way. It's very detailed, but a lot of it depends on how the Upton Brothers' lawsuit against Dr. Drew plays out. As I have not yet imagined what that suit would be about, besides that it would involve Tom Sizemore crashing a Volvo full of methamphetamine and rare birds into the Braves team bus, it would be irresponsible for me to speculate.

David Raposa: Can't believe you're already cutting bait on the Amazins when Lucas Duda hit FIVE Spring Training homers.

David Roth: I wouldn't say I'm cutting bait so much as I'm recognizing that the six-course sushi omakase presently being brought to my table consists entirely of chum-grade baitfish draped over sad rice with bits of fart-essence in it. But I like Duda, and want to believe. He still looks like a sad stuffed animal to me, but he has hit the ball well of late.

David Raposa: 17 Instances Where Mets Outfielder Lucas Duda Resembles A Disheveled Teddy Bear Or Dog-Eared Bunny Toy. (You're welcome, BuzzFeed.)

David Roth: Best case scenario is that Duda becomes a more neurotic Jeromy Burnitz. If that's even possible, given Burnitz's famously conflicted approach to everyday life. I assume you've read "Being and Nothingness: A Life In Baseball."

David Raposa: Of course; Jeromy Burnitz is my Tiger Mom. So is it the neuroses that make Duda such a counter-intuitive fielder, or is it his hippo-like grace?

David Roth: A combination of the two. He starts to snowshoe towards a ball and then he's like, "If I catch this and throw it in, won't they just throw and hit it over and over again, until it's used up, done, worthless to them?" By that point, Dan Uggla is breathing heavily at third base and Duda is staring at the ball, by now finally in his hand, and weeping grandly.

David Raposa: Carlos Beltran should have never given Lucas Duda a copy of Camus' The Stranger.

David Roth: "Marlon Byrd died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know."

David Roth: But yeah, I'm already pretty upside-down on this whole thing. I bummed myself out refreshing MLBTradeRumors.com all weekend. I bummed myself out because I realized what I was looking for, and that it was the Mets getting some out-of-options outfielder and that I was excited about it. Like doing a personal ZIPs projection for Julio Borbon, but the only data I was using in my calculation was beer.

David Raposa: Man, what would the actual fourth Mets outfielder look like—Pete Rose Jr. flopsweating butter in a lobster bib dashiki? Bob Hamelin after failed lapband surgery tooting around on a Segway?

David Roth: I was surprised when Scott Weiland made the roster, honestly, but he did hit better than Corey Patterson in camp. Just narrowly beat out Jay Payton's cousin, Ray Payton.

David Raposa: You can call him Ray, and you could call him Jay, but he'll hit you with a batting donut if you do the latter.

David Raposa: Speaking of MLBTradeRumors, I love this bit of boilerplate, via some Cleveland beat writer: "After his team's signings of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, GM Chris Antonetti hopes the Indians will snag a playoff spot."

David Roth: BIG, IF TRUE.

David Roth: Newspapers should start extending anonymity without any discretion, like Politico. "A source close to the Tigers front office, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the information, said that Magglio Ordonez always smelled like Aquanet and fried meat and called everyone 'Choopy,' a Venezuelan slang term for [redacted]."

David Raposa: "Someone that delivers office supplies to Target Field reportedly saw Twins GM Terry Ryan pour a whole bottle of Night Train into a Big Gulp cup upon learning that Vance Worley would be the team's Opening Day starter."

David Raposa: So now that we're done crapping on the AL Central, are there any non-Met teams you have high hopes for this season?

David Roth: Um... it'd be nice if the A's were good again? That was really fun for me last year, their Major League IRL moment.

David Raposa: I'll cosign that, though I've a feeling last year was just a really awesome fluke, and a conveniently timed Moneyball Blu-Ray promotional campaign at that. If you want to get all chemtrail on it.

David Roth: Obviously I'm happy that baseball is back. My TV-watching involves so much more Food Network without it, and many of the people on that network are terrifying. Consider that Bobby Flay looks like one of the Yuppie Gremlins from Gremlins 2: The New Batch, and is the most human looking person on that network. Consider that Ann Burrell is a screaming juggalette in crocs and is on television like six hours a day, yowling about broken beurre blancs. I'm in my 30s, David. This is not who I want to be, watching Guy Fieri eat French Dips and imagining optimistic platoon splits for Mike Baxter. I am ready to be sad for real, as opposed to speculating sadly.

David Raposa: I just assumed this existential trail of tears you're on was your way of coping with the latest batch of awful (if not predictable) Johan Santana news. Not that Johan being done surprises me. It obviously sucks, being a fan of his overall Johannaness and such. But the hit the team will take in the payroll and possibly at the ticket booth will hopefully be offset on the field by them giving their farm products a chance to get some horrible, painful, no-run-supported on-the-job training. After all, their real future is the 3/5ths of their starting rotation that somehow ended up on my fantasy team.

David Roth: I find your lack of lack-of-faith…disturbing.

David Raposa: You can thank me when Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee make it through the All-Star Break with their arms still attached to their shoulders. Also, if Bobby Parnell starts hitting the bull with alarming regularity, I'm sorry.

David Roth: Oh, right, fantasy baseball. Also trying not to think about that. My auction-style fantasy draft took 4.5 hours. I had coffee at the beginning and beer at the end. I was not pleased with myself for having done all that. Setting an alarm. Overpaying for Dan Haren (?), spending half a Saturday's daylight hours fuming over being outbid for Jason Kipnis. It was all very strange and not necessarily pleasant. Just kidding—I drafted Drew Stubbs!

David Raposa: Look at Chuck Lamar over here, with your PAYROLL and your BUDGET. Whatever happened to old-fashioned fantasy drafts, where you were just picking guys because they were available? The sooner you "auction-style" folks realize that baseball's not about money, the sooner you'll get back to what baseball's actually about. For me, this means wildly overreacting to some fantasy analyst’s wet-blanket predictions regarding Kris Medlen’s BABIP, and then trading him for a Tiger middle infielder someone just picked up off the waiver wire.

David Roth: I won't know who's supposed to stink for some time. Like until September, or until I put that player in my lineup with regularity.

David Raposa: Hey, if that approach works for two-time World Champion General Manager Brian Sabean, it can work for you, too! (This is where Fred McGriff points at you, and Junior Felix gives you the Fonzie thumbs-up. Also, Kelly Gruber's making some hummus, if you want it.)

David Roth: A version of Tron in which we're sucked into a Tom Emanski video and have to field grounders to a Tangerine Dream soundtrack. This will soothe me in the coming months.

David Raposa: Back in the real world, I think I'm going to pretend to be a Red Sox fan for at least another year, if only to watch Shane Victorino GIF himself into the hearts of Sons of Sam Horn posters everywhere.

David Roth: What will be the thing they hate the most about him? Besides "his defense."

David Raposa: CRISWELL PREDICTS that he'll have some horrendous three-week stretch in May where he goes 0-for-the-AL East and yurps a potential game-ending popout. And then he’ll follow it up with some choice Bobby Valentineisms to the press. Something like, "I know I cost us this game, and the last three games, and four out of the last five before that, but it's not like I'm the only guy sucking out here."

David Roth: I trust Ben Cherington and any front office with Bill James in it. But Victorino looked like 2011 Johnny Damon last year, pretty much. Only if Damon was closer friends with and also looked more like Jon Gosselin.

David Raposa: Between that and Mike Napoli's balky (albeit inexpensive) hip, it's fourth place or bust! Even with perfect health, it'd be the Jays or Rays division; the Red Sox are just stealing bagels from the continental breakfast spread.

David Roth: I took a long position on the Jays in fantasy. Maybe because they are pretty much a fantasy team. I have no idea how things will work out, there. But they have all my favorite Mets now, more or less, and I like it when nice things happen to Toronto. Still, that's a lot of money to be spending for a lot of years to have J.A. Happ be anywhere near your team's success.

David Raposa: It'd be one thing if he was slated to be their number two. As Ricky Romero insurance, though, Happ's not a bad thing to have.

David Roth: I for one welcome our new, Canadian Yankees.

David Raposa: They'll throttle the American League with unnerving kindness and steaming bowls of poutine. Also: DeGrassi High, hockey, maple syrup, universal health care, filmed exteriors faintly reminiscent of New York City, and other Canadian things.

David Raposa: I'd revel in the Yankees FINALLY succumbing to age, but I know Lyle Overbay and the desiccated corpse of Vernon Wells will carry them over the threshold once again, because this is America, and it is some kind of bullshit.

David Roth: Overbay and Vernon Wells is either one of the greatest personnel trolls of all time, or some very deep Moneyball shit I'll never be smart enough to get. There's a secret document deep beneath Yankee Stadium that just reads "BE THE 2005 BREWERS DO IT DO IT."

David Raposa: They signed Richie Sexson?

David Roth: 2013 Richie Sexson looks up from the specs of his new line of Big N' Tall Goatee Toupees—Goat'pees, and you say both e's—and scoffs. He's past all that.

David Raposa: He's managing a smoke shop with Russell Branyan, I hope. It's called HEAD IN THE CLOUDS, because they're both tall. (I really should've minored in marketing.)

David Raposa: Speaking of the Brewers! Kyle Lohse AND Yuniesky Betancourt? Start spreading whatever it is you spread on a bratwurst!

David Roth: A bootleg fried egg that Mike Fetters makes you on a hot plate, in a bathroom? I like to imagine Lohse showing up at Spring Training looking like Tom Arnold and complaining of back pain and some "kind of achy" new piercings, but I am sure he's probably really boringly fit and ready.

David Raposa: But how will we know for sure unless he spends three weeks practicing his changeup against overripe AA fodder? I want to say someone wrote something about how scrapheap pitchers that discover themselves under Dave Duncan's tutelage don't fare well once they leave, but Google isn't saying.

David Roth: Kent Bottenfield wrote a self-publsihed book about it, I'm sure. I assume it's self-published, I mean, unless there really is a University of Phoenix Press based out of a PO Box in Arkadelphia, AR.

David Raposa: Every day, Bud Smith pitches an article series to Slate (titled "From No Hitter To No Pitcher"), and now those e-mails go straight to Jacob Weisberg’s trash folder.

David Raposa: I'm not sure if the Brewers double-dipping with Yuni is them trying to intentionally offset the good of the Lohse deal, or just the usual grit-and-hustle fate temptation.

David Roth: It's just smart baseball is all it is. A guy like that comes on the market, you just have to hope you get there first. Like, before Kirk Gibson and the D-Backs realize he isn't white.

David Raposa: "Well, if he's the same shape as Jason Kubel, and he plays the infield, then the transitive property means we win!"

David Roth: /Gibson scoffs at use of the word "transitive", dismissively fires a crossbow into an Obama effigy, mumbles "build the dang fence."

David Roth: The Diamondbacks will be fascinating, if only to see what happens when a team makes all its personnel decisions based on whether a given player could plausibly have appeared in Road House as an extra or in a speaking part whose only line was, "Oh yeah, SAYS WHO?" That's Eric Hinske, "Surly Patron #3."

David Raposa: Gonna pretend that makes Kirk Gibson the Ben Gazzara of the team. (This is where I accidentally quote “Dirty Dancing.”)

David Raposa: Given they’re going to be all up in your divisional business this year: Any feelings regarding the Brothers Upton?

David Roth: Caveat would be that they're both better at baseball than I am at anything, but I kind of secretly think they're bullshit? But B.J. Upton gives off crummy vibes to me; his facial expression is always that of someone who just realized there was a cupcake in his shoe all day. Justin seems like someone who listens to a lot of Drake and nods and is like, "He GETS IT."

David Raposa: I can't argue with those assessments, especially given the rep Bossman cultivated in Joe Maddon's doghouse. Still amazed the Braves got Justin for so cheap, though.

David Roth: Apparently the D-Backs were asking for Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler from the Mets. But then when the Braves were like "why not try all of our white prospects and Martin Prado, who sounds white-ish for you, maybe?" it worked.

David Raposa: To be fair, Randall Delgado has potential, and Prado's a nice piece, but when you have a 25-year-old one year removed from a 30-20 season signed to a perfectly reasonable contract, maybe you hold onto him and put that Cody Ross back on the remaindered table?

David Roth: Here's the thing, Raposa: Cody Ross knows how to win. He was on a World Series team. Was Justin Upton ever on one? NO. Was Aubrey Huff ever on one? YES. How about Eugenio Velez? YES HIM TOO. What about Clay Bellinger? YES HE IS BY THIS METRIC ONE OF HISTORY'S TRUE GREATS. The difference is that Velez is Too Flashy and Not About The Team and speaks Spanish oh whoops.

David Raposa: Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and casual racism. Let's play two!

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