Mets 1B Carlos Delgado flew back to New York yesterday for an MRI on his ailing right hip, a circumstance that has the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan wondering “if Delgado is near the end of the line.”

The Mets need Carlos Delgado to have the kind of positive impact that was advertised when he was acquired. So much more was expected.

Delgado has not delivered. He hasn’t been the leader the Mets thought he would, and he hasn’t put up the kind of numbers or big-time hits. He’s getting beat by the fastball.

I don’t want to hear how great a player and how great a guy he was in Toronto. We’re living in the present, and Delgado was the most disappointing Met last season in many ways.

I kept waiting for Delgado to make a difference at the plate or in the clubhouse, but he never did. If he is such a great leader, why did the Mets have such a historic collapse? Delgado was one of those Mets who never took the Phillies seriously until it was too late.

He kept saying down the stretch that the Mets would not fall apart, and when the lead was cut to 41/2 games, I remember him laughing off a question about the Mets being concerned about the Phillies.

For all his good deeds, and Delgado has done many away from the ballpark, he seems to be one of those players who is just visiting. He’s just there.

The lack of leadership in the clubhouse last year can be pointed directly Delgado’s way. He needs to step it up in a big way. And now he’s already hurting.

Presumably, Kernan has spent enough time in the Mets clubhouse to have an informed opinion about Delgado’s leadership efforts. I don’t recall many columns from Kernan last Autum assailing veterans like Captain Red Ass, Shawn Green, Jeff Conine or Billy Wagner for their complicity in the Mets’ collapse, but if nothing else, Delgado should now be well aware of what’s expected from him in 2008 — more quality quotations for the New York media, Kernan in particular.

Former Cub Angel Pagan was 3 for 5 with 3 RBI’s in the Mets’ 6-5 win over the Dodgers earlier today, an occasion most notable for a) Oliver Perez getting knocked around and b) Matthew Cerrone being stalked by Brad Penny.

It takes a big man to say he’s sorry. And it takes an even bigger man in the Chicago Tribune’s sports department to scold someone else about the proper spelling of the Cubs manager’s surname.