Mets Game 20: Loss to Nationals
Nationals 10 Mets 5
The Mets suck.
They can’t hit, they can’t pitch, they can’t field, and they give up after falling behind (same as last year) — against the worst team in baseball. Can’t wait to see what happens against the Braves this weekend.
David Wright made a spectacular play in the Nats’ three-run fifth on a sharp grounder by Ryan Zimmerman to save a run and get the third out.
As expected, Brady Clark was DFA’s to make room for catcher Gustavo Molina, while doctors figure out what’s going on with Brian Schneider’s infected thumb.
Home plate umpire Darryl Cousins was inconsistent with pitches on the right edge of the plate, which led to several strike-three lookings for both sides. For example, right before his RBI hit in the fourth, Ollie Perez appeared to have taken strike three on the inside corner — yet that same pitch was called strike three on Luis Castillo earlier and on David Wright later.
For those who were concerned about Luis Castillo — and Castillo’s presence in the two spot — you should have been happy to see him walking, hitting, driving in runs, stealing bases, and running wild.
The Mets finally retired a runner at third on a bunt back to the pitcher, in the sixth. Ollie jumped off the mound like a cat, D-Wright retreated to the bag, and Wily Mo Pena was retired easily.
Lastings Milledge was benched in favor of lefthanded-hitting Willie Harris against the lefthanded Perez. Strange. LMillz did appear in the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth, to face righthander Aaron Heilman.
Speaking of, once again I’m baffled by Raul Casanova’s location choice with Heilman on the mound and two strikes on the batter. Heilman had gone to the outside part of the plate on every pitch to Milledge, went full count, and then — after not throwing any fastballs — went to the fastball on the outside part of the plate. Why??? The whole strategy of going with soft stuff on the outside against a hitter is to set him up for a fastball on the INSIDE. Heilman had not thrown a pitch faster than 87 to Milledge at that point, and had pounded the outside corner. His 3-2 fastball — again on the outside — was clocked at 96 MPH. Had that pitch been put on the INSIDE corner, Milledge would not have had a chance in hell of getting around on it — not after being lulled into soft stuff on the outside. As it was, Milledge walked, and the next batter Felipe Lopez blasted a grand slam on another 3-2 pitch. My opinion? Raul Casanova is clueless when it comes to calling a game — or, he’s getting really bad information from the bench (it’s possible the pitches are being called from the dugout).
Carlos Delgado has officially become an albatross. He has absolutely no idea what to do at the plate — he’s flailing weakly at first pitches with no plan whatsoever — and has become worse (yes, it’s possible) in the field. In the seventh, he allowed a slow grounder to slip under his glove (the official scorer should be shot — twice — for scoring it a hit), and then let another one get past him one batter later. The second one didn’t look as bad, until you watch the replay and see that the runner was only a few feet away from Delgado and was trying to get out of the way of the ball while Delgado didn’t even make an effort. In the eighth, umpire Angel Hernandez was so shocked that Carlos caught a line drive that he called “fair” before calling “out”. Carlos, I have the utmost respect for you, and it’s time to pack it in. Either make an effort to improve, or retire. Get out of the way.
The Mets face Atlanta, with Jackson Todd going for the Mets against Phil Niekro of the Braves. Skip Lockwood should be fresh and available out of the pen. Joel Youngblood might be starting at 2B in place of Doug Flynn to add a little more punch to the lineup.
And you’re totally right…the team as a whole looks punchless and disinterested. There are plays here and there that make you think they care (Wright’s terrific play at third, Castillo’s 2-out RBI single and stolen bases), but you really do get the feeling that this is just more of the same from last year. And since Omar can’t fire the whole team, you-know-who is going to take the fall. It’s really not a question of “if” anymore, it’s a question of “when.” And I’m as big a Willie supporter as there is (and perhaps the only one left on the planet at this point). Because I still see him doing things that I like. If Perez threw out a runner at third on a bunt, doesn’t that mean he’s now using the wheel play? A little late, yes, but at least it shows he’s not so pig-headed that he doesn’t learn from his mistakes. He also left Ollie in to get out of his mess in the 5th, which can be construed as a vote of confidence. He’s switching up the lineup and roles in the bullpen in accordance with hot and cold streaks, which again is something many have been asking for him to do with no luck in the past. So I still see Willie making good decisions and showing an interest in getting the team to win, which is more than you can say for a number of the players. The problem is Willie can’t magically turn Delgado 10 years younger, and he can’t locate all of Heilman’s pitches, and he can’t control Perez’ wildness, and he can’t speed up Alou’s recovery process, and he can’t force feed the team PED’s so they start hitting some home runs. But even though all those things are out of his control, somehow he will still be the one to take the blame for the team’s faults. It’s not fair, but even I realize that’s just the way it goes. And I think at this pace, Willie’s in danger of losing his job before the season’s out.
And regarding Heilman, I just can’t figure out his problem. But he has quickly become the 2008 version of Guillermo Mota. His stuff his still there, but something isn’t right (either in his delivery or in his head) and he is getting roughed up pretty much every time to the mound. He’s giving up too many home runs, he’s walking too many batters, and he’s unable to get a lefty out. The question is why? Is it injury? Tipping pitches? Lack of concentration? Bad luck? Whatever it is, someone somewhere better figure it out…or else Schoeneweis won’t be the only person on the team to get booed just for having his name announced at Shea.
however, i have to say…i like the new “NL style” willie…to a certain extend.
he is changing the lineup, mixing in some guys, playing some small ball, and being somewhat aggressive–all things that drove me nuts before. so cudos to willie there.
now, he demise is really going to be management of pitching…the bane of his existance since joining the mets.
i dont think as many fans would be as frustrated as they are now if we were losing games bc of willie leaving the starter in. he has done this a few times this season. especially last night, ollie got 2 quick outs after getting some runners on. let him work his way out of it. he is not letting his starters work their way out of messes, even when they have gotten a few outs already.
the icing was bringing in Heilman, who i am a big supporter of, with 2 guys on. he clearly is in a funk to start the season…that was not the right choice there. ugh.
i would not be disappointed if willie left the SP in to get out of the mess they got themselves into in the 5, 6, & even the 7th, especially when they had been somewhat effective during the game.
now, if they look like Tommy in the last game last year, and couldnt do anything at all, get them out early and save the embarrassment…but this hasnt really been the case.
? does heilman have any options? can he go to AAA to work on stuff? if not, let him be the mop up guy, or come in for a few batters with no one on….just to get his confidence up
btw…on delgado…im not concerned about the lineup if he was removed, we just have to find a slightly productive body like we could have had in guys like phillips, phelps, casey, cantu, etc… in the offseason.
IMO, the lineup should be…
2-castillo-when healthy, he is one of the best #2 hitter around
3-church-will stay hot as long as he has runners ifo him & wright behind him. solid rbi guy
4-wright-the most clutch hitter on the team, give him the rbi opps
5-beltran-4 guys with decent speed ifo him, alou for protection behind him 6-alou/pagan-alou is the man
7/8/9-schneider, 1b, P…depends upon who we get at 1B, but we dont need much. hopefully a righty to balance the lineup. i think at this point we dump delgado and go with easley + carp unless we can find a replacement.
Actually the wheel play was not on when Ollie threw out the runner — DWright read the bunt immediately and retreated to third. In the wheel play you would have seen Reyes covering 3B.
Heilman’s string of poor performances are not necessarily related or due to one issue — I think they should be looked at individually. Too much to list here, I’ll work on an article.
RockStar, unfortunately I share your evaluation of Delgado. If the front office is not panicking about the 1B situation right now, they should be.
WOW!!!. I know its not a good time but I am not alone believing we have wasted 20 games on Willie. This ‘experiment’ (small ball) should have happened last Sept.
1. Heilman: its not new. But Willie is doing to Heilman what he did to Sho last yr. Put him in situations where he is least likely to suceed…namely stop the bleeding situations. Bottomline 3-3 tie bases loaded 2-outs you MUST close that inning down. Willie “KNOWS HIS PEOPLE’ ….dude if this is NOT evidence he DOES not I dont know what is.
2. Beltran: sorry rock and Whadat…I think CB is a #2/#3 guy. He was a #2 when we signed him. Willie made him a #3 and all he did was hit 41HR with 120 rbi. As a #2/3 he is IN the GAME and he can improvise. Ala Reyes… let him play HIS game. Willie keeps trying to change players and it does not work.
3. Delgado: Del as #6/7 is the right move. But guys note we had a 3 run lead. The is enuff offense. Church, CB, Dw, castillo and Reyes can and will produce runs. Church is doing great…(i think Omar found his Eric Byrnes. Guys on Degado-one player does not sink a team- and if he is that manager needs to minimize/eliminate the risk. We had another 1st baseman once…Mike Jacobs, back then Willie prefered to play Marlon and Minkevic.
4. The POINT is the guys are not playing for Willie. Willie is not a good manager. He is a poor evaluator of the talent he has, a poor motivator, a poor strategist.
5. Omar went out and got the best pitcher in baseball, a better catcher and improved the pen (by getting rid of Mota…who is doing OK). I think Willie’s leash is short and the bell is tolling. I mean WHO has he beaten thus far….he lost 2 sagainst the Braves/2-against the Brews/2-against Chi in other words he cant beat the better teams? Referencing my comment yesterday, pre-Pinella Carlos Zambrano was a headcase, noe with Pinella he is one of the top pitchers in baseball and the headcase arguement is gone.
6. Ok he is fired. Who will replace Willie?
a. Buck Showalter?
b. Gary Carter?
c. Wally Backman?
d. Howard johnson?
e. Ken Oberkfell?
Another idea/proposal is that I’d trade heilman to Detroit for Brandon Inge (iF i can expeand the trade i would). Then call up Carlos Muniz.
—I still don’t buy Beltran is better qualified to hit 2nd or 3rd and Wright further down in the lineup. Wright is far and away our best hitter right now, and with Beltran hitting .230, I’m not in favor of giving Beltran more ABs than Wright. There are arguments for and against each player for batting them in the 3-hole, but I think the best thing to do is bat your table-setting, high-average guys 1 thru 3, and then the power-hitter, lesser-average guys afterward.
—I think Willie does know his people. Heilman has notoriously been a pitcher who gets both lefties and righties out, yet for some unknown reason he can’t get a lefty out for his life this year. Willie has adjusted on the fly, though, recently removing Heilman from the setup spot and putting Sanchez back in there, and last night inserted Heilman into the game with 2 out needing just to retire the right handed Milledge, who struggles against pitches other than fastballs. Hence, Heilman’s change-ups are perfect for the situation. The move almost worked, too, if only Heilman made the right pitch selection. Instead, he walked Milledge and then gave up the grand slam to Lopez, a switch hitter batting lefty. Willie made the right move, but didn’t have his player perform up to par. And I think many people are mistaking that for Willie making a bad decision. I still refuse to join the herd in blaming Willie for everything that goes against the Mets’ favor.
—I agree the Mets record against tough opponents is less than stellar in the early going, as you point out, but you are conveniently forgetting the Mets are 4-2 against the Phillies so far this year. Is this not a noteworthy accomplishment, especially considering what happened last year? Why does Willie get no credit for this, but blame for everything else?
—I severely disagree with your Heilman for Inge trade proposal. Inge’s contract suggests he be a starter, but we have no place to put him. So he’d be an overpaid bench player. And who do we cut on the bench to make room for him? I think every bench player we have right now is better than Inge. You’re pretty much basing trading Heilman on a bad 3-week stretch while ignoring all he’s done that’s good over the past 3+ years. You’d pretty much be admitting you think Heilman has nothing left and no chance of rebounding by making that trade. It’s your set-up man of the past 2 years for a bench player. Not good.
1. I think CB’s funks are mental. I agree with what you say but DW is an anomally he IS a slugger who hits for high average.
2. I agree on the Phils point- but with a little blood lust, (strategy, luck?) that could be a 6-0 record.
3. I wanted comment on the Inge proposal- I added that i would expend it only because the numbers dont add up. The point you make that our present bench is better is one i take to the bank. The point within the point is that we desperately need an infielder who can play (SS-3B-2B-1st). Can Inge do that? I am not sure. can he mutate into Shone Figgins? again I dont know. but i wanted to put it out there. Another point
4. I am not a Willie fan. I am not aklone either. I like his public persona but he loses games. I like your in game assessment of that pivotal moment, but knowing Lopez (SH batting lefty) was facing Heilman, why not yank heilman? Obviously it IS hindsight. So it is not really fair to make that statement. But to reference Julie’s post earlier this week, Divisions are won by one game.
5. I think Sanchez was the 8th inning guy once he proved his health. Heilman’s made it easier. But the trade of Heilman has less to do with him, than it does his present value and the fact Sanchez is back and that I think Muniz COULD step up and be Heilman (2006) with Sosa as insurance (in a ROOGY role). like the article points to at Mets Geek, I think there is nothing wrong with this team. BUT I think the effect Charlie Manuel, Lou Pinella, (mike Hargrove prior to his resignation in Seattle), Bob Melvin in Arz even Manny Acta have had on their teams is missing in ours. Those guys just seem to have a presence in their respective games. But again thats an observation from a distance.
6. Bottom line though is you and I are just opinions. I might have ‘lost faith’ in Willie, but my opinion is waaay less extreme than many.
1. Perhaps Beltran’s funks are mental, but the fact that he has funks makes him a lesser qualified candidate to bat 3rd than Wright. Say you get runners on 1st and 2nd with Beltran hitting 3rd and he’s languishing in one of these funks, hitting .230 or less. Can you say rally killer? At least with Wright 3rd, you get a bonafide, consistent .300+ hitter with the first crack at driving in those runs. Here’s some additional numbers to crunch: last year, Beltran hit .261 in the 3-hole and .310 batting 4th. Wright was .368 batting 3rd and .302 batting 4th. What further proof do you need?
2. Thank you for agreeing. I agree the record could be 6-0, but the point was that Willie has guided the Mets to a winning record over a good team. If you fault Willie for the Mets not being 6-0, I would fault you for being too greedy.
3. I don’t know why the Mets desperately need a utility IF. Isn’t that Damian Easley? And even if it isn’t, why are you desperately looking for a backup to Wright & Reyes? These two are going to play as close to everyday as possible. I can understand needing backups at 1B and 2B, but that’s Easley and Anderson. I think there are far more commodities the Mets need more desperately that utility infielders, such as reliable relief pitchers, starting pitchers who can reliably go 7 innings per start, and a starting 1B who can hit better than his own weight. Inge is none of the above, so I wouldn’t even consider trading for him. Save you bullets (i.e. prospects and trading chips) for more useful players.
4. No one likes Willie. Not even his own mother. I get it. But he can’t be blamed for everything. Last night he was wrong no matter what he does with Heilman. He gets left in to face Lopez, the result is a grand slam. You say you wanted Heilman yanked after surrendering the walk to Milledge. So in your opinion, you bring in Heilman only to face 1 batter. And you bring in who? Has to be either Schoeneweis or Feliciano, as bringing in another RHP is redundant. Yet, this plan would get others up-in-arms as they’d be unhappy with Willie overusing the bullpen, bringing in too many relievers. So you see, he’s damned if he does and he’s damned if he doesn’t. The fact is Heilman had Milledge dead to rights and lost him, and then threw a fat changeup to Lopez that was crushed. The onus is on Heilman for not getting the job done, not on Willie for bringing in the wrong reliever.
5. I notice your infatuation with Muniz, and I think you’re on to something. Muniz has proved capable of getting outs at the ML level, so it might make sense to see what he can do – especially in Matt Wise’s absence. However, I’d much rather hang on to Heilman and cut Sosa than trade Heilman to make room for Muniz. Heilman has stuff that Sosa can’t even dream of. Sosa is a one-pitch pitcher who gets tattooed by lefties. Heilman touches 95+ MPH with a wicked changeup and the ability to get lefties and righties out, when he’s on. And I think the longer Sosa has his ERA up around 7, the chances of the Mets ridding themselves of him get greater and greater by the day.
6. I respect your opinion and enjoy our debates. I can see how you, and many Met fans for that matter, have lost your faith. Just don’t allow that lost faith to turn into faithlessness. After all, isn’t our team motto “Ya Gotta Believe???”