Mets Game 61: Loss to Padres

Padres 2 Mets 1

This is what’s called “playing down to your competition”.

I know about this first-hand, having played on a college team that would play “up” and to nationally ranked Seton Hall — who had Mo Vaughn, Craig Biggio, and John Valentin in the lineup (we lost 6-5) — but then play “down” to a D-3 school such as Bloomfield College (we lost 4-3).

Not sure about you, but this game “felt” like a losing cause from the third inning — I sincerely felt like I was waiting for the Mets to lose. Watching the body language of the dead Mets, it seemed only a matter of time before they lost the game. The only question was when would the frail-hitting Padres be able to plate a runner.

After a glorious homestand of intelligent at-bats, putting the bat on the ball, and overall excellent offensive execution, the Mets mirror the punchless Padres, scoring all of three runs in three games. What makes this most frustrating is that the Padres have sent neither Jake Peavy nor Chris Young to the mound — both aces are on the DL. Instead, the Mets have been handcuffed by remarkably mediocre no-names such as Josh Banks, Justin Hampson, Randy Wolf, Cha Seung Baek, Brian Corey, and Mike Adams. Meantime, the NL East-leading Phillies light up the scoreboard against everyone — the well-knowns, the unknowns, and everyone in between. But I digress …

Oliver Perez had an acceptable outing, pitching five and a third and allowing one run on four hits and two walks, striking out five. I was surprised that Willie Randolph let him hit in the top of the sixth with two outs and runners on first and second — to me, it was time for a pinch-hitter, with the best hitters on the Padres due up and getting their third look of the day on Ollie. However, Perez hit for himself, grounded out, and then put two runners on before yielding to Joe Smith, who did an outstanding job of shutting down San Diego.

Ollie made only one mistake, which turned into a homerun by Michael Barrett. The Mets’ only score came on a sac fly by Endy Chavez in the second. That second inning was especially sickening, as the Mets had the bases loaded, no outs, and a 3-0 count on Endy — and in the end, were able to score only one run. Why? Because the Padres were bright enough to intentionally walk Brian Schneider with one out, to get the easy out on Perez and then face Reyes with two dead. That right there was the turning point of the ballgame.

Notes

How bad is Carlos Delgado? In a game where he already collected three hits, the opposing team didn’t think twice about pitching to him with the winning run on second in the 10th inning and the pitcher’s spot on deck. Really wonderful of Carlos to get those three hits, but a huge red flag seeing the Padres have no fear of him doing damage in a key spot.

Yes, the Mets’ offensive ineptness is in part due to the absences of Moises Alou and Ryan Church. But, who expected a) Alou to play in more than 90 games and b) Church to be as good as he was in April and May? What baffles me to no end is that those two big bats are unavailable, yet you fill out the roster with the likes of Robinson Cancel, Raul Casanova, and Abraham Nunez. Are you kidding me????? Get Val Pascucci, Chris Aguila, or Mike Carp up here, let’s see what they can do. Bring back Jose Valentin. Sign Scott Hatteberg. Trade for Kevin Millar. Ask Mike Piazza to come out of retirement. ANYTHING other than filling out the roster with guys swinging bats made of balsa wood.


Next Game

I really hope my prophecy doesn’t hold true — the one where I suggested the Mets would get swept — but at this point, who really cares? The Mets certainly don’t, and the way the fire-and-brimstone Phillies are playing lately, it’s clear who WANTS to win the NL East. But I suppose our favorite team will try to do something interesting in their 4:05 pm EST contest. Pedro Martinez goes against another no-name, Wilfredo Ledezma.

May I remind everyone that the Mets are playing the LAST-PLACE Padres?

A desperate, major change to this team is absolutely essential at this point in time, if the Wilpons are interested in filling Citi Field next year. Please don’t bother messing with Willie — the problem is in the personnel. Make a move, Omar, if you want to be here for the ribbon-cutting ceremonies next April.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. JIMMYJ723 June 8, 2008 at 1:43 am
    The problem is NOT the personnel. The problem is the personnel stopped playing for Willie around the All-Star break of last year. THE PROBLEM IS WILLIE RANDOLPH. I not going to pick at every detail because I’m sure IsuzuDude will rip my arguement to shreads. All I’m going to say is that as soon as we get a manager that knows what he’s doing and shows a little emotion, you’ll see a completely different team. Hopefully that will be sooner, rather than later. Hopefully Sandy Alomar gets sent packing along with Willie. If you can’t handle the responsibilites of a 3rd base coach, you have no business being on a major league coaching staff.
  2. David W. June 8, 2008 at 5:05 am
    I hate to admit I skipped the past two games. In part due to the frustration of watching Mets batters hacking blindly Thursday night, in part due to the tatting order filled out by the Not Ready for Prime Time Since 1999 Players. I don’t know what’s worst, the miserable at-bats or the terrible personnel decisions. But the bottom line is the Phils keep winning and we are below .500 again, which increasingly appears to be our natural habitat.
  3. isuzudude June 8, 2008 at 7:04 am
    Jimmy, I don’t think you’re completely wrong. Willie is at fault to a certain degree. But if you aren’t willing to place any blame on the players for scoring just 3 runs against the hapless Padres, then you need a reality check, buddy. You had absolutely no problems with Willie’s management style while the Mets were kicking the tar out of Florida, LA, and SF over the past week and a half. His in-game decisions helped us win ballgames, and his emotional support was obviously good enough because the Mets had a handful of come-from-behind, grind ’em out victories – something you’re always clammoring that the Mets never do under Willie’s watch. However, now that the Mets have been stymied by the Padres over the past 3 games, coming at the end of a stretch in the schedule that has seen the Mets play 21 straight games without an off day while traveling from Atlanta to Colorado to New York to San Francisco to San Diego, all without Alou or a healthy Ryan Church, now you hop back on Willie’s back and dump all the blame of the Mets’ misfortunes on him. By typing those words, not only are you looking past the injuries and the fatigue factor, but you’re also excusing Delgado for being a complete hack, excusing Perez for inexcusable bouts of wildness and an ERA over 5.00, excusing Reyes and Castillo for complete lapses in concentration on defense, and excusing an entire offense that continually can’t come up with the big hit. Do you really, truly, and honestly believe that if a new manager were brought in that all these things would instantaeously be corrected? Because if you say yes, I’d almost beg the Mets to fire Willie and make the switch just to prove you dead wrong.

    However, believe me when I say that I’m losing faith in Willie with every loss. Even though I know these losses can’t solely be blamed on him, eventually something has got to give. If the inevitable takes place and the Mets get swept in San Diego, then “enough is enough and it’s time for a change.” So, if the Mets were to go ahead and give Willie the heave-ho, I’d feel like they’re quite justified. I know that things can be a lot worse than what they are right now (um, 1993 anyone?), but with Willie at the helm it’s clear that things are not getting better. A big question is who would Willie’s successor be, considering who is available, who has the proper experience, who fits the team’s playing style, and who could tolerate the pressure of New York. And I don’t have a clue nor a suggestion.

    Mainly, though, I’m with Joe on this one. It’s time to shake up the roster. There are too many deadbeats taking up space that are dragging us down. Why did we call up Abraham Nunez if he’s never going to play? Why have Casanova on the team if he can’t get pinch-hits? Why have 3 catchers to begin with when we’re already short-handed in the OF? Why do we continue to play Church in fits and starts when he should have clearly been on the DL since the beginning of the Colorado series 2 and a half weeks ago? Why are we so insistant on keeping Heilman with the Mets if he has minor league options? Why are we keeping 6 starting pitchers on the team if Vargas is only going to pitch in a mop-up role once every 2 weeks? As has been the case in years’ past, the Mets are doing a terrible job making the most out of all 25 spots on their roster. And that is not Willie’s doing. He is not the man responsible for filling promotions, demotions, releases, or signings. That would be Omar. So why not jump down his throat every now and then, JimJim, for handing Willie a team full of injury-prone starters and useless bench players? I think it’s high time to cut the fat and bring some fresh bodies on board who could infiltrate this team with a little exuberance. Jose Valentin, Val Pascucci, Nelson Figueroa, Chris Aguila, Jesus Feliciano, Tim McNab, Scott Hatteberg, Kenny Lofton…anybody! Because status quo is not cutting it.

  4. julie June 8, 2008 at 7:46 am
    We stink. Omar has done a disgraceful job. Ted Berg’s article about our personnel is right on. I’d love to see Leo Mazzone as our pitching coach. I’m ready for a new coaching staff and upper management who know how to run a farm system…bye, bye Burnizard.

    This team is going no where this season. All the exciting baseball is being played in Phillie.

  5. JIMMYJ723 June 8, 2008 at 9:01 am
    IsuzuDude

    “…but you’re also excusing Delgado for being a complete hack, excusing Perez for inexcusable bouts of wildness and an ERA over 5.00, excusing Reyes and Castillo for complete lapses in concentration on defense, and excusing an entire offense that continually can’t come up with the big hit.”

    No, my friend. I’m not the one excusing the players, Willie is. Did you see what Charlie Manuel did to Jimmy Rollins for not running out a fly ball? He benched him IMMEDIATELY. He BENCHED the MVP of the league !!! Have you seen Willie hold any of his players accountable, other than that one time he benched Reyes last year? I don’t consider the two days off he gave to Delgado against 2 lefties a benching. It’s obvious to me that Willie is too scared to get in the face of the “veterans” on this team.

    I keep saying over and over and over that we’re a .500 team under Willie Randolph. I’ll admit that Delgado isn’t half the player he used to be. I’ll admit that you never know what your going to get out of Perez on any given day. I’ll admit that Alou, El Duque and Martinez are injury prone. Is any of this news to anyone? We have a solid bench and we still have a core of players that can get the job done. But we have no fire, no passion, no hustle, no concentration and absolutely NO DISCIPLINE. Blame the players if you want, but who’s the one ultimately responsible for HOLDING THEM ACCOUNTABLE?

    Julie,

    I think Leo Mazzone is overrated. Other than Daniel Cabrera pitching somewhat consistently this year, I haven’t noticed much improvement out of the Orioles pitching staff. Plus, when he left Atlanta, John Smoltz said he gives most of the credit to Bobby Cox for their great pitching, not Mazzone. Anyone can look like a great pitching coach with 3 future hall of famers in the rotation. I’m happy with Rick Peterson. He and HoJo are the only ones on the coaching staff that I hope don’t lose their jobs.

  6. isuzudude June 8, 2008 at 11:05 am
    Jim –

    I agree Manuel’s decision to bench Rollins was a good disciplinary move, although also a giant leap of faith that Rollins would take it well. Case in point, Willie benched Reyes after failing to hustle in a game last year, and Reyes subsequently went on to slump the rest of the season, and some could cite the benching as a reason why he slumped. But let’s assume every player responds well to a benching. In that case, it would behoove Willie to bench every player not showing even a hint of “fire, passion, hustle, or concentration.” By the way these players go thru the motions, Willie will have used up his entire bench by the 3rd inning. Not to mention the benching strategy can’t be used when you’re already working with a short bench due to there being 3 catchers on the roster and an OF who can’t play due to a concussion.

    This is exactly the reason why I choose to get on the players case for not motivating themselves, not Willie’s. THE PLAYERS SHOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HOLDING THEMSELVES ACCOUNTABLE. They should want to win, not be told to want to win. It’s called “competitive nature.” You can feel Willie’s frustration and passion in his post game comments. It’s because he wants to win. Can you say the same when you watch the players during a game? When they’re moping around the dugout, swinging at first pitches in the batters box, making bone head plays in the field? I mean, how many times a day does Willie need to remind these players to play hard and focused and fundamentally sound for it to sink it? Because I’m sure he’s had the speech a million times. The problem is that the players – specifically the overpaid, washed up veterans – are too stubborn to listen and too rich to care. And, in Joe’s previous article entitled “Delgado’s a Rattlesnake,” he points out that this attitude is infectious. It spreads like a cancer. And Willie is helpless to stop it. He can only try to manage around it. If you think bringing in a hardass like Piniella or Backman is going to incite these players to want to win more, you are sadly mistaken my friend. The best we can wish for is that Omar pulls off a miracle and trades our garbage for gold, or wait for 2009 when much of the dead-weight on the roster is as good as gone. If Willie or any other coaches get canned in the mean time, so be it. But mark my words, the fix for the Mets is going to be a lot more complicated than just changing the manager.

    By the way, I thought your beef with Willie is because you don’t think he uses small ball tactics enough. Now it’s because he doesn’t get in the face of his veterans. What will the flavor of the week be next week, Jim?

    Also, Mazzone is no longer the pitching coach with the Orioles. He’s an analyst for Fox Saturday baseball. Way to be on top of things.

    If Peterson is supposed to be this guru who can find the solution to any pitcher’s problem, then why the heck are Heilman, Pelfrey, and Perez performing below standards this season? Why does he deflect blame in your eyes, Jimmy?

  7. JIMMYJ723 June 9, 2008 at 7:46 pm
    ID, I only have 3 things to say…

    1. “Attitude reflects leadership.”

    2. Mazzone took on Daniel Cabrera as his personal project last year. He was quoted as saying one of his biggest disappointments was that he was unable to reach Daniel Cabrera. I assumed Cabrera’s recent pitching success was mainly due to working with Mazzone for the past two years, as opposed to whatever Rick Kranitz has been doing with him for a few months. But it’s the Orioles’, who really cares?

    3. Perez was pitching in AAA before Peterson. Heilman belongs in AAA and Pelfery was rushed up too soon from AAA. Do you actually have a problem with Rick Peterson or do you just enjoy disagreeing with me?