So the Mets lost to the Cardinals … they couldn’t score several runs off surfer dude Jeff Weaver. What went wrong?
Perhaps it is an issue with the Mets’ advance scouts — or the inability to decipher their reports — and the remarkable ability of the Cardinals to have their defense properly positioned on every batter for every pitch.
It seemed like every time a Met batter hit the ball hard, there was a Cardinal moving less than two inches to snare the line drive or grounder. It’s been happening the entire series, so much so that it can not be discounted as “luck”. Rather, the Cardinals did an exhaustive job scouting the Mets’ hitters, preparing their pitchers, and directing their defense accordingly. Every Cardinal on the diamond was in perfect sync, moving a step to the left or right with every pitch.
Conversely, the Mets seemed to be constantly out of position, particularly with the right side of the field — Delgado, Valentin, and Green. Maybe those specific players looked out of position because they’re older and don’t have the legs and range of a younger player. But it seemed to me like no one on the field had any idea who the batter was, where he tended to hit the ball, nor how the Met pitcher was planning to attack him. No matter where Green played, he was yards and yards away from where the ball was hit — so he’s either getting awful jumps or he’s not positioned properly. Likewise, there have been at least half a dozen balls that went past Jose Valentin — not because his range is poor, but because he was so far away that even Roberto Alomar in his prime would not have gotten to the ball. That tells me he doesn’t know the hitters AND he doesn’t know where the pitcher is throwing the ball.
While Willie Randolph and his formidable coaching staff are supposedly tireless in their preparation, we’re not seeing the fruits in this postseason. So that means one of three things: 1. they’re not working that hard; 2. they’re worker harder instead of better; or 3. they’re doing a good job of preparation but the players aren’t listening and executing.
I’m not sure, but I doubt it’s the fault of a few people. Rather, it looks to be an organization-wide issue. The scouting staff is not doing a good job of scouting and/or communicating. The coaching staff is not doing a good job of preparing the players. The players are not executing based on the information given.
This last game, against Jeff Weaver, was a microcosm of the Mets’ inability to execute an offensive plan. This is nothing new, as the Mets have never shown any kind of plan at bat, other than waiting for extra-base hits. If a Met hitter went up to the plate thinking he was a small part of a systematic approach to score runs, Jeff Weaver would never have lasted past the third inning. The numnut, Cardinal-loving Fox broadcasters can spew and gush all they want about how Weaver pitched a “great game”, but the fact is, the Mets had him on the ropes early and often, and could not put the hammer down. Rather than being patient, or stroking the ball to the opposite field, they swung from their heels on nearly every pitch. Even Paul LoDuca, who all year has been the lone “team hitter”, was swinging at questionable pitches early in counts. And Shawn Green, who in the last game did such a great job of dropping a ball into left field, was instead swinging for the fence with men on second and third and one out. Wake up Shawn, it’s not 2002, you’re not 29 anymore. You’re on the wrong side of 30, you’re not on HGH, and your bat is slow, so go back to slapping line drives the other way with men in scoring position. Same goes to Jose Valentin. These men have the skills, the sense, and the wherewithal to be “team hitters”, but their minds are clouded with visions of heroism. It’s up to Willie Randolph and the coaching staff to properly prepare these guys with a specific, TEAM plan, and then it’s up to the players to execute as a team.
Luckily, the Cardinals must come into our house for the series end. The Mets must win one game at Shea, on Wednesday, and there is no reason why they can’t do it. Then, they must win one game, on Thursday, in order to face the Tigers on the weekend. The 3-2 advantage means nothing — the Mets’ decision to create a game plan and follow it means everything.
John Maine vs. Chris Carpenter. Let’s make some noise and rock the house, Shea faithful.