Game 42: Loss

Yankees 5 Mets 4

What a disaster. Mere hours after an overwhelmingly dramatic win over the Yanks in the opening game, Wille Randolph goes ahead and gives one back to his former team.

That’s right, I said Willie Randolph, not Billy Wagner.

I’m not a “Monday morning quarterback”, and criticize people after the fact. I criticize them the moment they make a stupid decision. So when Mr. Willie pulled Pedro after pitching seven innings of four-hit, shutout ball, I nearly threw my beer through the TV.

I don’t want to hear any more crap about “saving” Pedro, or being cautious with him, or any other bull. Pedro had just barely gone over 100 pitches, was going through the mighty Yanks like a Ginsu knife through warm butter, showing no sign of wear or tire. And he had a comfy four-run lead.

So tell me again the logic behind taking him out?

Then, after Duaner Sanchez throws his typically perfect inning, Mr. Willie summons the Sandman to close a game in a non-save situation.

Once again I had to restrain myself from throwing an object at the TV. Would someone tell me WHY ??????????

What is it that Mr. Willie has against pitchers who are doing well in a game? Why must he find ways to lose? Why fix what ain’t broke?

This all comes back to the nonsensical reasoning behind Aaron Heilman being too valuable to come out of the bullpen. You put so much value on the bullpen, you think it has to be used every single game. It’s kind of like spending an exorbitant amount of money on a weekend beach share: because you spent all the money, you’ve cornered yourself into going to the beach every single weekend, even if the forecast calls for rain all weekend.

Omar and Mr. Willie have cornered themselves into believing that the bullpen must have the final say in every single game, regardless of the circumstances. After watching today’s game, it makes me think that the only way Pedro would ever be allowed to pitch past the seventh is if he was throwing a perfect game and had only thrown 70 pitches.

What compounds the situation is this: if you don’t let the starters go deep when they’re able, and if you don’t let them get up to 120 or 130 pitches once in a while, they’ll never build the endurance to go deep later in the season. You are thus forced to depend on the bullpen every game, for the entire season.

That’s great, if you have ten guys in the bullpen. With Sanchez, Julio, Bradford, Heilman, Wagner, and Feliciano, the Mets have six pretty good guys. However, all but Julio are on course to pitch in 70-80 games each this year. There’s no way you can get all six guys throwing effectively when they are all throwing every other game (at least, not without performance-enhancing drugs). At some point, there’s going to be a breakdown.

In fact, the breakdown is occurring already. That’s why I don’t blame Wagner for the meltdown, I blame Willie. Wagner should never have been in the situation to begin with; he was signed to close out games in save situations. Willie, however, has taken to use him in nearly every situation where there’s a win at stake. Why not let Sanchez at least start the ninth? If the logic is that you want to limit Sanchez to one inning because you might need him tomorrow, well that doesn’t make sense either, because if Sanchez throws two today then Wagner should be strong enough for two tomorrow.

Ah, but there’s the rub: that’s not part of The Plan. According to the no-fault, no-blame cheat sheet Mr. Willie follows, Billy Wagner only pitches in the ninth. ONLY the ninth. No two-inning saves; those aren’t allowed according to The Plan. The Plan states that the starter goes five innings, you use a LOOGY-ROOGY-LOOGY combo in the sixth, Heilman in the seventh, Sanchez in the eighth, and Wagner in the ninth. No ifs, ands, or buts, no regard to the game situation.

So when Pedro goes six, or seven, full innings with ease, Mr. Willie doesn’t know what to do, because The Plan doesn’t address a quality start. It doesn’t address any “other plan”, such as rearranging the relievers and the days they pitch. As a result, Mr. Willie short-circuits, and does dumb things, such as take pitchers out when they are pitching effectively.

There were a lot of positives in this game, before the meltdown. But I haven’t the heart to discuss them now.

Tomorrow night: Glavine vs. Small. Hopefully Glavine will be allowed to go past the fifth.

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.