Browsing Archive June, 2009

Tongue Lashing for the Mets?

manuel-ghandi-smDuring the SNY postgame, while the team remained behind closed doors, Ron Darling suggested that Jerry Manuel might have given the Mets a “tongue lashing” after Tuesday night’s loss for their poor play. (It was later reported as a “family talk”)

Darling might have been right about that, but if so, how in the world does Manuel have any credibility with this club to say anything? After all, it is Manuel who conceded the next month or so to the competition, telling the world that his team was too decimated by injuries to play above .500. It was Manuel who laughed and joked after getting swept by the Yankees at home. It was Manuel who suggested to the media that his team’s best chance to win would be by hoping the other team made mistakes.

After being told by your manager how inept and incompetent you are, how could you possibly accept — or be motivated by — any type of “dress down” for poor performance by the same man?

If anything, there may be a mutiny.


Mets Game 76: Loss to Brewers

Brewers 6 Mets 3

One for the thumb … the Mets have now lost five in a row.

Career minor leaguer Mike Burns held the Mets to two runs on five hits over 6 2/3 to earn his first MLB victory in his second MLB start, while ace Johan Santana struggled with his command and his composure through six lacluster innings, as the Mets found yet another new way to lose.

The Mets actually jumped ahead 2-0 in the first frame thanks to David Wright’s two-run homer, but that was the extent of the offensive output for the evening.

The turning point in the game came in the bottom of the fourth. It all began when Santana walked opposing pitcher Mike Burns. Then, a Corey Hart fly ball dropped safely as Fernando Martinez slipped and fell flat on his face (no error charged), putting men on second and third. J.J. Hardy followed with another walk to load the bases. Supermensch Ryan Braun ripped a double to left to clear the bases, and advanced to third on the throw to home. The throw home went past catcher Omir Santos, and Santana –backing up the play — fired the ball to third in an attempt to nab the overly aggressive Braun. However the ball sailed over David Wright’s head and into left field, allowing Braun to score easily. It was an ugly, demoralizing ten seconds that ended the Mets’ hopes for the contest. Unfortunately, we as fans had to endure five more lifeless frames before being put out of our misery.


Santana finishes with a 6.19 ERA for the month of June. In case you’re wondering, it’s the worst month of his MLB career as a starting pitcher.

As Ron Darling pointed out in the postgame, Santana has walked the opposing pitcher SIX TIMES this season. That’s inexcusable.

Hank Hill … er, Dan Warthen … was thrown out of the game for jawing with home plate umpire Jim Wolf. Apparently the two men had contrasting interpretations of the strike zone.

Am I the only one growing tired of Johan Santana’s attitude toward his teammates? He glared at F-Mart after the infamous fly ball off Hart’s bat … but it was Santana who walked the pitcher to set up the inning (and Hardy a few minutes later). For those who forgot, it was Santana who threw Daniel Murphy under the bus earlier in the season for a dropped fly ball. Leaders don’t get down on teammates who are making an honest effort … no one is perfect (as evidenced by Santana’s walks).

Bright spots, bright spots … hmm … well, Fernando Martinez clubbed his first MLB homer in the top of the ninth, when the game was long gone. David Wright went 3-for-4. Ryan Church had another two hits. Nick Evans made a few nice plays at first and slashed a double. That’s about it.

Since my father-in-law refuses to watch any more Mets games with me, I have a quote instead from my wife, which came after witnessing the debacle also known as the bottom of the fourth inning:

“At least the Mets are entertaining, and isn’t that what baseball is about? Entertainment?”

Next Mets Game

The series finale will begin at 2:05 PM, with Mike Pelfrey facing Yovani Gallardo.

Another quote from my wife, in regard to the afternoon start time:

“So less people will see us lose?”

Um, yeah.


Losing with the Cavalry


Before we get too excited about the plan to “tread water and wait for the cavalry to bail us out” (and I KNOW we’re all excited), may we review some numbers?

May 2: 10-13 (The First Domino Falls)

This was the date and the Mets’ record on the last day Oliver Perez was able bodied and made a contribution to a ballgame — a.k.a., the last time the Mets were at “full strength”. Perez was still healthy, as was John Maine, J.J. Putz, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and anyone else who might qualify for “cavalry” status. Three games under .500.

May 10th: 17-13 (Last Day of Delgado)

Going a full week without having to give Ollie a start, the Mets ripped off a 7-game winning streak. Didn’t Jeff Wilpon say something about “addition by subtraction” during the offseason? Although two of these seven wins came against the Phillies, the other five came against Braves and Pirates squads that were struggling mightily at the time — but judge it as you see fit. In any case, May 10th was the last game played by Carlos Delgado (suggesting a great title for the documentary of this season: “The Last Day of Delgado”).

May 20th: 21-19 (Reyes really down, no, really)

Ten days later, without Delgado and Perez, but with Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, J.J. Putz, John Maine, et al, the Mets more or less erased that big winning streak, going 4-6. This was the last game played by Jose Reyes. Granted, Reyes was held out of four of those ten games. The Mets were 2-2 without Reyes, and 2-4 with him in the lineup. Go figure.

June 4: 28-24 (ka-Putz)

With Jose Reyes joining Delgado and Perez on the DL, the Mets went 7-5. June 4th was the last game pitched by J.J. Putz.

June 6: 29-25 (Sinking of the Maine)

John Maine met the M*A*S*H unit two days later. The Mets won one, lost one (see the pattern developing here?)

June 21: 34-33 (Beltran Down)

The Mets had already lost quite a few faces, but still had the NL’s two hottest hitters, and Alex Cora was playing so far above his head few remembered Jose Reyes was on the team. Further, Bobby Parnell and Pedro Feliciano emerged as fairly good setup men, and many fans weren’t sad to see Perez and Maine disabled as long as Livan Hernandez, Tim Redding, and Fernando Nieve were providing quality starts. But the team with Beltran and without Maine, Putz, etc., etc., was 5-8. It was during this time that Jerry Manuel began setting stage for mediocrity, and managing fans’ expectations instead of the ballclub. After the game on this day, Beltran joined his teammates on the DL.

Today: 37-38

The Mets are now one game under .500, which I imagine is “below water” as opposed to “treading water”. Many players have been subtracted from the roster on the way to that record, but looking at how things have transpired, is there really any reason to believe that their return will result in success? Perhaps as intriguing, which players will actually make a difference? Perez is the scheduled to be the first one back, but the Mets appeared to improve as a result of his absence. Beltran, despite challenging for the NL batting title, didn’t seem to be a difference-maker. Maine’s presence was similarly indifferent, as was Putz’s. We’d like to believe that Jose Reyes is the catalyst of the team and an important piece of the puzzle, but his presence alone likely won’t be enough to turn this team into a powerhouse. At minimum, he’ll need help from Delgado — the one man who appears to have the most positive impact on the team’s win-loss record.

Final Word

What’s most aggravating about Jerry Manuel’s defeatist mentality while the stars are disabled is that the team wasn’t exactly steamrolling the competition when everyone was healthy. And at that early point in the season, the competition wasn’t anything special. Fully loaded, the star-studded Mets weren’t able to overcome the flaws of their organization-wide philosophies, system, and culture. The strategy of simply out-talenting everyone wasn’t working.

In other words, this team is not necessarily going to find success when “the cavalry” arrives, and furthermore, this team is not necessarily any worse without the walking wounded.


Mets Game 75: Loss to Brewers

Brewers 10 Mets 6

What’s that about self-fulfilling prophecy?

The Mets continue to play down to their manager’s (lackluster) expectations, this time getting pummeled by a Brewers team that on paper isn’t really THAT dominating.

The Brew Crew — or was it the ghosts of Harvey’s Wallbangers? — pounded out 19 hits and 10 runs in completely demolishing the Mets. The scary thing is, the Brewers were only a single or two away from another 3-4 runs, but the Mets wiggled their way out of a few tight situations.

Fernandomania is over — for the moment at least — as Mr. Nieve was pulled from the game with one out in the fourth inning after surrendering 11 hits and 3 runs. But at least the Mets were still in the game at the time of his exit. The bullpen went on to allow seven scores over the next five and two-thirds.


J.J. Hardy’s batting average coming into this contest: .220. Against the Mets on this night: 1.000. Feeling among Mets fans: priceless.

The Mets mounted a mini-rally in the top of the ninth, scoring three runs against Carlos Villanueva, who was throwing 89-MPH meatballs over the middle of the plate. Trevor Hoffman came in and threw one pitch to induce a double play from Brian Schneider to end the game.

Bright spots: Ryan Church was 4-for-5. Gary Sheffield had three hits, including his tenth homer of the year, which was a monstrous mash to dead center in the top of the ninth.

Father-in-law’s quote of the night:

I can’t even watch this … this is like … TORTURE. It’s painful, it’s really painful. This is the last Mets game I’m watching with you, I’m sorry.

In the sixth inning, Fernando Martinez hit a two-out, mile-high infield popup that was dropped by third baseman Casey McGehee. Ryan Church, who had been on first base, raced all the way to third, but F-Mart only made it to first base. Now, we don’t know for sure whether Martinez busted it out of the box, or watched his popup initially, because Bill “Wizard” Webb didn’t have any camera angles that showed Martinez on the play. The one somewhat telling camera shot showed an overview of the middle of the diamond, with Church about 25 feet from third and no one within 50 feet of second base. Considering how high the ball was hit, and how fast Martinez is, it’s hard to believe F-Mart couldn’t make it to second. Now, please don’t misconstrue — I don’t “have it out” for the youngster. Rather, I condemn the organization’s philosophy in regard to effort and their refusal to properly discipline young players for not hustling. Also, not hearing a peep out of the SNY booth in regard to F-Mart’s effort (or non-effort?) on that play was glaring.

As it was, Brian Schneider hit a booming double to score both runners moments later, so the situation was buried immediately. But it doesn’t erase what may or may not have occurred. And for all the people who continue to say “he already learned his lesson”, I don’t doubt it — I only wonder if what F-Mart “learned” has actually been applied.

And again, I’m not looking to taint F-Mart’s character. The kid DOES hustle — most of the time. Unfortunately, no one has taught him that hustling is not something you make a decision to do depending on the situation (which by the way is something Jose Reyes was never taught, either) — it’s simply something you ALWAYS do. Ask Mark Teixeira.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Brewers do it again on Tuesday night at 8:05 PM. Johan Santana faces Mike Burns.


40 Wins and No Excuses

In the New York Post, Joel Sherman brought up an eye-opening, and valid argument for Mets fans living in their Mets-centric cocoon and thinking that it’s only their beloved orange and blue getting struck with injuries and other forms of “bad luck”. In truth, many other teams in the NL have problems of their own.

Feeding off that article, and taking an unbiased perspective, let’s take it a step further and look at the adversity faced by all of the National League teams that have won 40 games.


Mets Game 74: Loss to Yankees

Yankees 4 Mets 2

That whisking sound is coming from a broom brushed against a floor.

The Yankees retrieved bragging rights to New York City by sweeping the Mets in their home park and dominating them in five games out of six. And despite the fact that it was a close game for most of the nine innings, it never once felt as though the Mets had a chance.

Livan Hernandez was certifiably good against a tough Bronx Bombers lineup, going seven innings and allowing three runs on three hits and an uncharacteristic five walks. For a guy who barely made the roster out of spring training, and is supposed to be a fifth starter, that’s not too shabby.

Mariano Rivera joined Trevor Hoffman as the only pitchers to save 500 games, as Mo notched his 500th on this evening. So although the Mets lost, at least we were able to witness history. Yee ha.


Is Livan the Mets #2 starter? (Fernando Nieve doesn’t count until he makes at least six starts.)

Gary Sheffield stroked two of the Mets’ four hits. Luis Castillo (single) and Fernando Martinez (double) collected the others. Sorry, I meant five Mets hits … Danny Murphy fisted a bloop into left in the final inning.

In case you missed it, Frankie Rodriguez intentionally unintentionally intentionally walked Derek Jeter to load the bases in the ninth inning, then walked Mariano Rivera to force in a run. It was Rivera’s first career RBI.

500th save and first RBI. Not a bad night for Rivera.

Speaking of K-Rod, Luis Castillo did NOT botch a pop fly while he was on the mound. But Alex Cora did.

Danny Murphy (.310 OBP, zero footspeed) was the leadoff batter in this game. Perhaps Jerry Manuel is buying in to my belief that Murphy will one day evolve into Mike Hargrove.

Murphy has really looked great at first base. Except for the dropped balls and poor decisions in regard to chasing grounders and throwing balls across the diamond. But hey, those minor defensive issues are excusable when you have a powerful, productive bat such as his in the lineup.

Tonight’s words of wisdom from my father-in-law:

“I think it’s time we became Yankee fans”.

Tempting …. tempting …

Next Mets Game

The Mets travel to Milwaukee to face the Brewers on Monday night at 7:05 PM. Fernando Nieve faces Braden Looper.


Mets Game 73: Loss to Yankees

Yankees 5 Mets 0

It wasn’t even that close.

The Yankees won the game by only five runs, but it may as well have been fifty.

Following up his fine start against the Mets two weeks ago, A.J. Burnett was even better. He was brilliant, and nearly unhittable. Nearly, because the Mets were able to scratch out one measly base hit against him in seven innings, whiffing ten times in the process. Once he left the game, you’d think the Mets might fare better against Bob Bruney and David Robertson, but it was not to be — that one single off the bat of Alex Cora would be the only one of the evening for the Metropolitans.

Mets starter Tim Redding was mildly effective through his first five innings, but fell apart facing the Bombers the third time through the order. Redding allowed four runs in the sixth and five runs total in his five and a third innings of work.


Brian Stokes, Pat Misch, and Elmer Dessens — aka “the bottom of the barrel” — shut out the Yankees over the final 3 2/3 innings. I think the Yanks simply lost interest, perhaps sent into a state of depression from watching the feeble Mets’ “offense”. Or maybe that was me.

In the words of my father-in-law, who had the sense to be viewing a rerun of Deadliest Warrior on Spike TV instead of the Mets game (William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu, I believe):

“Only one hit? One hit? That’s embarrassing. A disgrace. You can’t do that as a New York team, especially playing against the other New York team.”

Yeah, well, it was, and, they did.

At the time, I doubted his decision to watch a repeat of overgrown D&D ubergeeks simulate fantasy battles with war hammers, spit poison, and ball and chains while there was a very REAL battle going on at Citi Field, but on second thought ….

Next Mets Game

The series finale begins at 8:05 PM, with Livan Hernandez going against Chien-Ming Wang — and with the way things are going, Wang is suddenly a pitcher that could give the Mets trouble. To add insult to injury, the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

I may have Spike TV running on the “picture in picture”.


Scoreboard Watching

manuel-ghandi-smJerry Manuel’s “positive” spin on the 9-1 loss to the Yankees on Friday night:

“I’m satisfied that everybody else in the division lost. It’s scoreboard-watching for us because we’re trying to survive.”

Scoreboard watching in June, eh? Just “trying to survive”, huh? Whatever …

Every day this team gets closer and closer to first place, and yet Manuel continues to tell the world how terrible his team is, presumably because of all the injuries. (News flash: other MLB teams have lost players to the DL as well!)

And so goes the Jerry Manuel for NL Manager of the Year Jedi Mind Trick Hype Machine. Keep telling everyone what a challenge it is to win with the current roster, and you’ll look like a genius if your team finds its way to any kind of success.

Funny, this same Mets team was good enough to score eleven runs a few days ago, and good enough to beat a red-hot, NL Central-leading Cardinals three out of four. But I guess those achievements were the result of luck mixed with managerial wizardry not commonly found in this galaxy.