Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dear The Mets (part II),

Further to ChuckJerry's letter to the Mets, I have the following observations.

The baseball season is 162 games long. That can be a real grind for anybody. And what's one game, anyway? So what if the Mets lose a game they should have won, right? It's not as if this team has missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons because of one single fucking game. It's not as if, in September, the losses from April mean anything at all, right?

Well, ok, maybe one loss does matter, even in April. But how is Carlos Beltran supposed to know that? Why should Beltran keep his head in the game and stay alert and play with absolute over-the-top (wait for it . . . ) Eckstein-like intensity (Did you hear that? It was OB puking and burning me in effigy) for nine innings every night, 162 games a year? It's not like he was on this team the last two years and witnessed these heart-breaking near-misses. Right? It's not like he was the one with the bat on his shoulder the last time this team saw a pitch in October. And it's not like he is getting paid a shade under $20 million this year to bring his absolute highest level of focus, determination and concentration to bear on every single play.

Responsible fans know that their guy isn't going to get a hit every single time he is up, and will choke in the big spot as often as he comes through in the big spot. And that's fine. But a total brain fart like Beltran had last night - not sliding into home on a close play where a slide would have almost assured that he scored - is unacceptable. Shit like this will cost any team a ticket to the playoffs. Anyone who thinks the Mets are so good as to be able to throw away the occasional game needs to think again. Seen the Marlins play lately? Jeebus.

And while we're at it, Jerry Manuel . . . you're on notice. I like your style, and everyone is having a collective orgasm over this opposite-field hitting drill that you did in spring training, but at some point you have to start making the right moves. Bringing in Casey Fossum to pitch with the bases loaded in a one-run game when he had not pitched all year was dubious at best. What are you saving Feliciano for at that point? A bigger situation when the game is even closer? Fifth inning, seventh inning, what's the difference? If you have a lights-out lefty specialist and you have a chance to get out of an Ollie melt-down without losing the lead, you have to take it. And you already know how I feel about Ryan Church getting benched in favor of Sheffield. So watch it.

Lastly, Danny Murphy. I know everyone loves this guy. I know. But last night's game absolutely goes into the column of "games we lost because Daniel Murphy is still learning to play baseball at the major league level." Getting picked off at first in the first inning cost the Mets at least one run (fallacy of the predetermined outcome blah blah blah shut up), and the misplayed ball in left in the 8th inning cost them the game. The Cardinals bullpen is a disaster and ours is the best in the league. If Murphy makes that play, the Mets win that game, no question in my mind. I won't even hang Santana's loss in Florida on Murphy's error in that game (because even without it, that game is tied 1-1 after 9, so who knows), but between that game and this one, you have to figure that Murphy's inexperience has cost the Mets at least one game.

It's easy to overlook just one loss because he has been solid at the plate, and, like I said, everyone loves him. But if this pattern continues, it is going to get harder and harder to justify starting him in left every single night. Particularly when (a) Jerry seems to have such a hard-on to start Sheffield every few games and get Tatis his at-bats, and (b) Castillo's hitting justifies putting him in the two-spot. I know that no one wants to talk about it, but the obvious solution is to platoon Tatis and Sheffield in left (both righties), start Beltran and Church in center and right daily, and use Murphy off the bench plus to spell the other guys with the occasional spot start. Jeremy Reed for defensive substitution late in games where necessary.

We're not there yet, and maybe Murphy can get it together, but this is not a team that is going to win 100-105 games and run away with the division. They are going to have to stretch to win 90, and the division will come down to one or two games again. Losses like the one they had last night will haunt in September and beyond.


ChuckJerry said...

I am happy to blame that other loss on him, which makes two losses that Murhpy has cost the Mets this season.

Let's not forget, though, that he drove in the only two runs in the first game of the season and had a game winning hit last week if I'm remembering correctly.

He's a net zero at this point, but it's lots of highs and lows with no consistency.

That play by Beltran was incredible. It was simulatneously a heads up play and a boneheaded play.

Open Bar said...

In additional fallacy-of-the-predetermined-outcome news, if Beltran slides and scores, (good outfielder) Jeremy Reed replaces (plumber) Murphy in left in the bottom of the 8th. *sigh*