Mike: Pitching tryouts at Shea today at 2 p.m.
I feel like the Mets are testing natural law. I keep saying, rationally, "There's no way they're going to blow this one. Not to the (fill in the blank)." Cut to the shot of me staring at my TV with my mouth open. Rinse. Repeat.
Where's Bill Murray? "I Got You Babe" should be blaring from the sound system when any Mets reliever takes the mound. Every day for the Mets now is Groundhog Day.
I guess we now know why Phil Humber wasn't being used. He was pretty lucky to get through the four innings (no Ks). Where's the fastball that was advertised with these Mets prospects? Humber was supposed to be 94 mph; his fastball sat mostly in the high 80s last night. Mike Pelfrey was said to be 97 MPH out of college and sits most days in the low 90s, if he's lucky. I don't want to be a radar gun groupie, but it means something. I thought Rick Peterson's job was to get these guys to max out to their ability.
Peterson is going to be joining Randolph on the unemployment line if this collapse continues. And now it seems impossible that it won't. Maybe there's another cosmic surprise in store for us. The Mets squeak in, either as the division winner or as wild card. And then they do what the 2000 Yanks or 2006 Cardinals did, turn a near historic September collapse into an October surprise. Can you see that somewhere flickering in the stars, trapped in some other dimension?
Ted: I have no idea. Last night I was 600 words deep into my "this is why the Mets should have pitched Philip Humber earlier" story when he opened the floodgates in the fifth, forcing me to erase everything. You can compare this team to those Yankees or Cardinals, but you've got to assume that type of luckiness is the exception, not the rule. Eventually, the law of averages catches up with middling teams that make the playoffs, so I'm not willing to expect anything out of the Mets this year if they do get in.
And right now, that's not definite. This is probably the most amazing collapse I've seen in baseball, and it will be complete if they fail to qualify for the postseason. What a disaster. You're right that Willie and Peterson have to go, because who do you fire if not the pitching coach when an entire staff struggles like this? Let's not forget Omar Minaya's role in the dilemma, too. How valuable would Heath Bell have been? Check out Bell's Triple-A numbers from last year: 56 strikeouts and a 1.00 WHIP in 36 innings. The Mets didn't give him a fair shake in the Majors, so they traded him for a "proven" arm in Jon Adkins, whose peripherals reveal was wildly lucky last season.
Mike: I'm convinced that if the Mets make it to the postseason, all of this will be erased with a clean win in Game 1 of the first series. Being the best team in the regular season in baseball is meaningless. Wild Cards have been in seven of the last eight World Series and won three straight recently. No one viewed last year's champs, St. Louis, as even Wild Card worthy.
It's really hard not to be fatalistic now about the Mets (emphasis on "fatal"). But they are still one game up with four to play. They split and the Phillies have to win three of four. The odds are with them, at least in a vacuum where none of the stench of the last two weeks can get in. And they'll have Pedro, Perez, Maine and Glavine to start those games, with El Duque, the one bright spot about last night, able to pitch at least twice in relief.
Wagner might have to go multiple innings tonight and I don't want to hear anything about how he can't pitch the eighth inning. Suck it up! What's it say about Baseball 2007 when your best reliever has pitched three innings in the last 12 days while you've had a ton of late leads that your bullpen has blown?
Pedro Feliciano has also pitched only three innings in the last 11 days or so. Righties hit .226 vs. him, Willie! Quit using him for a batter when the sky is falling! The only relievers I want to see going forward are Wagner, Heilman, El Duque, Feliciano, Schoeneweis and Pelfrey (the latter two for a situational batter in the fifth or sixth inning, if disaster strikes). Anyone else and I work out some Primal Scream therapy.
Do you find any hope in the Mets offense of late? Or is it just too little, too late?
Ted: The offense has looked good. Last night after the game, Carlos Beltran said, "We're scoring runs, but we're allowing more." Amen to that. With Beltran, Wright and Alou going, this lineup is as good as any in the National League playoff hunt, but that's immaterial if the pitchers give up nine runs a game. I'm also a little tired of seeing Carlos Gomez flail at the plate. Don't get me wrong: I'm sure he'll be a very nice player eventually, but he's clearly not yet a capable Major League hitter and should not be playing a corner outfield position in games that matter.
The Feliciano thing has bothered me all year, you know that. And it seems like Willie is so quick to pull him after a single batter, whereas he leaves Mota in to fester when he's clearly in trouble. It's the chaos-theory method of bullpen management, as we've discussed before. The more we try to figure it out, the more frustrating it will become. I'm a little upset that Willie Collazo didn't pitch better in his few innings. He's another guy I thought would help the club. He had a spectacular finish in Triple-A and I think he has some value, but I fear now his poor showing in a very small sample of playing time will keep him out of the team's bullpen in the future. Of course, the team hasn't done much to show that it won't keep trotting out the same ineffective pitchers over and over again, so maybe I'm wrong.
At least El Duque's in the 'pen for the playoffs, should the Mets make it.