no closer? *cues up yakety sax*

August 6, 2008

Oh, Heilman. Heilman, buddy. I wonder if you’re being trotted out there to no doubt fail as penance for some assorted undisclosed crimes against humanity that are only privy to the Mets front office and coaching staff. NO ONE wants to see you in a close situation anymore, and walking the lead-off batter on four pitches certainly won’t help your cause with the fans. A three-run homer to a man named Jody sucks too, but that kind of thing has come to be part and parcel to a Heilman appearance.

Certainly Heilman should have had a better fate had Argenis Reyes actually tried for that bloop single, and then later turned a coulda-woulda-shoulda double play, but a batter later we saw a four-run belt-loosening fresh-glass-of-water-ahhhh lead turn into a rocking-in-the-fetal-position one-run nailbiter. Thankfully Joe Smith and Scott Schoeneweis got the final two outs, Show earning the save and saying, “Me getting a save is about as much of a highlight as I ate the 1,000th cheesesteak served in the away clubhouse in Philadelphia this year. That’s about what it’s like. Right guy in the right place. Lucky.” That’s pretty good, Schoeny, especially considering your post-game interview with Ed Coleman was about the most incoherent, mumbled, pause-filled atrocity I’ve heard from an athlete in quite some time.

Not that it matters, but I also got a nice mild vindication for my previous post, where I stated that I was excited to see what these young kids could do for the team. Not that I think they’re the answer, certainly–way too early for that–but as a fan I can’t help but be sucked in by young blood. Daniel Murphy not only continued his Endy impersonation but also rapped a double for his first Major League RBI. He also worked two walks, which is probably even more impressive. Previous to that, Argenis Reyes had also worked a walk to get the rally started. Nick “I only get a hit every coupla weeks” Evans also hit a double, and two errors allowed Beltran to score what turned out to be the pivotal run. Now, if only we’d seen Eddie Kunz in the ninth, then the rooks would’ve been all accounted for (I’m not counting Carlos Muniz, because boy has he been lousy lately). It would have been nice for Kunz to make his first appearance at Shea, especially afforded a four-run lead; if he got in trouble then give him the quick hook. He certainly couldn’t have done worse than Heilman.

Lost amid the Benny Hill bullpen was a nice performance by Mike Pelfrey, who worked 6 2/3 for his team-leading 10th win, as well as a perfect 1 1/3 by Pedro Feliciano, probably the best I’ve seen him all season. Pelf and Pedro deserve kudos for theoretically giving the bullpen some rest, before Heilman went up there and gave a man named Jody a marshmallow while singing “Kumbaya.”

Oh, and there’s this:


Where the hell would the Mets be without Fernando Tatis? That’s not rhetorical, either; Howie Rose asked the same question last night, and if you think to the troubles the Mets have had both in the outfield and with their offense (the first, oh, five innings last night were downright anorexic), Fernando continues to show us his Tatis, hitting game-changing homers or coming up with clutch RBIs exactly when the Mets need them most. I am unable to recall how many times this season Tatis has been the hero of the game, because every few days or so it seems he’s the one–not Beltran, not Reyes, not Wright; sometimes Delgado–who’s making the big play.

I hope the man never stops drinking his Gatorade.

watching the future

August 4, 2008

With the horrendous 1-5 road trip the Mets just finished, a trip to the DL by John Maine and a possible one to follow for Billy Wagner (following a spectacularly bad performance on Saturday), there’s not much to be excited by in Metville these days, or so you would think judging by the doomsday reports spewing forth by media and fandom alike.

It’s been a terrible week, to be sure, a week that would’ve been tolerable and possibly quite good if only there wasn’t the requisite every-coupla-weeks implosion by the bullpen as well as the firing-on-one-cylinder (and that’s being generous) Mets offense. This team has been a rollercoaster all season, and the highs of the ten-game winning streak (hell, all of July, really) has now ebbed to a current four-game losing streak, including a three in a row to the Astros, a team that is not particularly all that impressive. Back during the doldrums of Willie’s last days, I yearned for some new blood, saying I’d rather see some scrubs and youngsters brought up to play with some hunger and fight than a group of talented multimillionaires play lazily and uninspired. If my team has to lose, I’d rather the former.

It’s the beginning of August, and the Mets are three games behind a Philly team whose lily looks less gilded than it did a year ago (as well as half a game behind the terrifyingly mystifyingly tough Florida Marlins). The Mets have made up ground thanks to some also-rans like Fernando Tatis, the re-emergence of Carlos Delgado, and young guns like Mike Pelfrey living up to their potential. It may seem like an inopportune time, but the increased play of some new blood–Nick Evans, Argenis Reyes, and this weekend’s call ups of Daniel Murphy and Eddie Kunz (studly, the both of them)–provided some excitement for this fan during the weekend, especially considering the way the overall games went. Small pleasures, I know, but Murphy’s Endy impersonation and Kunz working through jitters for a scoreless inning were appreciated not just as additions to this current roster but as an appetizer for what’s to come. I’m not worried about this team simply because of where they stand with two months left, doing much of it with frequent flier miles to the DL, and because, well, if 2008 isn’t meant to be then it isn’t meant to be (and with the way things have gone this season, I wouldn’t be surprised either way). But to see what we may have in store for the future right now (and possibly the near future, as Omar has hinted possible call-ups for Jonathon Niese and Fernando Martinez as well) is a pretty little silver lining, a nice carrot to keep us going, and some other lame metaphor in contrast to an otherwise lousy week of baseball.

macguyvering a starting rotation

March 25, 2008

As March 31st inches ever nearer for our dear Mets, Willie Randolph announced his starting rotation as Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Oliver Perez, John Maine, and…someone else. Please, anybody else!

At the beginning of spring training, the fifth slot seemed like El Duque’s to lose, and lose it he did as bunions and root canals and arm fatigue and menopause pushed back his first start to this weekend, where he got lit up for five runs in three innings. Which left the door open for Mike Pelfrey, who started spring training with a sense of purpose that bled into his performances, up until recently…like the very same game this weekend, when he subsequently went out and got lit up for eight runs in four and a third. Grrrreat. How does that starting position feel, Butterfingers?

Without a viable option like, oh, Kyle Lohse or somebody (like…Jason Vargas? *snicker!* Oh I know he’s hurt but c’mon, did you see that dude last year? P.U.), it was even stated by Omar Minaya that the heretofore unheralded (unless you were this dude; good call, dude) Nelson Figueroa had pitched his way into the fifth starter discussion.

And then there’s this development. Coupled with this morning’s surprising news that Steven Register–who had a 3.12 ERA in spring training and managed to impress Willie–was placed on waivers today, this means some possible maneuvering in the bullpen as well:

A person in the Mets hierarchy indicated Tuesday that the club is considering Sosa for the seemingly unclaimed No. 5 assignment, noting that the recently improved relief work of Joe Smith and the swing-and-miss pitches of Brian Stokes have the Mets thinking they can afford to remove Sosa from the bullpen alignment.

I’m not totally against this move–I mean, like so obvs, especially if it means a spot for Joe Smith. And Sosa did pitch beautifully when he was brought up last year (my first game at Shea last year was his first as well!); but then, well, you know the rest. Like everyone else on this team, he quickly went down the shitter. But I’m willing to give some cautious optimism, and hope that he can handle a few starts until either Pelfrey proves his mettle or El Duque finds some spirit gum to slap his limbs and joints together. I guess I can afford that cautious optimism when our top four are Santana-Pedro-Ollie-Maine.

Incidentally, this was my 100th post. Took long enough!