Can't Anybody Here Play This Game? New York Mets Struggle on All Fronts

Hot Stove New YorkSenior Writer IMay 19, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 18:  Angel Pagan #16 of the New York Mets reacts after his triple to score Ryan Church was called back as Church missed third base on the way to home against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 11th inning at Dodger Stadium on May 18, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The ghost of Casey Stengel has been haunting the Mets the last two games (well, maybe the last 34 years actually). In their most recent losses we’ve seen three balks, five errors and a baserunner missing third base. What in the name of 1962 is going on here? They’ve been pretty sloppy all year long, but this is getting ridiculous.

The Mets have finally fixed their bullpen, they’ve seem to overcome their aversion to scoring late-inning runs along with their mysterious distaste for comeback victories, but now they’re reaching deep to find unique ways to lose a ball game.

If Ryan Church was in Jerry Manuel’s doghouse before, just wait until he shows up for tonight’s game. How can a major league player miss third base? But then again, how can a major league pitcher balk three times in one game

? How can the Mets do half the things they do? Mike Pelfrey had “the yips” on Sunday night (let’s hope and pray he doesn’t come down with a Mackey Sasser-like disease on the mound), and maybe Church had the same problem.

Or maybe he forgot where third base was because it’s so hard for him to crack the lineup these days. But whatever the case, that’s my new excuse for anything wrong that I do—“Sorry, I had a case of the yips. I’ll get that report to you next week.”

The five errors in last night’s game were easy to understand—half the team is playing out of position. We don’t know if we’ll ever see Carlos Delgado again, and the team didn’t bother filling the roster with a true first baseman as a backup.

And with the force-feeding of Gary Sheffield in the lineup, everybody’s out of place. Fernando Tatis is probably their most accomplished player at that position, so he should be playing there every day. Jeremy Reed hasn’t looked too bad at first until last night, but he should be in the outfield.

Manuel keeps mentioning Daniel Murphy will play there, but he never actually puts him in the lineup (at first or in the outfield anymore). After last night, Church will probably never play again, so Murphy should be in left every day, Tatis at first and Sheffield in right.

Manuel gives Sheffield every chance to get at-bats and break out of slumps, but Murphy and Church are benched as fast as you can say Choo-Choo Coleman. And what in the world is going on with Jose Reyes?

He better get back in there fast with Alex Cora off to the disabled list. Ramon Martinez made two errors before he was even off the plane from Buffalo last night.

The road trip couldn’t have started better and now two games later the team is falling apart. The bumbling mistakes continue, though they shouldn’t happen in the first place, but they are something that is fixable and could disappear as quickly as they came.

At any rate, it’s time for the coaching staff to break out the spring training drills again. There’s still plenty of time to make this a very successful road trip—hey, even Tim Redding was good last night—so the sky isn’t falling yet.

But at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see George Theodore and Don Hahn colliding in the outfield tonight.