The offense is not the only part of this club vexing the Mets.
Part 2 of 3 Parts
Willie Randolph was grossly out-managed by Tony LaRussa in the 2006 NLCS. In 2007, he could not prevent his team from squandering a seven-game lead with 17 games to go. Now, this season, he cannot motivate his team.
With the highest payroll in the National League, the Mets are three games under .500 after two months of play. Organizations with less at stake would have fired him already. The Mets problem is that they have no viable candidates waiting in the wings that could step right in and exact positive change.
Either way, Willie must go. It is the high-percentage move right now. With four months of season left, the ownership has to send a sign to the fans that they are trying to improve the club. If they do not make this change, they run the risk of having an empty Shea Stadium in September—something the franchise can ill-afford.
Johan Santana was supposed to come in and save this pitching staff in several ways. First, by being the stopper at the top of the rotation. Second, by pitching deep into games, saving wear and tear on the bullpen.
That being said, he hasn't made much of an impact on this team at all. Santana is 5-3 in his first 10 starts as a Met, with 3.36 ERA. Not bad, but not Santana-like by any stretch. He has given up a MLB-high 11 HRs this season, and his ERA with RISP is a whopping 6.76.
The rest of the rotation has been average as well. John Maine (5-4, 3.41) has shown signs of breaking out, but then pitches a clunker to re-level expectations. Oliver Perez (4-3, 4.54) has been erratic at times, and the Mets have no idea what they will get from him from game to game.
Mike Pelfrey, after a quick start, has lost six-straight decisions and is in danger of being pulled from the rotation. No one who has pitched in the fifth spot (Nelson Figueroa, Claudio Vargas) provided anything more than average stats at best.
Pedro Martinez may be back in a few weeks, but seeing is believing with him. The team still needs an innings-eater here. Omar never got one, and it is hurting this team greatly while this group struggles.
Billy Wagner has one big blown save—last Friday in Colorado—that unfortunately is overshadowing his otherwise fine season. Duaner Sanchez is a gamer, but he is hardly the pitcher he once was. His velocity is way off, and he is very hittable.
Joe Smith looks like he's here to stay. Smith has shown the Mets that he can consistently get guys out. Scott Schoenweis is over his physical problems and has pitched well as well. Pedro Feliciano continues to be a fine LH-specialist, and I'm not sure what value Matt Wise brings to the table.
That's the good news. The bad news is that Aaron Heilman and Jorge Sosa have given the store away almost every time they hit the mound—which has been way too many times if you ask me. Both are really starters forged into relief roles. The team should look to either get them into the rotation or off the roster.
The Mets are 12th in the NL in fielding and have committed 34 errors this season. Their Gold-Glove 3B David Wright has nine, and Jose Reyes has seven. It appears that they are not concentrating on their defense like they have in the past. Luis Castillo has lost his range and Carlos Delgado had none to begin with.
In the OF, Carlos Beltran is still a great CF and Ryan Church has impressed with his defense and his arm. The LF spot is fine when Endy Chavez or Angel Pagan is out there, but Moises Alou can no longer cover ground like he used to. C Brian Schneider has been banged up, but he looks like he's a big upgrade from what this team has had in the past.
This team usually dominates the NL in stolen bases, but this season, they are third, with 47 and have been caught stealing 14 times. They have not been as aggressive on the basepaths, nor have they been too alert, getting picked off once too many times in key situations.
Since Rickey Henderson has left, the team has not filled the baserunning-guru role.
Omar Minaya thought he had built a winner here. For a while, he was right.
The team has many good players, but they lack fire and have no anointed leaders. What Omar must do is make some hard decisions over the next few weeks. Firing Willie Randolph will be one of them. He must cut bait with Luis Castillo and Carlos Delgado. They are way past their prime and need to play less, not more.
He also has to bring in a manager that can somehow inspire the lifeless Beltran and get Jose Reyes to reach his full potential.
Published from www.mrflushing.com
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