New York Mets' State of the Union Address: Tuesday Addition
My apologies for not having this up on Sunday, but as a recent college graduate I wanted one more Memorial Day weekend on the Jersey Shore before I entered the working world.
I also wanted to give the boys from Queens a chance to show me something - ANYTHING - to help make the tone of this column a little more positive. But, sadly, they let me down once again.
Like myself in the bedroom, the Mets started out with a bang (last Sunday's game against the Yankees) and then got more and more disappointing as the week went on.
As always, I'll wrap this baby up with my overall thoughts on the team's direction, as well as react to your comments.
But now, it's that special time that you've all been waiting for. It's time to break down this sorry week of Mets baseball, good, bad and ugly style.
Last Sunday's Beat-down Of The Yankees: It's these types of efforts that can send you up the wall as a fan. This was by far the most complete effort the boys have put forth so far this season.
They hit (11 runs on nine hits), pitched (Ollie Perez was outstanding, going 7 2/3 innings and surrendering two runs on only three hits) and played defense.
Moises Alou and Carlos Beltran were the only starters without at least one hit. Team MVP Ryan Church and Jose Reyes each went deep, and Carlos Delgado was robbed of a home run after the umpires mistakenly ruled the ball was foul.
Games like this provide a glimpse of what this team is really capable of, when everyone plays to their potential. But, that in itself has been the root of the Mets' problems this season; the inability to have everyone playing at their potential at the same time.
If they can figure out a way to get that happening on a consistent basis, they have the ability to blow teams out every night.
Nick Evans: Talk about a debut to remember. A Double A outfield prospect, Evans was called up after Alou and Church went down with injuries (more on those in a moment). A .292 hitter at Binghamton, the 22 year old went 3-4 with three doubles and two RBIs in Saturday's 9-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Now, I know teams don't have a book on a kid who's making his major league debut, so I don't expect him to go 3-4 every night. But there's something deeper going on here. This guy brought a shot of life into the clubhouse with his fantastic game. Check out the postgame quotes from that contest, and everyone in the Met clubhouse talks about him with enthusiasm and smiles.
These are the types of players the Mets need to be playing every day. Maybe Nick Evans isn't quite ready to be an every day major league player, but if he keeps playing this well, why would he be sent back down when Alou returns?
Take a look at the Florida Marlins. They are a young team with a low payroll, and they're in first place. Young players bringing the fire and intensity to the ballpark every day, trying to prove themselves, trying to show they belong.
Nick Evans embodies this type of ballplayer, as does Angel Pagan. Maybe the Mets need to start thinking about playing players with something to prove, instead of players who are mailing it in.
Claudio Vargas against the Rockies: Finally, somebody on the club showing some spine.
With the Mets needing a start and a long outting against the Rockies on Saturday, Vargas volunteered to throw on three days rest, and was outstanding.
The Amazins had dropped a heart-breaker the night before, falling to Colorado in 13 innings. With the bullpen depleted, it was imperative for Vargas to go deep into the game, and he did not disappoint.
Seven innings and only two runs on three days rest is the kind of outing the club needed, and figures it was a guy trying to prove himself that gave it to them. I'm sensing a pattern here people!
Jose Reyes At Shortstop And On The Bases: I don't know what the record is for the number of times in a season one Mets player makes a humongous error or baserunning blunder in a key situation, but Jose Reyes has to be rapidly approaching it.
His error on Sunday against the Rockies on a double-play ball led to John Maine surrendering three runs, and his error in last night's game against the Marlins led to runs as well. You cannot give a team four outs in an inning and expect to come out of it unscathed; it's playing with fire and you almost always get burned.
With that being said, those blunders happen over the course of a season. They pale in comparison to Reyes getting picked off in the tenth inning of the Rockies game on Friday night.
Nobody out and Reyes on second base, and he gets picked off?! Where, exactly, are you going Jose? You're in scoring position, you're scoring on anything to the outfield that's not fielded on one hop, what's going through your head in that situation?
That's just it, nothing. These errors and baserunning mistakes show a blatant lack of focus, and something needs to be done about it. Sure, he's hitting the long ball recently, but these brain farts are becoming more and more frequent.
He needs to be shown that his spot in the lineup isn't set in stone, (ahem, Willie) and that these types of things cannot keep happening. Whether or not that will actually happen, we'll have to wait and see.
Church and Alou's Injuries: Church's injury, while the worst one possible for the Mets at this point, was the product of hard-nosed, albeit reckless play.
Mr. MVP was simply trying to make something happen, and it ended up costing him time on the field. He could have taken the play off, like so many of his teammates would have, but he didn't, and tried to take Escobar out and break up the double play.
Church has injured himself running into walls in the past, so this injury came as no surprise to me. He plays balls to the wall every time he steps on the field, and I for one, absolutely love it.
While the play may have been stupid in that particular situation, if that's the way you play the game you can't turn it on and off. It was a hard-nosed play, and he came out on the short end. He'd do it again if he had the chance, and that's why he's rapidly becoming a fan-favorite at Shea.
It is his second concussion since becoming a member of the Mets, and that could pose as a serious problem down the road. Hopefully it doesn't, because watching this guy play has been one of the few joys of this season thus far.
I wish I could say the same about Mr. Alou. In case you missed it, good old Moises injured himself AGAIN, taking himself out of a game against the Braves with a strained calf, and landing himself on the DL AGAIN.
This latest injury has prompted me to refer to Mr. Alou in every future column as "Sick Boy". How someone can be hurt this often in one two-year period is beyond me.
It tells me he just cannot withstand the rigors of being an every-day player anymore, and needs to be coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter. He can still rake, but getting him for 50 at-bats at a time and then losing him for a month isn't going to do the Mets any good.
If the club is going to get the maximum value out of Sick Boy, they need to keep him healthy, and the only way to do that is to play him sparingly so he can keep from breaking down.
Monday's Meeting Of The Minds: Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the meeting between the Wilpons, Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph. Actually, I used my stealth abilities to sneak in, but that's a column coming later on today, so stay tuned.
Management gave Randolph a vote of confidence, and Willie was given the chance to talk about what he meant by his famous comments about his portrayal on SNY. Minaya and Randolph then had a press conference and took questions form the media.
This should have been the point where Randolph was relieved of his duties as manager. It's been rumored that Lee Mazzilli would be a possible candidate for the job, and Gary Carter has said he would be more than interested in the position.
Mazzilli in my opinion never got a fair shake in Baltimore. Constant injuries, no pitching, he was doomed to fail from the beginning. It would be worth giving him a shot as an interim manager for the rest of the season; at this point, what do the Mets have to lose?
Boy oh boy. Do we have an Ugly section this week. Basically the entire week could have been put into this category, but to save me from developing an ulcer, we'll just stick to the really putrid stuff.
The Four Game Sweep In Atlanta: Did anybody see this coming after the way the Mets played against the Yankees? I sure didn't.
The Mets showed up in Atlanta a completely different team than when they left New York. They couldn't hit (nine runs in four games), they couldn't pitch (name me one Mets pitcher who threw well in any of those games), and they looked like they were mailing it in from the first pitch.
It showed me something much worse than four losses, however. The Braves were sharper, they played crisper baseball, they hit behind runners, they had timely hits, and they pitched well from the top of the staff to the bottom.
To put it bluntly, the Braves are everything the Mets think they are. They are a scrappy team with a great lineup that out-hustled the Mets from the first pitch of game one.
They played with the sense of urgency interdivision games require, and the Mets did not. It showed in every aspect of the game, right down to Willie Randolph's "stoic" appearance.
If the Mets can't get up for a four-game series against their division rivals, what CAN get this team amped?
Mike Pelfrey: A season that started out with so much promise has quickly gotten away from young Pelfrey. He was the recipient of some poor run support in a few starts, so his record should be a little better than it is, but he's had two straight awful outings.
Six straight losses could be detrimental to his development, especially when he's pitching worse now than at any point so far this season. If it continues, the Mets may need to send him down to Triple A to work on his stuff, and (gulp) think about moving Aaron Heilman back into the rotation.
Thoughts On Your Comments
Thanks again for the comments this week, they've all been great. I got some great feedback on the Mets Team Meeting Official Transcript column, and trust me it was just as much fun to write as it was for you guys to read.
As always, if there's anything you guys would like to see in this or any of the other stuff I've written, feel free to leave a comment.
Overall Thoughts On The Amazins
This team is slowly killing me, half-assed loss by half-assed loss. 2-7 over the past nine games, 5 straight losses against the NL East, and a 23-26 record. Last night's crap-fest against the Marlins put the team 6.5 games back of the Fish, and it's getting to the point where the team could be out of the race by the end of June.
Drastic changes are needed. The meeting of the minds before Monday's game should have brought the end of the line for Willie Randolph, but instead a vote of confidence was given. Lee Mazzilli and Gary Carter are sitting on a platter. Go out and get one of them Omar, or you'll be on the chopping block along with Willie.
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