Those who know me, those who follow my "Sound Offs" on "Vegas Unwrapped", or on these and other hallowed Blog pages know if nothing else, I rarely hit the panic button. Nor do I demand change for the sake of change only or because of one incident alone.
It takes a lot to rattle these old bones, especially when it comes to making changes in the Mets organization. Particularly with the man at the helm, for it has always been my opinion that a manager does just that, manage. He doesn't pitch one pitch, steal one base, or score one run. He is there to use his considerable skills in motivating his players to do their best and on really very few occasions, will make a move within a game that can clearly determine it's outcome.
This is a double edge sword for me. I want the Mets to do well, but I know if they don't the days of the Omar and Jerry show will soon be at an end. Yea!
Jerry Manuel clearly is an exception to that rule. He has mismanaged this team almost from the day he inherited it, because the Mets upper management felt they needed a "fall guy" for the collapse of 2007. I just wonder how many Mets fans today are sorry for the events that early June morning in California nearly two years ago.
Without prolonging and justifying for what seems like the 100th time, I have spoken not too kindly about Mr Manuel, I will say that this season is beginning to really drain my patience
I have been a Mets fan since April 12th 1962, and have gone through hell and back with them for the past 48 years. I suffered through the bad and rejoiced through the amazing but I have never for one day lost sight that this team has always been capable of doing so much better than it has done, and I have clearly laid the blame at the feet of the ownership, with the Wilpon's being right up there with the worst of the worst.
With that said let's get back to Jerry. I'm going to use tonight's game not with 20/20 hindsight because that is the simple way, but to tell you here and now that I was screaming at the TV long before the incidents happened which definitely cost this team an opportunity to help get back on track which they are pressing so hard to do.
Let's start at the bottom of the sixth inning. The Mets were up 1-0 thanks in part to the fine pitching performance of everybody's favorite whipping boy, (unless John Maine is pitching that game) Oliver Perez, who held the Cardinals to no runs and four hits in six solid innings on the hill. Having already made Albert Pujols seem almost human for one night while not having to face his latest partner in crime, Matt "I should have been a Met" Holliday, Perez held a precarious 1-0 lead.
After giving up a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt, Manuel decided he had seen seen enough of Perez despite striking out four and walking three. Perez had reached 97 pitches for the night, and I'm not faulting his removal. What I am faulting is Jerry's history of overusing his bullpen and tiring out his pitchers. Lets take Fernando Nieve, who was in competition for the 5th spot in the rotation with Jon Niese. He didn't win the spot but looked liked the ideal long man for the bullpen since he has already been "stretched out" to go more than an inning or perhaps two. The problem is then just how often do you use such a pitcher. The general knowledge from pitching coaches throughout the majors is to use a pitcher like that maybe 2 or possibly but no more than 3 times a week.
This was his 6th appearance in 10 games. Come on.
All he did was hit Schumaker and walked Holliday, leaving it open for Valdez to come in and give up the granny to Lopez, who just by the way, was available all winter long while we re-committed ourselves to that brilliant power hitter from both sides of the plate Luis Castillo.
That brings me to the ninth, where the Mets tried to come back and almost did except their manager is a moron and needs to be taken behind the barn and taught a little game management. Here it is 2 out and Jerry has already made a tremendous blunder by having Angel Pagan pinch run and takes his potent bat out of the lineup. So Pagan is at second and who is standing at the plate with a chance to tie the game? Remember, the outfield is playing a little shallower because they know this "punch and judy" hitter is not going to bust one over their heads. It's none other than the 6 million dollar a season man Luis Castillo.
So you say, what are Jerry's alternatives? He thinks Castillo is the best alternative. Really? One might argue that Alex Cora is no better in that spot. Others might think Henry Blanco would be no better either. I believe either one of them would be better and here's why.
The Mets, who did get on in the ninth, jumped on Ryan Franklin's first pitch because it was always a fastball in and around the plate. The reason for this was because he was struggling getting his other pitchers over. Castillio's notorious for not swinging at the first pitch regardless of where it is. He hardly ever swings at the second or the third pitches either. He generally waits until he is either behind in the count or has two strikes on him, always. So what does Franklin do? He lays one right down the center of the middle of the plate, a perfectly hittable pitch, perhaps a game tying or game winning pitch to be hit by anyone who swings a bat.
But noooooo, Castillo doesn't take this opportunity to be a winner. He never does and when he gets his obligatory two strike count he weakly grounds a ball to short and is easily thrown out to see another Mets loss put in the books.
The blame here? Directly on Jerry Manuel's shoulders, with an assist from Omar Minaya. Those supposedly in the know say nothing will change until at least May 1st.
Why? Must the Mets lose eight out of their next ten to make the change?
Do it tonight in the middle of the night. It won't be the first time, and Bobby Valentine's Baseball Tonight Show has already been put to bed.