Thursday, May 18, 2006

Audition Gone Wrong

"Hi, what's your name dawg?"


"What are you going to sing for us?"

"I'm going to dust off something from my 2004 catalogue."

"Ok Jose, off you go."

On this "audition" start for Jose Lima, made especially important by the re-aggravation of Brian Bannister's hamstring today, Willie Randolph and the Mets were hoping to see Bo Bice, Chris Daughtry, or even Taylor Hicks emerge.

Instead they got William Hung.

And it's not like Lima had to be Whitney Houston or Billy Holliday out there. St. Louis featured a lineup sans Pujols, so all Lima had to be was a cut rate Vince Neil. But Lima was pounded by the likes of Scott Spiezio and Aaron Miles, and he's perilously close to being voted off.

I want to see the Lima en Vivo experiment work. His honesty and "team first" attitude displayed during his post game interview underscores the reasons I want to see it work. And before today I would argue with you that Lima was just a couple of unfortunate umpire calls away from being looked upon as a serviceable fifth starter. And even today, in the fifth inning, Lima should have gone 1-2-3 if not for yet another horrible umpire call, this time at first base with John Rodriguez clearly out on Jose Valentin's glove flip to first base. Instead, the fifth was extended by an out, and Scott Spiezio's flare over third drove in a run and knocked Lima out after 4 and 2/3's (a familiar storyline).

Someone once said that adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it. Today, adversity brought out the very worst that Lima Time can provide...most notably, the temper. Take the second inning after his error allowed the fourth run to score: showing up Fluff Castro in full view...barking at Jack Bauer Franco (definitely frowned upon), and cocking his bat back as if to bash someone's head in...all in the span of ten minutes.

Lima Time is apparently kept by coo-coo clock.

It did reveal some good, as Lima was close to perfect after the second inning. And immediately after the bad call, Lima dove for Scott Rolen's tapper and made the out from his back, so there's just a hint of bulldog in him. But the second inning revealed that there's also some pit bull in him...and unfortunately it's the pit bull who's trained not to interact with people so they can be intimidating guard dogs, then turn around and attack infants (and Franco), at which point the owner acts all shocked that the dog would do this.

And now, after a 3-6 road trip heading into the Yankee series, the Mets braintrust have some questions to answer: Can they really afford to wait until Mike Pelfrey is completely ready for the majors? Is there another option in the minors? Is there a viable trade option out there that will be better than Jose Lima, yet not cost an arm and a leg?

"Jose, your performance reminds me of a really bad wedding singer. That was horrible."

"No no no no no no no no no no no, please Mr. Randolph, I can be better...I caught a touch of Keith Hernandez's pneumonia when we were re-enacting the civil war...let me sing again."

"But dawg, it was pitchy...way too pitchy. It's a no for me."


Jaap said...

one thing I find curious about Mets coverage is this idea that Brian Bannister is what will make it better.

It's forgotten that this guy wasn't even supposed to make the team this Spring and suddenly he's a sort of saviour in the waiting. It seems odd. He wasn't expected to be in the rotation anyway. Where was Plan A?

He isn't Dontrelle coming up a few months into the season from AA ball. Let's not forget that even though he was a gutty pitcher, he had a control problem that was certainly going to catch up to him.

The Mets started the season like gang busters - everyone was kicking ass, Bannister included. That doesn't mean Brian Bannister, if he wasn't hurt, wouldn't be the butt of jokes by now - we don't know what kind of pitcher he would be now, a few weeks later. So why are we so concerned about him?

Or is it just me waiting for the cuban defector?

Metstradamus said...

Jaap, spot on.

I think what people need to remember is that Bannister, for as gutsy as he's been, is still a fourth starter at best (no matter what Willie thinks about Trachsel), who's still a 5 inning a game guy for the most part. You're particularly right in that he's exceeded expectations at the start of the season, like everyone else on the Mets has, and was due to crash down to earth at least temporarily.

The Mets need a guy, to me, that can eat up innings, like a Livan, or a Jason Schmidt (my personal prediction for deadline trade this season) and take pressure of the bullpen and keep them fresh over the course of the season...and also because heaven forbid something happen to Pedro or Glavine. Considering their age (Glavine) and the faint hint of injury issues (Petey) you've gotta have a back-up plan.

But I'm not against seeing what Soler can do. And certainly not against seeing what Pelfrey can do as long as he's not rushed.

jabair said...

If Lima Time is gonna continue, why dont they just give the opponents 5 runs and start the game in the 6th inning...

let the wilpons know that this will be great for SNY ratings...

ajsmith said...

I'm so tired of calling, begging, pleading for Aaron Heilman to get a start that I can't think straight.

Trying to plug the gap with Lima was a disaster waiting to happen because, 1. Hamstrings often take longer than expected to heal (not like we've made that mistake before - see Beltran, Carlos and the case of the 24-man roster. And, 2. Lima is finished as a ML pitcher.

At this point, we'd have had AH on the mound 3 times, and his arm would be nice and stretched out to eat innings for who knows how many more weeks while we wait for salvation in the form of Bannister (he of the 5 major league starts and a walk per inning.)

Heilman has more - and more successful - starting experience at this level than eithe Gonzalez or Maine (or Soler, for that matter) and our prized prospect, Pelfrey (see, I can illiterate even when I'm frustrated) has all of 3 AA starts under his belt, none of which have been dominant.

I'm happy that Omar has shown that he won't Kazmir - er, I mean Panic - by trading the future for a stop-gap. But I sense a level of pig-headedness on the part of someone in the organization... "we've decided that Heilman is in the pen, and we're willing to go down with the ship rather than change course."