Friday, September 22, 2006

The Sky Is Falling!

Okay, not really.

All of a sudden, the Mets can't seem to score, as tonight was their 8th straight game scoring four runs or less, a 3-2 loss to Pedro Astacio and the Nationals. But let's keep things in a small bit of perspective. Since the Mets have clinched, Willie Randolph has treated the paying customers to the likes of Julio Franco at third base, Michael Tucker at first, Kelly Stinnett, Mike DiFelice (will someone tell the folks at the Mets-owned television station how to spell "DiFelice"...here's a hint: not "DeFelice"), and Ricky Ledee. So you'll forgive me if I'm not going to go postal on this lineup. However:

Sooner or later, David Wright has to get himself a big hit.

Sooner or later, Shawn Green has to get himself a hit of any size.

And sooner or later, Jose Reyes has to stop swinging for the fences. He did it with the bases loaded and two outs on Wednesday night, and he did it in the eighth inning tonight. Now I would never tell Jose Reyes to cut down on his home runs, because you want him never to lose his natural swing. But I would also tell him to stop getting so homer happy. Nineteen HR's is great...but it's gravy, and no matter how great the gravy is, you can't have it without meat. Hit the ball hard Jose, that's your meat.

All right, I'm done.

***

Ricky Ledee pinch hit tonight against Pedro Astacio having hit Astacio hard in his career (8 for 13 with 4 HR's). Upon hitting number 5...a moon shot over the right field bullpen...Gary Cohen said that Ledee "has resumed ownership of Pedro Astacio". This brings about a very important point:

I thought slavery was illegal.

***

All right, all right, now to discuss something that the booth brought up tonight in a serious manner. Keith Hernandez was talking about...of all things...the 1984 NLCS between the Cubs and the Padres, and how Keith thought it was a mistake to pitch Dennis Eckersley with a two game lead in game three (1984 was the last season where NLCS's went best-of-five). Hernandez would have saved the gamer Eckersley for a game four scenario, and pitched Scott Sanderson, who had more stuff but struggled to put it together sometimes, in game three.

Now in the long run, it didn't matter since the Cubs lost both those games and one more...but it brings up an interesting point (no cheeseball punch line here) on the heels of another solid performance by Orlando Hernandez tonight. If the Mets are up two games to none going to the road in game three, do you waste your ace in a game that isn't a "must win"? Or do you go with John Maine in game three and get him some valuable postseason experience while saving Hernandez for a potential 2-1 game, or better yet hope Maine pitches the Mets to victory and you save Hernandez for an early NLCS game? Or do you go with Steve Trachsel, who is infuriating but bore down in the clinching game?

What do you do? I'll tell you what I'd do. In a 2-0 scenario? I'm savin' Hernandez for game four.

***

Just to let you know, I've officially stopped worrying about the St. Louis Cardinals in October.

***

So it looks like Joe Girardi is packing his bags after this season.

On the surface, it looks like Marlins' owner Jeffrey Loria is letting his ego get in the way regarding Girardi. Considering the way the Marlins have continuously pilfered the souls of the dwindling Marlins fan base, it almost seems like Rachel Phelps owns this team, continually trying to find the worst players so that the attendance will fall far enough so that she can move the Cleveland Indians to Florida. But the Marlins are already in Florida, there just desperately trying to get out.

It's not the best idea to tell your boss to "shut the f**k up", but the boss has to know enough about baseball to know that owners who yell at umpires about calls don't help their team, they only hurt them. If Loria doesn't realize that, then he's a goober. And considering the fact that if you, as an owner, have no choice but to hamstring your team with young players, then maybe firing the manager that brought this group of players to the brink of the playoffs isn't the best idea, and that it would be wise to swallow your pride for the overall good of the team and of your fan base, whom have been abused enough.

But as I hear more about the complaints that management has with Girardi...that he's not a people person and that he's a "control freak", then maybe there's no other choice but to cut bait. The Larry Beinfest/Joe Girardi dynamic is eerily reminiscent of the Neil Smith/Mike Keenan relationship with the New York Rangers. It was no secret that Keenan wanted to acquire his own players and didn't get along with Smith one bit. The feeling was mutual, as I gather that the feeling from Beinfest to Girardi and back is as well. Smith and Keenan were only together for one year before they mutually hatched a plan for a bonus payment due Keenan to arrive one day late so that Keenan can claim breach of contract and bolt to the St. Louis Blues. And don't forget that the year that Smith and Keenan were together produced a Stanley Cup...so no result that comes out of the Joe Girardi situation should surprise anyone.

Bear in mind this too: While the Marlins may be worse off without Girardi, Girardi might be worse off without the Marlins. All guesses have Girardi replacing Dusty Baker in Chicago next season. But would Chicago, with a more veteran roster (and a more fragile roster with Kerry Wood and Mark Prior alone) be as good a fit for Girardi's hard nosed managing style than Florida is or was? Dallas Green, for example, was great at making a bad team respectable...but could never take that same respectable team to the next step, and that's why his only World Championship was with a team that was ready made for him. Can Girardi adjust his style for an older team? That remains to be seen, but I gather it will be difficult.

A quick question to end this Girardi riff: Knowing what we now know about Girardi, knowing that there is a couple of dents in his armor, is he still a slam dunk for the manager of the year award? Or do some votes now go Willie Randolph's way? Enough votes to change an outcome that at one point seemed inevitable?

***

This is the best thing I've read so far this season. Some may say it's debatable, I say it's gospel.

10 comments:

DFrank11 said...

Comments on some of the points raised:

1. Lack of hitting. Uh, guys, I know you clinched early and all, but c'mon already. It's time to put the game faces back on and get ready for the title push. I am worried that complacency is setting in and that is when teams develop bad habits that are tough to drop (like a bad habit =)).

2. Which starter to use in Game 3 if up 0-2. My vote is Trash-Can. Even if he doesn't get the win, the 4 hours it will take him to pitch 5 or six innings will ensure that our opponent is sleepy for Game 4.

3. St. Louis. I never thought I would get a warm, fuzzy feeling seeing Looper come in and blow another save. No starting pitching (beyond Carpenter), no bullpen, the stud and Rolen surrounded by mediocre players in the lineup and maybe the biggest egomaniac mananger in the last 30 years. Bring me the Cards in the first round.

4. Joe Girardi. This is a freakin' joke!! First, the team hires the guy with the supposed promise that they will not gut the team ... then they gut the team. They put a roster loaded with minor leaguers and journeymen in this guys hands and what does he do? Put them around .500 and close to the playoffs when everyone expected them to lose 100-110 games. And now they want to get rid of the guy because he is a "control freak?". What a joke. Do they want something other than a control freak managing a bunch of kids that have no clue how to play in the bigs? he is exactly what they needed and to dump him is a shame and is the final straw to prove that this team just does not want to have success right now.

Oh, one last note on Girardi. Him going to the Cubs is EXACTLY what the Cubs need ... a butt kicker that ain't gonna take ^%(&% from anyone and will whip them into shape. Not that I want to see that happen, since my Cub fan wife will then POTENTIALLY have a chance to talk smack back.

LET'S GO METS!!!!!

Patrick Burke said...

Was at the game tonight. Two thoughts:

1. Endy must play in the playoffs, at least in some significant capacity.

2. That Ledee homerun was the longest shot I've ever seen at Shea. What a bomb! (and right before he hit it I was saying to the guy next to me how crappy it was and how I hated that he was on the Mets)

Darth Marc said...

You have problems.

Although I do agree with you on Girardi thing....

Unser said...

DiFelice couldn't hit a watermelon. Teach your kids to be catchers - it's their ticket to the majors.

I'd like to see the A plus lineup about now, wouldn't you? This is such a weird year - they've cruised to the pennant, but I have big concerns (i.e. Pedro and hitting vs. lefties). I don't remember having any concerns in 1986 and 1988 for that matter.

Re: 1984 - I hated the Cubs that year. Mex really brought back those memories, good and bad. And it's true - they could not beat Sutcliffe that year. In fact, I think we beat the Cubs only when Rick Reuschel pitched.

dmg said...

about girardi as manager of the year, he'd have a better case about what a terrific job he's done if the team finished, oh you know, above .500. or are we not supposed to notice that?

right now, they're 2 games under, their wild-card chances long shot. he's done a good job, but so have other managers, including, as it happens, willie randolph. at the start of the season, each of them faced different circumstances and expectations.

in girardi's case, those circumstances were extreme, and the expectations were understandably low.
in randolph's case, the circumstances were unquestionably more favorable, but the expectations were dauntingly high. and he has exceeded those.

to me it's no contest.

thanks for the link to that 10-spot. i wouldn't have read it otherwise, and i agree, it's one of the best writeups of the year.

Jim in LA said...

In terms of this lefty pitching quandry, here's my idea:

Instead of the usual BP, the Mets should get one of their minor league call ups with decent lefty stuff (whom they don't plan to use in games) to pitch their BP with real-game intensity. From now until the playoffs.

Is this conceivable?

Metstradamus said...

L.A. Jim,

Evan MacLane would have been nice but, oh well.

Good thinking, but heaven help the Mets if this lefty blows out his arm pitching B.P. These minor leaguers are barely allowed to let loose during a real game.

How about Rickey Henderson?

jabair said...

gotta let yoo know man!! this post was pretty boring..

Metstradamus said...

I guess A.D.D. isn't just for kids anymore.

Ed in Westchester said...

As soon as I read it, I knew you would link to the 10 spot.
And I knew Darth would be upset.
All in a days work Metstra.