Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cousin Oliver Redux

Could Brian Stokes have been the key all along?

Now far be it from me to be the one to make excuses for the outfit in the pen and the way they've been going these days. Heck, during the early stages of the Mets' 10-0 lead tonight, when you were thinking if there was anyone out there who thought the Mets' bullpen could blow this lead, the answer was yes ... me! But here's what I'm thinking:

Forget the whole "different roles" thing. That's an excuse. A lame one at that. But could it be ... just maybe ... that the whole reason the bullpen has reaked of fresh roadkill is due to the lack of a long option in the pen?

When Darren Oliver played here in '06, the Mets' record in games he's pitched in was 17-28. Look through his game log and you'll see a lot of the scores of the games he's been in are of the 15-2, 11-3, 10-1 variety. Now, go through this season and check out the boxscores of similar games with similar scores. For example: May 12th against the Nationals, where the game was decided by the sixth inning:

Sosa 1 IP
Sanchez 1 IP
Smith 1 IP
Wagner 1 IP

How about two days earlier, a game which was 10-3 after six innings:

Heilman 1 IP
Feliciano 1 IP
Sosa (Who's this Sosa guy?) 1 IP

Even July 3rd, a game with was 11-0 after five and a half.

Schoeneweis 1 IP
Smith 1 IP

Games like this in 2006 saw Darren Oliver eat inning, after inning, after inning. The above blowouts featured names that would be better serve to use their limited bullets on close games, and not blowouts (though the Heilman appearance was very well one of those "I need to find my game" appearances. Apparently, he lost it again.)

Tonight was one of those games that you knew was going to be a patchwork bullpen game with John Maine restricted in his first game back from his shoulder issue. And in a game without Brian Stokes, even with the score 10-0 (which would end 12-0) you would have seen Schoeneweis pitch an inning ... Filthy pitch an inning ... Smith pitch an inning ... heck, Jorge Sosa could have come in tonight just for laughs (Sosa is in the Seattle organization, in case you were wondering. I know you weren't. Heck, I wasn't until I was looking through old boxscores. How did I miss Jorge Sosa going to Seattle? Or should the question be: How could I not?)

But with Stokes on the roster, he fills the Darren Oliver role and gives the rest of the beleaguered some rest by pitching four innings and getting a save in a 12-0 game. And now I'm wondering if there's a way to keep Stokes on the roster when Country Time comes back. Which of course, there is ... with Eddie Kunz eligible to be sent down, and Fluff Castro probably overdue for a spot on the D.L.

And speaking of bullpens, notice how the Phillies bullpen melted late for the second night in a row? Yes, I felt dirty rooting for Chan Ho Park. Dirtier still rooting for Joe Torre. And dirtiest of all when Jeff Kent was up with the Dodgers down by two runs and second and third, and he lined one down the left field line to tie the game which was met with "Yes! Jeff!" A swear which was quickly followed by "I still hate you Jeff!!!", which is the baseball equivalent of blessing yourself after you swear which is what my grandmother did a lot ... thank you, Nana!

But we'll have to send the Dodgers some sort of bouquet of flowers of some sort for sweeping the Phillies and helping the Mets climb back into a tie for first. Hopefully Manny doesn't think it's lettuce and mistakenly eats it. Thank you, Nomar.


MetFanMac said...

Classic post: Out-of-left-field yet in-depth analysis, capped off by one of your trademark laugh lines. Had me ROFLing!

Unser said...

Good point. My question, though, is this: should Stokes be the long man? I don't want to go crazy over 2 outings, but he throws hard and throws strikes. Seems to be able to get lefties out too. He could work 2 of the later innings, maybe even setting up for Wags. It's worth a try. As you poitn out, using 4 pitchers to get 4 or 5 outs is taxing.

And maybe, for now, Heilman should be the long man.

Kunz probably is the guy to demote - Manuel seems averse to using him anyway. This guy needs to pitch . . . somewhere.

katherine said...

Oh JOY!!

To go to bed with the Phillies leading 6-1 and wake up to see that they lost 7-6. We have just GOT to take advantage of their ineptitude to get ahead and stay ahead!

Re Comment Moderation: I miss waking up and seeing the comments that the insomniacs and fans from other time zones have left.

tim said...

Being here on the east coast you forget the absolute bunch of misfits Torre has out there, Park, Nomar, Kent, D-Lowe and now Manny. If this were 1998 the Dodgers would be the best team in baseball.

Demitri said...

I think Metsblog stole your idea, or do great minds think alike?

I too was gratified to see the vaunted Phillies bullpen implode for the 2nd night in a row.

schneck said...

I think bringing Heilman in early (if they must keep him on the roster) makes some sense. He certainly has shown that he has no value as a short man. By stretching him out a bit, maybe another team can become convinced that he is capable of being a starter as he has wanted all along. Of course, that assumes that he makes it through multiple innings.