Well now the season is truly underway, isn't it? Now that the Mets have had their first true kick in the stomach, we're now officially wading waist deep into the season. There's no turning back to shore now. It's onward to the ocean floor without a life raft.
For me, I think we're now starting to see how a front office and a manager can lose ballgames. Omar Minaya, bless his heart, having been hamstrung by ownership's budget, couldn't bring in a quality lefty for the bullpen to complement Pedro Feliciano. Instead, he borrows one from the Mexican league. Nobody, not even Gary Cohen had heard of Raul Valdez when he made his spring training debut in mid-March. Despite that fact, he made the Mets roster ... which tells you something about how easy it must have been to make the roster.
But when you keep relying on Mexican league castoffs when your ace bullpen lefty looks like death, you're going to get burned more often than you should in a 162 game season. You aren't going to be burned all time time, but in a league where the difference in talent can come down to a few pitches here and there (like the one Valdez threw to Felipe Lopez for the deciding grand slam), you will be burned enough times to make the difference between being in contention for a wild-card spot, and battling the Nationals for fourth place. This is why the Phillies can survive injuries to Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge and go 8-2, while the Mets have Raul Valdez.
Also, when you consistently rely on the likes of Mike Jacobs and Fernando Tatis, you will be burned. But when Jacobs is placed higher in the order than the white hot Jeff Francoeur by the manager, then there's plenty of flame to go around. Jacobs ended the Mets' first inning rally with a strikeout with Frenchy on deck. Then, with Dennys Reyes coming in to face Jacobs in the all important eighth inning rally, Tatis comes up to pinch hit and he strikes out. The alternative would have been Frenchy batting in that spot and facing the righty, Blake Hawksworth.
(Wait a second ... Blake Hawksworth??? Come on. That's not a real person. That was the name of a villian in "Spenser: For Hire". Or Joan Collins' love interest in "Dynasty". Or a Peter Griffin muse in "Family Guy". I mean, are the Mets this bad that they can't muster up a rally against a fictional character???)
Now don't get me wrong. Ultimately, it's players who win or lose ballgames. I believed it when Willie Randolph was making questionable moves/non-moves with the bullpen, and I believe it now. But the people in charge aren't helping any. Friday night was proof.
The shame of it all was that the good Oliver Perez actually showed up to the ballpark tonight. We haven't seen Good Ollie for a long time! For all we know Good Ollie was on a Himalayan expedition since 2008. And this is how he gets treated upon his return? He'll never come back after this. He was shaky in the first couple of innings (walking the immortal Allen Craig in the first inning with first base open and some guy named Pujols on deck had me inventing new curse words) but finished brilliantly. Oliver Perez did this.
And yet, the fruit of his labor was the pumpkin that Raul Valdez's limousine turned into before midnight could cast it's shadow on St. Louis. It was so bad that I wanted to vomit voluntarily ... but there wasn't an 11-year-old in the immediate area so I passed.