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Losing Is Bad (and Other Ramblings)

Mike SteffanosFriday, September 16, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

Nats 6 - Mets 5

A once promising season has taken a really ugly turn at the end. Yesterday's game was a perfect representation of what's been going wrong, capped off by Looper and Matsui being the goats. You have to appreciate the irony of it. Still, though I know this won't win me points with most Met fans I don't have anything against either one.

Looper is certainly not a true closer. As a matter of fact, I think he absolutely lacks the "stuff" of a closer, but I kind of like his toughness and grittiness. It's not easy to pitch in New York, so when you have a guy that can handle it to me he is valuable. I think he could contribute next year out of the pen in a set-up role, but I doubt if that would happen now. I think too many Met fans have seen enough of him, and to be fair, I think he might still command money beyond his worth as a pitcher now. There would still be plenty of interest in him from teams as a closer, and you would have to pay him as such to keep him in New York. But how do you justify paying that kind of money to an 8th inning guy that can't get lefties out?

As for Kaz, I don't think he is anything close to what the Mets thought they were signing. I do, however, think the Mets have more pressing needs in the off-season than replacing him at second base. We need a full-time catcher, a first baseman that can contribute offensively, and some bullpen help. I easily put all of those needs ahead of replacing Matsui - in fact, I think it would be a waste of resources better spent. Don't get me wrong here, I'm not telling you Kaz is great, but I think he is serviceable. If replacing Kaz gets in the way of upgrading some of these other places, especially bullpen, I think it's silly. But for all of that, I think he is so deeply in the Roger Cedeno zone that he is almost surely history.

I wrote a while back that I felt Willie had to show that he could keep this team from quitting on him. Since then the losing has continued. Funny, though, I don't get the same feeling watching the team this September that I did last year. I really don't think they are quitting on him, but the results still suck. I still put it on Willie to turn things around for the last of this season and try not all of the positives gained this year. I'm worried that if this bad play continues that's exactly what will happen.

I know that there will be calls for Willie to be replaced in the off-season no matter how this finishes out. I'm as disappointed as anyone in this September fiasco, but I can't support that. You knew there would be growing pains with a first year manager, well here they are.

I think Willie gets next year, hopefully with a decent bullpen and some offensive production from first base. Maybe Beltran stops trying to justify his contract and just plays his own game. One more solid middle-of-the-order bat wouldn't hurt. You don't hire a guy and not give him a real chance, what message does that send? Now it the same thing happens next year, I'll be calling for his head - loudly...

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