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Spoiling Is For Losers?

Mike SteffanosWednesday, September 28, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 3 - Phillies 2

Although I agree with the quote from Willie Randolph that is the headline for this post, I still enjoyed these last two games. I enjoyed watching Met-killers Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell come up short in key situations. Still, there is a limit to the amount of enjoyment I can receive from watching the Phillies' playoff hopes wither and die -- after all, our hopes have been on life support for weeks.

What I enjoyed more was the fact that Willie has kept the Mets playing hard even after it was over for them, and to me he gets some major points for this accomplishment. I don't know how things are going to play out over these final five games, but I have a much better feeling about this team right now. I truly feared this team would quit on the season after that disastrous stretch in early September, the simple fact that they didn't is a significant turn-around.

Still, one thing that I have to disagree with is the tendency of some fans, now that the Mets have closed somewhat in the standings, to point to some of the more painful losses of this season and play the "what if" game. The season is ALWAYS going to turn on a relatively small number of games, after more than 3-1/2 decades of watching this game I have certainly learned that simple truth. For all that, though, it was a lack of talent in some important areas, an inability to get runners home in key situations, and Carlos Beltran's season long struggle that sank us this year.

Also there were times this year, especially on the sad road trip that buried us, where the team just looked like it was trying too hard. Learning how to play with a relaxed intensity, in which you can put forth maximum effort without tying yourself up in knots, is a process. It tripped us up this year, but I believe our young core of players will learn from this season's struggles.

Just say no to Ugueth Urbina...

I never wanted the guy this year, and I'm not really interested in him as a free agent this winter. I know he has had some strong outings for the Phillies since they acquired him, but to me he is just a somewhat more proficient Braden Looper. He's blown 6 save opportunities since coming over to the Phillies and walks too many guys for a closer or even an eighth inning guy. In 52 games for Philadelphia he has a 4.38 ERA in 49.1 innings, with 23 walks and 8 HRs given up. We don't need another guy like this.

The problem for teams like the Mets that are unable to groom their own closers from within is that you always wind up paying too much on the open market. You're getting a guy whose former team decided that he wasn't worth the money he was asking. Compound this with the fact that you don't know how well this guy will perform in New York. Don't take this as an endorsement of Aaron Heilman as next year's closer -- we simply haven't seen enough to take that gamble. I just wish the Mets could actually develop some closer candidates from within the organization.

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