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Zambrano and Mets Offense Both Disappoint Again

Mike SteffanosSunday, April 23, 2006
By Mike Steffanos


Padres 7 - Mets 4

Victor Zambrano was at his Schizophrenic worst, and the offense made Clay Hensley look like a future Hall of Famer for 5 innings before scratching a few runs out to get back in the game. Then the Mets 'pen bled a couple more, the offense went back to sleep for the rest of the game, and the Mets settled for a split of their 4 game series with San Diego -- not a disaster, but a disappointment none the less.

I've stopped defending Victor in this space. It's time for him to learn how to pitch. I'm not sure at all that he's capable. If he keeps going like this, he's going to force the Mets to look at one of their sub-par options in Norfolk or possibly overpay for a starter in a trade. As I mentioned earlier today, I wouldn't be in favor of moving Heilman out of the bullpen right now. The 'pen is the real strength of this club, and Heilman and Sanchez are as dynamic of a pair of setup men as there are in baseball. Maybe Henry Owens brings that 100 mph fastball to Shea and changes the dynamic, maybe Jorge Julio gets better and better and eventually makes Heilman expendable from the bullpen. In the meantime, Willie and Omar would be silly to mess with it.

I suspect that Victor will get a few more starts to turn it around. All he really needs to be is a guy who gives you a chance to win, just a decent fifth starter. Can he be that? Wish I knew. He certainly wasn't that guy today.

Some thoughts on the game

I thought it was a good move giving Reyes the day off. I didn't mind Willie using him as a pinch-hitter, but the double switch that left him in the game seemed gratuitous. Why not give him a real day off? He looks like crap at the plate right now.

Walking 2 guys today was kind of a step back, but 3 Ks and another scoreless inning didn't suck for Mr. Julio. It's gotten to the point where he can come into a game and you can reasonably hope that he won't be scored on. He's gone 5 innings over 5 appearances without allowing a run, after 4 awful outings to open the season. He allowed a walk each in both of his first two outings, then none until the 2 in today's game. In 9-2/3 IP this season, he has allowed 4 walks and has struck out 17. That's pretty amazing. After allowing 11 hits in his first 3-2/3 IP, he has allowed only 2 hits in his last 6 innings. I knew he had been pitching pretty well, but I didn't realize how well until I looked at the numbers. If you can fix this guy, you're going to have 4 guys with closer's stuff -- Wagner, Sanchez, Heilman and Julio. Just for kicks, think back on the bullpen we had in 2004.

Tom Glavine tries to get the Mets off to the right start in San Francisco tomorrow night 10:15 ET. Matt Cain pitches for the Giants.

Box Score

Comments (5)

The season never really goes that smoothly. there are progressions. Last yr it was the whole team, but the BP stood out.
1. Actually thank you for VZ. He has kept everything in frame. he is the weakest link and despite your critique look at Bannisters numbers; 2-0,2.36 ERA. Would u take that from Victor? yes. There is a market for Victor, note there is an addage that some pitchers never get it done in NY.
2. Heilman IS an option and a great one. I have said lay off Julio and he is doing very well, better than loop or Graves. he Is proving himself and the peripherals are very nice. He can set up Sanchez as can Oliver. As for Norfolk the names that would come up are
HEATH BELL....nuff said.
3. Controversy: Lastings Milledge is ready.

Why do you always defend Zambrana? He sucks and so do you.

Ah, it's great to feel the love...

I would dispute you Ed, that I have been overly critical of Bannister. What I do here is write about what I see and what I feel. (That's whay I call this site Mike's Mets and not Ed's Mets.) I still like Bannister, but he knows himself his nibbling is a problem. I've defended Zambrano more than anyone, but he's become a big problem right now.

My point on the bullpen is that you don't take Heilman out of there and weaken the strength of your team. I need more than a few decent appearances by Julio to feel comfortable with moving Heilman. What if Sanchez gets hurt.

By the way, unlike a lot of other bloggers I've been fair to Julio in this space.

"Anonymous" -- when you learn to spell, come back and we'll talk.

Mike,

Thanks for your site. You give me an avenue to vent, yet also pose interesting thoughts and perspectives.

I have defended Zambrano as much/more than most. Now we all Willie included are getting tired. My point above was not defending VZ, it was to contrast a 25yr old rookie who has given the Mets a chance to win EVERY time out. He has stranded base runers, pitched out of jams, come up with big strikeouts. VZ does not. Also we are very short on pitching depth but unless something changes I can see Heilman move into the rotation.

Again, just my thoughts.

Ed, I bust them on you, you bust them on me -- we understand each other. No big deal. No need to change. Keep venting. Someday we should have a beer together and throw beer nuts at each other while arguing.

I still think VZ is the best option right now, but he's running out of time. I do think Bannister will be fine, but he needs to get past the nibbling. To his credit, he says the same himself. I just write about my thoughts and concerns on an ongoing basis, that's what a blog is, and my concerns right now are with all 3 pitchers.

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