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Dark Days

Mike SteffanosSaturday, July 1, 2006
By Mike Steffanos


Yankees 2 - Mets 0

Orlando Hernandez gave the Mets all they could hope for last night and then some, surviving a one hour rain delay to pitch 7 very strong innings for the Mets in the subway series opener. It wasn't enough, however, as the Mets bats continued their descent in futility begun in the lost series in Boston. It's hard to underestimate how bad the offense was last night, looking more like the futile attack of the low periods last season than anything we've seen this year.

Certainly they missed Carlos Delgado, and even Xavier Nady, but that doesn't excuse what happened last night. They looked like a team that is limping into the All-Star break -- not a good idea, considering there is still over a week to go. Now I wonder who will step up and lift this squad.

They haven't played very well since returning from the road trip in the middle of the month. I think their big lead, the continued poor play of their division foes, and the non-stop hype surrounding them after the road trip has taken their toll. What we're witnessing right now is the worst stretch of baseball this season by the Mets. They weren't sharp at all in losing 4 of 7 on that homestand, and didn't play particularly well in Toronto in taking 2 of 3, they just were hot offensively. Now that the hot bats have cooled, the mistakes are starting to loom larger.

I'm no fan of these endless interleague games, but, at the risk of alienating some of you, one thing I'm grateful for now that we are not playing the Red Sox any more I don't have to listen to any more of that "gee, aren't the Red Sox and their fans wonderful" type of crap. You're so happy that the Red Sox fans embraced you in Boston -- keep in mind that it's not hard to embrace the fans of a team that is going down with almost no fight to your hometown nine. If the Mets are ever a real threat to the Sox, you will see a less cuddly side of them.

And for those of you that professed to be happy that the Mets dropped 3 games to the Yankees biggest foe, I can only say shame on you. When something bad happening to the Yankees trumps something bad happening to the team that you root for, it's time to step back and reassess yourself as a fan. One of the things that alienated me towards Red Sox fans in the aftermath of the 86 series was that they inevitably take more joy in something bad happening to a team they see as their enemy than something good happening to their own. It's sad to see some Mets fans stumbling down that same path. It's just petty.

Thoughts on the game
Not much to say about a game that the Mets, with the exception of Orlando Hernandez barely showed up for, so let's just concentrate on Hernandez. A few days ago I looked at Hernandez, Soler and Trachsel, and their performance over the last month. Let's update El Duque:

Orlando Hernandez
DateOpp.IPRERHKBBHRWHIPTeam
Result
6/3SF65585311.83L
6/8@ARI91133200.56W
6/14@PHI*32243011.33W
6/19CIN72287211.43L
6/24@TOR1.26642113.00L
6/30@NYY72273111.14L
TOTAL33.218183423951.282-4
*Didn't return after rain delay.

With 6 games to look at, Hernandez has been the most consistent of the "bottom three" in the rotation. Take away that one awful game in Toronto and he's been pretty good for the most part. The one thing that holds me back is that the games against Arizona and the Yankees have been extra incentive games, and I still need to see more consistency against teams for which he has no strong feelings. Still, he's gone deeper into games than the other 2, and walked fewer batters. We'll update the others as they pitch.

Box Score

Comments (7)

Thank GOD for the 10 plus game lead. I pray we don't have to use all our chips before this thing is over.With Pedro and Tom G, I didn't think we would see us drooping 4( or more) in a row. Those "chips" are coming in handy.As some may say with hip boots on,here in PA. when it rains it pours. It just seems when it goes bad, everything goes bad. The whole team goes into lala land. They need a good brawl or something to snap them out of it.Come on lets go, I'm ready lets kick some butt. (thats my old Brooklyn blood,sorry LORD, its still in me.)I got to go repent now,bye.

Keep the faith, Rev. I think they have to be really careful about trading chips right now.

Mike, I agree totally with your assessment of the team's play and state of mind the last few weeks. The final game in Boston, the Mets got beat by an AL team playing NL-style baseball(moving the runners over, runners tagging up and advancing, etc.); and to me, that was the final insult, and shows just how "out-of-it" the Mets seem to be right now. When Franco got picked-off, and Crisp pulled that catch out of his you-know-what, the team funk was official and deep. Don't want to ramble on, but poor at bats(not working the count and swinging at 1st pitches a lot), poor base-running, and a team-wide malaise have suddenly engulfed the team. You're right, something radical needs to happen to shake them up. Addendum: watching game #2 right now, and watching Trachsel go to three ball counts on every batter, and him taking 20-30 seconds between each pitch is agonizing(that also doesn't help the team stay sharp mentally either). The upshot is that so far, he's getting people out, but it doesn't bode well for the entire game. UGH! Oh, and I agree 100% that when Met fans begin justifying losses to Boston as not too bad because it hurts the Yankees; that is just wrong!
Finally, are the Mets ever going to go after or draft a guy that can throw 95+???

George, this might sound weird but in a way I'm glad that they actually lost a few games when they were playing bad. I think it was a needed wakeup call, human nature being what it is it was natural for the team to relax a little. They look better against the Yankees today so far (5th inning), but Trachsel (as usual) is killing me. No one could take longer to pitch with a 5-run lead.

Down periods are a natural part of an endless baseball season, I think we want to see them go into the break playing better. The thing with the fans really bugged me, though, you don't have to dislike Sox fans like I do but the love fest made me gag.

Pelfrey has that electric fastball. If he can learn decent offspeed pitches, and get them over, he has a chance to be a 1 or 2 type starter.

Nice game..Mike I said the same thing a few days ago about the Boston games that it should show them this thing is not a cake walk and you can lay back and take it easy.Having that big lead could take the tiger out of them. When I wrote before about CHIPS, I meant the games they were leading by, using them as chips. Thank GOD they have some games to play with, and still have a comfort zone. Again NICE GAME METS. I think I'll take my wife out for dinner.McDonalds is open!

Mike, I can't remember ever feeling so beat-down after a win; and watching Franco's lob not make it to 1st and Wagner jamming his foot/leg on the base was just the icing on the cake(can't the Mets ever simply win and not have something bad happen?). Trachsel is killing me; what happened to him working faster, like he was prior to back surgery? I haven't forgotten Pelfry, but the organization as a whole has not added many hard throwers over the last few years(I won't even mention that guy wearing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays uniform!), and they could sure use a few. Watching Papelbon toy with them sure makes me yearn for the days of Seaver, Ryan, Koosman(in his early years), and Doc and Cone afterwards. I was against the signing of Glavine because he nibbled and lobbed the ball(and he was a Brave!)......a young Pedro would sure look good out there, and I am in the group that is against going after Zito, mainly because he has stunk for the better part of 3 years, and he's a soft-tosser. It was nice having Dotel come in and flame a few hitters now and then; the Mets(except for Wagner when he's on) don't have anyone that scares the other team. They've thrown too much money around over the years to not have some hard throwers on their staff and in the minors. The win today was much needed; that was good for the team, I'm sure.

Hey Rev, I stand corrected on the chips. By the way, you really know how to treat a lady.
----------------
George, I think Trachsel's back is bothering him a lot and this is the best he can do. At least Jose Lima isn't pitching. Zito scares me, too, he hasn't been that great since the Cy Young year, and I worry that in his next contract he'll get paid at a level he's not capable of pitching to again. I'm with you that I want to see some young power arms come up through the system.

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