By Mike Steffanos
Yankees 16 - Mets 7
On the day that I chose to point out how far Willie has come as a manager, he decides to prove how far he still has to go. He was dealt a very poor hand tonight, but make no mistake, he played it equally poorly.
With long man Darren Oliver needed to take Pedro's start tomorrow, Willie was one man short for tonight and faced with the likelihood that he would have to use the bullpen hard tomorrow. He seemed to base his decision on leaving the rapidly imploding Alay Soler in the game more on wishful thinking that the Cuban might suddenly rediscover his shrinking cojones than on what was obvious to all of us watching. With a team that had just stopped a bad losing streak, and all the extra juice of playing the rubber game of the Yankees series, it was a really poor decision that deserves to be criticized. The Mets had visible momentum after chasing Jarred Wright, and Willie let that slip away as he stayed with Soler far, far, far too long.
Thoughts on the game
For me, the disappointment of what happened tonight is tempered by my deep concern over the implications to the rotation of Soler's performance. Lets update his table with this latest fiasco:
Soler is a young guy, and you have to live with some growing pains, but what we're seeing these last 3 games is a man that is afraid to pitch to anyone. To be honest with you, I'm not all that in favor of giving him another start. I'm not saying that because I'm bitter about tonight -- I just don't know what you have to work with here. I thought he might bounce back from his Fenway start and at least throw strikes and make them beat him with hits. If he did that, even if he got hit hard, I wouldn't have a problem giving him another start. As it is, with Pedro missing a start and the desire of the club not to rush Mike Pelfrey, we're likely to see him toe the rubber one more time. I just don't know how much leeway he gets with 2 gutless performances in a row like these last 2.
You know, if Heath Bell came into the game today and showed anything at all, you might have to think about taking a shot moving Heilman to the rotation. He showed absolutely nothing except for how very hittable he could be at times. I'm tired of Bell's "potential" -- every time I start to buy into him again he puts forth a performance like tonight's. The Mets have talked about possibly bringing up Mike Pelfrey and using him out of the 'pen to ease the transition and protect him a little. Although I'd rather see him stay in Double-A and work on his breaking pitches, that might get more appealing and might make some sense at some point soon.
Ah, the damn game's over at last, people. This little buckaroo is hitting the sheets. Keep good thoughts.