By Mike Steffanos
Nationals 3 - Mets 2
I understand the Mets have already clinched the playoffs and are resting players, but this streak of hideous offense is becoming ridiculous. When Pedro Astacio shuts you down at this stage of his career, and your only real offensive highlight is provided by Ricky Ledee, that's a poor performance indeed. Multiplied by the fact that this has been the rule rather than the exception in September, and it's time to wake up. There's no need to panic, but the team doesn't want to head into the playoffs in this kind of doldrums. It's getting silly. Even with Beltran out and other guys getting rest days, there still should be enough professional hitters left in this lineup to give a good account of themselves in almost any game. That hasn't been the case.
Speaking of professional hitters, I keep waiting for Shawn Green to become "reenergized" by playing for a contender. He's batting .238 for the Mets in 84 ABs, and if you take away that 3 game mini-hot streak from earlier in the month, it drops to an Anderson Hernandez-esque .164. I figure at age 47 I have about a 70 mph fastball left in my tired old arm. I'd still like my chances in a confrontation with Shawn Green. His declining defense will not off-set this kind of hitting. I'm not trying to jump on the guy, and he has time to turn this around, but if the playoffs started tomorrow I'd much rather see Endy Chavez in right as things stand right now.
What I would hope from this team over the last week of the season is a return to some semblance of the type of offense that it will take to sustain a playoff run. You just can't turn it on and off at will. Frankly, I've found quite a few games this month downright tedious to watch.
The bright spot last night was Orlando Hernandez. A shaky third inning and a bad pitch to Austin Kearns -- combined with a pathetic offense -- cost him a loss, but he looked good giving them seven solid innings. Let's update the chart.
|TOTAL (8 Games)||49.1||25||24||43||49||18||5||4.38||1.24||3-5|
|TOTAL (5 Games)||32.1||8||7||22||33||10||2||1.95||0.99||2-3|
I've highlighted his last 5 games in blue, which include the game before and five games after his break from a tired arm. Would you take that kind of pitching in the playoffs from El Duque? I know I would. He's averaging a strikeout per inning, and after shaking off the rust in Houston is barely walking anyone. The shame is that he has a losing record in these games, but this is due to the Mets employing their "retro 2004" offense for most of the last month.
Guillermo Mota struggled with his control in one inning of work last night, the first time we've seen that since he's come over. He was lucky to escape without giving up any runs. Heilman was solid in the ninth.
Ledee's pinch hit homer was quite a shot. Cliff Floyd had a couple of hits, but Endy was the offensive star with a 3-5 night. Julio Franco grounded out in the ninth. He hasn't had a pinch hit since the end of August.
It really is time for the Mets to wake up over this final week. I'm going on vacation with Lisa from tomorrow through Thursday. We'll be in New York City, and I was thinking of going to Monday's final home game. I'm not sure that I want to put Lisa through watching another snoozer of an effort, not am I sure that I want to pay top dollar to see that. In any case, if the Mets aren't going to care at all about these games, maybe I'm glad I won't be watching them.