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300 Must Wait

Mike SteffanosWednesday, August 1, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

Brewers 4 - Mets 2 (13)
Played Tuesday, July 31, 2007

For a while it looked like it might happen, but Pedro Feliciano continues to show that he is mortal, and Guillermo Mota was lucky to escape the eighth inning with only a blown save. For Tom Glavine, another potential date with baseball immortality will come Sunday in Chicago.

Glavine pitched pretty well, and the 5 walks he issued were as much attributable to home plate umpire Chad Fairchild's small strike zone as Glavine's control. A larger strike zone would have benefited Brewers' starter Jeff Suppan every bit as much as Glavine, and at least he was consistent. What surprised me was the fact that Fairchild felt the need to walk towards the mound and bark at Glavine because Tom dared make a frustrated gesture after being squeezed on one pitch. When are the umpires going to get the fact that they are just appendages to the game? You would think an umpire might give Glavine a little slack when he is trying to get his 300th win and ignore such a trivial reaction. Did Chad Fairchild believe that anyone was watching last night because he was behind the plate? The ego of today's umpires never ceases to amaze me. Again though, the strike zone was small for both teams, which made such a low-scoring game hard to understand.

Tom Glavine (Last 5 Starts)
Season (23 Games)137.270671416249184.381.3814-9

View Tom Glavine's Full Season Stats

For the Mets, this loss meant they would post a losing record for July, finishing 13-14 on the month after suffering through a 12-15 June. They played with an intensity level last night which really wasn't there in the homestand against Pittsburgh and Washington. They need to learn how to bring that every day for the remainder of the season, because they are heading into crunch time. It's amazing how often this season something positive (the 4-3 west coast swing and taking the first two games of the Pittsburgh series) is immediately followed by something negative (losing 3 of their next 4 games to the Pirates and Nats). Right now they remind me very much of the 2005 Mets and, unless they can play better ball consistently, stand a real chance of playing golf rather than baseball in October as that club did.

However you feel about the players the Braves picked up, there is no doubt they are a better club than they were last week. There is also no doubt that injuries have slowed the Mets considerably this season. The problem is that there are two months left in the season and the Mets have to bring it every night now. No one else in the division feels sorry for them because Beltran is out. It's time to suck it up and find a way to win with what they have. With a strained oblique, Beltran is likely to be out far longer than 15 days. It's a tough injury and he's no quick healer. They have to find a way to score runs and win without him.

Box Score

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Comments (7)

Mike, I was very upset at the home plate umpire last night; both for his stamp-sized strike zone and then for his unbelievably childish reaction to Glavine. The fact that a rookie ump was allowed to ump such an important game is something that should be reviewed by MLB. I was having problems with the online feed while watching the game last night, but I believe I heard that he was not only a rookie ump, but a fill-in for a vacationing regular umpire! If so, that is a bad management decision on so many levels. I was one of those that blasted the Mets and Omar when they signed Mota way back when. Not knowing how much his performace last year was due to steroids was my main argument, but to reward a steroid abuser with a 2 year contract was (and still is) something that I cannot fathom. Seeing him continually melt down is not surprising to me, and a good case could be made that we all should have seen it coming. This is a very flawed team, and the organization seems torn between winning now and building for the future; meanwhile, they continue to show only flickering signs of life, and the offense is very offensive! I'm extremely happy that they are in first place, but looking at their record for the last 2 months certainly should be a warning that they may not be there for long. I won't even get into Randolph's managing; that is something that even the biggest Willie supporter has to be concerned about now. Very frustrating team to watch, but watch and follow daily I will continue to do! Let's Go Mets!

You have to hand it to the classy Brewers fans for giving Glavine a standing ovation as he walked off the field...


Good point, Mark English. Good baseball fans will respond to a good and possibly historic effort, as they should, and Milwaukee is a good baseball town whatever else the so-called profit maximizers might say to the contrary.

I'm very concerned about this bullpen going into the stretch run. I really think Omar dropped the ball by failing to acquire a good setup man. You can make a good argument that the price was too high for guys like Gagne and Cordero, but everyone that follows the team has known for over 2 months that this team needed help. Yet nothing was done in the end. With a team positioning itself for a run to and through October, you simply can't go in with a weak pen.

As much as I want to see prospects like Gomez and Humber become cornerstones of the Mets franchise for years to come, the truth is that very few prospects actually become anything of note in the big leagues. And say what you want about the price, but adding a legitimate closer like Corero to Billy Wagner would instantly make life alot easier for this team. Unless something miraculous happens, I have a hard time believing this pen as constructed will hold up in September and October.

What happened to Glavine last night might be an unfortunate microcosm of things to come. I hope it isn't, but I can't deny that I have a very bad feeling about this lack of action.

For me, the answer to our bullpen woes is pretty clear. Since there aren't a lot of reliable relievers available out there, we make better use of the guys we've already got. Continuing what they've started with moving Sosa to the pen, we gradually slot Pelfrey and Humber in there as well. Those two should be more reliable than Mota, Schoenweiss or Sele and, in the process we also help build their confidence by having them face ML batters. We keep one of the aforementioned 3 to play the mop up role. We can also bring Smith back up after he is rested.

Our new and improved bullpen: Wagner, Feliciano, Heilman, Sosa, Pelfrey, Humber + Mota/Schoeweiss/Sele.

How does that grab you?

Chris - it's addition by subtraction at the very least. Though many of Willie's in-game decisions have been dubious, the timing of moving Sosa to the pen right now is excellent.

Thanks to getting Mondays off each of the next three weeks, the Mets can run their other four starters out there, without short rest, for 22 of the next 25 games. Too bad, though, that if Glavine doesn't get a win on Sunday, he'll skip right past the Braves series. That start would have been fun to watch.

George - How about the same umpire making that ridiculous strike 3 call on Carlos Delgado?
Agreed on the Milwaukee fans
Salman - The problem is that the value of prospects has risen so high, simply because it's so expensive to sign established players. It's crucial for even large market teams (look at what the Yankees are doing) to maintain a core of prospects so that they can develop some of them into big leaguers. The problem for the Mets is that the farm system is so shallow there is not a lot available for both trades and the club's own needs.

Hearing that Cordero would have cost Heilman and Humber seems to me like Omar did the right thing. Subtracting Heilman for Cordero to me wouldn't have been a huge bullpen upgrade to give up Humber to boot.

They have the guys in the bullpen who could get the job done. Whether they will get it together or not is certainly a huge story line for the rest of this year.
Chris - It might be worth a try. One thing that I worry about is that both Humber and Pelfrey have struggled to throw strikes this year, and that's not a good thing for a reliever.
Nostra - The way Glavine has struggled against the Braves for much of his Mets career makes me kind of glad he's missing them.

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