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Watching the Train Wreck in Slow Motion

MetsFanSZThursday, July 9, 2009
By MetsFanSZ


There's no doubt that I should not be unemployed. The effect on our household income is serious.

Even more serious, though, is that I'm watching more Mets games on television. This too is having a devastating effect on my psyche. This team, with their mortifying collapses the last two years, is freakishly close to utter chaos. Their injuries aside, their pathetic lapses on defense, their preposterous lack of clutch hitting, and the performances of the remaining star players are stupefying.

The backups are doing an adequate job. But now Rodriguez has blown his third save, again in despicable fashion. Okay, you can't fault him for the first one, that was Castillo's meltdown.

Let's start with David Wright, until lately leading the league in hitting. The power is gone, and clearly not entirely because of the new stadium. Was it Manuel's insistence on trying to hit the other way? For Wright, hitting the other way has always been a key strength. When he's going the other way, he's going well. But what put the uppercut in his swing this year? It's non-stop! The strikeouts are worse than alarming. Yes, he's hitting and stealing bases. But the clutch performance is Kingman-like. And his defense has been abominable, his throws, atrocious. Were they that much better with Carlos Delgado scooping them out? He needs to keep his tongue in his mouth and get back to that little hands back gesture he used to use between swings, as if to remind himself to keep his hands back.

As Met fans listened over the winter, we knew there was no trading Castillo with that contract. Given what the team was eating on Wagner's contract, there was no way they would eat the remainder of Castillo's and sign Hudson. We listened when Castillo said he wanted the chance, when he insisted they bring him back to earn the respect and admiration of his teammates and the fans. And of course, we were hoping he'd get it.

Aside from the dropped pop up, which will live in Mets infamy only slightly lower than Heilman's gopher ball to Molina, he's having a good season. Not great, not terrible. Some clutch hits, some sensational plays at second, a few steals. The average is down some, but we're still rooting for him. Met fans want to see him do well. Even just hit .285. Is there any doubt how much better he'd be batting behind Jose Reyes, seeing fastballs with Reyes on first and Beltran on deck?

Will we see Beltran again? This year?? Ever?? In a Mets uniform? They seemed to hold it together without Reyes and Delgado and Putz and Maine and Perez, and even for a short time after Beltran went down. Now, they're coming apart at the seams.

And as they come back to beat the Pirates in the makeup game, and Frankie gets the win instead of the save, even in victory it's a frustrating win.

Cora's been fine, mostly. Clearly not Reyes, but he wasn't supposed to be. His job was going to be to fill in for Castillo if Castillo wasn't hitting or to give either or both occasional days off. After a slow start, regular playing time has helped keep his average up.

Santos has been a revelation. Who has the won-loss records of Santos vs. Schneider catching? The off-season chart of pitchers ERA last year with Schneider catching vs. Castro catching was alarming. And aside from two three-run homers, has Schneider ever hit anything other than a ground ball to second base? Okay, sometimes to first. He's a double play waiting to happen.

Pelfrey has shown both the brilliance of the pitcher he's expected to become and the inconsistency you expect in a young pitcher. It's no secret -- if he throws strikes, he wins. Same for the relievers. There is no defense to the base on balls. Even Santana, sensational in the early going and having to battle through the atrocious defense, has shown cracks -- walking Rivera for his first career RBI?? How sickening was that?

Give Minaya some credit. Sheffield's pickup was brilliant. At the time, they needed a right-handed bat with some power coming off the bench. Who could have imagined what that would turn into? With the right amount of playing time, he's been a solid contributor. Too little, his swing looks sick. Too much, and he looks fatigued.

This team takes too many good pitches and swings at too many bad ones. The relievers come in and constantly walk the first hitter they face. Even so, the relievers and starters are the strength of this team. Despite losing Putz, the bullpen has held up and the biggest weakness was rebuilt into the team's biggest strength. For that alone, Minaya deserves credit. Give him some. A lot.

When Delgado comes back, how long will it take until he rounds into form? Can Maine provide a solid second half? Does he replace Redding? Nieve was pitching well until his last outing. Do we believe Oliver Perez can be effective? On any kind of consistent basis? I didn't see his win, but I didn't have to. SEVEN WALKS in FIVE INNINGS? This is little league, not the major leagues. Hmmm. Where did I hear that recently on a national telecast?

Given that they are hanging around and the Phillies are not running away with the division and hiding, the fear here is that we're looking at another amazing dash to take control of the division, only to collapse with two weeks to go. Those who do not learn the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat it.

The lack of help in Buffalo is alarming. The lack of young players to come up and replace the older ones is also alarming. We can only hope that Fernando Martinez gets the time and help he needs to show his struggles now will only help him develop into a stronger player, and that they don't lose patience and trade him for the likes of Carlos Zambrano.

Back to the job hunt. Any suggestions? At least cross your fingers, okay?

Comments (8)

Yeah, yeah, I know. VICTOR Zambrano.

job hunt? can you play the out field?

Unless the Mets want to go radical at the trade deadline and trade Reyes as part of a deal for Halliday, or Parnell and a couple of other relievers/prospects for a guy like Zobrist, I think the Mets need to sit tight and then be sellers this winter and get good prospects back and reshape the team to create a new "window" for winning. Depending on how well they recover from their surgeries, I think they also should consider exercising the options for both Wagner and Putz and then look to deal them while eating some of the salary. If they could get 1-3 good prospects back for each, it would help a lot long term even if it cost cash for the 2010 season. I would explore trade opportunities for Reyes and Maine as well. Obviously, I am not expecting trades for the sake of trades, but "good" trades. If they aren't there then no deal.

Steve - I didn't see this one coming. Did you?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
NEW YORK -- The Mets traded right fielder Ryan Church to the Braves for Jeff Francoeur prior to Friday's contest with the Reds.

Francoeur hit .250 with five home runs and 35 RBIs in 82 games for the Braves this season. Church, meanwhile, batted .280 with two homers and 22 RBIs in 67 games for the Mets.

"This is a trade that's not only for now, but for next year and beyond, because of the youth of the player and that what he does fits the ballpark," general manager Omar Minaya said.

What do you say about a General Manager who looks at a player with possibly the worst command of the strike zone in the major leagues and thinks: "how can I get this guy?"

This is a trade that helps the Braves and hurts the Mets. Yes, Francoeur is 25 years of age; he also has had something like 2600 plate appearances in the bigs. It is possible that he will, over time, make an adjustment and become a passable hitter; it is more likely that he won't, and it is gurandamnteed that he will cost the Mets rallies and ball games while the team waits to see if he can change.

And if he does finally change, what team will he be playing for by then?

Awful trade, less awful than the Kazmir givaway only in that the Mets donated less talent this time around, though this time we are benefiting a division rival. Omar Minaya has now used up all of the good will I had for him.

Lest anyone thinks I am picking on our new rightfielder, let me add this tidbit to remove all doubt.

At the time of the trade, Ryan Church, having an off season, still managed an On Base Percentage fifth points higher than Francoeur. That translates to one time every four games when Ryan would manage to get on base that Frenchy would make an out.

Is that a big deal? It's more of a delta than the difference between the team OBP's of the Dodgers and the Padres, teams that are respectively first and last in that very important category.

Bad trade. Bad, bad trade.

Francoeur had more RBI's yesterday than the whole team had for the last three games. What a differance a day makes. Time will tell, if the change of teams will help "frenchy". I think it will.

Alright seriously, leave David Wright alone. Now i'm not just saying this because i have a rather large yet adorable-in-a-non-creepy-way obsession with him. But seriously, he's only 26 and he has to fill the athletic as well as leadership roles of Reyes, Beltran, AND Delgado...that's pretty hard to do! I'll admit, his throws need a little work...but if everyone was healthy do you think people would take it as seriously? Yes i understand he needs to step it up, and he has. He's having probably his most streaky season of his career...i don't know what's changed, but in my eyes he's the same David Wright he always was. I think people booing him is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. And don't you dare tell him to put his tounge away, it's his signature move ;)

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