April 09, 2008

6 Games May Not A Season Make...But When Does The Ghost of 2007 Get Swept Away?

In today's DailyScoop, Sports Illustrated columnist Jon Heyman expresses what most Mets' fans are feeling right now:

Actually, the 5-2 defeat to the rival Phillies Tuesday afternoon was the least of the Mets' worries. In a troubling trifecta, aged pitcher Orlando Hernandez was said to have suffered a recurrence of foot pain, aging second baseman Luis Castillo left the game with recurring knee pain and newcomer reliever Matt Wise had to go on the disabled list with what was termed a forearm injury.

But what's most worrisome is that to date it's nearly impossible to discern the demeanor of the late 2007 Mets from the early 2008 Mets. If ever a team
needed to turn the page, this was it. So it's a shame they look and act the same so far.

Just like the '07 club that imploded in one of the great collapses in modern baseball history, the '08 team is marked by misplays at bad times, inconsistent relief pitching and an unnerving ability to remain calm while everything is disintegrating.

Let's take this one point at a time.

Injuries have continued to be the rallying cry of this year's edition of the Mets. One-eighth of the expected roster (Castillo, O-Hern, Wise and Feliciano) weren't available to either start or finish yesterday's home opener. Castillo's knees might be of greater concern then expressed, as he has not looked strong from the start of the season and using the "cold" of opening day seems like a mere excuse for a larger problem. Let's pray not or losing Ruben Gotay might be an even bigger loss than it originally was.

Orlando Hernandez, at the age of three-hundred-fifty-seven (or close to it) might just have to realize, and us with him, that his days as a useful starter (or even reliever) are finished, and
we have to move on to the next options, whether the signing of Vargas, the promotion of Neise or Bostock or the signing for later this summer of Freddie Garcia. If we're going to have a season to remember, for good things, this issue has to be resolved sooner than later...and now is about the right time, I'd say!

Matt Wise's elbow might be okay soon, as the team says, or he might be another early season casualty to the bullpen - hey, the missing person's bulletin for Duaner Sanchez hasn't yet finished circulating around the NL!

Feliciano is the only one of the four I'm not concerned about, and, in light of the difficult personal situation he went through (very quietly) last season, he deserves every benefit of the doubt and ounce of support we can muster, and I'd rather not say anything more, except that NO ONE
should trust the airlines for ANYTHING these days...

Regarding Heyman's second point, I totally agree! There does NOT seem to be any FIRE coming out of the players' bellies. You can get angry all you want about Chase Utley taking 3 hit-by-pitches, but you'd be lying if you said you didn't want him playing for YOUR team! And Shane's 2 catches showed the fire that everyone thought would be missing from the Phils' play when they let Aaron Rowand go- and we were all WRONG! Sorry to say, but watching the Phillies yesterday reminded me of what a championship club looks and plays like! I am not saying that
can't be us- but I AM saying that right now, 6 games into the season, we look more like the lost lambs of late 2007 then the championship-caliber club you, me, Fred, Jeff, Omar and Willie thought we had going into what we HOPED would be a new season, and not an extension of
'07...and please, God, let's not have THAT happen again!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To Heyman's last point, watching Delgado hit a homer and make a good play at first were thrown out the window (and very quickly, I might add) once his throw hit the runner and the Mets' lost a sure double-play. It reminds me of the kid who brings home a test grade of 60%, and gets angry when his parent don't compliment him on the 60% that he got right- HOW can we be happy with nearly 7 innings of good play if we blow it all in the 8th and end up losing the game? The bullpen, which we all thought was going to be substantially improved, hasn't been, yet- and no one is more guilty of believing this more than me! Injuries haven't been 100% recovered from, and perhaps there is more to the thoughts of some naysayers who believe that Omar hasn't stocked the team with enough depth in the upper levels of the minors to hack out long and short term injuries...

And maybe, just maybe, we're all getting a bit too panicked after 6 games and the ghost of
'07 that still won't leave us, no matter how much we try to block it out...I've heard it all so far, from blaming Omar, to Willie, to Peterson to building CitiField so close to Shea...and yet, the
only thing that can change is the players, and their willingness to either dig deep and make
something positive happen, or not...if the talent is really there, like we all believe (or believeD) it is, then we have to allow them to play through this (hopefully brief) rough patch and continue to pray for them to once and for all bury the ghosts of '07...and, if not, then whatever anyone thinks should be done should (and will) be in play and fair game...let's hope it doesn't dissolve to that point, especially any time soon...

Incidentally, also in Heyman's column, an interesting point about Aaron Heilmans' candidacy for joining the rotation was once again discussed, this time by an unnamed scout (and an opinion that we've expressed 'til we're blue in the face):

One scout says the Mets are making a mistake by not turning Aaron Heilman into a starter. "He's a sinkerball pitcher. Rather than trying to throw 97, he should be throwing 89-92 and starting,'' that scout says. The Mets don't believe Heilman has enough pitches to start (he is a
fastball-change up guy). Yet oddly enough, Mike Pelfrey, who has one reliable pitch, is a starter for them.

I'd love to have that scout get in Omar's ear, that's for sure!!!


Anonymous said...

there is no getting away from last season

Anonymous said...

man they fed us a crock when they said that this year will be different.

so far it's all been the same.

Anonymous said...

can anyone in the bullpen pitch effectively anymore?