When Bears Attack... or Snowballs in September
Luis Castillo, back in the days when he swung.
The Mets got shellacked by the Cubs last night, with the major blow being dealt by a goddamn pitcher. The Cubs thoroughly outclassed them, making it hard to see the Flushing Follies getting past Chicago in the first round. The Mets were pathetic in every sense of the word. By the 5th, I was actively engaged in looking ahead to next year. With the Brewers headed into Pittsburgh, there is very little to be optimistic about. We're on our way past Tragedy Terrace to Laughingstocks Lane. Things are out of control. Snowballs in September are becoming regular thing at Shea, and it ain't because of global warming.
There is not much more to say than that. But I have Bolivian investors to keep happy so I'll go on and tell you how it is. Omar Minaya is not fooling anyone this time. Willie can't be blamed. Despite my desire for organizational continuity, I would be surprised and somewhat dismayed if Omar retains his post. It's only fair. He got his second chance already, and Jerry Manuel also got his last shot at the big time. Retaining these two would be like reelecting Bush in 2004: it could happen but it would be really really bad. Here's Omar's rap sheet:
*He entirely neglected to address a bullpen that keyed the epic collapse of 2007.
*He signed Luis Castillo to a four year contract.
*He stuck to his strategy to be the AARP of the MLB, retaining meaningful positions for Alou, Pedro, El Duque, Castillo, Easley when perhaps a GM could get away with having one of these types of players.
*His outfield plan hinged on Angel Pagan and Brian Church, both of whom have fringe histories and were soon debilitated by injury.
In his years, Omar has made a couple of good trades. He put the Mets on Scott Boras' radar screen. But he has trouble with the big picture. Forgetting to upgrade a pen that was so dreadful in 2007 is a sin of ginormous proportions one that blots out the sun.
By the 8th, the SNY guys were quizing Keith Hernandez' spelling ability. By that time, I was long gone. When the 7th rolled around, the chatboard I frequent was empty, and I was left to rant uncontrollably or compose my master plan for 2009 depending on how you look at it. Because frankly, even if this club backs into the playoffs somehow, they can't possibly get out of the first round. This is a thoroughly unenjoyable team to watch, so it's appropriate that the Brewers are the team to watch if you're still interested in the Mets' playoff hopes, it seems entirely dependent on what the Brew Crue do.
The Wilpons need to take swift, decisive action. Here's what the Mets need to do this winter, in order of level of controversy/difficulty:
*rid team of Aaron Heilman, and the rest of his pen pals
*send prozac out with all ticket purchases
*build at least one entirely new bullpen
*hire someone who can identify the Marmol's and the Lidge's of the world
*find a spot in the infield for the Irish hammer Daniel Murphy
*tell Jerry Manuel “thanks but no thanks”
*find a task-master manager
*find most of a new pitching rotation (to add to Johan and Pelf)
somehow import "leadership" at all levels
*find a reliable run producer for the middle of the order
*find the balls to get rid of Schneider and maybe Church, even though they traded Lastings for them.
*add 10000 seats back to Citifield since all the suits that were going to be filling the seats just got sacked and only middle class loyalists will want to watch this group of clowns
*consider moving David Wright and his sissy arm to second
The major psychological challenge for next year is that both the Mets history and their nearest competitor are now solidly in their heads. There's just no getting around it, the Mets dreadful, pathetic, heartless performances of the past two falls have made an indelible impression such that when September rolls around, there is no way to believe the Mets will not be spooked.
Managerwise, after two lifeless Septembers in a row where many players seemed to lose focus, I argue this team needs a task-master disciplinarian. Having Lou Pinella on my mind since I got to watch him, I can't help but wonder what would have been if Sweet Lou had taken over this team a few years ago like I wanted. So grumpy-take-no-shit managers, send your applications in to the Mets! Elderly gentlemen and ex-Yankees need not apply.
We all love Wright and Beltran. Some of us love Reyes. But these guys aren't nearly enough. Not to get into playoffs. And certainly not enough to go very far if they did get in, it seems to me.
It's true, the Mets need to somehow get some quality professional bats in their 6-8, and pumping money into creeky and old utility infielders and Brian Schneider has not worked. But the celebrated heart of the order has not been enough to get it done when it counts, and there is just no way in hell that Delgado will be able to replicate his second half surge.
The Mets' brass needs to stop taking chances with personnel. I’m tired of hearing that “if” Delgado can revert to form, “if” Church can overcome his concussion and history of being a 4th outfielder, “if” Moises Alou can remain healthy for the first time ever, “if” Pedro can squeeze out one more year, “if” El Duque can rise from the dead, “if” Castillo can overcome offseason surgery to become his spritely self of 5 years ago, etc.
That’s why I think besides the more obvious pitching issues, the Mets finally need to read the writing on the wall and look into the probable future. They will need another run producer and it will most likely be next year. That’s why I think Delgado’s “Renaissance,” as much as i enjoyed it, actually may be a bad thing in the long run. Against all my common sense about throwing anymore big contracts at free agents of Omar’s choice, I am wondering if someone like Mark Teixeira isn’t exactly what they need. It would be hard to throw more money at Teixeira than the Angels, and since the Mets will probably be picking up Delgado's option, this bat is most likely going to have to come at a corner outfield slot or at second base. I would caution sinking too much hope in Brian Church who's career was endangered by the medical staff this year and has really proven nothing anyhow.
So there you have it, perhaps the first "fix the Mets" blog post of the season. If you didn't like it, don't worry, they'll be lots more.