In the wake of Atlanta taking two of three from the Mets (and 4 of 6 this season), count Newsday’s Mark Herrman as one observer who thinks the New Mets aren’t new enough.
the Braves left Shea the way they practically always do — smiling and leaving a trail of manager Bobby Cox’s cigar smoke and a litany of praise for the team they had just waxed. Eddie Perez, the Braves’ backup catcher who plays one game a week but who nonetheless went 2-for-4 with a home run in an 8-4 win, said of the Mets: “They’re one of the best teams in baseball right now and you have to play well against them.”
How gracious, from a club that has won the season series against the Mets in 12 of the past 14 years. How familiar it is, from a team that had just beaten the Mets’ two top pitchers in successive games and made these “New Mets” sound like the old Mets: “How do we beat the Braves?”
What the Braves showed yesterday and the night before, despite having played without top hitter Chipper Jones and despite having lost the opener of a three-game series Monday, is that they still are the Braves.
“Until they lose the division, they’re the king. That’s it,” said Cliff Floyd, whose two-run homer in the fourth made the score 4-3 and made the game interesting for a couple of minutes.
“You cannot tell me that with the amount of guys they lost the last couple of years, that you would say they would win the division,” Floyd said. “They lost J.D. Drew, Gary Sheffield, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Javy Lopez. If you had told me they would win after they lost that type of guy, I’d probably tell you that you were crazy. But they found a way to do it, so you’ve got to give them their due.”
Cliff Floyd is off to a terrific start and I’m almost sorry I made so many remarks about how he could barely walk let alone run. But his GM credentials are suspect. John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox clearly knew that certain players were expendable, especially considering the costs of keeping them (hello, Jared Wright).
The jury is still out on moving John Smoltz back to the rotation and the Braves’ addition of Danny Kolb. Kolb’s meltdown on Tuesday night was nearly of nuclear proportions until Cox wisely pulled the latter from the game. Gary Cohen pointed out earlier in the evening that Kolb has barely half a season’s experience closing games and strikes out a mere 2 hitters per every 9 innings ; perhaps “pitching to contact” isn’t the way to go in situations that allow so little margin for error.
And speaking of pitching to contact, Tom Glavine might be writing a book on the subject. Though the ball is also making contact with the bleachers, the left field wall, etc. With two out in the 3rd, Glavine faced Raul Mondesi with Brian Jordan on third and Andruw Jones on 2nd. With first base open, Glavine chose to pitch to Mondesi rather than walk the veteran and face Eddie Perez (hitting .207 at the time). Mondesi promptly singled home both Jordan and Jones on the first pitch of the at bat. Then again, Perez homered later in the game.
(Willie consoles Tom Terrible by telling him he’s looking more like William H. Macy with each passing day)
Glavine is hardly the big name starter who is struggling this year — Barry Zito, Kevin Brown, Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling all come to mind. But Glavine’s underachievement in a Mets uniform is begining to reach George Foster-levels of desperation. If New York offered Glavine straight up for Bruce Chen, would the Orioles bite? Paul Byrd? Jose Lima? Forget it. Unless the Mets are willing to add another faded star to the list of players they’ve paid to play for someone else (ie. Bobby Bonilla, Roger Cedeno), they’re stuck with Glavine until the day his deal expires.