While discussing Mike Piazza’s struggles (0 RBI’s in his last 13 games heading into last night’s action), Larry Bowa echoed CSTB’s recent advice to move David Wright lower in the batting order (Mr. Veiny Brainy says hitting cleanup), with Mike Cameron 2nd, Cliff Floyd 5th, Piazza sixth and Matsui 8th, respectively. Much like everything Bowa says on TV or radio now that he’s not wearing a uniform, it makes plenty of sense.
Given Jose Reyes’ ability to hit balls into the gap (another 2 triples in last night’s 12-4 win over the Marlins) there’s been some talk of moving the young SS to 2nd and having the unconscious Mike Cameron (3 for 5 Thursday, currently hitting .370) bat leadoff. Based on recent results (and Reyes inability to draw a walk), there’s some talk of Cameron hitting first, but under normal circumstances he’s more of a strikeout machine than Reyes.
Maybe you’re not a big Mike Piazza fan. And even if you’re not a huge fan of Savatage, there’s something profoundly depressing about the New York catcher’s interview with Jon Heyman in today’s Newsday.
Piazza has moments when he still looks like a star; he appeared on the verge of a breakthrough just before the Subway Series. But he also has days when he looks every bit his 36 years, eight months.
While there are times Piazza still looks as if he can become a force again, there are days when he looks even worse than his numbers indicate. One Yankee who’s known Piazza for years could hardly believe the way Piazza played last weekend. “Did you see Piazza?” the Yankee said. “He can barely move.”
If Piazza looked off his game in the Subway Series, things worsened in Atlanta, where he went 0-for-9 with six strikeouts to drop his average to .237, 78 points below his lifetime average.
“It’s frustrating. But I’m not going to surrender to it,” Piazza said. “I’ll just do the best I can. I feel like there are times I can do it again and there are times where I’m not swinging well at all … It’s a roller coaster so far.”
He said he isn’t sure whether he’ll play another season. Even if he won’t address it publicly, that question can’t ever be too far from his mind.
At one point, he said, “I don’t feel like I’m over the hill.” But he said it in such a way that he is wondering about it.
The rapid decline of catchers is something Piazza knows about. “It’s just obvious,” Piazza said. “When you catch 1,400 games, that’s a lot of games.”
Piazza’s throwing, never a strength, has slipped further. He’s thrown out only four of 45 would-be base-stealers. While it’s not all his fault (he’s been hindered by mix-ups by the Mets’ young infield), even correctly called pitchouts haven’t helped, and players who rarely steal, such as Hideki Matsui, are taking advantage. Many of Piazza’s throws are fielded on a bounce.
“I wish I could play better. I wish I could throw better,” Piazza said.
One Mets person said he wouldn’t mind seeing Piazza work a little overtime. However, Piazza said he’s far too exhausted for that. He’s started 38 of 47 games behind the plate, and to him it seems like 47 of 47.
“Physically, I feel like I’m getting everything out of my body right now,” Piazza said.
(after getting smacked around by the Blue Jays, Wade Miller wonders if he’s supposed to look for the “volume” knob or the “intensity” switch)
Back to Larry for a moment. After the Red Sox lost to Toronto tonight, 8-1, Bowa said Boston needs to “turn up the intensity volume” heading into their weekend series against the Yankees. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds great.