09.28.07

With The Mets Trailing, 4-3, Let The Finger Pointing Commence

Posted in Baseball at 7:06 pm by

On paper, I’m perfectly happy with a match-up between the Mets’ Oliver Perez and Florida’s Byung-Hung Kim. That’s assuming, however, the former’s control problems don’t resurface and and two Fish runs aren’t tallied on bases-loaded HBP’s. The Marlins lead, 4-1, in the last of the 3rd at Shea, and while the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman wrote this morning, “it’s still early to talk about firings, though, no matter how dark things seem” please note it’s been several hours since the newspaper was published.

I don’t believe that bad performance is generally contagious in baseball. It’s far too much of an individual sport, and unlike, say, basketball, it’s usually not even clear how the contagion would spread. In this case, though, it’s obvious that something has gone horribly wrong with all these pitchers at one time.

There are three likely causes here. The first is that the Mets’ bullpen just isn’t all that good. Wagner and Heilman are elite pitchers, but the rest of the Mets’ pen simply consists of marginally skilled relievers. The choices made by manager Willie Randolph ” sending the execrable Mota in to face the heart of the Phillies’ lineup, for instance, or letting Florida’s Miguel Cabrera hit against soft-tossing lefties ” haven’t helped at all, but he does have to send someone to the mound. The real culprit may just be lack of talent.

The second explanation is that when everyone is collapsing, it has tangible effects. Mets’ relievers have simply looked nervous on the hill lately ” and who can blame them? When there’s a fresh goat every night, no one wants to wear the horns, and when you start thinking about failure, you’re more likely to fail. Heilman has been throwing harder than usual lately, and locating the ball far less well. That’s exactly the kind of muscling up that every pitcher knows isn’t a good idea, and he hasn’t been alone in doing it.

This brings us to the third explanation. Pitching coach Rick Peterson has received hardly any blame at all for this collapse, but he really should. Pitcher performance is ultimately his responsibility, in bad times as in good, and the Mets haven’t gotten the job done. More to the point, when pitchers are trying to blow the ball by hitters despite knowing that’s counterproductive, a coach whose forte is supposedly the mental aspect of the sport needs to come in for special blame. Peterson has been generally excellent since coming to New York, but if the Mets miss the playoffs, he’ll be the member of the team’s management most deserving of being fired.

(UPDATE : Marlins 4, Mets 3. Carlos Beltran hit a 2-run HR off Kim, a pitcher well experienced in lending a sense of hope to New Yorkers during their low moments).

Assuming their club isn’t swept this weekend, the following PDF might be of some passing interest to Mets fans.

If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a sports columist for a major tabloid but thought a lack of wit, insight or any sort of unique point of view might stand in your way, buck up — it didn’t stop Mike Vaccaro.

Finally, Metsradamus has obtained an early preview of the Mets 2007 season highlights DVD.

4 Responses to “With The Mets Trailing, 4-3, Let The Finger Pointing Commence”

  1. matt says:

    L
    O
    L
    .

  2. Ben Schwartz says:

    Marlins … I was just saying!

    Ben

  3. Skip Lockwood says:

    Is it to simple to suggest:

    - Fire Peterson
    - I’d like to say keep Omar on a short leash for his short-sightedness with the bullpen (although his personnel decisons in that department probably have a lot to do with the man above, who needs to get canned), but hell….he is the only “baseball” guy there in executive management and the guy holding the leash would be Jeff Wilpon, so probably not
    - Since Willie has to stay and since, once again, someone who is not his pitching coach choice should get canned and Rickey has been…well…Rickey, let him pick his own coaches.

  4. David Roth says:

    Sure, fire Peterson. Whatever, fire whoever. Whomever. I cannot fucking believe this. They should’ve won the World Series last year, and they probably should’ve won it this year. Considering that right now the odds are against them making the playoffs, I’m inclined to say fire everybody. But I really like Marlon Anderson, so I hope they at least keep him around.

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