Betty's No Good Clothes Shop And Pancake House
...there will be words here.
So be on the lookout for that.
Dead GM Walking
I wasn't all that upset with the manner in which the Mets fired Willie Randolph
last June. The New York media was up in arms about the Mets flying Randolph across the country to fire him in the middle of the night and while I agreed that it wasn't the ideal way to deliver the news, I didn't dwell on it. The Mets had fired a bad manager and that was good enough for me. Improving the quality of baseball on the field was more important to me than the team's public relations strategies. Today that balance has shifted.
Obviously the Mets needed to fire Tony Bernazard. If various media reports are to believed, he acted in an extremely unprofessional manner on numerous occasions. Explaining as much to the New York media should have been the easiest thing in the world. But somehow Omar Minaya and the Mets managed to screw that up, too.
Minaya, either through an impromptu bad decision, or a poorly-conceived, Wilpon-approved plot, subtly questioned the motives of Daily News reporter Adam Rubin. Minaya apparently thought that he could insinuate that Rubin was out to get Bernazard fired and take his job and get away with it. The only conclusions that can be drawn from this are that either Minaya doesn't think before he speaks or he's terrible at predicting a media reaction. Given that recent events
and the current state of the major league team already bring into question his talent evaluation skills, he's running low on job responsibilities that I could say he executes competently.
It's certainly possible that Minaya is merely a puppet of ownership in this incident. Even if he acted on his own, the whole Bernazard episode raises new questions about the Wilpons' ability to run this organization. I would not be at all upset if they decided in the near future to sell the team. But for now, I think the very least they can do is fire Minaya. He's assembled a bad team and now he's put himself squarely in the crosshairs of the local media. This is far too deep a hole for Minaya to dig himself out of. Now is as good a time as any to make a fresh start with this team with an eye toward next year.
"If on-base percentage is so important, then why don't they put it on the scoreboard?"
The author of those words of wisdom, twenty-five year old Jeffrey Braden Francoeur
, is now a New York Met and I can hardly believe it. I can't even muster the energy to be sarcastic about this. Jeff Francoeur
is terrible at playing baseball. And now he's going to be in right field every day.
Francoeur is hitting .250/.282/.352 this season for an OPS+ of 68. This makes him the new worst hitter in the Mets lineup, by a decent margin. Yes, even on days when Omir Santos is starting. There are only three hitters in the National League with enough at bats to qualify for the batting title and a lower OBP than Francoeur's .282. And while the fact that one of them is Jimmy Rollins is hilarious, it doesn't change the fact that Frenchy is having a truly terrible year at the plate.
And there can be no argument that this is some kind of slump that he might be ready to bust out of, because he had an almost identical line last year. The only difference seems to be that he's walking even less this year. Even when he was "good" in 2006 and 2007, he wasn't actually good. He may have driven in 100 runs both of those years, but he also put together a combined line of .276/.315/.446 and an OPS+ of 95. Yes, even in his best days, he was a below average hitter. Not exactly the stuff that corner outfield stars are made of.
Francoeur does apparently play very good defense, or at least have a very good arm, but then so does the man he's been traded for. Ryan Church can play right field well. He can also play center field, saving the Mets from playing Angel Pagan or Jeremy Reed every day. And, oh yeah, he can get on base every once in a while. Church is by no means a great player, but the one thing Francoeur can do, Church can also do. The fact that he is also not completely hopeless with a bat in his hands is just an added bonus.
There's been talk of Jerry Manuel and/or others in the Mets organization not liking Church for a long time and I guess this just about confirms that. Church didn't always live up to expectations and he had some bad luck with the concussions last year, but when he was able and allowed to get on the field, he was a solid contributor. It would certainly have been possible for the Mets to upgrade the right field position, but they did not do that here. They traded a decent player for one of the worst hitters in the game. And they're going to play him every day. I don't know how much more of this season I can take.
Tonight's the night
Things don't look good for the Mets right now. The team is four and a half games out of first place, losers of fourteen of their last twenty games. Sixty percent of the team's core is on the disabled list and not coming back any time soon. David Wright's OPS has dropped over a hundred points in the last three weeks. But tonight, things start to turn around. Tonight, the Mets have hope. Tonight, the Mets begin the run that will carry them back to the top of the NL East.
Oliver Perez is back!
You cannot be serious
I would like to argue that tonight's loss by the Mets
to the Yankees was perhaps the worst June loss in the history of the sport of baseball. Sure, it can't compare to some of the worst September or October losses suffered by this team or others, but I don't see how a loss in June could get much worse. Let's review the facts.
The starting pitching matchup was Livan Hernandez vs. Joba Chamberlain. In spite of this epic mismatch, the Mets entered the bottom of the ninth with a one-run lead. They had this lead because they came from behind on three separate occasions. They had this lead because Chamberlain was so wild that he only lasted four innings and the Mets scored two runs in the third without a hit or even a sacrifice. They had this lead because, with two outs in the top of the eighth and the score tied at seven, Joe Girardi brought in Mariano Rivera to face Carlos Beltran and David Wright and the Mets' two studs proceeded to put a run on the board against the greatest closer who ever lived with a walk and a double.
Then Francisco Rodriguez, heretofore perfect in save opportunities, put a couple of runners on base in the bottom of the ninth, as is his wont. But he got a couple of outs, too. The game came down to a New York Post headline writer's dream matchup of K-Rod vs. A-Rod. The Met closer threw three straight balls to the three-time MVP. But then he got a strike. And then, at long last, he got a lazy pop up to second base. The kind of pop up that would likely have, had there been fewer than two outs, caused an umpire to call the infield fly rule, declaring A-Rod out. But in this case, no umpire could declare A-Rod out. Because there were two outs. And, oh yeah, because LUIS CASTILLO DROPPED THE BALL.
The Mets' losses to the Phillies this week were pretty disheartening in that a Mets team half-full of scrubs came agonizingly close to winning two or three from the defending champs. But this game against the Yankees, where the Mets had the lead in the bottom of the ninth against all odds and got the third out only to have it taken away in this most unlikely manner this side of bird interference, is even worse. It would be easier if I could blame Jerry Manuel for his terrible bullpen management or Omar Minaya for assembling a team that has Omir Santos on the field in the bottom of the ninth in a tight ballgame, but no. The Mets were put together and managed well enough to win this game except that Luis Castillo forgot how to catch a baseball. If I hadn't watched the Mets for the last three years and the twenty before that, I could hardly believe this happened. It's too ridiculous a series of events to actually take place in the real world. But any long time Mets fan can believe it. This is just a little worse that what we've seen so many times before. Could this happen to any other team?
Fire Steve Phillips
I don't know if there's anything worse than ESPN's current Sunday Night Baseball announce team. I don't mean in terms of announce teams, I mean I don't know if there is anything worse in the world. Steve Phillips is completely intolerable, at the same time encouraging Joe Morgan's worst tendencies and making Morgan seem reasonable by comparison. Tonight they've spent entire innings pontificating on "edge" and "leadership" and "why David Wright and Carlos Beltran are not totally awesome but actually kinda suck." All this while the Mets are in first place and have won eleven of thirteen.
I put forth that this booth is worse even than Fox's Joe Buck/Tim McCarver dream team of awfulness. True, Jon Miller is better than either of those guys, but at least BucCarver will give you a break every now and then by spending an inning or two not even talking about baseball. Steve Phillips will not stop talking and as long as he is talking he will be talking about the things that the best players on the Mets do wrong. Joe Morgan of all people had to defend Carlos Beltran on the basis of his great statistics. Phillips thinks the Mets need to consider getting rid of the best center fielder in the league because he's not enough of a leader in the clubhouse.
ESPN's baseball coverage has been bad for years as they'll always choose the ex-player who'll spew platitudes about grit over anyone who might have anything interesting or insightful to say, but I think having Steve Phillips in the booth for games is a new low. I just don't understand who the audience is for this. Does anyone want this? Does no one actually like baseball?
Since I don't have any time in my schedule right now to drive up to Bristol and throw eggs at ESPN headquarters, I'll just post this link
for old times' sake.
It's like Willie Randolph never left
Prior to about 4 PM today, I was not too worried about the Mets. Yes, they've gotten off to a slow start. But David Wright isn't going to strike out in a third of his at bats for the whole season. Oliver Perez is going to get his ERA under nine at some point. Getting a bunch of runners on base will eventually lead to a lot of runs being scored. But now I'm wondering if any of that matters given that the team's manager is clearly out of his mind.
Down 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the bullpen having stolen another win from Johan Santana, the Met offense didn't give up. They loaded the bases. Sure, it took two walks and a hit by pitch, but they loaded the bases. With two outs, loaded bases and a one-run deficit, Ramon Castro was scheduled to bat. Castro had two hits in the game already and a career's worth of evidence that he is a decent hitter. Still, Jerry Manuel decided to pinch hit for Castro. Did he bring in the team leader in home runs, Carlos Delgado, to face Matt Lindstrom and his 100 MPH fastball? Or maybe the owner of a .433 OBP on the season, Luis Castillo? No, he had Omir Santos, who had been out in the bullpen warming up pitchers all day, run down to the dugout to hit for Castro.
Omir Santos has had a hot week. That hot week has included zero walks and a .280 OBP, but still. He's had a few hits and a grand slam. He's looked good. He's also spent eight years in the minor leagues, amassing a career OPS of .651. Omir Santos is not a great hitter. He is not better Ramon Castro. He is not the kind of guy who's likely to spend the whole day squatting in the bullpen and then come in and rope a game-winning single against a flamethrower like Lindstrom.
The idea to choose lesser players over Castro isn't a new one for the Mets and it didn't start with Jerry Manuel. But pinch hitting for him with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with another catcher on a day when he already has two hits is among the most baffling instances this side of Paul Lo Duca's entire 2007 season. Manuel's explanation is that Santos's "shorter swing"
would give him a better shot against the hard-throwing Lindstrom. Yeah, I guess Castro's never had any success against any other hard throwers
Now, a 9-12 record isn't the end of the world. And all of this could be forgotten if the Mets win two or three games in Philadelphia this weekend. But in the early going, Jerry Manuel's ability to determine who his best players are and allocate playing time accordingly is not inspiring a lot of confidence.