October 1, 2007
BASEBALL: Well, That Didn't Work Out So Well
If you will excuse me, I have some bitterness to wallow in...
Seriously, more analysis will be required in the weeks to come, but a few quick thoughts on a couple of the big questions:
1. Sack the Brain Trust?
While I'm not always on the same page as Omar Minaya, Willie Randolph or Rick Peterson, I wouldn't can any of them just yet. Randolph's position would be the most tenuous; unlike Minaya or Peterson, it's hard to identify his successes to set against his failures, but the simple fact is that the team has won 55% of its games for Randolph, compared to 42% for Art Howe and 53% for Bobby Valentine or, historically, 52% for Gil Hodges (Davey won 59%). Willie deserves one last chance to get this team over the hump next season.
2. Will Glavine and LoDuca Return?
At this point, I'd rather see Glavine go. He was, until yesterday's meltdown, still helping the team, but it's been clear for a while that the smoke and mirrors is all he has left, and time is running short - his K/9 plunged from 5.95 to a hair under 4, which is a serious red flag for a pitcher who will be 42 next season. Let him pursue his 200th loss elsewhere. Much as I hated Glavine in Atlanta and objected to his signing, I won't be bitter about the Glavine Era; he did, after turning the corner in 2004, manage to give the Mets a few solid years and some great postseason performances in 2006, and win his 300th game in a Mets uniform. But he's still always a Brave to everyone. Let him go back there.
As for Lo Duca, well, his falloff with the bat this season was perhaps predictable; whether he returns or not should depend heavily on the weak market for alternatives (there are a lot of free agent catchers this offseason but little quality) and whether the Mets are content to just pick up a guy to split time with Castro.
3. What Is Reyes Missing?
Reyes' fadeout over the second half was dramatic and at times marked by listlessness, and he probably needs more days off next season to recharge his batteries, mentally if not physically - in contrast to Jimmy Rollins, who just broke Lenny Dykstra's single season plate appearances record. Face it, while Reyes can be a flashy player he lacks the arrogant, in-your-face braggodocio of Rollins or Hanley Ramirez, that drive to insult the other guy and then make him eat your words.
4. Whither Delgado?
Other than Wagner, who simply had a mild off year with his usual bad timing, the Mets' 35-year-olds (Lo Duca, Delgado and Pedro) suffered precisely the collapse (in Pedro's case, a long injury respite) that my Established Win Shares projections suggested for the typical 35-year-old before the season. Delgado started the season with arm surgery and ended it with a broken hand after being drilled by Dontrelle Willis...I'd really be very concerned about his ability to bounce back from that next year. But the Mets will have few alternatives.
As is the case with the Yankees and Jason Giambi, I'd say that the cost of making Delgado go away is such that they don't really have much choice but to keep him and hope he plays better.
As a Yankees fan who also is a New York baseball fan, what happened to the Mets was a real disappointment. I wanted another Subway Series. This collapse was bad but I'm not sure it was worse than the Yankees' collapse in the 2004 playoffs.
The Yankees 2005 Choke Job still is #1 on the all-time hit parade. This is a different category of collapsing.
I am sorry for you. Tough to swallow. However as a Pirates fan I am wallowing in my own grief of 15 years of losing seasons.
As for your analysis, I think the GM needs to take some serious heat for not upgrading the team before 8/31. I know the Piartes would have traded some of their better bullpen arms for some prospects. Maybe the price was too high.
Anyway, Willie deserved a better bullpen and a better bench.
As a Phillies fan, I can tell you that Reyes could still turn out to be the player you'd hoped he would be. Just two years ago, we were still wondering where the Jimmy Rollins was we had been promised.
From the outside looking in, it seemed to me like Wagner and LoDuca were more interested in pointing the finger than actually fixing anything. Ridding yourself of those two might help matters.
I blame Duaner Sanchez. I really do. I thought we were expecting him back at some point this season. I thought wrong.
Get LoDuca out of here. They should try to trade for Brian Schneider or sign Javier Valentin. This would give them a lefty bat to semi-platoon with Castro, who they should resign.
Glavine needs to be on the first plane to Atlanta. Out of here.
The team has a solid nucleus, but Omar needs to do a better job of making the players understand that Willie is in charge on the field. I get the feeling that Omar pulls the strings a lot more than any of us realize.
Omar needs to bear a lot of the blame here. It was rough seeing Lindstrom throwing seeds while we had to trot out guys like Mota and Sosa.
Met Fan translations
"Why would you pay Roger Clemens 28 million when he is over the hill?"
Translation: "I am petrified that Tom Glavine is going to breakdown late in the season but I cannot psychologically accept that. It must remain in my subconscious and I must get rid of this nagging sense of dread in my stomach by making fun of the Yankees."
"The Yankees middle relief blew 15 games this year."
translation: "I can't believe they are using Sosa in the 7th and 8th. Wagner is blowing every game in town. Where do I take this anger out on? The Front office?"
"They are as dead as A Rod was last year?"
Translation " The money we spent on Carlos Beltran and Delgado was a complete waste."
"Derek Jeter has no defense"
Translation: "But he has a hell of a lot more heart that the bum Reyes. He's gay, he's gay, he's gay he's gay"
"If the season ended today the Mets would be in the playoffs but not the Yankees
Translation "Oh god oh god oh god I hope that holds true for the rest of the year. The mets team ERA has increased every month of the year while the Yankees are winning like mad. Thank god we built up such a lead in April and May."
"The Mets keep coming from beyond and winning. They have won 10 games after trailing for more than 5 innings and it's only May."
Translation: "Thank god for this, because my sub conscious knows this will not last into Sep. Lets hope they build up a nice 7 game lead with 17 to play and then we don't have to worry about any historic playoff collapse or anything like that"
I thought of these myself.
The money we spent on Carlos Beltran and Delgado was a complete waste."
Yeah 33 homers, 112 RBI, 129 OPS+, and gold glove CF defense = waste.
Delgado, well, that's another story.
This is my wish list: A-Rod goes something like 9-14 with 4 jacks,while the Yanks get swept by the Tribe.
All class, VoR. All class.
Tom G - Really, even as this race came out, are the Phillies glad to have dumped Wagner?
The one thing I keep coming back to, and there's no rational reason to explain it, but how is it that the team managed to put up the best road record in the game, but then go 41-40 at Shea, including 1-9 in their last ten? I just don't understand what happened there.
While it doesn't explain the epic meltdown, Crank did do the splits on Delgado and Beltran a little bit ago that show that those 2 simply do not hit at Shea. When 2 of your top 3 hitters are .215 hitters in their own park you just aren't going to win as much as you should. I have no idea why Delgado and Beltran have such radical splits on a home/away basis.
From an outsider's perspective it simply appears that the Mets need pitching. That is always easier said than done of course. Clearly there is a need for a top of the rotation guy (the hardest to find) so that Maine, Perez and Pedro can operate as 2-4. If I was Omar I would look at some decent AL pitcher and see if they would be a potential workhorse in the NL. While that did not work out for Barry Zito it seems to be the best potential course of action since you are not likely to get Santana. The bullpen is probably easier to solve simply by getting rid of the duds and trying something else. Maybe you should get Dontrelle Willis. Hell, just taking the losses you incur against him out of the equation might make enough difference.
For the life of me, I can't understand why Rick Peterson hasn't gotten more heat. The pitching was absolutely awful, and Peterson is still viewed as some kind of genius. Get Peterson outa here, along with Willie.
I would be in favor of getting rid of Maine and Perez, but that'll never happen (I would trade either or both for middle relief and then put Heilman in the rotation). But Duque and Glavine have GOT to go. And get rid of the entire bullpen other than Heilman and Feliciano while we're at it - Heilman can stay, but he's got to be the 5th starter - no more bullpen for him.
As for position players, LoDuca, Green, Alou, and Milledge have to go. If there is any chance of getting rid of Delgado, him too, although I doubt any team would be dumb enough to take him on.
(I would trade either or both for middle relief and then put Heilman in the rotation).
No way. Considering they're the only guys on the roster who can - when they're on their game - pitch past the 7th, I'd like to keep them. Don't forget this was Maine's first year full year in the bigs, and despite some second half problems, he did pretty well all things considered. And Perez, though also inconsistent in the second half, came up huge in a lot of big spots, except of course, for the last game. I agree that Glavine has to go, but I'm not sure about El Duque. In many ways he's like Alou - great when he's playing, but you have to account for injury. And I think Petey will be good to go - and if he's healthy, he is still an ace.
There's just no number one pitcher that's available other than Santana, and I don't think there's a realistic shot to get him. They're going to have to go after a middle of the rotation guy - preferably someone who can soak up innings.
As for position players, LoDuca, Green, Alou, and Milledge have to go.
Again, agreed on the first two, not sure about Alou, and definitely wouldn't deal Milledge. Other than some attitude problems, what's wrong with him? Now, I would deal him if it meant getting a bona fide pitching star, but I'm fairly comfortable with him being the starting right fielder next season.
I'd keep El Duque, but he can't be counted on as more than a fifth starter. Glavine obviously has to go. I'd keep Wagner, Heilman and Feliciano, but clear out the rest of the pen. I'd keep Alou - he can still hit, but they need more OF depth if he's going to be on the team, since he's unlikely to play much over 100 games.
I'd be willing to keep Green if he'd accept a minimum contract to do the job Julio Franco previously had - pinch hitter and caddy to Delgado. If he can do better elsewhere, I'd let him go.
LoDuca is really a matter of cost - if he's cheap enough, I'd keep him. They would miss his combativeness, though not his limited talents.
I'd pass on Castillo as well. His whole game's his legs, and his legs are shot.
I wouldn't trade Milledge to trade Milledge. I think the team could use more swagger, not less, although they do have to lay down the law about hustling consistently.
Its not lack of swagger that doomed this team, its far too much of it. They were over confident, and lazy right up to the end. Milledge, and yes Reyes, have a lot of growing up to do and fast. The sulking, the lack of hustle, and the lack of mental discipline simply must end if we are to have any hope of improvement next year.
That and the pitching staff needs a complete overhaul.
Not to answer for Tom, Crank, but we didn't really dump Wagner. He chose you guys and the extra year/money.
On the one hand, I think I'd feel better with him in there with anyone other than Myers or possibly Romero (and Myers could be in the rotation, which would be huge), but on the other hand, I have this image of Craig Biggio trotting around the bases at CBP two years ago and me wanting to break things.
Plus any smiles I've gotten from Burrell taking him deep have canceled out a few of the Gordon/Alfonseca/Myers blown saves.
But, um, yeah, if you wanted to loan us Wagner for the next four weeks, I wouldn't say no.
As an unrelated note, how is Peavy still in this game? Come on, Padres. Wake up. I don't want to play the Rockies at all.
I know that was Wagner's choice. My point is just that the Phils' bullpen this year illustrated quite well that there are worse things in the world than having Billy Wagner.
As I have said before, Randy Myers was the only Mets closer I ever really trusted.
As we all search for reasons for the collapse, I think it's instructive to remind ourselves that a team made up of very old guys and very young guys is precisely the way you'd draw up the recipe for "Catastrophic Late Season Collapse" if you had to devise one.
Alou, LoDuca, Pedro, Delgado, Green, Glavine, Wagner, and El Duque all losing playing time or slumping down the stretch -- this is surprising for a bunch of guys in their mid-30s, late-30s, and early 40's?
Reyes, Wright, Perez, Maine, Milledge, Gomez having inexplicable mental meltdowns or their own late-season slumps -- this is odd for guys experiencing 150+ game seasons, 30+ start seasons, or the pressure of a pennant race for the first time? I seem to recall another young Met star having his own late-season tailspin in '06, to much hand-wringing & consternation from Met fans all over.
Old guys slump down the stretch; young guys make mental errors down the stretch; guys who have ~700 plate appearances, ~100 steal attempts, and play a middle infield position have slumps.
Willie isn't a great game manager, we all know that. But this one's on Omar. Every one of us who understands the game knows that Omar got away with a bevy of odd moves last year. 31-16 (or whatever it was) records in one run games have a way of washing away a multitude of sins.
But Omar puts too much faith in old guys & very young guys. Cost-effective for what you're getting at some level. But there's no free lunch, in baseball or anywhere else. Omar needs to approach this differently next year, or this pattern may repeat itself.
Willie is coming back, that will make for a tense home opener unless Omar magically retools. The question Willie must answer: what would you do differently? The probable answer is nothing. Was he asked? Doubtful, the folks wowed by Howe do piss poor due diligence. A long miserable winter lies ahead.
Willie is absolutely incapable of doing what's necessary to end a slump. I don't think you need to be Lou Pinella, but some yelling and screaming might have been called for. Hell, even just yelling at an umpire and getting kicked out of a game? But Willie just did the same thing over and over again without ever changing, hoping that maybe the team would turn things around. Hope isn't a plan. It's up to the manager to do something, and Willie didn't. He needed to go.
"even just yelling at an umpire and getting kicked out of a game? But Willie just did the same thing over and over again without ever changing"
Exactly. There's simply more to the job than staying calm and consistent. He's lost the clubhouse, if he can re track the team next season it will impress. Anyway, Omar just slapped a bulleye's on himself. His future in NYC is tied to a very Coughlin like situation. As Omar scours the bushes for playing talent the Wilpons begin doing the same for the front office. What a difference a year makes!
I'm sure the Phillies would love to have Wagner the pitcher, not Wagner the clubhouse lawyer. There's something to be said for being outspoken, it just seems that Wagner has a tendency to throw teammates and coaches under the bus at inopportune times. He made himself to be a martyr in Philly, driven out by laconic teammates and "unreasonable" fans. I worked at the Bank when Wagner was there, I can tell you, the fans liked him, they never really got on him like they did, say, Mesa. To hear Wagner tell it, he was dodging bottles every night.
I almost feel for the Met fans, I've met many nice NYers but too many of the obnoxious variety as well...but I feel nothing but satisfaction that Wagner and LoDuca ate their words.