For those of you fortunate enough to have missed the 2009 Mets season, it was neatly wrapped up in last night’s 6-5 loss at Atlanta in another example of creative losing. Yes, the game was the season in one capsule.
Maybe the only thing that didn’t happen was an injury, which brings us to the bottom line: Injuries are part of the game, but you still have to play the game.
And, for a long time now, the Mets have not played the game the right way.
There was lousy starting pitching, with Bobby Parnell giving up four runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings. For all the talk about the Mets leading the NL in hitting with runners in scoring position, they still blow too many opportunities. Last night, they went 4-12 and left 14 runners.
There was Francisco Rodriguez’s sixth blown save in another adventuresome outing. No, Rodriguez didn’t get much help, and threw Daniel Murphy under the bus when he said “that play has to be made.” Then again, if you’re going to make the money K-Rod does, then pitch better. Of the seven hitters he faced, he only threw two first-pitch strikes. He was behind all the time. Couldn’t the results have been different if he were ahead in the count?
And, there was poor fielding, with Murphy making three bad plays in the ninth inning, including the game-winning blunder when he botched Ryan Church’s grounder to enable Cody Ross to score. He should’ve been given two errors on the play.
“I’ve got to make that play,” Murphy said. “I make it 100 times. I booted it and tonight we lost the ballgame.”
Yes, he did, but as often as been the case this year it shouldn’t have come down to one play. Had Murphy come up with a double to lead off the inning, and he was guarding the line, the horror never would have unfolded.
Then again, if the Mets didn’t leave all those runners, it wouldn’t have mattered.
“We had our chances,” manager Jerry Manuel said of the missed scoring opportunities.
The Mets’ league-leading average with RISP is a misnomer because they are 11th in runs scored. Unbelievably, they’ve had 21 runners thrown out at the plate. Razor Shines needs to be evaluated at the end of the season, too. There’s no telling how many games that cost them.
In addition to guys getting nailed, I can’t remember when I’ve seen so many runners unable to score because the hit with a runner on second was an infield hit or a slap job to left where he had to hold. I’m sure there’s a stat somewhere. Then again, I could go through the play-by-play of every game, but I don’t want to get sick. So, that BA with RISP can be a bogus stat, because if you’re not scoring, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.
Let’s go over some of them.
In addition to last night, there was Murphy’s dropped fly in Florida; Sean Green’s WP to score the game-winner in Philly; the Luis Castillo pop-up at Yankee Stadium; blowing a five-run lead in a loss to Pittsburgh; Church’s failure to touch third in LA; losing two games in one week on grand slams; the triple play to end a loss to Philly; the Mike Pelfrey three-balk game.
There are others.
One of those questions is Parnell. He HAS NOT shown he can handle starting on this level for several reasons. He gets behind in the count too frequently. He had only nine first pitch strikes out of 20 hitters. But, all that’s part of the learning curve. He also doesn’t have command of his secondary pitches.
I don’t like how Parnell has been yanked around. He went into spring training not knowing his role (reliever in the majors or starter in the minors). After being decided he would be a middle-inning guy, out of necessity he was thrown into the eighth-inning role, where he had problems. Then, it was decided he would start.
The Mets were already cooked when the decision was made to put him in the rotation because of injuries to Johan Santana and Oliver Perez. OK, he has to learn on the fly. That’s hard. But, don’t make it more difficult by threatening to remove him after a bad start.
What Manuel is doing is unfair and hurts his confidence more than getting beat. Give him the chance to pitch out of the fourth. It is the only way he’s going to learn. And, speaking of learning, despite his shortcomings as a hitter, Brian Schneider does call a good game, and maybe he should be the one to work with the rookie instead of Josh Thole. Don’t get me wrong, I like Thole, but he’s learning, too.
The point is, Parnell has been forced to learn on the fly, and when that happens, mistakes will be made. The same goes for Murphy, who failed in left and only went to first with the injury to Carlos Delgado. When you have players out of position, this stuff happens.
Of course, this leads us to another point. When all the players went down, the Mets didn’t have the resources on the minor league level to bring up or to trade for help. The cupboard is bare, and that responsibility is on management.
Things aren’t going to get any better soon, and they won’t until the Mets decide what direction they are heading. If it’s rebuilding and evaluating, they are going to take their lumps. If it is to win, well, that’s not going to happen soon, either.
Of all the things that happened last night, what irked me most was Manuel throwing his gum after the Murphy error. Yeah, he’s frustrated, but he just sent the message he’s disgusted with his team and that doesn’t help anybody.