I was listening to the radio this morning on the way home from the auto body shop – had a little problem this weekend – and the topic was how to fix the Mets.
I could have driven to Ohio and back and not touched on all the issues, but the synopsis was to cut loose Gary Matthews, Fernando Tatis and Oliver Perez – the dead wood they were called – and replace them with warm, eager minor league bodies.
Yup, that will do it.
“It will get the players’ attention,’’ was the conclusion. The Mets are a .500 club for a lot of reasons, the least of which are Matthews and Tatis, who, although hardly productive, don’t play that much to make an impact either way.
There are three significant reasons for the Mets’ mediocrity: the lack of consistent offense production from the stars, notably Jose Reyes, Jason Bay and David Wright in the first part of the season; poor overall starting pitching with the exception of the team’s two successful home stands; and a spotty bullpen, being part performance, part strain and part manager Jerry Manuel’s faulty use and over use.
Translation: It’s a group problem, so don’t make Matthews and Tatis the scapegoats.
Of the regular position players, you know none of them will be cut loose during the season, so the area of immediate change has to be with the pitching.
You want to cut Matthews and Tatis? Go ahead, but you also have to do the same thing with Perez and John Maine if the latter doesn’t produce coming off the disabled list.
For all the angst over Perez, we must remember that regardless of how selfish he is being, he’s only exercising his contractual rights. We must also remember that during the winter when the Mets had a chance to improve their pitching, they chose to play a pat hand.
Perez isn’t the entire problem, but he personifies it in that he’s all about unfulfilled expectations.
The Perez decision is currently haunting them and will only be exorcised if the Mets are willing to eat the remainder of the $20 million or so on Perez’s contract. Management has shown no inclination of acting so boldly.
I hate to say it, but I really don’t believe the pieces are there to swing a blockbuster deal for pitching, and don’t forget there are three holes and it is only a matter of time before Hisanori Takahashi and R.A. Dickey come back to earth. Takahashi showed signs of it last night.
The Mets are still three games out of first place with three-quarters of the season remaining, so it is premature to panic. It isn’t however, too early to draw some conclusions.
The pitching needs to stabilize, with the onus on Maine when he comes back. Perez, we must assume, if he isn’t willing to go to the minors, is a lost cause. They aren’t going to make Jenrry Mejia a starter, so the help must come from within.
The stars of this team, Reyes, Wright and Bay, must do more to carry this team. Reyes is finally doing Reyes-like things, but Wright and Bay must do more. Go ahead, chalk up four more wins for Johan Santana if he had even modest run support.
It isn’t a bright picture, because the improvement doesn’t appear to be coming from the outside. So unless they morph into productive players, the rest of the season will be like what we’ve seen.