Aug 24

About yesterday …. no moral victories.

An unassisted triple play is rarer than a perfect game, and rarer still is for one to end a game.

Somehow, it was the perfect way to end a game in this imperfect season.

Before we get carried away about the Mets’ character in coming back from a 6-0 first-inning deficit – and it was an important aspect of the game – we must first acknowledge the game was a microcosm of this season, and to some degree their off-season and this weekend.

On a grand scale, the Mets had high expectations heading into the season, and this was supposed to a magical weekend with the honoring of the 1969 Mets. However, injuries and poor play sabotaged the season, and the grandest team in franchise history was treated to the spectacle of bad baseball. Does anybody really expect Bobby Parnell to out-pitch Cliff Lee to salvage a split.

As injuries have sidetracked this season, there is no telling what might have happened had the Mets even had one of their core bats in the game let alone for. Mets fans will forever be haunted by the what could have beens from this season.

Even still, there are 25 professional players on the team, but despite their spirited comeback, they played to the themes that really have cost the Mets this season: poor starting pitching and situational hitting, and overuse of the bullpen. There was also a questionable managerial decision or two.

Oliver Perez gave up six runs and didn’t get out of the first in another dismal performance that brought to questions of whether he’ll ever tap into his potential, and why the Mets bothered to re-sign him in the first place. As the home runs flew it was a reminder of the organization’s inability to fix its greatest need in the off-season.

Yes, it was an exciting comeback and excruciating ending, but let’s not forget the Mets twice had a runner on third with less than two outs and couldn’t score and they were hitless in their first eight at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Perez’s inexcusable outing piled 8 1/3 innings onto a bullpen that needs the rest. Three runs in that span is acceptable, but not when one of them is on a wild pitch. Sean Green, an off-season acquisition that was supposed to bolster the pen, has had a terrible season.

One thing preyed on my mind as Perez’s pitch count mounted to Jason Werth: This guy is going to hit a home run.

How could Jerry Manuel not be thinking the same thing? And, as Perez continued to struggle, it became apparent he wasn’t going to turn it around, so why keep him in to give up a second three-run homer?

Kind of makes you wonder what Manuel saw on the ball-three pitch to Pedro Martinez that he missed earlier.

Yes, the Mets showed some degree of pride yesterday in coming back. Perhaps they were so fed up and embarrassed about Perez. Whatever the reason, what’s left of this team has to maintain what’s left of this season.

It’s not impossible, but .500 or even a winning record is attainable and should be the goal. Reaching it would mean an improvement in play, including fundamentals, which have been sorely lacking.

Let’s face it, the Mets are playing for next year, and that begins now.

Jul 29

Phillies add Lee ….

While the Mets were fighting with reporters and embarrassing themselves, the Philadelphia Phillies were doing everything they could to wrap up the NL East and possibly their second World Series title.

While there are no guarantees, the Phillies did real good this afternoon by adding AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee along with outfielder Ben Francisco for four minor leaguers.

The sobering news to the Mets and the rest of the NL is the Phillies didn’t have to part with top prospects pitchers J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek or outfielders Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor, whom the Blue Jays were asking for in exchange for Roy Halladay.

Lee, 31 next month, has a 3.14 ERA with just 33 walks in 152 innings. He will make $8 million in 2010, then be eligible for free agency. Lee said he’ll likely test the FA market, but who is to say if he wins a World Series title or two?

The Indians have now traded the 2008 and 2007 Cy Young Award winners (CC Sabathia).

The deal speaks volumes between the differences of the Phillies and Mets, notably the depth in the minor league system and the aggressiveness of the front offices.

The Phillies were superior before the trade and widened the gap. The Mets will need a monumental offseason just to close it a bit, and from where they stand now that’s not going to happen.

They’ve won four straight and are in contention for the wild card, but there are too many teams ahead of them to leap frog and they don’t have the chips to make much of a wild card run. And, even if they get their injured players back they have a long way to go.

The Mets can’t improve themselves now to make much of a dent. Their opportunity was two months ago when the cracks were starting to show.

This trade should be an awakening to the Mets their window of contention since 2006 is barely a crack if it hasn’t slammed shut and they have a lot of work to do.