Friday, April 9, 2010

Understandable Panic

  • Mets fans are already on suicide watch:

Since the 2007 collapse and the downward spiral of negativity and performance on and off the field that followed, Mets fans have been on the edge of their seats waiting for terrible things to happen. Like the proverbial hapless loser. there's always this faint hope that things will change; that the other shoe won't drop; that the occasionally ludicrous accidents of happenstance won't reinforce the aura of "only the Mets".

It's to the point where it's not even taken as a badge of honor to be a Mets fan; to be a convenient target for the cheap shot artists; to be so battered down by the endless ridicule that it can't even be taken as a joke anymore. The Cubs fans and for years, Red Sox fans, seemed to take pride in their ability to whine and complain that they were snakebit. Like a secondary benefit, they identified with their appellation of "loser". Reveling in that cocoon as a shield for the pain that comes from losing year-after-year as a defense mechanism to accept and handle pain.

Already, three games into the season----two losses----it's starting.

But unlike the Cubs fans or Red Sox fans from the years before 2004, there's hope. Every time something good happens, you can cut through the fear of more pain and disappointment like a machete slashing through the thick brush of a rainforest, only to see the quivering and agony that's accompanied the accidents of circumstance and errors that have cost the Mets since that fateful month of September, 2007.

It's three games into the season.

As shaky as certain aspects have looked----specifically John Maine and some of the relief pitching----have things gone that terribly? So terribly for fans to already by savaging the club after three games?

The team showed fight in the game 2 loss; and last night they received a gutty and solid performance from rookie Jonathon Niese against a Marlins lineup that can bash. The only way to tell what's going to result from the bullpen will be in retrospect; bullpens that are built on a lot of big, expensive names (aside from the necessary closer) never work. The lineup will get one boost this weekend when Jose Reyes returns; and another in a month when Carlos Beltran gets back.

If the Mets were in the American League East or National League West, there'd be legitimate reason to panic. They're not. They're in a division with a team in the defending NL champion Phillies are scrambling so desperately for pitching that they signed the less-than-mediocre journeyman Nelson Figueroa and are dealing with the veterans wondering why Cliff Lee was traded (more on this follows). The Braves biggest issues are their offense and injury histories of Troy Glaus and Chipper Jones; and Jones is now out with a strained oblique; the Marlins have bullpen issues and a rotten defense; the Nationals are terrible.

The NL East is wide open.

The reluctance to have any faith is understandable; but misplaced.

They've played three games.

  • Jimmy Rollins speaks for the Phillies' veterans:

Like him or not, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins speaks his mind. In an era where generic quotes are the norm in an effort to self-protect, at least he answers when he's asked a question. Not everyone has the confidence to speak their mind; nor do they have the fortitude to accept the fallout for saying what they believe. Like another despised rabble-rouser----Curt Schilling----you're going to get something from Rollins when he speaks.

Also much like Schilling, Rollins questioned the wisdom of the Phillies trading Cliff Lee rather than keeping him to form a devastating duo at the top of their starting rotation with Roy Halladay.

In an appearance on Dan Patrick's radio show, Rollins openly wondered what the thought process was in trading Lee----Story.

Clearly speaking for the entirety of Phillies veterans----Ryan Howard; Chase Utley; Jayson Werth; Raul Ibanez----Rollins said the following regarding the trade of Lee:

"That, I have no idea," Rollins told Patrick. "I'm sure we could afford him. We turned nearly four million people through the turnstiles last year. I don't know. You should have [Phillies general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] on here.

"When the trade happened, I actually got a text from Jayson Werth and he was like, 'What are we doing?' And I was like, 'Didn't we get Halladay?' And he was like, 'Yeah, but we traded Lee.' And my mouth dropped like, 'That wasn't part of the deal.' I really don't know. I thought we had enough to keep him. I thought we could have done enough to keep him. I guess that's just a move the Yankees do. ... That's just the truth. The Yankees would have been like, 'Hey, we got a chance to keep both of them. We'll pay them both for a year or two and we got a chance to win a championship.'"

The Phillies veterans are all past 30.

I said months ago that the trade wasn't just a mistake; but that the players that make up the core of the championship club couldn't care a whit about what the club's going to look like in 2013.

They don't have any interest in securing the future with the centerpiece of a deal that was a Double A closer who may or may not make it.

While they're still in their primes; while Utley is still one of the top 5 pure hitters in baseball; while Ibanez has something left; while Werth is still with the club for this year at least, the

Add in that the Phillies starting rotation behind Halladay is a disaster zone that's not much better than that of the ridiculed Mets; that their bullpen is atrocious, and this has all the makings of an implosion by June if they're slumping; short of starting pitching; and battling for a playoff spot that had no business being in jeopardy; no possibility of being in question had they kept Lee.

GM Ruben Amaro is growing flustered at the repeated questioning of his decision; and with that now emanating from inside his own clubhouse, you have to wonder about his leadership. The Lee trade was bad enough; but the failure to address the bullpen; the leak from somewhere inside the organization of a proposed Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols trade; and now Rollins expressing the view of the teammates he represents, it won't be long before Amaro is under heavy fire from all directions.

He's shown little ability to deal with it so far.

And it's going to get worse unless they get some pitching from somewhere.

  • Viewer Mail 4.9.2010:

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Fausto Carmona:

I watched Carmona pitch... he was all over the place... never looked comfortable... the benefactor of poor weather and timely hitting from his teammates.

And the Sox didn't capitalize as they should have.

Having not watched the game, I can't judge Carmona's mechanics and stuff, but the line is what it is. From a distance, it appeared as if the White Sox were too patient with him and it cost them. Rumors of Carmona's resurgence are going to be shown as greatly exaggerated and premature.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE my handwriting:

What's wrong with your handwriting? If it's better than the average doctor's, you're just fine.

I guess you're right; but it does seem a big manic at times. Then again, this is me we're talking about, so manic might be a step up from deranged.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE Tom Seaver and the fastball:

Tom Seaver also said there are 5 outs per game a pitcher has to get in order to win. I digress. It's a great read by you. Maine is another cat who's in for a lot of trouble if his fastball doesn't get above 88 mph. The fastball is a dying art being overtaken by the "miss-able pitch in a fastball motion." Everything works off the fastball. The curveball is almost extinct. The Neo-thinkers have everyone convinced changing speed and location are outdated or no longer good enough. Koufax had 6 types of fastballs; high, low, inside, outside, high and tight and the one right over the plate no one could hit anyway..Marichal, three pitches he threw three different ways. Where's Rube Walker? He'll teach em.

Games always come down to one or two plays or pitches that determine the outcome. Despite the attempts to blame or credit managers for much of what happens, their jobs are more relegated to handling inter-clubhouse crises; dealing with the media; and making moves that make sense. If a manager brings the right pitcher in for the situation; or makes the correct offensive call and it doesn't work, what was he supposed to do? It's like bringing the closer in for the ninth inning and seeing him blow it; what else was the manager supposed to do?

A pitcher has to be what he is. For years, many tried to copy Greg Maddux; but for a pitcher with a 95 mph fastball to abandon that in favor of doing what Maddux did is a misapplication of talent; a flaw in strategy. Maddux couldn't pitch like Randy Johnson and vice versa because that's not what they did.

It's fine for Hamels to pick the brain of Moyer, but not at the expense of his fastball.

With Maine, his fastball was short; it looked like he was intentionally trying to back off of trying to throw too hard to increase his command; and he was throwing more breaking pitches and change-ups. I'm iffy on the plan. If he has the 90+ fastball, he has to throw it.

  • Podcasts Prince style:

Check my podcast appearances to hear me say all sorts of stuff.

First with Sal at SportsFanBuzz. The Podcast links are available here---- Part I and Part II on Friday; then Sunday with Mike Silva at New York Baseball Digest. The link is here: NYBD Podcast. Fast forward to 1 hour and 36 seconds to hear me.

In case you haven't already, get my book, available on Amazon and I-Universe in paperback and E-book. And now on Barnes and as well!!!!

I don't judge based on the locale in which you make your purchases----it's your preference; but I do judge on whether you buy it or not. Then....I....execute.


She-Fan said...

I think panic is just part of being a fan, no matter what team you root for. Yes, it's silly to freak out after only a few games, but that's what we do. (Well, I guess I should speak for myself.)

Jeff said...

Figueroa? Seriously? If anything deserves a "WTF!?!?!" that move certainly does.