Well that was a doozy of a blown save, wasn’t it? Even Armando Benitez slow clapped that one for that one.
The parallels have all been pointed out: Francisco, Benitez. Benitez, Francisco. The build, the stare, the strut, the fastball, the blown saves … all eerily the same between Francisco and Benitez. And you might think that the Mother’s Day Meltdown would cement their similarities. I say, it cemented the fact that the two are nothing like each other.
Armando Benitez was a closer. He had closers stuff. He had talent and attitude. What Benitez didn’t have was the ability to close when it really mattered. The bigger the game, the bigger the choke. Frank Francisco? He’s not a closer. He’s a relief pitcher who happens to be closing these days. And it has nothing to do with being a great pitcher in the eighth but can’t handle the ninth … nothing. (Francisco actually has better ninth inning stats than eighth ininng stats.) But he doesn’t have the talent that Benitez had. He’s just not that good. He’s not an enigma, he’s not a head case (well save for that chair throwing thing), he’s just not a great pitcher. And he’s the guy who is being trusted to save games. He’s being trusted to save games, basically, because Omar Minaya gave Frankie Rodriguez an idiotic clause in his contract that gave him a billion dollars if he’s able to get out of bed in the third year of the deal. And getting rid of that contract last season meant that the Mets had to find a closer in an offseason where there weren’t a lot of great and reasonable options out there. Francisco and Jon Rauch were the guys, and they got the money (too much in Francisco’s case).
You wondered how Benitez, with all his talent, ever blew a save. With Francisco, you don’t wonder how he blows a save, or contributes to blowing a save (Manny Acosta got credit for blowing the save even though Francisco got the loss … reversing that may have been more accurate philosophically if not statistically). You don’t wonder because with Francisco, he’s just not that good. I’m sure he tried his best, and you could see from his fire spitting at Todd Tichenor that he cares. But he’s not that good.
And sure, he got squeezed by Tichenor. First pitch to John Buck. Second pitch to Buck. Fourth pitch to Buck. All borderline and perhaps … perhaps … could have been called strikes. But Buck walked and Frank had to deal with that. Doesn’t explain the triple to Emilio Bonifacio and the single to Greg Dobbs that sandwiched the walk. It also doesn’t explain Francisco’s lack of composure in response to the walk. And Manny Acosta wasn’t that much better (and neither was Ramon Ramirez for that matter, giving up a two run lead in a matter of seconds in the seventh). After Acosta gave up the sac fly to Reyes he had a runner on first and two men out. No reason not to have that inning under control. But Acosta gave up a walk and hit Austin Kearns before giving up the grand slam to Metta World Stanton to end the game. But I don’t know how much blame you can put on Acosta when the so-called “closer” has a short leash and Acosta has to warm up quickly because of that. Add to that the fact that Acosta himself isn’t that good and you have a recipe for disaster.
“To me, you pick and choose your spots. He’s been pitching so well lately. It’s just one of those things. If you go to them after every game that they have a little rough outing, they get tired of hearing about it. He’s a veteran guy. He knows exactly what’s going on. He’s got to get himself ready.”
That was Terry Collins on Saturday, after the first blown save against the Marlins. So what now? Is this one of those blown saves you let him work through? Or considering that he not only blew the game but had a conniption in the process, you go to him and say “hey Frank, what the %&$*?” Or do you just not go to him and yank him out of the role before the Brewers come to town? I vote for that. I never thought Francisco would finish the season as the closer. I didn’t think he could possibly be gone by the middle of May. And yet … I’m not surprised. Think about this, the Mets either had things under control or had completed their comebacks and rallies in 25 innings out of the 27. Yet, the Mets won one game. Why? Closer is not that good. And he’s gotta be yanked, whether it be to clear his head or to serve a suspension. The rest of the team is going too well for one man’s struggles to derail the whole thing and send the Mets back to last place by the first of June.
All the mothers are already crying their eyes out because of Francisco. I don’t want to see the fathers turn to meth come June.