In the amusement park that you know as Mets baseball, its most popular ride is the death spiral. Everybody rides it in July for some reason.
Oh, and guess what: July isn’t over yet. And just in time before August provides as much relief as turning the page of a calendar can do, it’s the Washington Nationals coming to town for three games! Aah, yes. The ride just keeps getting better.
But at least the growing angry mob got their pound of flesh as before it even got going on Sunday, Miguel Batista was designated for assignment. It would be wrong of me to simply blame Batista for getting old. That bell tolls for all of us. The blame here goes to Terry Collins for continuing to trust him in situation after sticky and muddy situation. Fully aware that Terry Collins has done as good a job as he could do under the circumstances, but he’s gotta take a hit here, as to a certain extent Sandy Alderson does too. Collins knew when to pull the trigger on D.J. Carrasco and Manny Acosta, to the point where people commended Collins and Alderson for not being afraid to cut a guy loose no mater the contract circumstances. But for some reason, Collins just refused to do it with Batista until it was too late. Perhaps part of it was necessity as Jon Rauch’s knees seem to require draining every fifteen minutes. Perhaps another part is that Batista made a good coach in the clubhouse and was just a plain nice guy. Good for him. Make him a coach. Or have Ricky Bones pitch, one or the other. Batista drew some important situations and he was awful. Whether the Mets felt Matt Harvey wasn’t quite ready to take over Batista’s roster spot or not (and now Harvey had better be ready since he’s starting on Thursday), Batista’s role became too important for no good reason.
And as for Harvey, funny how he needed to come up to help the Mets stay in wild card contention. But now that it’s too late, he needs to come up because there’s no other halfway decent option at the major league level. He was the right move then, and still the right move now as the circumstances have completely changed. Rare that somebody can be the option in good times and bad. This begs the question: What took the Mets so long?
But as much as the late Harvey call-up will be regarded as a tipping point of the season, up for debate in the setting of dive bars everywhere for years to come, the fact is that the Mets have many other holes which have been exposed as Dillon Gee and Johan Santana have gone down with physical ailments. For example: the Mets had 16 hits today and three runs. This usually means that there are people that leave runners on base. For the Mets, it’s the middle of the order. Ike Davis had chances to put this game away and didn’t … for example.
Along the same lines, I’m done with Lucas Duda. Finished. I hope to good powers that Duda isn’t kept around because he fits in with this whole “home grown” motif, which is completely overrated. Mets had nine home grown starters today. Give me nine good players over nine guys who share a mailing address and were drafted by the same organization. There has to be a better option for the Mets to spend their money on for the middle of the order than Duda. He plays a rotten right field … we know that. We found that out in the 12th inning. But I can deal with him being a statue in right if he could hit some home runs more often than two in six weeks. Guy had two home runs in the second game of the season. Then he had three from April 8th to May 29th … 46 games (43 starts by rough count). Then five in the next eight games, and then two in the next 33 games. 66 games in the fourth or fifth spots in the order and in two different stretches totalling 79 games, he has five home runs. The guy is seven feet, twenty five inches tall. Heaven forbid he hits a ball hard. Instead we have to see his typical line of one for four with a walk, and the one is a ground single into right field. But nobody says a word because Ike Davis’ struggles have been more pronounced. But if Duda is going to go one for four every game and be a carnivorous sloth in right field, the Mets would be better off with Jeff Francoeur in right field.
That’s right, I said it.
And then with the bullpen. First off, Bobby Parnell has a 100 mph fastball, has learned more or less to spot the thing, has a good curveball, but still can’t go through a game without making us crazy. Then, Ramon Ramirez comes from the Giants where he was great in his two years there, then comes to New York and becomes Mel Rojas before our very eyes, including a five run inning which sealed their fate in the 12th inning on Sunday. How? Is it that bullpens are unpredictable from year to year? Or could it be that the guy coaching them is giving them bad advice? Or … Sandy Alderson built this bullpen after putting his entire pittance into it. So maybe he isn’t quite as good with limited funds as we thought. It’s gotta be one of those things, and the Mets had better figure this out. Because exceeding expectations before falling apart in July and then having everybody say “well, we didn’t think they’d be this good so just smile and think happy thoughts” … it’s getting old fast. Remember when everybody thought it was cute when Jeffy handed out the Underdog shirts and David Wright thought it sucked because he actually has expectations for this team? Well I’m with David. I’m tired of accepting that this team sucks and that anything remotely good they do for a half a season deserves undying praise and cult hero status.
And don’t get me wrong, the first half of 2012 has definitely been a step up from even the first halves of 2010 and 2011. But f**k that. If this team keeps wilting in July, then it’s indicative of a larger problem of not having any depth in this organization and consistently having to depend on “well if everything breaks right”. Nothing breaks right for an entire season. I went through the bad July stretches over the last few Julys. This July, the Mets are 2-10 since coming back off of Papelbon (which should put to rest the notion that exciting wins are “springboards” for the rest of the season), and me taking the leap and calling them a contender. They’re now closer to the Marlins than the Braves … the same Marlins I’ve been making fun of all season, as have we all.
Scott was right. This sucks.
Speaking of Scott, please join me in thanking him for driving this ship the last three days. I hope you’ll give him a glowing review on Trip Advisor. You’ll see him pop up here from time to time on those nights that I’m either away or attempt to drink hemlock after another one of “those” losses.
Also, on a more somber note, I’m sure you’re all aware of the horrific tragedy that happened in Aurora, Colorado on Friday. It’s ripped something out of all our hearts, including in the sports and blogging communities which lost a bright light that night. I don’t know if you pray, remember, reflect or simply decide to hoist one in times like this. But what ever you do, do it for all those that aren’t with us anymore if you haven’t already.
We’re always told to take time out after things like this happen and make sure you appreciate what you have in life. I most certainly do appreciate it. To that end, I want to make clear to all of you that I appreciate every single one of you who come to this site and read or have ever read my garbage over the last seven plus seasons. I rant and yell and scream about the Mets because I love it. I hate them, but I love them. And I love this … even on those nights I’m up until four in the morning because I’m trying to find a new way to tell you that this team is a clown outfit (bro.) And I’m on board with this franchise for better or worse until the end.
So if I don’t get a chance to say this again, I’ll say it now: Thank you. It means the world to me to be able to do this and actually have people pay some sort of attention. If I ever take it for granted, I shouldn’t. I wouldn’t be doing this without you guys showing up. And even if I did it certainly wouldn’t mean as much. So thank you. I hope to one day be blogging about a World Series game for you guys. But if not, I’ll enjoy blogging about the next dropped pop-up, game ending balk, dumb trade, or losing streak. Thank you … for being a part of it to this point.