Monday, September 29, 2008

Collapsing Rationality

I'm heartbroken, upset, and I really want to punch something right now. I have been teased and let down all season by my beloved Mets and I'm both physically and mentally exhausted. It's a hard life being a Met fan.

And yes, I was at the final game at Shea Stadium. From my spot in the Mezzanine, Section 7, I couldn't help but wonder about how perfect it would be for the Mets to qualify for the playoffs. But it was not too be. For whatever reason, Shea Stadium has provided more frustration and failure than success and prosperity. The collapse of 2007 just makes this loss all the more painful. It will take a few days for me to realize that this season is truly over, but until then, here are my rational thoughts about the season.

Somehow Rational Mets Thoughts of 2008

-Up and Down and Up and Down
As difficult as it was to watch this team fail again, I can't help but think how fortunate we were to have this team playing meaningful September baseball. Besides all of the injuries (Pedro, Maine, Wagner, Castillo, Alou, Church, Castro, Sanchez, Tatis, etc.) and the inconsistent/horrible play (Delgado, Beltran, Perez, Heilman, Schoeneweis, Castillo, Sanchez), the Mets lacked general consistency amongst personnel and performance in 2008. It is very hard to succeed consistently with a schizophrenic team, which actually makes a 90 win season look good.

-The Big Five
Most of the reason why the 2008 Mets were so good was because of five players: Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Johan Santana. Each of those guys had tremendous seasons and each achieved God-like status at times. Unfortunately for the Mets, this season will go down as the season in these great performances were wasted. You could make a compelling argument for each of those guys to win the MVP award, but not making the playoffs kills their chances. The wasted campaigns is what hurts me the most right now because I was really looking forward to these five excelling in September.

-Mets specialist bullpen theory
So much has been said about how bad the Mets bullpen was after Billy Wagner went down, all of which is true. This bullpen cost us a playoff birth and probably a division crown. If we have a healthy Billy Wagner, there is no way that we lose the division/wild card. Mark my words. But with that said, I have a major issue with the way this pen was constructed. If you simply look at the numbers of each guy out of the bullpen, you will see that each has excelled against hitters from one side of the plate, but has struggled against the other.

-Smith (vs RH): 3.54 ERA, (vs. LH) 3.75 ERA
-Feliciano (vs LH) 2.76 ERA , (vs. RH) 5.63 ERA
-Schoeneweis (vs LH) 2.08 ERA, (vs. RH) 4.78 ERA
-Heilman (vs LH) 8.19 ERA, (vs. RH) 3.30 ERA
-Sanchez (vs. LH) 3.04 ERA, (vs. RH) 5.40 ERA

So basically, GM Omar Minaya left Jerry Manuel with a variety of different options out of the pen. But, there was NOBODY who could get out both lefties and righties on a consistent basis. Every guy that is thrown into the fire has a very limited chance to succeed.

And look, I love specialists as much as anyone. But once Billy Wagner went down, he left a void that could not be replaced. Manuel smartly tried using Heilman Guys like Felciano and Smith were now working later into the games and facing more match ups to which they were not favored. While the Mets were able to slide by from August until the beginning of September without Wagner, it is only fitting that this would catch up to them in September when the rosters expand. Because of the 40 man roster in September, teams are able to play the percentages more against the Mets bullpen by pinch hitting for weak left handed batters or right handed batters.

Twenty-Five man rosters favor the Mets bullpen (as much as a bad bullpen can be favored) because the options are limited. However, in September, anything goes.

-The Kids
Lost in the shuffle of yet another late season collapse has been the play of the young Mets. Guys like Daniel Murphy, Nick Evans, Bobby Parnell, and Argenis Reyes each played vital roles at some point during the season and showed flashes of solid play. Murphy appears to be the real coup of the group here because of his ability to work and a count and drive pitches. He reminds me a left handed Kevin Youkilis. Now lets find him a position Omar. And while I'm not totally solid on either Evans or Reyes, maybe each of them will have a role off the bench or at least add to the organization. And look out for Parnell next year, dude's got a great arm.

Now please keep all sharp objects away from me for the next week or so...then we'll be good.

More on this tomorrow.

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