Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Mets 50-Game Checkup - The More Things Change . . .

After 25 games, the Mets were 11-14. Over the next 25 games, the Mets were 11-14. Can I just post a link to the 25-Game Checkup and get back to work? No, not really, because it's been a very different 11-14 this time around. They won games for different reasons (Piazza catching fire, Benitez settling down, stiffs getting hurt) and lost more games for different reasons (injuries abound, middle relief blowing up, questionable managerial moves). The roster is very different right now than it was a month ago, and change during dark times brings a few rays of hope. And yet . . . the results were identical. At the very least, these 25 games have made it interesting enough to stick around for 25 more . . .


This is a streaky team. Rare is the stretch in which they compile a win-loss-win-loss sequence; rather, they piece together a few wins, then the bottom drops out and they fall apart for a few days, then they do it all over again. It's generally a win-win-loss-loss-loss progression, which would roughly account for their winning percentage.

As much as the injury bug initially gave the team a necessary shake-up, now it's getting out of hand. Today Timo Perez is headed for the DL. Since Opening Day, the roster has seen Mike Piazza, Mo Vaughn, Jeromy Burnitz, Rey Sanchez, David Cone, Pedro Astacio, Scott Strickland, Jay Bell, Grant Roberts, and John Franco spend time on the disabled list, many of them for extended periods. Piazza's season may be over, Vaughn's probably is, Burnitz missed a month, and Franco hasn't pitched yet (but he may be returning soon). Players like Timo have been hobbling around on the active roster because of the number of guys hurt. Memo to Art Howe: when you consistently need to pinch-run for your speedy outfielder with off-day pitchers, something is wrong. And you get the sense that the rash of injuries is not yet over. Watch those dugout steps, people.

The team will be dismantled by the end of July. I have a few requests of Steve Phillips or his successor:
1. Trade for young pitching. The arms that have risen through the ranks of late are shabby at best. I realize this won't be easy, but package as many guys into one deal as you need.
2. Don't muck things up with Piazza by trading him to a team he'll obviously veto. The one thing that hasn't wavered with him yet is his positive attitude. We don't need him aging rapidly, firing throws into centerfield, and pissed off and distracted at the plate.
3. Try to trade Mo and move Piazza to 1st base next year. Don't tell me he's untradeable; I watched Juwan Howard get dumped a few years ago.
4. Please please please don't trade solid players to any of the following teams: (a) Any NL East teams, especially the Braves; (I thought this would go without saying until the Braves gave away Kevin Millwood to an intra-division opponent) (b) the Yankees, for obvious Evil Empire reasons, plus the fact that ex-Mets get better there, right in our face; (c) the Giants -- Barry Bonds had his chance for a title and let's not give him another; (d) the Red Sox -- I don't need the Tony Clark equalizer (it wouldn't take much) and let's face it, this bet is already going disastrously.
5. Cuándo Armando? When to trade the poseur-closer? I think sooner rather than later. Deal him to the BoSox while he's on the upswing, right after they relinquish first place right back to the Yanks.

I could go on about the status of the New York Mets, but a last-place (the Marlins have rebounded), 11.5 games out, 22-28 disappointment of a baseball team doesn't deserve further scrutiny. I'll check back when they're 33-42.

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