Monday, July 26, 2004

Games 92 through 97 - Mets
Free Falling Through the New York Sky  
Marlins 6, Mets 5
Marlins 9, Mets 7
Mets 5, Expos 4
Expos 4, Mets 1
T.G.I.F.R. (Thank God It F-ing Rained)
Braves 5, Mets 2
Braves 4, Mets 3
Record: 47-50 

Hmm.  I leave for a week and the Mets commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Three Mile Island incident with a fairly disastrous meltdown of their own.  Since everything is breaking down up in Flushing Meadows, let's have a breakdown of our own.

What does this tell you?

Pitchers of Record:
Looper (L)
Franco (L)
Moreno (W)
Franco (L)
Stanton (L)
Trachsel (L)

Other than yesterday's loss, in which Steve Trachsel was victimized by the ever-eroding defense instead of the relief crew, the remainder of this batch of games was negatively affected by the bullpen.  The pen was fortunate to hold on and beat the Expos (how painful to type that) for the lone win of the past week.

Last week, while I was bloggingly challenged, I was prepared to assault the trade of Karim Garcia to the Orioles for Mike DeJean.  And that was even conceding that Garcia is a player of middling talent for whom the Mets had no place for in right field any more and for whom they probably couldn't get much in return.  And that he's a guy about whom I care only slightly more than Pedro Martinez does, based his non-baseball behaviors over the past year.  My problem is that the bullpen needs the type of help you don't visit the scrap heap for; trading for the reliever with the worst numbers on the worst staff in baseball (who makes $1.5 million this season) seems to be grasping at straws . . . at best.

Good thing I didn't yap too quickly; though Garcia began his stint by going yard twice in his first game, he's come back down to earth (or to the subterranean hole in which he dwells).  Meanwhile, though we're only in the short term thus far, Mike DeJean has been stellar.  Three outings (5 IP) untarnished against the Marlins and Braves.  I suppose the "change of scenery" tagline teams throw around like clockwork when they've just acquired a mediocre player sometimes actually takes effect.

The relievers have been horrible, to understate it.   Even the guys who were pitching well have now begun to unravel like knitted britches in a briar patch.  Ricky Bottalico, praised as a comeback story early, is getting hit hard.  "Metallica" Bottalico, nicknamed in part for his hard, fiery delivery (probably moreso because it rhymes), got soft and faded fast, just like the band.  Meanwhile, Braden "Damage, Inc." Looper is beginning to make every save opportunity a wild ride, and Mike "Enter Sandbag" Stanton has been simply wretched.  Jose "Sad But True" Parra started well, faltered, and landed on the DL, and then Orber "Jump In the Fire" Moreno did the same.  Dan "The Unforgiven" Wheeler's stint in AAA hasn't dulled the memories of his lightning ride relief appearances.

And then there's John "The Thing That Should Not Be" Franco.  A weekend New York Post piece highlighted the Mets fans' growing disenchantment for the Generalissimo.  Franco's not-terribly-veteran smirks and winces directed at the men in blue (on balls a foot from the zone) are painful, exacerbating an already annoying performance by the aged one this season.  (Franco's July ERA is 10.80; August's most terrifying spectacle may not be the new M. Night Shyamalan flick.)  But his groans and sourpusses directed at the bumbling fielders fly in the face of his captaining this team.  Ignoring the fact that captains of any kind usually perform at a higher level than he has, it's up to him to lead by example and show the young guys what team play is all about.  Has the defense been so reprehensible as to cause a million pained expressions?  Of course.  More than that -- it's enough to elicit nausea.  But if I threw up as often as Kaz Matsui's glove regurgitated a baseball, I'd have an eating disorder.  (Basebulimia? . . . I am so sorry.)  Hell, all Franco has left out there are his facial expressions.  Start being a real captain out there before the rest of your crew pulls a Captain Queeg on you.  I might have to follow my associate's lead and give him a color.

The worst part of this 3-7 stagger out of the gate of the second half?  That was the homestand.  Now the Mets hit the road for 13 games in 14 days.  By August 8, the Mets may well be able to cross themselves off the "contenders" list.  This game's about pitching and defense, and both have suffered lately.

Getting ready to dust off the trumpet (that's not a lewd euphemism, dirtbags) and cue "Taps" unless they can get healthy over a four-gamer versus Montreal.  It'd be a month later than we played that tune last year, but it would still be a disappointment.

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