24.9.05

152 Games Late, Carlos Beltran FINALLY Shows Up


Ahhh, Carlos me boy, too little too late.

Isn't it ironic in a twisted, melancholy sort of way that in Game 153 of the season in which the Mets need slide rules and astrophysics to figure how to avoid being eliminated from the post season, that the Houston Astros, the team Carlos Beltran bid adieu to in the off season, are nestled quite comfortably in the NL Wildcard lead whilst the Mets, "winners" in the Carlos Beltran Sweepstakes are nestled comfortably in last place in the NL East?

Granted, the Astros are hardly comfortable, they're only a game ahead of the still-hard-charging Phillies. And granted, the Mets are one and a half games from fourth place in the NL East, (a sweep of the Nats would propel them out of the basement but they'll probably choke on that one too...)

And granted, it hasn't been all Carlos Beltran's fault the Mets are in last place, (you could blame an absolute crap bullpen, the Achilles Heel of the Mets this season, if you were feeling generous).

But the cold and ugly truth is that Carlos Beltran failed us so many times in the clutch when we needed him already that last night's 3-run homer to win the game in the 10th inning was like an elaborate joke that took 153 games to set up.

Don't get me wrong. I like Carlos Beltran. He could have quit on the season when he fractured his face in that season-highlight collision with Mike Cameron. He could have pissed and moaned about hearing the boos and the cat calls at Shea like Cliff Floyd and many others have done in the past. He simply stood strong all season, tried his hardest and unfortunately in most cases, failed. He wasn't given that enormous contract to fail but this is, after all, his New York teething period and perhaps after this season is under his belt, we'll see a more clutch Carlos Beltran when it counts.

Still, a three-run homer to win a game late in September should have been pushing the Mets closer to the playoffs, not closer to .500 or closer to getting out of last place in the NL East.

And last night, despite the unusual situation of Beltran's game-winner, was quite typical of how the Mets bullpen has let us down time and again this season. How far removed are these relievers from that horrific Bradon Looper meltdown in Game One of the season against the Reds?

Well, for one, Looper is no longer the closer and if we're lucky, next season he won't even be a Met. But typically, Willie Randolph made a curious decision with his pen that has blown up in Met faces. If the idea of dropping Looper as a closer was to audition closers for next year then what the hell is the 40-year oldish Roberto Hernandez doing in the role? I'll ask again, as I have several times already, why would we want a 41 year old man poised as our closer next season? Isn't there ONE other guy in that bullpen we'd rather see auditioning? Oh, I dunno, let's say Aaron Heilman???

Last night Steve Trachsel pitched six plus scoreless innings, allowing only five hits and striking out seven before being removed in favour of the demolition squad with a 2-0 lead.

Juan Padilla came in to pitch two scoreless innings but then, rather than stick Heilman in to save the game, Willie reached for The Roberto and The Roberto responded by surrendering a game-tying two run homer to Carlos Baerga (oh, remember the days of Baerga and wine?) to blow the victory for Trachsel and nearly blow it for the Mets on a night they had an uncharacteristic 10 hits.

And it was only AFTER Carlos Beltran gave the Mets their 3 run lead in the 10th that Willie went to the man he should've gone to to begin with: Aaron Heilman. Heilman responded by walking one, but saving the game, his second of the season.

So instead of being lumped in with the Astros, Phillies and perhaps even the Marlins for the NL Wildcard chase, the Mets are fighting to reach .500 and inching ever so closely to climbing out of the NL East basement, which is now one and a half games in sight.

Maybe that's why we bought Pedro and Carlos. To keep us out of last place. And how bad does it seem that even with them, we still haven't done it?

*****

I was looking over the season stats to date when I noticed something miraculous:

DO you realise that Jose Reyes has 656 at-bats this season?

Granted, he allows himself to be walked about as often as a leg-less dog but still, if someone told me at the beginning of the season that Jose Reyes would not only avoid rehabilitating those tragically fragile hammies this season but would lead the Major Leagues in at-bats, you could've knocked me over with four shots of single malt and a feather.

Not only that, but his OBP now stands at .302 - for a lead off hitter that is, of course, nothing short of pathetic, and it is the lowest of anyone with over 600 at-bats this season, but let's give credit where it's due - Reyes also has 58 stolen bases, which lead the league and just three nights ago, when his speed caused the normally sure-handed Juan Pierre to bobble the ball in excitement in centerfield and allow Reyes to take second, Jose showed that he certainly has a debilitating effect on players who have to face him.

*****

Oh, what could be.

Tom (occasionally Terrific) Glavine takes the mound today as the Mets attempt to reach .500 once again, this time, against Livian Hernandez, the sometimes ace of the Nats staff. Hernandez however, has a 6.60 ERA against the Mets this season, despite his 2-1 record.

And what the hell, we have little to root for so a struggle back to .500 after it seemed like the Mets had already quit on the season and a battle against the Nats to climb out of last place, will have to suffice.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about Beltran. I think he'll be fine after this year and really, when you look at his stats, he has done just about as well as any other season other than hitting only 16 homers so far.

I also agree with you about Roberto Hernandez closing. Why is Heath Bell still in bullpen hell when he could be closing?

Kyle in Newport News said...

How about climbing into third place? After tonight's crushing of the Nats, the Mets'll be at 77-77; after tonight's thwacking at the hands of the Braves, the Marlins will be 80-75. I believe that will put the Mets 2.5 games back of the Marlins. The Marlins can certainly lose some more games, as they're playing the Braves four more times and the Nats three more times; the Mets can certainly gain some ground, if not against the Phils then in their four-game home series against the Rox.

But is finishing third worth much more than finishing fourth, especially since it would just rub more salt in the wound of how close the Mets were to making the playoffs at the end of August? Beating up on the Phils would hurt their chances of winning a playoff berth, while the Braves beating up on the Marlins would hurt the Phils' chances of (deep breath) winning the division. So what's the order of importance here?

(a) Mets finishing third
(b) Phils making the playoffs
(c) Phils winning the division

Of course, by the time I finish typing this the Mets could be down 6-5.

Jaap said...

Kyle,

I'm not really certain I think it matters that the Mets finish third or fifth so long as either finish means they don't make the playoffs.

Let's face it, anything less than the playoffs are a disappointment, at least as far as I'm concerned and yeah, it'd be nice if the Mets finished ahead of the Marlins at any rate, just because of Carlos Delgado, but to me, this whole thing is sort of like picking through someone's vomit trying to figure out what they ate for dinner two days ago.

You're also forgetting the (haha) ever so important, slotting for next season's draft in your calculations.

Who knows, the next Toby Harrah could be out there waiting for us at 14th in the draft but gone by the 19th pick...

But thanks for the questions - pondering the imponderable and hey, at least the Mets didn't blow another one!

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