Anyone looking for a punching bag?
And yet through it all, the Mets, for the most part, kept winning.
But not last night.
If Sunday's near-disaster wasn't sufficient warning, last night's horrific, embarrassing crash and burn against the Pirates, an 8th inning meltdown so reminiscent of last season's 9th innings that everyone immediately began to suffer G-Force Face from the speed with which we returned to nightmares, was the final warning to Jerry and his Gang of Painful Optimists that JJ Putz is no longer a viable 8th inning option.
I'm not saying Putz can't sort out his elbow, his waning confidence, his mechanisms over the course of time. I'm saying the Mets cannot have late inning
And until Jerry announces Bobby Parnell is K-Rod's new set-up man,the situation is only going to become more inflamed.
Putz is not going to magically improve himself overnight. I don't care how much mechanical work he puts in, these are serious blow outs indicative of a serious problem. Maybe it requires a stint on the DL, a seat on the Ollie Perez Bus To Oblivion, relocation to a witness protection programme, weeks of intense pitching mechanics review or even relegation to the Russian Front softball team but one thing it does NOT require is another one of those patented Mets front office responses, you know, the one where Omar or Jerry or sometimes both in unison, chirp about how rosy and wonderful the existing problem really is and how this problem is not a problem and if we all ignore it long enough, it will eventually go away on its own.
And another fresh wound is whywhywhy when you KNOW your set up guy is having problems, whywhywhy do you stick him out there and NOT have someone already warmed up in the pen to come in once the inevitable meltdown approaches? Why wait until disaster has already struck, when the damage is irreversible? Is it stupidity? Naïvité? Ignorance? Unreasonable Optimism? Why wasn't Stokes already ready before Putz even threw his first pitch?
It's been admirable watching the Mets fighting injury and stomach bug, playing with practical joke line ups day in and day out yet still struggling on, still fighting for victories.
Yet this kind of farce; throwing away a perfectly good victory against a 2nd-rate team was entirely unnecessary. What was running through Jerry's mind? How many stupid bullpen decisions can I make in one night? Why Parnell so early? Why is Putz coming in when that very day he's still working on his mechanics?
Why, Jerry, why?
And what the hell is going on in David Wright's head?
How do you hit over .500 on a road trip one week then strike out in nearly every at-bat the next? What psychological conundrum allows for such radical swings? Does he too suffer from delicate mechanical flustering which requires daily or weekly adjustments? Does he suffer from temporary blindness? Or is it the curse of having Jeremy Reed hitting behind you? How do you build a franchise around a player like this? First inning, straight away, he strikes out swinging with two men on base. Third inning? Sheffield on first, weak fly out.
Whaddaya say David, shall we order a pizza?
It's not Wright's fault the Mets lost of course, that's down to Putz and Jerry. And surely with the injuries and excuses, the Mets can be forgiven for not winning every game they play, even against losers like the Pirates.
But this game was a win.
Simple mechanics. A 5-0 lead against the Pittsburgh Pirates is as close to money in the bag as you can get. Especially when you've got K-Rod.
Instead? A painful loss and more controversy; the Mets' favourite home away from home.
My contribution this week to Flushing University is The Bridge To K-Rod. Enjoy.