“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.” –Michael Corleone
NEW YORK, NY – How many times, Mets fans, have you been Michael Corleone’d by your Amazin’ Mets? Too many time to count, likely. Or actually, we can come pretty close to counting them. After all, since the National League Baseball Club in Flushing’s inception in 1962, there have been exactly nine playoff appearances: 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 1999 2000, 2006, 2016. Will 2019 be the eighth trip to the dance? One can only hope. BUT… there are issues. and that begs some looking under the hood of this speeding Flushing freight train that is steamrolling Major League Baseball. Thus, today’s unpopular headline: Mets Winning Despite Glaring Problems.
MANAGER: Cutting your teeth in the American League as an assistant or pitching coach is great. It’s great on a resume. Doing it under the radar in a place like Cleveland is even better. But jumping from that role to Manager of a team in NYC is too broad a leap and Mickey Callaway is clearly clinging to the side of the cliff by his fingernails. He is out of his depth. Is he getting better? Yes. But his learning curve has cost the team dearly – at least 5-7 wins in W/L column. That is a HUGE number of games to be blown by mismanagement in this every-game-counts world of Wild Card baseball. And many would argue he’s cost the team more wins than that. But the blame needs to fall on Brodie Van Wagenen and – once again – ownership. You don’t bring an A.L. understudy into the pressure-cooker of the NL East and expect him/her to handle the chess matches of pitching changes, double-switches and when allowing pitchers to hit is apropos. They don’t do that in the Junior Circuit. It’s beer league vs The Show when it comes to managing. In this series alone, Callaway gave the Nationals a critical run by having a spent Marcus Stroman start the 7th by walking the lead-off man. He then yanked him. But it was too late. That head-scratching move left no doubt in any bruised and battered Mets fan’s head that that runner would score. And he did. Never should have happened. But I will say in his defense that he’s been given a plate of sh!t to work with from his GM. Jed Lowrie, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Famila are nothing but lurking shadows of doom or disappointment. Marcus Stroman could counter those awful moves- but he only plays every fifth day.
But while we’re talking pitching…
BULLPEN: Okay, you don’t win 15 of 16 without your starters getting quality relief. But the two big offseason acquisitions, Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia and more fragile than than Humpty Dumpty on that wall – on roller-skates. Instead of having them to close out games as part of one of the league’s best relief staffs, they are being coddled and used only when they can do minimal damage. Meanwhile, Seth Lugo is being asked to replace not just one of them… but both. And it makes managing that much more difficult. And as stated above, that’s something the Amazins can ill afford with their learning-on-the-job skipper.
Can the Metropolitans make the the postseason despite a fragile/shallow bullpen, a paper-thin bench and a rookie Skipper flailing frantically to stay above water? The answer is simple: Ya Gotta Believe. And despite what evil may lurk around the corner of Seaver and Roosevelt, yours truly – like many of you – is taking the bait.
“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”
That’s it for now, please feel free to comment below and come back tomorrow for the Sonny Corleone of Mattville, Cheesy Bruin.
P.s… A Happy Mets Birthday to longtime fan, Ken Belson – he of the NY Times – and all round good egg… not in the Humpty/Edwin Diaz sense!