Certainly it is only April, but those buzzards you see above Citi Field may have a veritable feast coming soon.
Last night I received the play-by-play of the Mets’ demise from my father over the phone. Jerry Manuel removed Ollie Perez with a man on second and one out in the seventh inning after having thrown ninety-seven pitches. Subsequently, the bullpen, so lauded previously, poured kerosene all over Busch Stadium, lit several matches, turned on its heel and ran.
The result: a Felipe Lopez (!) grand slam. Mets lose, 4-3.
Metstradamus summed it up well: this one cuts deep.*
*OK, OK, it should be cuts deeply, but that’s what he wrote, so that’s what I wrote.
Amazin’ Avenue tried to point out some positives in the loss, but I’m not necessarily buying them.
Meanwhile, John Harper’s lede in The Daily News points out the obvious:
In the strictest sense it was the worst kind of loss for the Mets. When you not only fail to cash in on a night Oliver Perez delivers some rare brilliance, but give the game away with some horrendous relief pitching, April somehow feels like those infamous Septembers past.
Yes, the 4-3 loss to the Cardinals Friday night felt ominous, to say the least, especially for a team desperately trying to stave off an early-season crisis and the manager watch that would come with it.
Suffice to say, the buzzards are circling in Queens. Justified or not, if the team continues at its current pace (.300 baseball) for the next two weeks, it’ll take a small miracle for Jerry Manuel to see May Day in a Mets uniform. However, I’m not necessarily sold that it’s all the skipper’s fault. Omar Minaya has, to paraphrase Father Baseball of Wood-Ridge, taken the Mets’ money and not produced. The vultures may end up picking over the manager’s office, but only because Omar Minaya has surreptitiously slipped something into Fred and Jeff Wilpon’s Cokes.
The bottom line is this: we’ve seen time and time again that bullpens and role players are generally interchangeable and it’s a matter of finding diamonds within the rough. The teams that regularly win do this; those who don’t are also-rans. Right now, it’s obvious where the Mets fall within this continuum.
One more note on this — and a note that I haven’t seen brought up by many — it must be the Mets’ worst fear that the core that they’ve assembled is soft and incapable of winning. Or, more directly, could the sum of their parts be worth less than the parts themselves? Is a nucleus of Johann Santana, Francisco Rodriguez, David Wright, Jose Reyes, (the amazing disappearing and unfindable) Carlos Beltran simply inadequate, not in terms of talent, but rather in terms of wins and losses?
In case you were wondering, by the way, Jason Bay couldn’t make contact with the water if he fell out of a boat. That’s bad news too.