Saturday, May 13, 2006

The nameless one gets shelled again

The failed reclamation project managed to (barely) avoid trouble for four innings, before blowing the Mets' modest lead in spectacular fashion. The home run he gave up to Prince Fielder was an absolute blast, measured at 478 feet. No word yet whether the showing will precipitate another change of hairstyles.

When I heard the Lastings Milledge for Dontrelle Willis trade rumor, I just thought about how not-worth-it Willis is. He's young, and certainly someone who would slot in ahead of Steve Trachsel, but the declining strikeout rates raise legitimate concerns that hitters have gotten used to his delivery.

Meanwhile Lastings Milledge has started to really look good. He still only has three homers in 124 at-bats, which is light, but he just turned 21 in April, and has a .436 OBP in Triple-A. I'm on the bandwagon.

But what if a really good starter becomes available? (If you feel strongly that Dontrelle is really good, then use him as the example.) I think Omar would have to pull the trigger. I think this is the team which he should be willing to sacrifice the future in order to improve. It's a contender for sure.

As a group, Mets pitchers have been the best in the league. The Cardinals recently passed us in ERA, but the other numbers are downright freakish for team averages.

Unfortunately, the distribution of the performance matters, and when it gets later in the season and time to contend in the playoff sense, they're going to need a bigger boat. Not just the return of the guys who are currently injured, but the arrival of someone better. I don't think this can be dismissed as pessimism. I think we have good reason to be uneasy that for the forseeable future, 40% of the Mets' starts are going to be started by Gonzalez and you-know-who.

Of course, maybe I should go easy on Gonzalez, who hasn't actually done any bad pitching this year (yet), and focus on Heath Bell, who was kind of a key component of my ever-evolving Master Plan to Fix the Mets. He got smacked around again last night. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it is possible to give up zero walks and still do a crummy job. The hits will get you, too.

Billy Wagner pitched the bottom of the eighth, just because it had been so damn long. I know it's necessary to get him some work, but his appearance in last night's blowout, after being kept in the pen through some crucial innings in Philly, was just a monument to Willie Randoph's incompetence.

Things got moderately exciting in the top of the ninth, as the Mets tagged Danny Kolb and Rickie Weeks made one of the most hideous plays I've ever seen a second baseman make. Kaz Matsui came to the plate as the tying run, and Ned Yost finally had to bring in the hard-throwing (and unconventionally stylish) Derrek Turnbow to retire him.

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