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Murray Chass Says...

Edgy DC
Jun 13 2005 09:53 AM

...the Mets are as bad as he thinks they are when they're losing.

I don't disagree with him necessarily. They likely are an improved team who will nonetheless not see post-season money. Nonetheless, the idea of a single game enapsulating the character and ability of a team is tempting but silly. Piazza getting tossed hurt them, but hardly represents a larger picture than that of the day.

What speaks to the larger picture is stuff like Cammie getting caught on the bases, and the Mets need to execute daring plays like that to win That's exciting, but not reliable.

It's hard to resist the call for Heilman in the rotation, but I really think this team's real shortcomings are and have been offensive.

That said, there's good reason to hope that Reyes, Wright, Beltran, and/or Matsui will improve over the long haul, even as there is reason to fear that Floyd and/or Cameron will recede.

But I meander. We'll see how it plays out one way or the other.

Jun 13 2005 10:10 AM

I like Chass, great writer, he says Pedro has spoiled Mets fans who expect him to win every game, I suspect he has also spoiled the sports journalists that go and expect Pedro to throw a 1 hit shut out.

Chass does address the Mets main problem right now, the offence.

Johnny Dickshot
Jun 13 2005 10:19 AM

It's about 80% offensive struggles, 12% pitching questions, and 8% overall dumbth.

I can see us staying in this thing, but it's going to take turnarounds from Piazza, Matsui and Mientkiewicz, and for Beltran to stop being "pretty OK" to "pretty damn good."

The likeliness of Piazza rebounding: poor. He doesn't have the bat speed anymore.

Matsui recovery: Middling. I believe he has the ability but may be hurt (?) and WWSB and the fan/media majority isn't giving him the chance anymore. Cairo is more projectable but using him aims for so much less.

Mientkiewicz: I'll take 260 at this point but more likely we're going to have to find a better hitter at first base.

Other than that, pitching at ther back end of the rotation and the bullpen some nights remains questionable or unproven but solutions are more easily found IMO. What's worrysome is the offensive struggles starting to seep into the psyche of the staff: How many 7 IP, 2 run efforts will go for NDs or losses?

The 8% Dumb Plays ought to be addressed: Bad-decision bunting, errors, faulty execution, poor turns at bat. At the risk of sounding like a Benitez basher, this team seems to lose its concentration at critical moments way too often.

Frayed Knot
Jun 13 2005 10:31 AM

If you buy the notion about success in hitting over different situations being largely random then there is some hope for improvement just by chance:

Current OPS:
None-on: .743 - 7th in NL
Runners: .756 - 14th in NL
RiSP: .712 - 15th in NL
2-outs RiSP: .677 - 14th in NL

We should be scoring more runs simply by accident.

Jun 13 2005 11:08 AM

How could anyone possibly say that pitching hasn't been a problem? Despite recent improvements, Glavine's ERA is still at 4.56 and his WHIP is at 1.61. Zambrano's at 4.26 & 1.61. Ishii's at 5.48 and 1.88. The NL average ERA is 4.32 and the average WHIP is 1.38. That means 3/5 of our rotation has given up significantly more runners per inning than average and 2/5 has allowed more runs than average. Frankly, we're lucky we haven't given up more runs, given how many base runners we've allowed.

Now Zambrano & Glavine (Glavine especially) do seem to be improving, but in terms of why we're not higher in the standings, our pitching absolutely has a lot to do with it. We've allowed 263 runs, which is more than anyone else in our division aside from Philadelphia, and puts us at 9th in the league overall.

For Runs Scored, we're second in our division, behind Philadelphia, and again, 9th overall.

So if our offense has been a problem, then so has our pitching.

Looking forward, I am more concerned about our offense than our pitching, but only because I have this bizarre hope that we're going to replace either Ishii or Zambrano with Heilman, who is currently sitting on a 3.64 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP--a huge upgrade from Ishii.

Offensively, I think we have some in-house options that we need to start using. Cameron & Beltran have been playing hurt, while Diaz has been sitting on the bench. We should be playing him more to give our big boys more days off.

As far as call-ups, Daubach is leading the league in batting average, and has hit 11 HR so far for Norfolk, and has a +.800 OPS in his major league career. He might not be great defensively, but he's been a monster down there so far and I don't see the harm in bringing him up to play off the bench, and possibly take over for Mientkiewicz if he can't improve.

We could easily do without Woody--or Ring, since we're barely using him anway.

Anyway, my main point is that focusing exclusively--or even only 80%--on the offense, means you're ignoring a huge part of the equation that has most certainly cost us games--and probably as many as the offense has.