Thursday, June 14, 2007

Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun

Well, the road trip is just off to a fabulous start right now, and it's a couple of losses short of officially being a full-scale debacle. It appeared that the brief power surge that the Mets showed in Detroit was just a mirage. The Mets have looked simply impotent at the plate in all 3 games of an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, who hadn't been hitting much either, and even more alarming was how easily the Mets were handled by Dodger relievers like Broxton, Billingsley and Saito. It seems as though the Mets will score early, run with a lead for a little while, and then simply implode in the middle innings, and then just go into "Operation Shutdown" from the 7th inning on. And on the other side, the Mets pitching has been turning manageable games into hopeless deficits. And nobody's been immune. El Duque had a rare bad outing on Monday. Maine was only middling on Tuesday. Even on Wednesday, Sosa, who as El Guapo mentioned has amazingly become the stopper, fell victim to the dinking and dunking and blooping and blasting of these annoying, aging Dodger hitters (especially Furcal, who I just hate more and more with each passing game).

But, clearly, the offense has been the main culprit; it's ridiculous to try to sugarcoat things (the ol' Bob Murphy treatment, "Delgado may not have any hits this month, but he's a heck of a good ballplayer," would be a trademark of this) and say that the Mets have had good at-bats. It bothers me when you hear someone say, "Boy, LoDuca's really had a lot of good at bats," after he's had 3-straght 10 pitch at bats where he worked the count and fouled off 6 pitches before grounding to short, and then he popped out his last at bat. Point being, what good is a bunch of "good at-bats" when you're 0 for 4? Delgado didn't hit for 6 weeks and got moved down in the order, where he stayed for 2 games in which he happened to hit well, and then promptly got moved back (yes, this was a side effect of Green and Alou's injuries), but he then went right back into no-mans land. Reyes's swing is totally out of whack, and when he gets on, nobody can seem to hit behind him.

Again, it's frustrating, and perhaps I'm echoing El Guapo's sentiments, but I wonder how much Willie may be outfoxing himself by trying to re-invent the wheel and experiment with guys like Wright, Green and Gomez in the 2-hole when LoDuca proved himself the perfect #2 guy last season. Then again, if Reyes leads off and gets on, and LoDuca works a count and allows Reyes to steal, then grounds out and moves Reyes to 3rd, it doesn't matter much when Beltran subsequently strikes out, another all-too-frequent occurence.

I don't know if a team meeting is needed, or Willie needs to get thrown out of a game, or they need a Bench-Clearing Brawl, or someone needs to flip over the clubhouse spread after the game, but there needs to be a jolt. It's to the Mets benefit that the rest of the division has been equally as impotent at times (though it's somewhat alarming that Philly has been able to move to within 2 games of the Mets), but this lead will evaporate if things don't turn around soon. And as we keep saying and we keep hearing, this ain't an easy stretch we're in. It's a cross-country flight home for 3 in the Bronx, and all of a sudden, after the Mets have ruled New York Baseball for much of the Spring, the Yankees are red hot, and ready to whip out that classy gentleman Clemens on Friday, and follow it up with Clippard on Saturday and Wang on Sunday, and if the Mets can't start to punch more than 3 runs per game across the plate, this is going to be a very long, humiliating weekend, and an even more humiliating end to what's shaping up to be the anti-West Coast road trip that was the springboard for the Mets last season.

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