During the 4th or 5th inning of last night's game, I heard Ron Darling talking about how he had been speaking to one of the Nationals broadcasters before the game. He said that the Nationals broadcaster (whose name escapes me) was talking about the team. He said that they had been very inconsistent so far, particularly in regards to the performances they had been getting out of their regulars. He mentioned that when they'd hit, they weren't getting good pitching. When they were getting good pitching, they didn't hit. When they had leads, they couldn't hold them. Sometimes they hit and pitched, but couldn't field. It was never the same from one day to the next. Darling concluded this by saying that this was the sign of a last-place ballclub.
Doesn't that description sound a little too familiar here?
One inning later, it was the Mets doing the imploding, allowing the Nationals to come back from a few one-run deficits and eventually romp over the Mets for 10 runs, mainly off of Nelson Figueroa and Jorge Sosa. Following the game, Figueroa blasted the Nationals for cheering and yelling during the game.
Again, sound familiar?
Seems to me that Figueroa could have circumvented that by simply pitching better against a last-place team, but then, maybe that's asking a little too much. And after their performances last night, both Figueroa and Jorge Sosa have been sent packing, designated for assignment this afternoon in favor of Claudio Vargas and Matt Wise, with Vargas scheduled to make the start on Wednesday evening. Of course, this happens to be the next game I have tickets for, so we'll close our eyes, eat an extra bowl of Matzoh Ball soup and hope for the best.
If nothing else, today's moves (which includes the disabling of Angel Pagan, who'd been struggling anyway, and the recalling of Fernando Tatis), particularly that of designating Sosa, are a sign that the Mets are, at the very least, not going to stand idly by while the same players screw up over and over again. Sosa was set to make $2 million this season, which the Mets have displayed that they are willing to eat in order to somehow better the team. Whether or not Matt Wise is actually going to better the team remains to be seen, but even if he's terrible, he's not going to be any worse than Sosa had been over the first 6+ weeks of the season. In the case of Figueroa, yes, it was a nice story having him return to the Mets after being dealt 10 years ago (for a pair of rent-a-players, Jorge Fabregas and Willie Blair, if you can believe it), returning to his hometown team and pitching well for a pair of starts, but the sad reality of it is that once you're a journeyman, you're forever a journeyman, and once you stop producing, you're likely out of job again. But that's what the 5th starter's spot is for the Mets right now, at least as long as Pedro is out. So, it's Claudio Vargas now. We'll see what happens.
With the Mets embarking on a rather difficult stretch now (next 5 series include @NYY, @ATL, @COL, FLA, LA), they need to beat up on the teams they're clearly better than, such as the Nationals. They should win the remaining games in this 4-game series, and with Maine tonight, that's a good start. But with Vargas tomorrow and Pelfrey Thursday, it's hard to know what the hell you're going to get. The next 19 games are going to tell you a lot about where the Mets are, and where they're going to go this season.