Well, it’s good to see the Mets determined to do something about the Frankie Rodriguez situation and with a little luck, these last weeks of the year might demonstrate just how little creativity, imagination and good sense they’d showed when making that deal in the first place. Not for nothing but the post-Rodriguez bullpen hasn’t given up a run in 13.1 innings.
That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going anywhere. Their offense is a much tougher fix — always has been — and it’s probably buried them in a deeper hole than they’ll ever hit out of. To that end, they welcomed Rod Barajas back to the roster today and sent Fernando Martinez back to Buffalo. Jerry seemed unable to commit to the kid anyhow, and surely Barajas will only take playing time from Josh Thole, at least until its evident there’s no shot with this group. Too bad. In the end it was relying so heavily on veterans with questionable offensive track records that killed 2010.
To get you updated, Pat Misch was recalled and Raul Valdes sent down; Ryota Igarashi went down when Rodriguez returned from his two days in the penalty box but was back up upon the revelation of his injury and subsequent assignment to the restricted list. I have no idea (nor any opinion) on how the grieveance hearing ought to go, but applaud the Mets for taking a stance here, if only to save themselves from Omar’s folly and the big lie of the Brand Name Closer. And if they don’t prevail, they’ll have gotten what they deserved.
As bad as the Mets have been going, recently and no-so-recently — really, they’ve been awful since Puerto Rico — I’m convinced another hot streak could start any time now.
The reason is simple — they finally have the lineup they want out there most nights. Nobody cried when he limped off the field with a foot problem a few weeks back, but we’ve missed the modest contributions of Luis Castillo, who returned to the lineup last night in Phoenix. Ruben Tejada showed some good skills in Castillo’s absence, but was overmatched offensively and is back in AAA where he belongs. Jose Reyes in the meantime returned to the lineup and despite two shaky plays contributing to Pelfrey’s disaster, is obviously a huge part of the offense and will get going again.
I’m no fan of Jerry Manuel’s passive game-managing style, but he’s done a bold thing in benching Jeff Francoeur here. I’d have sworn the Mets had invested too much in marketing Francoeur to sit him, but it’s good to see the team recognize that Angel Pagan’s contributions trump good will with the writers. Next on Jerry’s to-do list ought to be the same solution for Rod Barajas: this will be trickier, but the fact that Josh Tholeis still on board with both Barajas and Blanco healthy enough to start again indicates it’s at least under consideration. Ideally Jerry could get by with 6 relievers instead of his customary 7 and use Thole freely.
The impending return of Oliver Perez in the meantime might not be a disaster if it gets Hisanori Takahashi out of the rotation for a while and allows the team to strengthen the bullpen. I’d be surprised if the Mets don’t move to acquire a reliever and a starter in the next few weeks anyway, so the pitching will remain fluid.
Add another potential starting point for Ruben Tejada now that the Mets waived, and subsequently lost, veteran backup catching candidate Chris Coste to the Nationals today. Coste was wearing No. 3 this spring (remember Alex Cora switched to lucky 13), seemed destined for Buffalo anyhow and still smelled like a Phillie; he’s no great loss. I know the guys the Mets plan to run out there this year aren’t destined to make anyone forget Mike Piazza, but for whatever reason I’ve developed warm fuzzies for both Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco even with the latter’s douchy forearm tattoos. I dunno. It might have been that article by David Waldstein of the Times a few weeks ago.
It’s looking more and more like Frank Catalonotto will claim a bench role and a jersey that hasn’t been worn by a Mets player in 15 years — No. 2. Can you name that player without looking it up? I couldn’t. Nor could I name the two guys preceeding him. No. 2 in 1996 went to manager Bobby Valentine, and since then then to coaches Gary Pettis and Sandy Alomar.
Steven Z. wrote to say he’s put together an all-time best-by-number list at his blog, Mets Fan Forever (check out also his “best-by-letter” list. You’re welcome to debate or disagree with him there!
Well, against our admittedly late calls to outfit him in No. 0, the Mets apparently have gone and given catcher Rod Barajas No. 21.
So I underestimated the Mets’ appetite for risk at this point and was mildly surprised to see they let Rod Barajas go to the Dodgers on a waiver deal. Andy Martino’s story in the Daily News this morning suggested the team interpreted this move as white flag waving: They must also be getting their news from the traditional sources which in my opinion have really struggled with the narrative for the 2010 Mets: Take for example Adam Rubin’shodgepodge of unrelated stories disguised as a trend piece on ESPN today, complete with the same tired headline we’ve been reading on these stories since the Alejando Pena Era (no other reason for the photo) and the lack of perspective to note that lots of teams (the Yankees, for example) wind up with a different bullpen than the one they set out to create, and its barely hurt either club a bit.
If you ask me, there’s been little mystery as to the Mets offensive struggles this year: Most has to do with the fact they rolled the dice on a third of the lineup off the bat (right field, catcher and first base) and knew going in that any offense second base had limited upside. That’s half an everyday lineup that might not turn out so well, and it didn’t: That’s not too mysterious. Really, the only real outliers have been Angel Pagan on the upside and Jason Bay on the downside. Barajas, who briefly led the Mets in home runs (and the world in foul home runs) will be remembered for his crazy hot start but a pretty harsh return to career norms. His trade meant a recall for outfielder Jesus Feliciano.