Tuesday, May 29, 2012

N.Y. Mets ~ Amazins Have Much Hinging on June

From the desk of:   HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS:  Sandy Alderson Wastes No Time; Continues To Address Bullpen Issues.  Manny Acosta Gets Designated for Assignment After Game One of Most Competitive Stretch in Amazin's Schedule So Far.

Mets Must Generate Power To Stay Cool This Summer.

Popular Opinion has it the Mets will not be able to sustain this level of play through the summer.  If the Mets keep getting injured at this rate, the Opinionated might be right.  If the Mets stumble, and fall during this next 19-game stretch; including Monday's loss to Philadelphia, the Opinionated might again, be right.  Nineteen games from now lands the Mets in a series with Baltimore, then it's right back against the Yankees again in the Citi Field portion of the Subway Series.

In other words, it's time to sink or swim boys.  Moving forward, they will be defined by June.  Not April or May.  Because that's what happens when you're only (for now) five games over the .500 level.  And that's what happens when the Braves hit a horrific stretch and suffer eight consecutive losses heading into Tuesday's games.  And that's what happens when Philly gets ravaged by Met-Like high end injuries.  Make what ever you will of the Marlins.  But now that Memorial Day has passed, no one will remember all the Feel-Good the Mets gave us for the first two months of Spring.

Right off the bat, Monday night, I feel the Mets failed to seize the moment.  They had Cole Hamels on the ropes, and damn near out-lasted him, hitting two, two-run home runs off the Philly hurler.  Jon Niese did little however, to help his own cause with five walks in five innings pitched.  Even then, the bullpen, namely Manny Acosta, couldn't keep the Phils where they were.

This season, the 31-year old Manny Acosta, was in a word, terrible.  In twenty-two innings pitched, he possessed a still escalating 11.28 ERA.  He gave up thirty-five hits and walked another fifteen.  And in those twenty-two innings, he gave up six dreadful home runs.  Like D.J. Carrasco before him, Manny Acosta was designated for assignment by Sandy Alderson Tuesday.  Chris Schwinden was recalled to fill the roster spot.

With offensive statistics starting to paint a very grim picture for the upcoming Mets' Summer, every lead is precious as you can imagine.  Especially since the Mets are still somehow defeating the odds.  So, Sandy Alderson decided he can't have Acosta polluting his bullpen a single game longer.  And say this for the Mets' General Manager - there is no such thing as paralysis through analysis with him.  He's fair, but when it comes time to cut the cord on someone, Sandy does not hesitate.  He wields his scythe swiftly.

Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez, and the Purge, were different matters.  I'm taking about the move he made last season at second base, when it was clear Brad Emaus wasn't the answer there.  He promptly DFA'd him, and we moved on nicely at second base since then.  If only we can have some of that fortune rub off on the bullpen.  Because this makes two arms Sandy has jettisoned now, due to lack of performance.  At least Frank Francisco is looking like he might have some staying power.

Back to matters of injury, add Justin Turner to the list of wounded.  No one is about to say shortstop is now haunted, but talk about having some horrible luck at the position this season.  Tonight, they sported shortstop number four, or even five.  I lost count.  The Mets might finally catch a break however, once Ruben Tejada returns.  But even he is having a tough time getting back on the field.

All these factors exist to test the Mets' resilience, and maybe even their temerity.  After all, there is something to youthful exuberance.  It's what the Mets have been relying on.  How much longer will it last?  If Scott Hairston is answering that question, he'll say all season long!  He had a pinch hit home run for the Mets Tuesday night - his sixth of the season.  He now leads the Mets.  David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Ike Davis, are all behind him.  There's an obvious problem there.

As with the problems Sandy Alderson is having plugging the fifth spot in the rotation, he will not easily pluck someone from the farm system for instant power either.  That sort of tact may work with the bullpen for now.  But unless Sandy can find that fifth starter other than by utilizing some of the burgeoning talent the Mets have percolating in the minors, the only other solution to the Mets problem in the back end of the rotation, and with their dearth of hitting power, are simply, player production.

Tuesday night, the latest fifth starter made his third start as a Met.  For a night, Jeremy Hefner made Sandy Alderson look like a smart man.  Not only did the kid hit his first MLB home run to help his own cause, he left on the winning side of a 6-3 game.  Jeremy allowed three earned runs on six hits.  He walked none and struck out four.

Then.., about that bullpen - Bobby Parnell pitched a scoreless seventh.  In the eighth, John Rauch allowed a lead-off single to Jimmy Rollins.  A couple of batters later, the rains came and interrupted the game.  But for the purposes of this post however, I do not need a final score.

It's enough to say - if the Mets regular power hitters can just show up, like Jeremy Hefner did in Game Two versus the Phils Tuesday, they'll succeed in making many June games, important ones.

Read my articles on the New York Mets at Rising Apple.com


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