A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Oh Captain, My Captain

John Franco is the Mets fearless captain of the team. His jersey is decorated by a 'C' reminding anyone that may have forgotten. He currently owns the highest ERA on the pitching staff. He is 2 - 5 which tells me Howe uses him way too many times in way too many critical situations and he usually comes out on the wrong side of the decision. Right handed batters are pounding him to the tune of .324. On top of all of that, so far this month he has totaled 2.1 innings in seven appearances and recorded an 11.57 ERA in. During those 2.1 innings he has surrendered seven hits and two walks (one of those walks walked in a run with the bases loaded). It should be noted that out of seven appearances this month and has yet to go a complete inning as he is being used more and more as a situational player, but he also failed to get out of the inning on a few of those occasions. Aren't captains supposed to lead by example? He may be a positive influence around the clubhouse and good bullpen coach, but he is horrible when he steps onto the field. Being that he will turn 44 years old this year, I'm pretty sure that things are not going to get any brighter in the coming years. Owners and GMs have to walk a fine line when it comes to veterans who have contributed to the team for a long time. When the veterans want to come back, they believe that the team 'owes' them for the service they gave to the team and expects them to re-sign them. So if John wants to come back, he basically does since Wilpon loves his buddy John. At some point you have to value winning over making nice with players. In some situations it works, but more often than not teams cannot wait to get rid of the aging unproductive stars that they mistakenly re-signed. It is going to happen with Leiter at the end of this year, but signing Al does make sense for one year. His torn labrum makes him a high risk signing for anyone despite the fact that he is the ML ERA leader for the next day or so. Franco needs to be given his walking papers. The fact that he will receive offers from other teams should not matter to the Mets. Seeing Franco retire as a Mets should be an idea thrown out the window if he refuses to actually retire. Franco will undoubtedly get some one year offers from teams needs a situational lefty. Orossco had plenty of offers and so will Franco. It would be nice if Duquette actually makes the most sensible move and lets Franco go. He has been with the Mets since 1990 and has been a big part of the franchise over the years, but it needs to end sometime. Franco should be able to walk away with his 424 career saves and sub 3.00 career ERA and be satisfied with that. The Shea faithful have already made up their minds on whether they like him anymore. He was booed entering Sunday's game and he was booed again last night. I do not think the Mets owe Franco anything else at this point. He has been a Met until his mid-40's and Wilpon has done enough for him. Franco is allowed to play as long as he wants, but the Mets should not be expected to keep him around until he decides to end it.

* * *

  • The game last night started off good enough. The kind of textbook stuff that the Mets envisioned from the start of the year. In the first inning, Reyes singles to right, steals second, and Kaz hits him over to third with a groundout to first. One out, your big dogs coming up with Reyes on third base. Spencer hit a homer so it did not really matter in the end, but it still cannot be ignored. Then in the third inning, Jose Reyes doubled to left, went to third on a groundout to first by Kaz, and then scores on Piazza's single. Kaz may not have a good night on the books but the ability to not strikeout and put the ball in play is what really helped get things started. Then in the fifth inning, Reyes double, then stole third, and scored on a passed ball on Kaz's strikeout. Kaz and Reyes can cause trouble and really spark the Mets offense. If they are both working, then the offense will move.

    On top of all that, Erickson gave the Mets every shot to take that game. I thought maybe last night was the apocalypse. Something strange definitely was happening. I could not have thought things would have gone so well for Erickson. The struggling Marlins are just what the doctor ordered for his first start. He went six innings, surrendered eight hits, one earned run, and only walked one. Moreno was a little off tonight and let the Marlins back into game but Franco bailed him out to finish the seventh. Wheeler then came into the game in his newfound role and teamed up with Mike Stanton to get through a scoreless eighth. Then after all that things went horribly wrong. Looper allows two earned runs to blow a save opportunity and hand the Mets a loss. It sucks badly. This one hurts. Two of the runs were unearned and Looper loses it against his old team only to have Benitez do what Looper failed to do and shut everyone down. The Mets will be licking their wounds today and will be risking falling under .500 with a loss.

    By the way, this illustrates why the Mets need Benson whether Erickson works out or not. The Mets bullpen is stretched so thin. Five relievers were used on Sunday and six were used last night. The Mets need starters to go eight innings sometimes. I am obviously not pointing out Erickson, but all year this has plagued them. That is the problem when you have predominantly older arms. This needs to get rectified this year big time. Youth needs to be injected into the rotation that can go the distance 4 or 5 times a year. Stanton is on track to pitch in 93 games this year and Franco is on pace for 70. Bottalico is on track for 53 and he has not been around the entire year. By September, one has to wonder what, if any effectiveness the bullpen will have if they get ran out there ever single night.

  • Matt Ginter went 7.1 innings, gave up five hits, three runs, two walks and K'd five for this first Norfolk victory. I still think he got a raw deal, but it is good to see him do well.

  • Justin Huber will be playing for the Australian team in the Olympics.

  • Anyone notice how many games Detroit and Cleveland are out of first place?

  • Back in 1995, the Mets only had one starting pitcher in double digit victories. Impressive huh? That guy was Bobby Jones, and he barely notched double digit victories with ten.

  • The single season recorded for most complete games by a Met pitcher happened back in 1971. Tom Seaver completed and astounding 21 games that year. However, that was not even enough to lead the league. Fernando Valenzuela was the last player to reach 20 complete games back in 1986. The player who had come the closest recently was Curt Schilling in 1998 with 15 complete games back in his Phillies days. The all time single season record that does not look like it will be broken anytime soon is 75 games by Will White back in 1879. That year he also set the single season mark for innings with 680 (you think he was on any pitch counts?). Cy Young is the all time leader for complete games with 749. For reasons beyond my comprehension, it is just a mystery why today's pitchers are so fragile.

  • The Marlins and Padres are showing the most interest in acquiring Steve Finely at this point.

  • The Braves in damn first place. This aggravates me. Aren't they supposed to suck?


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