Disciples of a “Legend”
After word about Lee Mazilli getting fired got out I started to wonder if our Joe Torre protégé has what it takes to succeed in this league. If Willie continues down the same road as he is on now, I do not see this ending any other way. Jayson Stark from ESPN.com said that Peter Angelos hasn't been happy with Lee for a long time and that he has heard a lot of stories that suggested he is in over his head. So far, it seems that Willie may very well be in over his head. Like Mazzilli, Willie is an affable guy that is good with the media and a hard guy to dislike. He clearly has a good relationship with the front office as well which may help him out in the long run. However, both pupils of Joe Torre have not exactly been stellar in their short managerial stints. I have my own reservations of what you can learn from a manager that is more heralded for his way of keeping his players egos in check more than his actual managing.
I am not going to get into what Willie has clearly done wrong, continues to do wrong, or anything like that. People have complained about his usage of Hernandez and Looper in Wednesday's game and questioned why he did not use Graves or someone else, but if he did bring in those two and had the same results, he would have been hung anyway. If he did not bring in Hernandez yesterday and let Graves go another inning and Graves blew the game, he would be vilified for that. Personally, I would have like to have seen Padilla get a shot to rebound from the hit batter or Graves get a shot in the ninth, but that is really minor at this point. Besides, Willie said his guys said they were ready to go so he went with his best guy in Roberto Hernandez. If Roberto said use me as you absolute last resort, maybe things shake out differently, but it is a tough call for Willie. The bottom line is this team got beat and beat badly and while it is a tough spot for the manager to be in, the fact is he did not make the right choices and his gut failed him yet again.
The benchmark for me and a litmus test of how good a manger is at his craft is how he performs in close games. Winning close games is a testament to what buttons your press, how you use the bullpen, how you use the bench, how well you make the right calls like implementing a hit and run or bunting a runner over, etc. Randolph generally goes by his gut and I would rather he use sensibility and reason, but it is what it is. In games separated by three runs or less, Mets are 37-30. That may not look horrible, it’s really what separates the good teams from the bad ones. Of course there is a certain level of luck involved when you look at close games and this does not show the absolute picture, but this is when a manager earns his money. When the game is there to be won does the manager have what is takes to help the team get the win. His players have to play the game, but the manager has a big outcome on the game.
Willie may be able to manage an American League team which pales in comparison to the National League strategy wise. However, in the National League, a good manager could be the difference between golfing in October or playing some meaningful baseball. Willie has a lot of growing to do before he proves to New York that he can finally lead the Mets into respectability and not be the whipping boys for the majors and the butt of jokes. When you say New York Mets to fans of other teams around the country, they pretty much laugh and think this organization is a joke. I am just not sure that Willie is the guy that can change that. The best bet if Willie is going to be around is to give him a team that is talented and deep enough to overcome his managerial shortcomings. When he was first being considered for the job, I was a bit apprehensive about his ability to manage a team in the NL much less any team. However, Omar liked the fact he had some winning Yankee blood and was available to be the hands on guy that would be around twelve months out of the year. You got the feeling he was hired more for reasons not related to play on the field and you get the feeling like Mazzilli, he just is not ready to coach in the Major Leagues. I hope Willie proves me wrong and turns it around, but I doubt he will ever become considered a manager in the upper echelon and when you have to face Bobby Cox every year, that is a bad thing.
- Norfolk beat Indianapolis 10-8. Angel Pagan went 2 for 4 with a run scored, a double, two RBIs, and a walk, Anderson Hernandez went 1 for 5 wit a run scored and an RBI, Victor Diaz went 1 for 3 with a run scored and two walks, Prentice Redman went 2 for 5 with two runs scored, a double, and an RBI, and Chris Basak went 2 for 3 with a walk, two runs scored, and two RBIs. Heath Bell pitched a scoreless inning, but let two base runners on, and Royce Ring failed to get an out an gave up four hits and four earned runs.
- Harrisburg beat Binghamton 11-9. Lastings Milledge went 0 for 4 with walk, Mike Jacobs went 3 for 5 with two runs scored, a double, his 22nd homer, and two RBIs. Evan MacLane got touched up for five earned runs in 5.1 innings and gave up seven hits and one walk.
- St. Lucie beat Dunedin 3-2. Andy Wilson went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored, Jamar Hill went 1 for 3 with a run scored, and Grant Psomas went 1 for 3 with a walk. Brahiam Maldonado inexplicably jumped over Kingsport, Brooklyn, and Hagerstown to St. Lucie and went 1 for 3. I have to guess this is only temporary since he was batting only .250 with one homer with the GCL Mets.
- Lake County beat Hagerstown 7-4. Ambiorix Concepcion continues to bring his average up and went 2 for 5 and is batting .240. Ryan Coultas went 3 for 4 with a double and 2 RBIs and Carlos Gomez hit is 7th homer of the year.
- Broolyn beat Vermont 5-4. Joseph Holden has been pretty impressive this season for the Cyclones and he went 2 for 5 with a run scored and a double to bring his average up to .356. Nick Evans went 2 for 5 with a walk and Drew Butera went 2 for 6 with a double and a walk. Kaz Matsui went 0 for 3 with two walks and an RBI.
- Kingsport lost to Elizabethton 7-2.
- The GCL Mets played the GCL Nationals in a double header. In game one, the Mets won 16-3. Leivi Ventura went 2 for 5 with a run scored, a homer, and five RBIs and Junior Contreras went 3 for 4 with two runs scored, two doubles, one walk, and five RBIs. In game two, the Mets won 7-2. Junior Contreras went 3 for 4 with a run scored, a homer, and three RBIs.
- The VSL Mets lost to the VSL pirates 7-5.
With two runners on, Piazza had a chance to tack on to his first five-RBI day since Aug.13, 2003. He was also a triple away from the cycle, although that probably would have required an outfielder to be struck by the lightning that crackled throughout the later innings.
"I haven't made a decision yet but I'm thinking of maybe going with Jae Seo," he said. "That's an option ... For the most part, in Triple-A, he's been throwing the ball pretty well. He's a guy that seemed like a natural choice."
Unless the Mets' brain trust considers him a "burden," Mike Piazza apparently would consider a role as a type of player-coach and mentor for the club next season.
"I'm kind of caught because I never wanted to be a burden," Piazza told Fox baseball analyst Kevin Kennedy in an interview that will air tomorrow before the network's Mets-Cubs telecast. "I never want them to be like, 'Now we have this guy to contend with.' I always wanted to be part of the solution and not the problem.
"We'll see what direction they want to go in. Maybe there is a chance to stay ... maybe they want to get another catcher and I can work in and do some things. That's something right now that we don't have the time for ... that's not the immediate focus."
The boos and the blame fell on one pitcher yesterday. After a devastating ninth inning, Roberto Hernandez took the fall for the Mets' bullpen and the Mets' loss this time. But the real problem wasn't just that inning, it wasn't just Hernandez, it wasn't just the bullpen and it wasn't just yesterday.
What the Mets have shown during the past two weeks is that they're just a little short.
Wearing a synthetic compression sock over his left leg, Matsui prepared for the game with the other Cyclones (24-18), taking batting practice in the heat and gathering balls in his helmet once his group finished.
He was also out signing autographs for the fans as well