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

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Willie Ball

It is amazing how a guy who was once welcomed to New York with a headline of "Clueless Joe" on the back pages is now going to be a Hall of Fame manager. Of course, an argument could still be made that he is in fact clueless, but for the most part, he is held in very high regard.

The Mets hired Willie Randolph to manage their team last season and a large part was due to the fact that he was involved with the Yankee organization and was the bench coach for Joe Torre. Despite the fact that the first Torre disciple Lee Mazzilli was widely considered to be overmatched as a manager, the Mets rolled the dice with Willie who had even less experience on the bench.

He proved to be a poor strategist and made a lot of mistakes, but they were chalked up to rookie mistakes. I'm of the mind that you hire guys for your managerial spot who actually have managed, but the Mets liked Willie and still do. This year, Willie has not been nearly as bad. However, the team has been vastly improved and with the starting lineup etched in stone and the best bullpen in the National League, it's been hard for Willie to make errors.

Despite a seemingly mistake proof team, Willie has still failed to adjust to the National League style of play. Last year he mishandled the bullpen, the bench, and strategic moves. He would have made a fine American manager where the bench and small ball are not quite as important, but so far this year, he has not learned the nuances of the sacrifice bunt, the hit-and-run, and the use of his bench has just been egregious.

No matter the situation, Jose Valentin is the first guy off the bench. These last few games withstanding, Valentin had been horrible. He has struck out 36% of the time when he has come up to pinch hit and that is not exactly a good trait for a pinch hitter. I understand that Chavez and Woodward are being kept around since they are ideally to be used for double switches, but I'm not one for keeping your guns in the holster if you have a good chance to go for the win at the moment. It is unthinkable that Chris Woodward has three pinch hits in nearly forty games. You can like Valentin, but why not get everyone work? If Woodward does not start, he does not play.

As for the bullpen, despite it being extremely hard to mess up when everyone is pitching well, you can still find complaints. Misery Loves Company's Whitney had something to say about it the other day.

His use of Wagner only in pure closer situations has garnered some abuse, but first keeping Sanchez – a guy who thrives on work – on the pine for four or five nights, then failing to note his hideous struggle and give him a quick mercy-yank (Rob received more than one of in college) just looked inept. Everyone in the park knew Duaner wasn’t even close to his normal lights-out well before he got lit up.

Willie has without a doubt been better this year thanks to Omar. It is not an easy job to keep your bullpen fresh while getting everyone regular work on the mound, trying to manufacture runs, and maximizing the potential of guys who are not good enough to start in the bigs, but that is what separates good managers from bad ones and good ones from great ones. This year’s divisional and playoff race is not going to be a runaway affair for Mets and every game counts. While I understand managers make mistakes, good managers are able to keep them to a minimum. Yes, he has been better, but still has ways to go before he proves to be a good National League manager.

* * *

  • Mulder was just dealing last night so it is hard to complain about that loss, but when your pitcher goes out and does the same, it hurts. Trachsel was great and gave the Mets a chance to win, but with the bases loaded and Cliff Floyd up, I had a sinking feeling.

    "I didn't hit anything square tonight," Floyd said. "It's frustrating, not just because I didn't get any hits, but because we had the chance to win the game."

    Willie took a gamble and played for the tie on the road, which is against the book, by bunting Reyes over to third with no outs. It may have not been what everyone does, but I do get the move. With Mulder just rolling over the Mets and in his last inning, Randolph was trying to make it a battle of the bullpens and the Mets would have had the clear advantage. It did not quite work out the way he planned with a sac fly, but the Mets had two shots with the bases loaded to take the lead. With David Wright up at the plate, I felt like there was a chance. After he struck out, I felt like there was no chance.

    "I'm not going to platoon Cliff," Randolph barked. "If he struck out four times [Tuesday] that would be different."

    I wrote the other day that Floyd should sit against all lefties, and he should. In a game like last night where one run was so huge, you cannot afford to have a black hole in the lineup. Floyd should also be dropped in the order in favor of Nady and he should at least be dropped if he is starting against a lefty. Nady has left a lot to be desired with runners in scoring position, but I would rather roll the dice with him. He at least does not look lost.

  • Speaking of pitchers who were just dealing last night, Justin Verlander threw eight shut out innings. What is interesting about Verlander's game is that he struck out no batters. While in the bigs, he has not been big strikout pitcher for someone who throws so hard and I just want to point that out because some have been critical of Mike Pelfrey and his strikeout numbers. Some expressed concern about Pelfrey not being a strikeout pitcher, but with a guy who's bread and butter is a hard sinking fastball, your game is won with the ground ball and that is how Pelfrey is going to be with the Mets. Figure on a 6.00 k/9 with a lot of groundballs and still a monster.

  • The understatement of the year goes too.......Lima Time!

    "I don't want to have pressure. My other two starts it was one pitch here, one pitch there, and a couple of tough calls. I just want to stay away from the umpires. Just let them call whatever they want, because I'm not going to win that battle."

  • Here is a fluff piece on Tom Glavine or your reading enjoyment.

    Anonymous benny said...

    Joe Torre cannot manage against small ball.
    Guys like Mike Sciocia just run circles around him and make him look SILLY!

    But I do think that Willie has been a little smarter this year. He's not making totally clueless moves.
    ALthough, having "Dirty" Sanchez pitch in every game is not smart.

    I had pretty good choices on SP to start today, guys like Jason Marquis, Ramon Ortiz, Jeret Wright, Jorge Sosa, Dave Williams, and Scott Olsen.
    Well maybe my choices weren't THAT good but regardless... My choice? Jose "FUCKING" LIMA! biatch.

    12:25 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    Mike Sciocia is solid, but I'm partial to catchers turned managers. They are just better and Carter is going to be a keeper. I hope somehow he gets worked in with HoJo. It just makes sense.

    Yeah, he's been smarter for sure. But the interview yesterday with the Mets catching coach revealed something. The bullpen coach Tom Neito HAS MORE MANAGING EXPERIENCE THAN WILLIE. I have a slight problem with a guy learning on the job with this team.

    Oh my. I see that you did indeed go with Lima Time!. I thought that post on the fantasy site was weird in cryptic because it sounded like you were starting Lima Time!, but I couldn't believe a logical person would do that.

    That certainly is Balls Deep.

    12:36 PM

    Anonymous DG of the Derbervilles said...

    Bannister pitched to two batters then left today's AAA game in Norfolk. Anyone know if he was hurt? Or perhaps the Mets thought better of him pitching? Okay I doubt that last thought. This would suck. I mean, this would really suck. I thought today's start was Lima's last!

    12:37 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    No, he's hurt. Just don't know what it is.

    Now this Lima Time! debacle has reached a size of eppic proportions...but that bullpen boy, it's great! Fuck the bullpen. Fuck Willie for batting Valentin 2nd. Fuck their insistance that Lima Time! even belongs on any Met roster, much less a major league roster.

    1:36 PM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Lima Time! has run out.

    Get Oliver up and running now.


    2:03 PM

    Anonymous Last Temptation of DG said...

    Mark my words, Alay Soler will make his major league debut five days from now. Threw seven innings today with eight strikeouts, two runs.

    And yes, watching this game, it is clear that Lima is not only washed up but absolutely crazy.

    2:14 PM

    Blogger oSSyCoCoTaSo said...

    mike, i emailed u about them tix

    2:15 PM

    Anonymous DG said...

    Meanwhile down in Norfolk, where Brian Bannister threw five strikes today, catcher Joe Heitpas is now pitching for the Tides. It's only the seventh inning.

    2:27 PM

    Blogger Toasty Joe said...

    Someone named Cole Hamels is laying the SUCK ME down on the Brewers today, dammit. Although I guess it would be SUCK BE.

    2:48 PM

    Anonymous Pavan said...

    Anybody else a little worried about Wright? I think he's still playing hurt and needs a day or two off. And I'm not just referring to yesterday. He has been striking out more, and his power is down from where it started.

    2:48 PM

    Anonymous GD is DG spelled backwards said...

    Mike, I agree to a large extent with what you wrote about Randolph, especially on his use of the pen. Until Valentin started hitting in Milwaukee, I was in the same place as well, but I'd actually posit that Willie's use of Valentin so far has not been bad and has been (serious gasp!) almost astute. JV is adjusting to becoming a pinch hitter/bench man, missed most of spring training while looking surprisingly decent in the WBC. I still have my doubts on his becoming a serviceable PH, but if you are going to transition him, you're better off doing it now, seeing if he can and then moving on to Mr. Tucker if he cannot.

    Woodward's glove ability makes him less savory of a first choice to pinch hit as Valentin has often pinch hit in the sixth inning to never be seen again. Woody is too valuable to lose that early in a game. Same with Endy Chavez as well (though he's a last ditch PH, more like a PR). But your argument is certainly correct in stating that Woodward is a far better choice to pinch hit, provided that you don't consider when he would be pinch hitting. Imagine how frustrating it would be to see Valentin come in as a defensive replacement after Woodward pinch hit in the fifth or sixth inning?

    My biggest worry about Willie has more to do with his boneheaded sticking with pitchers when it is clear that they have nothing to offer. Witness Ishii, Looper AND Zambrano last year and Lima this year in just getting a third start today (though there was really no much of a choice). If Lima gets another start I will lose my mind.

    Willie's tactical knowledge seem lacking for the NL, but he does seem better this year. So, I give him a pass for now....

    3:10 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    DG...you stole my saturday's post. You bastard.

    Ossy, I emailed you back. Not looking good for him.

    Hieptas is pitching? That sounds back. Very, very bad. Maybe Heiptas gets the call up to replace Lima? Could he be worse?

    Hamels doesn't count for SUCK ME because he's actually good. Don't you have to be a bad pitcher? Or just a rookie pitcher?

    Wright's no homer streak is concerning, but he is still hitting over .300 and on pace for 100+ RBIs. Hard to really complain. That being said, everyone needs rest. Every player gets banged up, but with the lack of offense, it's tough to sit anyone.

    3:11 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    Valentin has always struck out. That is nothing new and not good for PH.

    I know why he doesn't use Woody, but Woody still has only 3 phs. The guy does not get in many games, he can be used as a PH. Valentin can play anywhere in a pinch so if it really hits the fan, I would not worry and he'll give you better at-bats.

    Willie and his lineup/rotation configuration is horrible. Me leaving that out is a big mistake and I thought about that after the post, but assumed that stuff would be implied.

    And yes, Lima will get another start. These are still the Mets.

    3:14 PM

    Anonymous jake said...

    didn't believe "a logical person" would start Lima in fantasy? we are talking about an Arod fan and a commish who sets up a league without batting average which means i have no idea how my hitters are doing at a glance. no offense, benny, i'm just playing.

    3:25 PM

    Blogger SonnyD said...

    I think SUCK ME is usually reserved for a relatively unknown and previously shaky rookie-type pitcher. I don't believe Hamels qualifies...

    I know at the beginning of the year, most of us were clamoring for Beltran to bat 2nd and LoDuca relegated to 6th+. Would you continue to argue that this be the case? I still would like to see that lineup in place, but I'm too lazy to look up numbers right not to justify it.

    3:30 PM

    Anonymous GD is DG spelled backwards said...

    Saturday coming? Or Saturday last?

    Your last sentence there scares the hell ouf of me ...
    because you are most certainly right!

    Imagine Lima holding DWright at gun point threatening to off him if he doesn't get another start. Not that implausible, is it? First pitcher to kill an umpire over being squeezed? Man, the possibilities are mind boggling. Maybe he had threatened Jerry Manual if he didn't get on the umpire.

    Anyway, don't like how Reyes is swinging the bat at all at the moment. Wright's power fizzle is less troubling as I think he's still trying to get that swing in its right path after his little swoon. I've never liked Matsui's swing.

    Will Anderson Hernandez always reep on AAA pitching and deek on major league pitching?

    Ray Naverette pitched two inning after Heitpas.

    And Valentin just hit a homer as I wrote this.

    3:35 PM

    Anonymous DG's Used Sporting Goods said...

    Even the St. Louis announcers are questioning why Randolph didn't pinch hit for Chavez with the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth. He had Nady, LoDuca, Franco & Woodward available....

    3:56 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    No comment on Lima starting. However, in Benny's defense, he did storm into first today despite starting Lima.

    I would, but LoDuca has not been nearly as as I thougth. i wanted to check out the Mets batting line from the one and two hole so I'll be doing some basic glance at it next week.

    gd, Lima will be back. I just cannot understand it for the life of me though. Nothing is impossible if you factor in Lima Time!. I'm sure he carries around a gun for instances like this. There is just no other explanation.

    Matsui's swing is horribe. He's bailing out all the time and slapping at the ball. No way to generate any pop.

    The Valentin homer just made me delete a point on tomorrow's post. Fuck him.

    4:02 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    Even the St. Louis announcers are questioning why Randolph didn't pinch hit for Chavez with the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth. He had Nady, LoDuca, Franco & Woodward available.

    Because he is Willie. He wanted that lefty up at the plate.

    4:03 PM

    Blogger Whitney said...

    Mike, thanks for cracking me up by not only quoting me but by leaving in the sophomoric side jab towards my Red Sox-loving co-blogger. A hearty chuckle.

    People, in all seriousness (sort of) -- losing 3 series in a row . . . is it time to get a little tense here? Is it time for Omar to think more seriously about making a move, any move?

    The next two series will be crucial -- the Yanks games will inevitably hurl some spotlight on the matter, and the Bomber bats, even banged up, are scary. Then the Phillies at Shea with some undesirable pitching match-ups. Not feeling too good about where they may be a week from now.

    5:11 PM

    Anonymous Talking DG Blues said...

    Got to agree, W. There is really no reason to throw Lima out there one more time. At this point, at least Soler promises to make it through six innings, never mind five.

    If they continue to play as badly at home then it's gonna start geting a little more edgy around here.

    5:23 PM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...


    You're a moron.

    6:11 PM

    Blogger oSSyCoCoTaSo said...

    damn i cant believe i called for limatime

    this is really bad

    7:13 PM

    Blogger Condor Schmitt said...

    Lima is an unmittigated disaster. D.I.S.A.S.T.E.R!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Either we bring up Soler or trade for someone because we cannot keep trotting this dick out there every five days and throw away games like this.

    He makes guys like Joe Mays look good! For shit sake, we gotta get rid of this bozo and bringin a pitcher with a sub- 5.00 era.

    7:24 PM

    Blogger Whitney said...

    A quick glance at the weekend series and I came away with but one thought: Sunday's Tom Glavine vs. Aaron Small game has S.U.C.K. M.E. written all over it.

    I am always right about this. If you don't have a conscience, make money on this game.

    I hate myself. A lot.

    10:47 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    I remember a time when I uttered the words SUCK ME and it was a good thing. The Mets are ruining my life.

    12:15 AM

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