Marlins 4, Mets 2

With all due respect to the terrific 2005 campaigns waged by Chris Carpenter and that guy with the huge head from Houston who is most definetley not on drugs, Dontrelle Willis gets CSTB’s Cy Young vote. OK, I don’t have a vote, but if I did, I’d be thinking that irrespective of Willis’ numbers, his electrifying prescence would make him a megastar were he toiling his trade in New York, Chicago or LA. Or anywhere that professional baseball was more than a rumor.

With the Mets slipping out of the Wild Card chase rather quickly, it is very tempting to question Willie Randolph’s decision to keep Victor Zambrano in the starting rotation instead of Steve Trachsel. But the sad fact remains that while the infuriatingly inconsistent Zambrano was in and out of trouble throughout his short stint, the Mets’ anemic offense ever since the Arizona beat-downs of last week requires New York’s starters to be nearly perfect.

I’m trying to remember the last time someone other than Ramon Castro (!) or David Wright had a big hit. I’m sure it’s happened, I just can’t remember that far back.

Much like the last time the Mets faced Willis, the number of outs recorded on one pitch (thank you, Jose Reyes) far exceed the number of bunt attempts (one — a failure by Zambrano). New York employs a hitting coach and a manager ; both have the benefit of hindsight, videotape and some sort of creative thinking. Supposedly.

With the Mike Jacobs Era coming to a close, it was interesting to note that Doug Mientkiewicz was still alive. I’m wondering who is more likely to start another game the rest of the season, Mientkiewicz or the Yankees’ Al Leiter.

The Marlins claimed an attendence of 25,916 last night. Presumably, Jon Heyman’s editorial about the shameful lack of fan support in South Florida will be arriving any minute now.

The New York Daily News’ Adam Rubin reports that the Mets have made major changes in their scouting department.

Unhappy with the production from their farm system, the Mets quietly conducted a purge of their organization over the past two days.

Vice President Gary LaRocque, who joined the organization in 1997 and oversaw the minor leagues and draft during his tenure, was the highest-ranking employee to take a hit, though he likely will remain in some scouting capacity, deputy GM Jim Duquette said. The Mets have fired or demoted at least nine other members of the scouting department.

Paul Fryer and Terry Tripp, the organization’s two national crosscheckers, responsible for quality control of underlings’ recommendations, were fired along with area scouts Dave Birecki (Arizona), Quincy Boyd (Illinois), Greg Morhardt (Connecticut) and Jon Bunnell (Florida), baseball officials said. Bob Minor, Gene Kerns and Joe DelliCarri, the three area crosscheckers, were reassigned.

The Mets had been prepared to remove LaRocque a year ago, but Omar Minaya nixed the plan, wanting to observe the situation for a year before making moves. Russ Bove took over major responsibilities for the draft in June.

Team insiders maintain the reshuffling was made at the highest levels of the organization, with special assistant Al Goldis having aggressively lobbied for a turnover since his arrival two years ago. Bove, the first-year director of amateur scouting, was said to be pleased with the job the scouts were doing and wasn’t responsible for the purge.

Special assistant Sandy Johnson has pushed for Rudy Terrasas, the assistant director of amateur scouting who joined the organization from Texas in December, to assume LaRocque’s role, but Duquette indicated the position may be eliminated.

The Mets have had some high-profile products of their system make an impact this season – chiefly, Jose Reyes and David Wright. However, only Heath Bell, Aaron Heilman, Mike Jacobs and Jae Seo are the other homegrown products on the major-league roster, and team brass generally hasn’t felt like it could reach down into the system to promote major league-ready players in recent years.

One person intimately familiar with the team’s inner workings pointed to the number of draft picks the Mets have forfeited in recent years in order to sign free agents. The Mets had no first-round pick in 1999 and no second- and third-round picks in 2002 (for signing David Weathers and Roger Cedeño), ’03 (Cliff Floyd and Tom Glavine) and ’05 (Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran).

In 2001, the year the Mets had a rare extra pick after Mike Hampton signed with the Rockies, they used it to draft Wright 38th overall. Meanwhile, the Braves were compiling extra picks for losing free agents.

Compounding the issue, Mets insiders said, is that the organization became tight with its purse strings. One prime example: The Mets drafted pitcher Kyle McCulloch – a University of Texas signee – in the 18th round two years ago, knowing he would command top-round money to sign, but figuring it was worthwhile because of the lack of early picks. After the draft, LaRocque was denied the money by superiors. McCulloch may go in the first round next June as a junior at UT.