Perhaps I was overly impressed by the Mets’ quadruple-A lineup fashioning 5 out of 6 wins against Wild Card rivals Houston and Colorado ; rather than recognize an aberration for what it was, I gazed at an upcoming schedule packed with games against relaitvely weak opposition and actually envisioned a manner in which this utterly uninspired baseball team might make a run at the postseason.
That was before Friday, July 31, however. Are you ready for two entire months of garbage time baseball, ladies and gentlemen? I could well pose the same question to the Mets’ starting rotation, who’ve performed admirably over the past week and are unlikely to see much offensive or defensive support the rest of the way. Omar Minaya insisted for weeks the Mets considered themselves buyers as the trade deadline loomed, but perhaps mindful of his (likely) lame duck status, the Mets never surfaced in rumors surrounding most of Friday’s deals. Left handed reliever Joe Beimel was either considered surplus to requirements or the Nats’ asking price was too high. There was never a hint of the Mets gunning for Cliff Lee (phantastic in his Phillies debut) or Roy Halladay, and while you can debate the validity of hanging on to Bobby Parnell and Fernando Martinez (assuming either would’ve been reasonable bait, either individually or collectively) there’s every chance Minaya’s hands would’ve been tied even if his farm system wasn’t so barren. As Wilpon Inc. struggles to flog Jonathan Niese’s game used jockstrap (if not some of the ugliest merchandise ever created), Omar being allowed to take on additional salary seemed as far fetched as Jim Duquette returning to Flushing to take Tony Bernazard’s old job.
All of that said, most of 2009’s heaviest criticism has been aimed at (take your pick), the Wilpons, Minaya, Bernazard or the team’s training staff. Heck, I’ve even found a way to blame Captain Johnny Fucko when I was really desperate for material. Last night’s 3-2 loss to Arizona, however, represented a new low and a target besides front office or backroom staff. A half full Citi Field, populated by those delusional souls who thought an hour’s rain delay a small price to pay in order to support their duller-than-death team, witnessed a quartet of solo HR’s (monster shots by the Snakes’ Mark Reynolds and Miguel Montero, line drives down the line by Daniel Murphy and David Wright) , the ghost of Scott Schoeneweis claiming the left arm of Sean Green (whose 8th inning WP allowed Justin Upton to score the game’s winning run) and worst of all, an inexplicable brain lock on the part of manager Jerry Manuel.
With two out and and two on in the last of the 6th, Manuel opted to have Angel Berroa (2 for 17 as a Met) pinch hit for Livan Hernandez. At the time, the latter had thrown just 81 pitches and was a good bet to complete the 7th without incident. Berroa — waived by the Yankees early this season, tapped weakly into a 6-4 fielder’s choice to end the threat and allow the thoroughly mediocre Doug Davis off the hook.
I hate to regurgitate material I’ve posted elsewhere, but in this case, I cannot resist. There are 3 people on earth (besides myself) you should pinch hit Angel Berroa for. They are Al Leiter, the spazzy old guy from the Six Flags commercials and Dame Judi Dench. That’s it. Just those 3. None of them are on the Mets 25 man roster (though I’d like to think Dench —- essentially the thespian world’s equivalent of Super Joe McEwing — could show these guys how to lay down a proper bunt).
Manuel argued after the game that Berroa has some sort of veteran status, and indeed, the much-traveled infielder won the 2003 AL Rookie of the Year Award. But for all his hitting prowess of late, that might as well have been the 1973 ROY Award. It might not seem like the biggest deal on earth, the difference between Angel Berroa as the 25th guy on the roster compared to say, Jerry Hairston Jr. But once again, the Mets’ staggering lack of depth has been exposed. Jerry’s gonna be a good solidier — he’d not have a long career in baseball if he exploded to the media and wondered (like the rest of us) “how am I supposed to compete?” But there’s a time and place to employ someone like Berroa (for instance, in the middle of a game if Alex Cora’s been injured and there’s no one qualified in the stands willing to sign a one day contract). Livan Hernandez isn’t gonna be mistaken for Micah Owings anytime soon, but he’s perfectly capable of getting a base hit 14 times out of 100. The same cannot be said of Berroa in 2009.