(noted columnist/author Rob Neyer, satisfied after waiting all spring to use that Tim Redding line)

Metsblog’s Matthew Cerrone reports SS Jose Reyes returns to the Mets lineup tonight, but with 1B Jeremy Reed’s on-the-job-training likely to continue, the club’s lack of depth receives further scrutiny from ESPN’s Rob Neyer (above) who says of Monday’s 5-error abortion, “I don’t know that I’ve seen a good team make more obvious misakes in the late stages of a close game.”

You know what’s worse, though? When Tim Redding is your fifth starter. Because you know what that means, don’t you? It means that Livan Hernandez is your fourth starter. I happened to be at the ballpark in San Francisco last Friday night, and I just sat there in the first inning, dumbfounded, as Hernandez gave up hit after hit after hit. I can’t say that I exactly felt sorry for Hernandez — after all, nobody forced him to take the Mets’ money this spring — but I couldn’t quite help myself.

More, though, I felt sorry for Mets fans who have to put up with a pitcher like Livan Hernandez every five days (particularly if he really is the club’s fourth starter, and really will pitch every five days). Frankly, there’s simply no excuse for a team with a new ballpark and a $150 million payroll to trot Hernandez out there regularly, and wind up with Jeremy Reed at first base in a close game, and Angel Pagan in left field at the same moment, and … well, you get the idea. I can’t feel sorry for the Mets, and I can’t feel too sorry for their fans. Not with that payroll. As a guy who just likes to watch good baseball, though, I find this odd collection of talent just a little bit offensive.

Replies David Roth, “for a guy without a rooting interest in yesterday’s debacle — or without a Wally Matthewsian gig ripping the team in print several times a week, Neyer sure seems to take the lineup the Mets ran out there personally.”  Very true,  though I have to wonder if the spectre of Bernie Madoff isn’t looming over Omar Minaya’s inability to assemble a deeper bench or to field a team in Buffalo that’s either a) competitve or b) features a semi-competent veteran or two. Injuries are gonna happen, but the Mets didn’t seem to possess a much of a contingency plan whether for those of a legit nature (Delgado) or bogus (Oliver Perez).