The only surprising thing about yesterday’s bullpen meltdown at Shea, in which the quartet of Sanchez, Smith, Heilman and perpetually behind-in-the-count Scott Schoeneweis (very bad for the Jews*, even worse for the Mets) squandered a fine effort on behalf of Pedro Martinez and surrendered leads of 4-0 and 5-1 to the piss poor Pittsburgh Pirates….is that it wasn’t a Johan Santana quality start they failed to protect. Aside from that, it was very much business as usual, as the latest capitulation cost the Mets a chance to move within one game of Phillies (8-6 losers to Los Angeles and the disappearing Manny Ramirez). The New York Post’s Joel Sherman reveals manager Jerry Manuel is prepared to do something fans have wanted to do for weeks —- toss a hand grenade into the Mets bullpen.
Manuel said this about who will provide the key outs late in games the rest of this season: “Everything from here on out is a possibility.” Manuel shared some options at a post-game news conference, but The Post has learned all three main scenarios the organization is now mulling:
1. Have Eddie Kunz, who has all of three major league appearances, reprise his Double-A closing role, at least until Billy Wagner returns, which is currently scheduled for Monday. This is the most likely choice.
2. Keep Brian Stokes in the rotation and call upon either John Maine or Oliver Perez to serve as a multi-inning fireman. For now the Mets don’t want to mess with Mike Pelfrey by requesting a rotation-to-pen change.
3. Summon top pitching prospect Jon Niese for the rotation and use Stokes plus either Maine or Perez to serve as the main late-inning relievers.
Kunz, Maine and Perez all said they were game for any assignment. Yet, all of these scenarios are drenched in peril. Kunz lacks experience or a dependable second pitch. Stokes has just one major league start this year and was a culprit last year in a Tampa pen that was one of the worst ever. Maine is only now ready to come off the DL from a strained rotator cuff, so you wonder how his arm would respond to a change in preparation. Perez has been the Mets’ co-best starter with Johan Santana for two months.
It speaks to Manuel’s desperation – and that of his team – that he is considering the radical with 42 games remaining. He said, “We can’t continue to perform this way late in games.” But a loss like yesterday’s is just so demoralizing and the pen problems now are so episodic that Manuel lost his serenity and put all contingency plans on the table.
(*-line coined by David Roth. But I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said it out loud.)
SI.com’s Jon Heyman claims the often contentious working relationship between Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and club president Larry Lucchino might come to an end this autumn, with the former joining a succession of former Bostonians (Nomar, Manny, Derek Lowe, Dr. Charles Steinberg) at Chavez Ravine. To call this a protracted power struggle would be something of an understatement, though with all due respect to Gammons’ (guitar) protege, things have come an awfully long way since the gorilla suit. Who’d have thought Lucchino would join the West Coast Red Sox alumni club before Kevin Millar?
4 thoughts on “Sherman : Manuel’s Fed Up With Heilman, Schoeneweis…And Who Isn’t?”
…exiting Fenway Park disguised in a monkey suit to avoid reporters the day he announced his resignation…
He changed this line from yesterday’s original post in which he said that Theo came back to work dressed in a monkey suit after having had left the team. And, in any case, the term ‘monkey suit’ is sland for tuxedo; Epstein was wearing a gorilla suit. Any asshole who has ever watched nature shows would know that.
The problem with Heyman’s recent writings and appearances on SNY is that his ‘reporting’ has become nothing but wild (if not occasionally obvious) conjecture. He’s become Peter Gammons without the amusing ADD-fueled mumbling rants. I really hate what sports reporting has become. Heyman is turning into Steve Phillips and that’s not good for anyone. I was reading Sons of Sam Horn and many of those fine basement dwellers pointed out that Theo is just as likely to leave once his deal runs out (which is believed to be soon-ish) than Lucky Lucchino and that a front office situation employing Lucchino, Lasorda and Frank McCourt might be like mixing acids and bases (and not in a good way). This story might have had teeth if he’d actually gotten one of those famous ‘sources familiar with the situation’ to give us a reason to believe any of this. God, I hate people.
I’m glad that Manuel isn’t taking the route Willie took last year: dourly, expressionlessly trotting out the same lambs to the slaughter every game. That said, none of those options really move me — it’s kind of ridiculous that a team with this sort of payroll is turning to Brian Stokes to solidify its bullpen. I’d love to see what Kunz can do, personally, but anything is better than this. One of the last things I thought of before falling asleep last night was deals the Mets might make for just-DFA 1979’ed Tampa Bay RHP Al Reyes. That’s not the way I envisioned this season working out at all.
I hate to harp on the payroll. I mean, much of it consists of a bunch of guys who never play (Alou, Church, Castillo, Schneider, El Duque). But the failure to address the bullpen’s glaring deficiencies when this kind of shit has been happening all season long is squarely on Minaya’s shoulders, even more than the lack of a reliable corner outfielder.
Seriously, does every starter have to pitch a complete game for the Mets to survive?How big a lead, precisely, is safe enough to entrust to Feliciano, Smith, Heilman, Schoeneweis, Sanchez, etc. ?
Blowing games the Mets had in the bad is even more frustrating than earlier spells this season when it felt like the team was phoning it in. Reyes, Wright, Beltran and Delgado have rebounded wonderfully. They’ve gotten more out of the likes of Tatis, Easley, Murphy and Evans than they had any right to expect. Santana and Pelfrey have been mostly great, Perez occasionally so. But with an August ERA of 7.39 for the relievers, it is very hard to imagine this team hanging around though the end of September.
Word on all that. I kind of feel like no matter where the team winds up this season, Omar’s job should be on the line. Especially if some proven talent-developers and savvy deal-making GMs find themselves on the market (Epstein would be a good pick if only because he could tell Schoeneweis, in Yiddish, to keep the fucking ball down). The amount of payroll tied up in inactive dudes is embarrassing, yes, but all those little prospect-challenge trades that Minaya keeps losing — which I harp on all the time, but which have bled the system of the sort of mid-tier prospects that should make up the relief corps AND the guys the team would package to get a proven middle reliever at the deadline — have officially added up.
I can’t believe how fucked up the ‘pen is right now, and it’s especially disheartening to see it all falling apart after the waiver deadline, when the only guys out there are exactly the sort of dudes the Mets would be cutting loose. While I like the idea of moving a starter to the back end of things, I don’t think Ollie (with his control and makeup issues) or Maine is the guy. Pelfrey seems like he could be Adam Wainright-dominant (back when Wainright was an unhittable closer instead of a decent starter) as a closer. At any rate, he’s got a higher ceiling than Brian Stokes.