June 11th, 2012
The New York Mets have been a great story in 2012. They are right in the thick of the National League East race, only 4.5 games behind the first place Washington Nationals. They have 32 wins on the season and to be honest, I didn’t think they would crack the 70-win mark.
But the Mets have hit a little bit of a skid recently. They have lost six out of their last seven and over the weekend, they got whitewashed by their crosstown rival, the New York Yankees. During their sweep, the Mets two biggest flaws came to light — fielding and their bullpen.Both were decent or “dec” as the cool kids say the first two games, but in the third game, both were a hot mess.
Let’s start with the bullpen. Going into Sunday’s game, the Mets had one of the worst bullpens in baseball. Their 5.2 WAR ranks 21st in baseball and in the three games against the Yankees, they gave up seven runs in six innings, including blowing a one-run lead in the eighth on Sunday.
The big problem with their bullpen is the fact they don’t have a dominant bridge guy. Bobby Parnell might throw gas, but he has never been and still isn’t the answer. His fastball is too straight and he doesn’t have a secondary pitch to keep hitters honest. Jon Rauch is what he is and Tim Byrdak, while effective, is a situational lefty.
The Mets can’t continue to blow games late and expect to be there at the end. They lead baseball in blown saves and they need a better bridge guy. If they are still in the thick of things come July, I think they should go out and get someone like Huston Street or Brett Myers and move Frank Francisco to a setup role.
Then there is their defense. The Mets have the single worst defense in baseball as their -24.3 team UZR suggests. What a clown show their defense was on Sunday.
Met starter Jon Niese was cruising and got the first two outs in the seventh inning. Then Andruw Jones hit a ground ball between third and short, which David Wright fielded cleanly. Wright spun and threw the ball in the dirt and Vinny Rotino couldn’t pick it.
Was it a routine play? No, not by any stretch. But it was a play that Wright should have made and if realized who was running (Andruw Jones runs like Popeye Jones these days) and took his time, he probably would have gotten Jones and the inning would have been over. Instead, the inning continued and of course Russell Martin hits a two-run HR to make the score 3-2.
Then in the eighth, Derek Jeter hits a slow roller off of Parnell to short, but Omar Quintanilla trying to hurry the play, let the ball go right under his glove. Jeter was able to get to second thanks to some nice hustle and the floodgates opened from there.
The Mets have a lot of work to do moving forward. I think they can stay in the race, but in order for them to be taken seriously, they are going to need to sure their bullpen and defense.
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