1) Jerry Manuel was starting to grow on me. His smallball approach wasn’t to the extreme like Willie Randolph’s. Willie would have Luis Castillo sac-bunt Jose Reyes over in the first inning. Recently, though, he’s been showing truly frustrating tendencies. Last week, he used Daniel Murphy, the .320-hitting 3-hitter, to sac-bunt. Later in the game, with men on first and second, he attempted a hit-and-run which ended the inning. Still later, with the bases loaded with 2-out in the ninth, he pulled Trap Jaw Castro (.273/.351) in favor of recent call-up catcher Omir Santos (at the time: .280/.280). Because, you know, when you’re down one in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, you really need a hit instead of a walk. While I really hate being “second-guess-the-manager” guy — it was just terrible all around.
2) If the whole financing for Citi Field falls through, I suggest renaming it Triples Park. There were 12 triples hit there in April — five more than any other ball park. Pretty much anything into that chaotic right field corner or the ridiculous 415-foot alcove in deep center has a shot at being a triple. In one game against the Marlins, there were three in one game. I expect at least two inside the park HRs from Jose Reyes this year.
3) On the other hand, it looks like it’s going to play like Petco and AT&T for home runs. It’s currently running at just about 0.75 HR/G and, unless the wind patterns in the stadium change, it’s going to stay there.
4) I’m very much over the New York Media’s overfascination with David Wright whenever he’s in a slump. This is the second time Wright’s had a bad April — but because “Wright Doesn’t Hit In The Clutch” has become part of The Storyline it’s now accompanied by trade talks. Meanwhile, Jose Reyes’s had a ghastly April, batting just .258/.336/.351 with only +2 net stolen bases. There is nary a mention of this. They also rarely mention that a huge part of both collapses was Jose Reyes’s inability to hit baseballs in September. This year, it’s carried over in to April. People: Wright’s in a slump. It happens to baseball players. It happened to Derek Jeter for all of 2008. Wright will come out of it. Stop being insane Jets’ fans.
5) Meanwhile, am I the only one who gets the irony of Mets’ fans complaining about Daniel Murphy’s left-field defense when they wanted to spend $100M on Manny Ramirez? And they wanted Manny to cover the 54 acres of left field in this new stadium? Settle down. The Mets will live with his defense for exactly one season. Then Wright moves to first and Murphy goes back to playing his natural third base position.
6) Dear Mets Fans: Please stop trying to trade Carlos Beltran. I know he struck out once in 2006 and you have translated this into him being the world’s worst center fielder and a terrible human being. Could we possibly redirect the anger to the bottom of the sixth after Endy Chavez had just made what would have been the greatest catch in NLCS history? When they had the bases loaded with one out and Jose Valentin struck out swinging and Endy Chavez popped out to center? Guys, we’re not trading him. The thought of trading him is unfathomably stupid. It’s almost as stupid as Jets trading Chad Pennington when all they needed was a running back who didn’t suck. Please, look around the league and find me the better center field option. YOU HAVE THE BEST CENTER FIELDER IN THE LEAGUE PATROLLING 114 ACRES OF CENTER FIELD. STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT.
7) Credit to Omar Minaya — great work on the bullpen. A 3.12 ERA and .664 OPS-against in 78 innings. Yet they still have credit for 6 of the losses. It’s almost like… almost like… they weren’t the entire problem. I know it’s crazy but — it kind of seems like the team stops hitting late in games and it wasn’t all entirely the bullpen’s problem. Crazy-talk!
8) I’m not going to get too hung up on the starting pitchers quite yet. Johan Santana has been incredible and he’s already been screwed out of two wins. The first when Daniel Murphy dropped a fly ball, which led to 2 unearned runs, which lead to a 2-0 nothing loss and the second being a seven inning, two run gem blown by JJ Putz and the team’s chronic inability to score runs late in close games. Livan is being Livan — mediocre starts followed by the occasional trainwreck. John Maine (1-2, 5.40) and Mike Pelfrey (3-0, 6.00) are both seeing their ERAs start to fall after really bad starts. On the other hand:
9) Oliver Perez has been very very bad. Epically bad. Nearly Chien Ming-Wang bad. Ollie’s services were retained this year for one reason — the Mets face a lot of teams with lefty power and he baffles lefties. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it out of third inning in his first start against the Phillies. Here’s why I’m not worried quite yet — the WBC. The dude barely got any work in March. The Mets need to fake an injury like the Yankees did with Wang and send him to Buffalo for some starts. He needs spring training — not panic. We knew this was coming. Besides; five runs in Citizens Bank Park really isn’t all that bad. If four consecutive walks hadn’t led to one of the runs, I’d almost consider the start a good one.
10) It could be much worse, I suppose. I would have signed for 3 games under .500 if I’d been told all starters not named “Johan” would have an aggregate ERA over 6.00. Really, April after the WBC is a wash. ERAs are off the board, batters haven’t developed timing yet, and pitchers are all dealing with injuries. As long as no one runs up a 10-game lead while everyone’s still warming up, the season might as well be starting between now and Memorial Day.