Thursday, June 11, 2009

What was Jerry Manuel thinking with his bullpen moves?

I was at Citi Field tonight, and it should have been a great game. Instead, the Mets proved Cole Hamels right, choking away the game in every facet - hitting, pitching, defense and managing.

The game was enjoyable for the first six innings, though the number of Mets left on base was disturbing. But on the bright side, Razor Shines was quite restrained in his waving runners along tonight. In most other games, two or three of those runners would have been out by 20 feet.

We were sitting pretty high up between home and first, so I did not get a great look at Carlos Beltran letting the ball go off his glove. Now that I've seen the replay, it is that much more disturbing that the two remaining Met stars, and both Gold Glovers, made errors in the same inning to allow the Phillies to tie the game. Only David Wright was charged with an error, but these were plays that winning teams make.

So while in hindsight the inning was more about the lack of defense, while out at the park my friends Steve and Norman and I were talking about the decision to bring in Sean Green. The bases were loaded with none out. The situation called for the Mets' best reliever besides K-Rod, not the guy with "seventh inning" next to his name this week.

Would Bobby Parnell and his 100-mph fastball have been able to strike out more batters and prevent at least one or two of the three runners from scoring? Who knows. And Green would have held the lead had it not been for Wright's error.

But in both games of this series, Manuel has departed from Parnell's usual eighth inning to have Pedro Feliciano face the Phillies' lefty power hitters. On Tuesday, Parnell came in before Feliciano to get Jayson Werth. He could have come into the game first tonight as well.

When Parnell was not used earlier and K-Rod pitched two innings, we wondered if he was unavailable. Instead, Manuel waited to use Parnell at the worst possible time.

It's the eleventh inning and the Phillies' lefty sluggers are all coming up. Feliciano has been used. But the Mets do have another lefthanded pitcher, Ken Takahashi, who is presumably on the team for this purpose. And Takahashi had already shut the Phillies down on one hit over 2 2/3 in his Met debut.

Coming into the game, lefties were hitting .344 off of Parnell. I'm not saying he should be a righty specialist - righties were hitting .281, but this is an extreme case of three lefty MVP candidates in a row coming up. Where was Takahashi?

After I got home, I discovered that lefties were hitting an astonishing .440 off of Takahashi, while righties were hitting only .103. It's only a few innings, but if you go by the numbers, then the Mets do have only one lefty specialist in the bullpen.

And that, Omar Minaya, is not a good thing when you are facing your main divisional rival.

If Manuel did not want to use Takahashi in that spot, he should have saved K-Rod to face the Phillies' best. Instead, K-Rod entered a tie game in the ninth to face the lower part of the order. K-Rod pitched two innings, facing six batters, and managed to avoid facing Utley, Howard or Ibanez. Nice work if you can get it!

Why not use Parnell in the ninth? Save K-Rod for the tenth if necessary. Then, if necessary, K-Rod pitches the eleventh. This way, K-Rod would have ended up facing the Phillies' sluggers in the tenth or eleventh.

Maybe it wouldn't have mattered. Here I am arguing about using Parnell in the seventh or ninth, when it might not have been his night whenever he pitched. But it's just so frustrating that the Mets let this game get away, just as they have let the division get away to the Phillies the last two years.


Anonymous said...

Tough loss any way you look at it, but I don't assign much blame to manual. fact is, the mets left a small village on base. that and the blown call on beltran's douuble play, which would have been the difference.
I have seen enough of sheffield now, and omir santos. omir had some big hits for us, but he has got to stop swinging at the first pitch every at bat. that pop-up hurt last night.

Mets Public Record said...

I have been seething about Manuel's use of the bullpen since Green walked in the winning run against the Phillies at Citizens. Why did Jerry bring in a guy like Green in a bases-loaded situation? Wouldn't you rather take your chances with someone like Stokes who has better control than Green? Hey Jerry, it's a little late for some confidence building.

Anonymous said...

Typical Mets. This was a huge game, no matter the month. Even Beltran stated before the game "We have to beat him" in reference to Cole and his Choke Artists comments. So what did they do in this must win game? They choked. Pure and simple. They had 3-run lead, and they choked, just like they have for the last few years. Unbelievable. The Mets had seven more hits and drew three more walks then the Phillies, but still lost by one at home.

This was a perfect illustration of the difference between a championship club, and their choke artist counterparts. One club got the big hit, while the other gave it away. They made an outstanding defensive play to save the game, our two gold glove winners committed errors (Though Beltran's wan't ruled one). Sixteen hits for the Mets and the only one for extra bases came from the pitcher. Wow, just wow.

The sad thing is that this shouldn't be a surprise to any Met fan, as they seem to have at least one of these clunkers every series agaisnt the Phillies. Take a lead, keep them at bay for 5-6 innings, then implode.

Mr. Cole Hamels, you are correct in your assessment!

Michael in California

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