There was so much promise before I headed across the Pond to the U.K. for some R&R. The Mets and their fans were still riding high after their shocking 9-1 late-Apirl homestand and expectations were rising. The pitching staff was on fire, especially Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey. Even John Maine was holding his own to some degree. In a 10-day stretch almost as amazingly bad as the homestand was good, the Mets season has begun to spiral out of control. After a dreadful four-game sweep at the hands of the Marlins in Miami, the Mets now reside in the cellar of the NL East with an 18-20 record.
Yeah, I know it is mid-May and the Mets are only a couple of games under .500 and just three weeks ago seemed unbeatable, but the manner in which this squad has crashed back to Earth is especially daunting. First and foremost, obviously, the starting pitching staff is in shambles. With the fresh news that Niese re-injured his right hamstring yesterday afternoon on the tail of Ollie Perez’s banishment to the bullpen, it appears the Mets will now have to fill two rotation spots.
Niese was sent back to NY for tests after yesterday’s loss and there has been no definitive word on yet on his condition. According to Andy Martino in the Daily News, Niese said he felt no pain after the game and wants to make his next scheduled start on Friday vs. the Yankees in the Subway Series opener, but expect the Mets to be cautious with their budding young lefty. If Niese can’t go, it is likely Hisanori Takahahi would take his turn in the rotation.
Now on to Ollie. I was away when Jerry Manuel decided to yank this $12 million/year mental case from the rotation after his dreadful 3 1/3 inning stint on Friday. All I can say is what took so damn long! I know the Mets are heavily invested in him, but sometimes you just have to admit you made a mistake and take your medicine and that is effectively what the team did in demoting Follie to the bullpen. Who knows, maybe he prove to be an asset out there with his ability to stymie lefty bats, but $12 million for a relief pitcher reeks of organizational incompetence. In Perez’s stead, we should expect to see either Pat Misch or knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on the mound in Washington on Wednesday. That is some serious minor league depth right there.
As for Manuel, it appears as if his steaming skipper’s chair, which was doused with cold water a few weeks back, has gotten awfully hot once again. Omar Minaya has decided to fly down to Atlanta to be with the team for the team’s short two-game set with the Brave tonight and tomorrow. SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt tweetwed that a team source told him Omar is “not in Atlanta to fire Jerry Manuel” but “I think that the mood could change with 2 awful games here though”.
Honestly, what would a managerial change do at this point. It is clear this team has enough talent to win some ballgames and go on a few hot streaks, but not enough pitching as constituted to make a serious run at the playoffs. I say, let Manuel finish out what likely will be an 80 or 82 win season and look for a new leader in the winter. On ESPN radio this morning, Buster Olney threw out a purely speculative scenario where Joe Torre finishes his contract with the Dodgers at season’s end and comes and takes over the Mets in 2011. Wow. Now that would be something else. Anyone have thoughts on that possible bombshell?