“Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”
A four-run lead headed to the bottom of the eighth is supposed to be safe. To paraphrase Howie Rose, I was putting this one in the books before the eighth was over. But we know the narrative these past two weeks, don’t we? This bullpen stinks and no lead is safe until the 27th out. Yes, I know Pedro Beato and Jason Isringhausen were horrid last night (6/8). Yes, leadoff walks to geriatrics the likes of Craig Counsell are inexcusable. No, Dale Thayer has no business in a Major League ballpark, unless he possesses a ticket. I get all that. There might be a bigger, less tangible problem out there.
Angel Pagan batted fourth last night. For real. Not a typo.
Where the Mets have been playing some pretty decent baseball of late, there’s still a chasm in the middle of the order that has nothing to do with the talent level of the players per se. Angel Pagan is a good ballplayer, who has had some great moments. He is a valuable asset for the Mets, one which – as was seen earlier in the year – is sorely missed when it’s not around. But when you think “cleanup hitter,” does the name “Angel Pagan” immediately leap to mind? Does the guy in the other dugout whine, “Oh crap: how do we pitch to Pagan?” The sad part is, with the lineup as presently constituted – taking into account DL denizens David Wright and Ike Davis – he was their best option last night.
But this has nothing to do with the players who are missing, really, because neither of them is the type of player that gives a team a mental advantage in a ballgame either. Wright is a terrific hitter, who opposing pitchers know they can K with some semi-regularity. Davis is more of a Keith Hernandez, line-drive kinda guy. And of course there’s Jose Reyes, who is living up to his rep as TMEPIB (“The Most Exciting Player In Baseball”) right now. No. The Mets don’t have a Prince Fielder, an Albert Pujols, a Chipper Jones (as much as it galls me to speak that name in this context), a Ryan Howard, a Darryl Strawberry or a Mike Piazza. Not even a Troy Tulowitzki. There isn’t anyone on this squad right now who can put sweat on the upper lip of a pitcher they way those guys can/could.
Is there anyone on the horizon in the organization who can fit that bill? Maybe new draftee Brandon Nimmo…in 2016.