On one hand, the Mets have managed to survive any number of weird catastrophes and hang on to a two and a half game lead above the Phillies; on the other hand they seem to have chosen pretty much the worst time imaginable to slowly unlearn the game of baseball and expose the glaring, pitching-related weaknesses of the team. It’s funny, the team that we have been watching for the last week is pretty much exactly the team that we should have expected out of spring training—a rotation of question marks and old guys, neither of whom go that deep into games; a relatively -to- atrociously weak bullpen, that features Aaron Heilman as the strongest set-up man for Billy Wagner; and a potent enough offense to club their way past either of these shortcomings.
All of which becomes a lot less reassuring when you consider that the Mets have found their recent vindication against the Florida godamn Marlins who sort of seem like they are giving a presentation to their kindergarten class called “How I spent my summer on the bottom of the NL East.” People talk a lot about an obscure concept called fundamentally sound baseball, and that you need to play it, and the Marlins are a perfect example of why: whatever fundamentally sound is, the Marlins aren’t it. I’m mainly thinking of the eight unearned runs that the Mets were able to score behind Pedro. If the race stays close with Phillie, you really couldn’t ask for anything more than to close the season out against these guys, yet the Mets (chiefly the ‘pen) were still able to find ways to keep the Marlins in the games.
In the middle of all of this, Lastings Milledge went out and made himself tradable for a lot less pitching, by leaving the dugout to yell at the umps an unusually high (twice) number of times, following an ejection. You can almost say this is a good thing, since it might make them less likely to trade him in the first place, and then he might develop into a really good player, and then it will be good that they didn’t trade him. But, it is starting to get really obvious that someone needs to be traded for pitching, in fact, it seems more and more that they should have traded someone for pitching a while ago. Given that, Milledge is probably the guy to go, since they have Beltran signed to a long-term deal, Endy Chavez, perhaps Moises Alou, as well as the prospects Carlos Gomez and Francisco Martinez. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-Milledge-- I want the club to keep him around, and next year he could be very important for them, since neither of the outfield prospects seem especially ready; but I am pro-pitching, and favor doing anything reasonable in the off-season to get some sort of reliable middle-inning relief.
But no one gets traded for pitching until the off-season, and the Mets have to handle the next week, and whatever might come after it, with the relievers that they have. And, we have the rest of the season (the part that wasn’t especailly important) to prove that those guys are, on occasion, capable of being effective.