Sunday, April 20, 2008

First Guessing: 4/20/08

I missed the game yesterday - my cable is out and I had personal business to attend to anyway. Apparently the game followed a pretty standard script for the 2008 season so far - the Mets won, Aaron Heilman made an appearance and Willie Randolph forgot to double switch.

The slow start has been forgotten with the current five-game winning streak, leaving the Mets atop the NL East at 10-6 with a magic number of just 146. Heilman has been mostly terrible so far, but his 11th appearance in the team's first 16 games was mostly a successful one. Called on to get out of a jam created by Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano, Heilman gave up an RBI single before striking out Geoff Jenkins and Jayson Werth to end the inning.

And then the lost double-switch. With two outs and two on in the bottom of the sixth inning, Willie yanked Perez for Duaner Sanchez. With the pitcher's spot due up third in that inning, double switching would've given Willie an opportunity to get a little more length out of Sanchez. (But apparently getting length from relievers isn't as important though, eh Willie?) The double switch might've set up a situation where Heilman - who has been used like Mike Marshall so far this season - had a better chance at getting a day off.

Angel Pagan had made the final out of the sixth, setting up the perfect opportunity to put the pitcher in the sixth spot and put Endy Chavez in the #9 hole. Doing so would've improved the outfield defense, for starters, and would've removed the necessity to use a pinch-hitter in the seventh. By the time the sixth spot in the order came around again, it almost certainly would've necessitated a pinch-hitting appearance anyway - it just would've come at a more opportune time for the Mets.

Willie did not double switch, and although the Reyes home run that inning extended the lead to 4-0, the Mets still ended up using five relievers to nail down the final three innings. Perhaps not the most optimal use of bullpen arms?

Anyway, after the Reyes home run T-Bone left me a message, the exact contents of which are too profane for publication in a family blog. (Actually, it was a just a really long message that I don't want to bother transcribing, but the raw emotion was amusing enough to store with my saved messages.) The general message, however, was that Willie's tactical ineptitude was being overcome by the talent of his players once again. The missed opportunity will go down as just one more footnote in a long season, but there are plenty of people still taking notice.


MP said...

You have to remember that when it comes to managing your bullpen, Willie learned from the best.

Just ask Paul Quantrill, Scott Proctor (who must be having nightmares all over again), Tom Gordon, Tanyon Sturtze, or any of Joe Torre's other supporters.

As for the missed DS - I thought the same thing at the time and just figured Willie didn't want to stretch Filthy Sanchez out over two consecutive games. And then I remembered that Filthy didn't pitch on Friday and I was perplexed all over again. That, to me, would have been the only decent excuse.

tim said...

MP, the most curious part about not stretching Sanchez to 1.1 IP is that he puts Hielman on the mound for the fifth consecutive day! Even if Sanchez had pitched an inning the night before I think you still use him for the 7th. I'd rather know Sanchez will blow his arm out on consecutive days in April then in September. He needs to be tested.

All in all and I think everyone can agree, it's going to be hard watching Randolph make mistake after mistake only to be vindicated by his offense, which by the way (sans Delgado), has been up to the task for the last week and a half.

By the way, JR, did you catch Mackles text refering to Chase Utley as the new Chipper? I wouldn't say he's the new Chipper as Larry still brings the magic against us as I'm sure we'll see this weekend when the bBraves visit his son's namesake this weekend. I would say, and after 6 games it's too early to tell, that Utley stole some Pat Burrell's mojo.