Friday, August 31, 2007

Omar, what have you done?


What the Phillies did to the Mets stunk — and stung.

I'm disappointed that the Phillies swept the Mets, but I'm not surprised. The team that New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya assembled for this season just isn't that good. Sure, they've been in first place all season, but they also had losing records in both June and July. What does that say about the Phillies and Braves performance up until the start of the latest Mets-Phillies series?

Minaya's worst move was to weaken the bullpen. He wasn't responsible for Sanchez' unavailability, but he did bring in the three other S's: Sosa, Schoenweis, and Sele. And he didn't deem Bradford worthy of re-signing though, last season, Bradford had an ERA of 2.90. He also traded away four other relievers who had spent most of their Mets careers in the minors: Matt Lindstrom, Henry Owens, Heath Bell and Royce Ring, all of whom are now on big league rosters. In 2006, Ring, in 11 games with the Mets, posted a 2.13 ERA and had a 0.789 WHIP. Not low enough?

What did the Mets get in return? Two minor league pitchers who have underperformed in Triple-A, Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick, an outfielder, Ben Johnson, and reliever Jon Atkins, who spent all of last season on the Padres roster.

When the trade was made, the New York Mets Web site had this comment by Minaya:
"It may not be a sexy trade," Minaya said in Florida. "You have to remember, the little ones are what count sometimes. Those are the ones."
Later in the article, Minaya said this about Atkins:
"Jon Adkins has had success on the Major League level and can pitch multiple innings," Minaya said. "He's another quality arm to add to our bullpen staff."
Adkins' "quality arm" has thrown most of its pitches in 2007 for the New Orleans Zephyrs. He's pitched 61.2 innings for the Zephyrs and one for the New York Mets.

Johnson had 27 at-bats for the Mets in which he hit .185. With New Orleans, in 188 at-bats, he had a slugging average of only .356; yet, when the trade was made, Minaya said "Ben Johnson is a versatile outfielder who can play all three spots, has speed and shown some power."

Johnson spent most of this season in Triple-A until he injured his ankle in a game, disabling him for the rest of this season.

It appears that Minaya counts differently than do most Mets fans. The addition of Johnson and Atkins balanced against the subtraction of Ring and Bell results in a loss on my calculator.

But it was another Minaya acquisition who made one of the major blunders in the Phillies sweep. In game 3, with the game tied 2-2 because of the two homers Oliver Perez surrendered in the first inning, pitcher Jamie Moyer was the Phillies lead-off batter in the fifth inning. All Perez had to do was to throw strikes. Nothing fancy. Moyer was hitting about .148. But Perez, never known for his control, walked Moyer. Minutes later, Moyer scored the winning run on Burrell's sacrifice fly.

Perez's record is now 12-9, close to what I think is the best that can be expected of him in a season. To me, his initials stand for "Over-rated Pitcher." He had that one fluke season with the Pirates in 2004 and, even then, only finished 12-10.

Awhile ago, Steve Phillips, former general manager, predicted that the Mets wouldn't make the play-offs. I hope he's wrong; however, if the Mets keep playing as they did against Philadelphia, he won't be.

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