Two Notes About The Mets
The focus of the Mets demise is going to be on the bullpen, but it was in fact their starting rotation that was a main source of their problems. The injuries to Pedro Martinez and John Maine; along with the inconsistency of the departing Oliver Perez forced them to overtax an already shaky bullpen and utilize journeymen such as Brandon Knight and Nelson Figueroa. There will undoubtedly be drastic changes in the construction of the pitching staff without Perez and Martinez and several relievers to be jettisoned.
With the Tigers looking to dump some salary, one name I would consider very seriously would be Dontrelle Willis. The Tigers need some bullpen help and Scott Schoeneweis’s contract is expiring after 2009; Aaron Heilman wants desperately to start and the Mets can’t possibly bring him back as a reliever and don’t appear to think of him as a starter; Willis was awful this year and is making a lot of money, so there might be a match of risky players.
Off the field. Willis is a joy to be around; he loves the game, has an infectious personality and would probably love to get back into the National League where he had his greatest successes and could hit regularly; he’d be worshipped in New York. The main questions about him would be whether his on-field problems are fixable and if he can regain his control. Before anything, I would have the Mets pitching people look at tapes of Willis from his 22-win year in 2005 and what’s happened to him since and see if he’s salvageable; then I would speak to people from the past and present of the Marlins who dealt with Willis—-pitching coaches Wayne Rosenthal and Mark Wiley; former manager Jack McKeon; Yankees manager Joe Girardi—-and see what they thought of Willis and why he’s struggled so badly. It’s a risk, but the reward would be massive if he can be straightened out.
- The Mets bullpen coach Guy Conti may have gotten himself fired with his honesty:
Teams that are aggravated after another lost season and off-season assured of being rife with ridicule don’t want to hear appraisals of their front office decisions from the bullpen coach. Guy Conti was just being honest with his statements about the Mets failures yesterday and for the season when he was quoted in the NY Times with the following:
Guy Conti, the bullpen coach, said Schoeneweis’s pitch needed to be
“up on the hands,” but it was “down and in.” Because of that, Helms was
able to reach down and drill it into the left-field seats.
“You can’t miss down and in,” Conti said. “He made a mistake.”
abounded in the bullpen and the front office, too. After closer Billy
Wagner was disabled with an elbow injury in early August, General
Manager Omar Minaya added only Ayala. Conti said Ayala performed decently, but called him a “seventh inning” pitcher and not a closer.
Conti’s right of course; but with the front office probably looking to do something with a coach or two as change for change’s sake and that a bullpen coach can be replaced with something similar to a doorstop or one of those dogs trained to help the handicapped by picking up the phone, I wouldn’t be too comfortable in my job if I were Conti, especially since one of his biggest boosters, Pedro Martinez, won’t be back.