Turning on the Screw

by Ryan

Over the last five weeks the entire Mets organization has been dipped in chaos and slow-roasted in the fiery pits of baseball hell.

Mets fans have watched New York go 9-18 in June, a record that is certainly tied to injury woes and dwindling organizational options. However their affiliates in the minor leagues haven’t fared much better, with Double-A Binghamton going 8-21 and Buffalo finishing the month with a slightly improved mark of 12-15.

citymapAmazingly, in Buffalo a month like that has to be viewed as progress. Then again, 12 wins in a month is downright impressive when you’re 28-53.

What is happening in Buffalo this season is not an anomaly, but the status quo for the entire Mets system. Buffalo has been bad from day one, but injuries and a lack of prospects have sunk the entire system into the Bisons’s version of hell.

Put it this way: last night the Mets’ season rode on Oliver Perez, the $36 million dollar man who has been rehabbing since May. We’ve seen two spectacularly unimpressive starts from Perez in Buffalo and he was far from ready to pitch to Manny Ramirez on Wednesday.

They got lucky: Perez went five innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He only struck out two and walked seven, but he picked up the win. His WHIP (2.25) and his balls/strikes ratio (53/55) clearly imply a rough outing, but a pitcher making $16 million has to be out there last night.

brain1I mean, what other option do they have? Tim Redding has been awful, and there aren’t enough chips in the system to make a trade for a pitcher like Brad Penny, let alone for a guy like Halladay. The Mets have fallen on hard times in the middle of another season where big expectations can’t match the performance on the field.

The Mets have two viable prospects right now: Jon Niese and Fernando Martinez. They aren’t going anywhere, and that’s a very difficult thing to overcome on the trade market. Moving Martinez puts another hole in the Mets outfield, and Niese is about the only interesting player left on the Bisons’ roster at the moment.

What it gives you is a stagnant organization trying to salvage the Mets’ season. Buffalo has been left for dead, as they are way too far down the rabbit hole to save. With two months to go this team is downright boring, with the only thing keeping fans in the seats are the fireworks and the faint chance of rehab stars for players like Carlos Delgado.

What has been interesting to watch is the complete reversal in how the team loses. Back in April and May the story was the completely nonexistant hitting. The team was on the brink of something truly awful, a 100+ loss season or a no-hitter was inevitable.

Mets HQ solved that problem by bringing in a few veteran bats and making some minor moves to improve the woefully inept offense. They “demoted” the hitting coach and threatened more changes. But as injuries started to mount, the bullpen that was so reliable began to disappear. De-facto Bisons closer Elmer Dessens is sitting in Queens while guys like Jon Switzer and Tim McNab are blowing up baseball games and raining hellfire down upon Coca Cola Field.

japanmountainLast week Bisons fans suffered through the Buffalo bullpen giving up 12 runs in three innings to erase a 5-0 lead, Brandon Knight and a brainless Javier Castillo combining to give up an unearned run and loss in the 9th, the Oliver Perez experiment, and a Jon Switzer bomb, Tim McNabb ball-fest, and Adam Bostick “unforced error” which turned a 1-0 Bisons win into a 5-1 extra innings disaster.

And that’s just the abbreviated version of the story. The last week was no different than the series of failures we’ve seen all year in downtown Buffalo. The only difference is that the failures are beginning to compound, not only in Buffalo but New York and Binghamton as well. The Mets are running out of options, and Buffalo has long ago run out of cards to play.

At least we know that the Apple doesn’t fall far from the farm club.