Well, they weren't saying “LOOOOO” tonight.
Still, the fans were booing the wrong guy. Looper was clearly tired before he even arrived, with no life on his fastball. Not a big surprise after throwing 35 pitches last night in melting-lead August heat. By the same token, Roberto Hernandez (40 years old, 34 pitches last night, a lot of mileage this season) should be given a pass, considering the home run he gave up to Carlos Lee (known to hit a few) was just the third he's surrendered all year.
So how about the manager? Well, no, not in my book. Sure, there are lots of second-guesses to be made: Should Pedro have stayed in? I vote no: Not when apparently he's still healing, he's somewhat fragile, and it's August. (But a mild boo for Pedro for saying he never questions a manager's decision but felt like he could have finished, which is just Glavinesque syntax for questioning a manager's decision.) Should someone else have been in there for the 8th or 9th? Well, that's obvious now — but who? (Though enough with the idea that relievers are assumed to be ready to go unless they tell the manager otherwise. This is pro sports — guys don't beg out, even when they should.)
So should other guys have been pitching last night, when Looper and Hernandez's tanks got drained so thoroughly that they were close to “E” tonight? Again, who? The only guys we didn't see last night were Dae-Sung Koo and Danny Graves, and that was just fine with us, as I recall. Willie doesn't trust them. Neither do I. Neither do you. Neither does any sane Met fan, nor most of the insane ones.
Ah, but those two names make me think I see the person who should be booed. And it's not Carlos Beltran, though his season is edging perilously close to debacle status and he didn't run hard on the final out, which is certainly an offense worthy of leather-lunged punishment, even if the rest ain't. No, it's somewhere higher. Up past the dugout, the field boxes, the loge…there we are.
Hello, Omar Minaya.
For some time I've talked of Koo and Graves as dead roster spots, though noting that since they aren't used for much of anything, it doesn't really matter. But I was wrong. It does matter — and these two nights show why. Willie was right not to go to Koo or Graves last night, but Omar was wrong for keeping them on the roster. (I'm assuming Willie doesn't have much input into these things — because if he did, why would he waste two bullpen spots?)
Neither's presence was a blunder from the get-go: I don't know anything about Koo's past, but I assume those scouts saw something, and trying to resuscitate Graves was a worthy experiment. But Koo is unreliable and Graves is all too reliable in terrible ways. Neither costs much of anything. Neither should be here. What I now realize is they're not just dead roster spots, but holes for their tired teammates to stumble into. We should be arguing about whether Willie should have saved the wear and tear on Hernandez and Looper by going to Ring or Bell or McGinley or Scobie last night. Or somebody else who might possibly have value. I don't know if any of those guys is the answer, but it's been demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that Koo and Graves aren't. So why are they still here, when they increase the load on everybody else at a time when everybody else can't take it? You can pin tonight's loss — and possibly more from the same mold, given that there's a lot more August on the calendar — on bad roster management. And that gets laid at Omar's feet.
It's August, and you can't play games in August with a 23-man roster.