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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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I See Dead Relievers

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.

7 comments to I See Dead Relievers

  • Anonymous

    As Gary Cohen noted, Ned Yost went to his little-used unreliable reliever who was at least fresh, Rick Helling, and he did OK. There really was no way out in the eighth, which is lunacy with a 12-man bullpen. Our starters (Tuesday night an obvious exception) have not been five-inning wonders. Yet tonight was clearly a train wreck that could be seen coming down the track. Omar takes the L for this one. At the very least, after 9-2/3 of relief from five pitchers the night before, he has to option somebody and bring up a non-weary arm.
    And yes, what are Koo and Graves doing here if they're not going to pitch. No, I didn't want to see either one of them, but yeesh.

  • Anonymous

    …and how are they supposed to pitch well when they ARE used if they never pitch? You can't regularly keep guys sitting for that long and then complain when they're rusty. Of course they're rusty!! Of course they're going to suck!! Good Lord, Willie. Stop concentrating on retaining your sour, humorless “It's MR. Randolph to you, and we are NOT amused” scowl long enough to use your ****ing head. I'm bored to death with your act.

  • Anonymous

    I'd've gone to Koo for at least a few batters. Yeah I totally would've.
    It's not about confidence. There were no ggod options. It's about the best chance to win.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you about Koo & Graves. With Gerald Williams on the roster, Randolph is using a 22-man roster.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, the Koo/Graves situation is now too far gone to fix. It's become a vicious circle. The only way to correct it would be for the Mets to be on the business end of a string of road-game blowouts (yeah, that'll happen), where we can afford to give up a few runs away from the tiresome, knee-jerk wrath of the Shea “faithful,” (such irony!) and keep using them until they get a feel for, uh, pitching again. As it stands now, he's painted them both into an impossible corner. Pitchers need to pitch. If they don't pitch, they're useless when they do. I shouldn't have to tell The Great Willie Randolph that.

  • Anonymous

    On the contrary: The situation is extremely easy to fix. DFA both of them, problem solved.

  • Anonymous

    Jason, you little rugrat, you know what I meant! I said it's beyond redemption in a practical sense because Willie really handled it wrong. Only an extreme, highly unlikely situation like the Mets not sucking on the road would allow the Koo/Graves ship to possibly right itself. It was allowed to go too far.
    Sometimes a manager mismanages, and uses players improperly. I remember Johnny sometimes used to sit for 8-10 days at a time because there were no save situations, and then was criticized for not being sharp when he did come in. HELLO.
    I'm just not enamored of Willie's managing. Never have been. I find it hard to even like him. He's miserable, humorless, grouchy and Yankee-ish. He won't be satisfied until the Mets are also a bunch of humorless, browbeaten, personality-free robots because that's what he's used to in the Bronx. You can tell he barely tolerates some of the more colorful personalities we have on this team. “Are you smiling? There's no smiling in baseball!!!” (“This is my party, and there'll be no enjoyment…”)