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Time and Again

Having been granted my wish that Heath Bell be dismissed from the premises [1], I’ve been reminded to be careful what I wish for.

My reminder: Jose Lima has taken Heath Bell’s spot.

I really want to believe there’s nothing wrong with a second helping of Lima Time provided it is served by the thimbleful and at off hours. I assume this particular Jose (we sure have a lot of them) is on hand to be the seventh man in the bullpen and grab those innings that hopefully don’t need to be pitched, the ones that arise when our starters falter. Darren Oliver has been used a lot lately — if not enough to Pedro Feliciano’s way of thinking — and he could use a breather. If Lima gets the fourth and fifth in a 9-1 blowout…well, no biggie except I don’t want to be on the Lima-usin’ end of a 9-1 blowout.

The easy analogy to make is recalling Jose Lima is to inane pitching transactions what Gerald Williams was to fortifying outfield depth [2]. What the fudge are we doing bringing up Jose Lima when we could instead use…uh…er…um…

…who do we have anyway?

Oh that’s right. We’re kinda screwed for pitching right now. If Pedro comes back Saturday (which is something I really want to believe), then things are pretty darn rosy. He pitches one game Saturday and John Maine, who went from hot to hapless in a matter of pitches Monday, gets the other. That’s not Lima Time. Reports indicate Mike Pelfrey, surely the greatest Mike P. we’ve had since Mike Piazza, will be up Friday night. That’s not Lima time. Barring whatever seems to befall Mets starters until then, we have Orlando Hernandez tonight (still can’t quite bring myself to spit out his nickname given its unfortunate association with the past) and Steve Trachsel tomorrow. Those are not Lima Times. Glavine goes Sunday. Finally, that’s not Lima Time.

Thus, if Jose Lima lingers for a few days as a long-relief stopgap, doesn’t get into more than a game or two when it’s not terribly crucial and then enjoys an extended All-Star break, I think we’ll get by. No, that’s not optimal thinking, but it’s the way it is after Bell and Soler proved themselves incapable of helping their team at all Sunday and Feliciano gave Willie every excuse to bury him (hope the manager’s a bigger man than that). If something goes wrong with Pedro, or Maine finds another finger that’s not quite right, and Lima takes the ball Saturday…well, he does have experience.

I would have been content to have never been party to the return of Lima Time, but I’ll admit I’m rooting for the guy to have one solid outing and not just because a guy in a Met uniform having a solid outing benefits us all. Both in spring training and during his last stay, Lima was a unifying force in the clubhouse. Everybody seemed to like him in a big way. Yeah, they said the same thing about Gerald Williams, but ya know what? This seems like a good time for a unifying force. For a team with a double-digit lead, its players have betrayed a touch of crabbiness. And who can blame them, with their record having loitered at convenience store level (7-11) since The Road Trip ended? If Lima can keep ’em loose for a few days, maybe that’s a contribution.

Not at the expense of effective pitching, mind you, but I don’t see a lot of obvious options otherwise. Pelfrey coming up is a separate issue and one we’ll all embrace if/when it happens. As for the ever popular Anybody But, I confess I’m not familiar with his stats or qualifications. Yeah, Anybody But Jose Lima sounds good, but maybe there are a few machinations at work that we or at least I don’t see. Maybe Lima — who is motivated enough to keep pitching at AAA after his Major League embarrassment in May, so he must have some pride in avenging his prior performance — hangs through Sunday and we see one of the other Tides roll in after the break. After being certain the deployment of Jose Valentin was complete folly, I’m not going to kneejerk any veteran player move Omar makes, certainly not one that isn’t likely to amount to a hill of beans in the long run.