Thursday, October 19, 2006

Waiting to Exhale -- Whewwwww. The $120 million dollar man comes up empty. I guess you can't complain, but you hate to see it end with the bat still sitting on Beltran's shoulder. Hard to accept {Update: ESPN's Baseball Tonight's Karl Ravetch made the same comment about the game ending with the bat on Beltran's shoulder -- made 5 minutes after I first posted this -- coincidence? Of course.}. It was a great ride, and it's hard for a Mets' fan to complain, but you'd like to have seen Carlos at least take a swing. Wainwright had a huge strike zone to work with in that ninth inning, and it was a little surprising that Beltran thought he had the luxury to look. Obviously, Wainwright's curveball was killing the Mets' lefties, freezing both Floyd and Beltran for strikeouts.

I hated to see Heilman give up the winning home run, because he'd pitched well. But, that was a concern. He has a penchant for giving it up. Still, I can't really quibble with anything Randolph did in this game. I was surprised to see Floyd come up in such a pivotal situation, pinch-hitting in the ninth, instead of Franco. Floyd isn't healthy enough to play, so one had to wonder if he was the best choice to hit. On the other hand, it worked for Tommy Lasorda and Kirk Gibson, once.

It was a great game. It was a great series. It was a great ride. Randolph is a great manager. There will surely be a few changes in the off-season, and the hot-stove league talk has already begun. Cliff Floyd has probably played his last game as a New York Met, the major question being whether Lastings Milledge will be his replacement. At second base, the Mets will probably try to re-sign Jose Valentin, but their first priority will be to try and sign free-agent Brooklyn native Julio Lugo.

The Mets' starting rotation is all question marks right now, although Tom Glavine is a sure bet to return. Will they go after Barry Zito, and will they be able to compete with the Yankees in the bidding? Other possible acquisition targets are Jason Schmidt and the highly touted Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka. Again, they will probably be bidding against the wealthiest teams in baseball, including the Yankees. There is also a great deal of speculation that the Mets will try to deal for Dontrelle Willis. In addition, there are a number of candidates from the Mets' organization, including tonight's loser, Aaron Heilman, last night's winner, John Maine, and budding young star, Mike Pelfrey, as well as Oliver Perez, who pitched very impressively tonight.

There will be a long off-season to speculate about the make-up of the '07 Mets. For tonight, Mets' fans should speak fondly of the 2006 Mets. The Mets have a pretty terrific team, especially when healthy. The Mets know that the injuries to two of their top three starting pitchers kept them out of the World Series, but they still came as close as can be. Congrats to the Cardinals. As they used to say in Brooklyn: Wait 'till next year.

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