And so on and so forth.
As dispiriting as the 2014 season has so often been, today I am off my meds and here to say that there’s still a chance — a good chance — to salvage what has been a messy two months.
Because when you step back and look at it, the team right now is not that bad. Let’s forget, and forgive, the tortured path and squandered opportunities that led to this present moment.
All that frustration, cast it aside. The ridiculousness with Farnsworth and Valverde, the benching of Lagares, the very existence of Ruben Tejada, the Ike saga, Terry’s stream of goofy comments that reflect flawed logic, Sandy’s silly promise to Chris Young . . .
It’s an endless list. And it’s been a lousy timetable. But let’s push all that aside and, for a moment, instead imagine competence.
Imagine a real manager. True leadership. It remains a missing piece.
The pitching staff is coming together in exciting ways. Jake deGrom showed up and looks terrific. I like Montero for the pen, fortifying and deepening the quality. Jeurys Familia is healthy and looking strong. Jenrry Mejia might turn out to be a revelation at closer. Zack Wheeler remains a huge positive, as we watch him battle through it. The talent is there. The results will come. Even Josh Edgin, whom I have never liked, threw a few breaking pitches last night in Philadelphia that looked crisp, new.
And just as important, the guys who were never able to help the team are, finally, gone: Farnsworth, Valverde, and poor John Lannan.
That’s the thing with this organization. They usually get around to doing the right thing. It just takes forever.
We have a manager who is thrown into confusion every time he has to make out a lineup. Or phone the bullpen, or utter a sentence.
Wilmer Flores is up, as he should be. It’s time to find out what we’ve got, to bring his development up to the major league level. Gone is Omar Quintanilla. Crazy he was ever here in the first place. Eric Campbell is up, too. Excellent. Andrew Brown has been dispatched to AAA, where he is tearing it up once again; he must love that small park and thin, dry air. Too bad it doesn’t translate to Citi Field, against ML pitching. Now the club added Bobby Abreu — and used properly, correctly, he’s an upgrade.
They cleaned out the mess that was first base. True, Duda has not been good. He’s been almost awful, to be honest. But there’s something to be said for stability and clarity. And best of all, it looks like Juan Lagares is the starting center fielder. My advice is not to fixate on Juan’s offensive numbers. Even at a .725 OPS, he’d be an asset, though I think ideally he’s a #8 hitter.
It’s good, too, that Dave Hudgens is gone. This was their fault, all the bragging about the approach, the new stats, how smart they were. Just way too much attention on the method. So far, the new guy, Lamar Johnson, is playing it right. Low key. When we read about “emergency meetings” in the minors when hitters stray from the program, we know that this team will always have too much emphasis on taking strikes.
As Dylan wrote, “You can call me Dave, you can call me Lamar, but you gotta serve somebody . . .
It also looks like the expiration date on Sandy’s “promise” to Chris Young is coming due. The team simply can’t allow a one-year rental to sabotage the season.
That’s the thing. Okay, sure, Sandy whiffed on Chris Young. Oh well. At least he swung the bat. GMs are going to make mistakes, especially with free agency. One year, $7.25 million, it’s not that big of a mistake as mistakes go — so long as Terry doesn’t feel compelled to play him nearly every day in a self-defeating cycle of justification. Let it go. Get Eric Young in there sometimes. Used properly, when EY’s not confused as an everyday player, he is a clear asset.
I am still hopeful about Travis d’Arnaud — hopeful that his second half will be better than his first half. And hopeful, too, about Curtis Granderson. He’s not a cleanup hitter, we all know that. But he can help this team win games, get some big hits. And Daniel Murphy keeps getting hits and playing hard. He gets better almost every day.
A move here, a tweak there. Maybe even a surprising addition. Suddenly you’ve got a team that’s winning more games than it’s losing. In a vulnerable division.
And suddenly, again, hey . . .
You never know!