I turned on the radio after the game and learned that the biggest problem with the Mets is lack of "guts." Silly me. I thought it was the bullpen.
If you listen to the radio talkers and read the papers, then you know what the 2008 Mets were lacking: guts, fire, heart, passion, intensity and grit.
Funny. No mention at all of having a single pitcher - any pitcher - who could get people out after the 7th inning. OK, they had one guy in Johan Santana, but he can't pitch every night. The 2008 Mets lost 30 games in which they had a lead or were tied after 6 innings. The team ERA was 3.95 in the first 6 innings, good for 5th in the NL. From innings 7 and beyond the team ERA inflated to 4.30, 4th worst in the NL. The Phillies, thanks in no small part to their true MVP Brad Lidge, were first at 3.28. Even the crummy Brewers bullpen was better at 4.19. That's really all you need to know about this team. They are packing their bags today because of the bulpen, period.
What about "Clutch" hitting? Here are the numbers on the season:
RISP RISP 2-0ut 7th inning +
Mets .253/.351/.390 .223/.363/.347 .246/.324/.361
Phillies .263/.365/..443 .233/.373/.391 .242/.329/.410
Brewers .245/.337/.405 .208/.327/.340 .249/.327/.438
So the Phillies were a little better in the clutch, particulary in SLG, but the numbers aren't nearly as different as you might expect given the narrative that the Phillies have "heart and guts" and the Mets don't. You also have to take into account the fact that Citizens Bank Park is going to inflate the Phillies' numbers a bit. The Brewers, who were labelled chokers in their own right, topped the NL in SLG after the 7th inning, but still scored fewer overall runs than both the Mets and the Phillies.
It's fair to make the argument that the Mets were killed by a lack of situational hitting, but the case isn't nearly as strong as the one for the bullpen. Even an average bullpen would have given this team a division title. Heck, even a slightly better than worst in the league bullpen would have put this team in the postseason. In that case we would be talking about how the Mets had the "guts" to come back from last year's collapse and this year's awful first half. We'd be talking about how Wright, Reyes, Beltran and Delgado helped this team overcome adversity. Nobody would be talking about "breaking up the core."
I don't want to hear any more about how this team needs a "Pete Rose" type of player. Sorry, but all of David Eckstein's scrappy-ness and Aaron Rowand's guts and Orlando Hudson's "sacrificing his body" can't make Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, Scott Schoeneweis, Pedro Feliciano and Luis Ayala get anybody out.