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Is This The End?

For whatever reason*, every time the Mets seem to gain even the slightest bit of traction they shoot themselves in the foot and stumble backwards uncontrollably. Their latest episode began with an inspiring come-from-behind win in the late innings against the Angels, which they followed up by taking two of three in Colorado for their third consecutive series win. Any positive vibes they might have generated by playing decent ball for a solid week there was quickly washed away as they embarrassingly dropped the first two games against the Mariners by a combined score of 16-2. This is not to disparage the Mariners, but they've had about everything conceivable go wrong for them this year, are almost twenty games out in the AL West, and came into this series having scored fewer runs than any team in the American League. With all that riding against them, they've come to Shea and, even after losing their best starting pitcher midway through the first game, have made the Mets look like a Canadian little league team. This is not to disparage the many storied little league franchises of Western Canada, who would probably be far more entertaining to watch than the Mets right now, what with their beady eyes and the way their heads flap whenever they talk.

* If you're curious, the reason is that the Mets are a fundamentally inept, poorly-assembled roster comprised of one-third legitimate stars and two-thirds marginal major leaguers.

Monday night's loss was really the bigger disaster, I think. Expectations had to be pretty low for tonight's game: Oliver Perez was pitching, so that's just a goddam crapshoot right there. Even if Perez managed to diverge from his reverse contract year performance for one night, the Mets had little hope of putting together any significant offensive production with an already pathetic lineup further depleted by a scheduled off day for David Wright. The Mets were already down a handful when Carlos Beltran was run from the game by an unseasonably ornery home plate umpire Brian Runge. Marlon Anderson came in to finish Beltran's at-bat, at which point the Mets' lineup looked like this (2008 EqA in parens):

Jose Reyes (.295)
Luis Castillo (.262)
Marlon Anderson (.167)
Carlos Delgado (.247)
Trot Nixon (.251)
Fernando Tatis (.197)
Brian Schneider (.230)
Endy Chavez (.211)

Oh my god. I knew things were bad before I even bothered to look up those numbers, but that's just depressing. Reyes is the only guy with reasonable offensive value; the rest of them are around average (Castillo) or well below (everyone else). I'm a little surprised the Mets allowed eleven runs to the Mariners, but given the aforementioned lineup, anything more than a run or two from the offense would have been a tad unreasonable to expect.

But, again, this loss was really a disaster waiting to happen. Monday's loss was harder to swallow because Johan was on the mound and Felix was out of the game in the fifth. Knowing what we thought we knew about the M's offense and bullpen, plus Johan, plus no Felix, that game should have been a cakewalk. It wasn't to be, though, and now the Mets have dropped two games under .500, and again we're left wondering why we cared at all in the first place.

How many times can we be expected to regain interest in this team only to have them rip it away with a game like tonight's unmitigated suckfest? They're not good enough to sustain any legitimate excitement, but they're not quite bad enough to fade far enough into oblivion so that we can call it a summer and move on to something else. They're fortunate that the Braves, Phillies and Marlins are all deeply flawed teams as well, none of whom have been able to pull away from the rest of the division. The Phillies seemed to have put it all together a week ago, but a couple of terrible series against the Red Sox and Angels and the Mets are right back in the middle of things. But why should we even care? Maybe they'll go out there and salvage the series on Wednesday, and maybe they'll take three of four against the stupid Yankees this weekend, convincing us to believe -- yes, again -- that they could actually win this thing.

We should probably know better by now, but we don't, I guess. So we plod along in lock step with this woefully uninteresting team, hoping every few days or so that they've turned a corner, only to find that everyone's right back where they started, ourselves included.

Big winners: Anyone who didn't bother to watch
Big losers: Everyone, basically
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jerry Manuel getting tossed, +123214.12% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Johjima homerun, -11.6% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -31.6%
Total batter WPA: -18.4%