Sometimes errors are just errors.
Other times, errors are the residue of years of poor planning, poor execution, poor design, and poor effort … quickly followed by the din of Gregorian chants around Flushing that sound eerily like the name “Castillo“.
This was the latter …
It was the 13th inning … an inning we would have never seen had the Mets been able to hit in Citi Burial Ground at all this season. But after Tyler Bashlor had basically escaped a first and third nobody out jam by getting Brandon Crawford to pop-up to short left field. For a defensive team with nine players of adequate defensive ability, that ball belongs to the left fielder. For a defensive team with a shortstop who has played the position all his life and a left fielder who has played the outfield for three months, that’s the shortstop’s ball, especially after the shortstop got to the spot first.
Without knowing how loud Amed Rosario was on that play (because he wasn’t visually demonstrative but who knows what you can hear through the roar of packed crowd of baseball fans murmur of three children families where the kids are asleep and the parents have decided to let the crowd thin out first), it’s easy to blame Dominic Smith. And in the micro, it’s Dom’s fault that the ball dropped, the run scored, and the Mets lost 2-1 in 13 innings.
But I’m not going to blame Smith in the macro, because everything that Dom has been through so far has led to this moment. He played a ton of games last year, his bosses publicly called him fat, he lost weight and they still signed Adrian Gonzalez, He came up, he played irregularly, then the team changed his defensive position. In the span of one year, a player who was once compared to John Olerud has become Keith Miller.
Look, I get it. The Mets are down Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Nimmo. On many nights, that’s a probable starting outfield. But for crying out loud, the guy who started in left field for the Mets played there even less than Smith did in his major league career. If their actual outfielders had started the outfield instead of Jack Reinheimer, maybe he is the new player on the double switch in the 12th for Jose Reyes (who ended the 11th) instead of Smith for Bautista. But why would the Mets start outfielders in the outfield when there are perfectly capable infielders that can play out there?
Of course the 13th inning on Monday night was going to happen. If it didn’t happen on Monday because the Mets actually got a hit with a runner in scoring position in the first 12 innings, it would have happened another night. Poor planning, poor execution, poor design, and poor effort always leads to an inevitable ending of sorrow and horror. A little dramatic to say that years of incompetence led to one embarrassing error in a completely meaningless baseball game in August? Maybe, but for crissakes, choices have consequences. Tonight was your consequence. Next season, it might be an important game that is your consequence. Maybe it won’t be Smith that’s the target of derision. Maybe it’s Rosario after you move him to center field. Maybe it’s Peter Alonso because you’ve decided that to keep his bat in the lineup he could use some defensive versatility. Maybe it’s Jason Vargas after he’s pinch hitting for the final out of extra innings because you are so ill prepared to win a baseball game after putting infielders in the outfield and running out of players in the 13th inning.
Oh, that happened tonight too? As you can clearly tell, I’m shocked. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Can we stop putting infielders in the outfield for no good reason???
Today’s Hate List
Seriously … of all the starting pitchers you have on the bench to pinch hit if that’s all you have left … Vargas? The pitcher that spent most of his time in the American League and had 4 at-bats in five seasons coming into 2018? Not the guy who has two home runs in a game? Not the guy who was a shortstop in high school? VARGAS??!?!??!???