Manager Willie Randolph has drawn substantial criticism in the newspapers and on the radio for his decision to pinch-hit Julio Franco instead of Damion Easley in the ninth inning of the Mets' 2-1 loss to the Braves.
While Franco is the de-facto No. 1 pinch-hitter on the Mets, it's clear that he can no longer get around on a good fastball as most of his hits on that pitch go to right field. Granted, the bench is thinned out due to the absence of Moises Alou and Jose Valentin, requiring Endy Chavez and normally Easley to start - though on Thursday, Ruben Gotay go the nod -, leaving the slumping David Newhan, Ramon Castro - who won't be used since he is the backup catcher -, and Carlos Gomez on the bench with Franco and Easley. Gomez was used to run for Shawn Green in the ninth after Gotay bunted the runners over to second and third, which was also a questionable move as Gotay had a couple of good at bats during the game. That being said, Easley has proven to be clutch this year, hitting .342 with RISP and going 8-for-17 with men on and two outs.
While Franco is great in the clubhouse and will be a manager some day, it's clear his time has passed and he should not be used in situations like these going forward.