Is The Mets Road Trip Salvagable?

The Mets have not been playing good baseball lately.  This poor play brings up debate and questions about what exactly the problems are.  Is it an easy fix? Something that takes time, money, or trade? 
Could it be the managing?
Maybe.  Jerry Manuel is not a good manager.  He’s operating as a lame-duck manager and as Steve Popper remarked today, A manager that everyone in the clubhouse suspects is not here for the long haul may lose a little authority in the dealing with long term situations such as standing up to Jose Reyes and being the final authority on if he is in the lineup.  The flip side of this is the question of whether Manuel’s lack of authority in such situations is what led to his job security being as tenous as it is in the first place.
Manuel seems inept at managing road games or close games, often burning outs with useless bunts, refusing to use his best pitchers on the road or burning through the bullpen at record pace.  Still, the Mets have the talent and ability to win games, and if enough games are going to come down to the point where they are won or lost on a misguided bunt call in the third inning, the Mets probably won’t win enough games for it to matter.
Is it the offense?
Some fans are thinking so.  Some seem to have given up on Beltran and Bay, and point out that the pitching has rarely kept the Mets out of games.  Surely if players like Bay continue to underperform, the Mets will not win.  However it’s probably safer to say Jason Bay will hit more like the 1000 games before he became a Met, than the 90 or so this year.  Beltran has returned, one of the most talented players in the game, and while we’re still not sure what effect the brace and lingering bone bruises are going to have on his overall play it’s safe to say he’s a solid upgrade over Jeff Francoeur.  Castillo will return soon and put up a respectable OBP that provides more run scoring opportunities.  Reyes will be back in the lineup and allow us to send Tejada back to Buffalo for more seasoning.   It’s easy to get worked up over slumps and scoring droughts, but the Mets offense overall is pretty good. 
How about the pitching?
Behind Johan, one of the best second half pitchers ever, the Mets currently have Pelfrey, Niese, Dickey and Takahashi.  Dickey has been wonderful, and Niese is contributing as well.  Mike Pelfrey’s struggling with a little bit of a slump, but he’ll fight out of it and win games for the Mets in the second half.  Takahashi has struggled, looking more suited for a long relief type role out of the bullpen.  This would be the obvious place to upgrade on the team, and rumors are that Omar is indeed looking for something that won’t cost the farm, but I’m not convinced the pitching is keeping the Mets out of games.  In fact they’ve been in most games, rarely getting blown out or finding themselves down six runs in the seventh inning.  Takahashi has had some bad starts, but he’s also had some good ones.  Johan even had a couple of bad starts in the first half. 
The Mets injuries, coupled with some slumps, are what’s causing the recent struggles.  Some of the other categories may be making it worse such as Jason Bay slumping or Takahashi having a poor outing, but overall it’s the injury to Luis Castillo forcing us to play lesser or unready players in Cora and Tejada.  It’s Reyes slow recovery from the strained oblique.  It’s Beltrans bone bruises keeping him out the entire first half.  Ike Davis went through a typical rookie slump, but after two home runs last night may be coming out of it.  You can’t get much worse than Rod Barajas lately, and he may be forcing Jerry’s hand in using Thole more, who has done nothing but hit while he’s been on the Mets.


It’s easy to overreact to slumps and scoring droughts, but the Mets have the talent to make the playoffs this year.   There is a lot of time left, including plenty of games left against the division leading Braves.  Destiny is in their own hands.  Beltran is getting up to speed, Jose Reyes is supposedly just about recovered, and Luis Castillo is set to return by next weekend.  Johan’s a second half pitcher, more help may be on the way, and Ike Davis may rebound from his first major slump a better player.  The second half of the season is going to be very exciting, and I can’t wait.

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