The 2009 season for the Mets was a disaster. After careful review, it appears that the specific type of disaster was earthquake. Even after the disastrous season ended we’ve been hit with aftershocks. Aftershocks are known as smaller earthquakes that follow after the original quake, not to be confused with the alcohol beverage that was needed for us fans to get through the season. They can still be dangerous, but generally get smaller and farther apart as time goes on.
Carlos Beltran’s scoped knee surgery was the first aftershock of the 2009 disaster. While final damage totals are not yet in for this one, it’s expected he’ll miss up to a month of real time. The last report I heard suggested that he’d be cleared to resume baseball activities right around the time the Mets head north for Opening Day.
The Jose Reyes Thyroid aftershock hit last week, when blood work revealed that Reyes has an overactive thyroid. The results and treatment for this are still being determined, but many opinions suggest that it shouldn’t be a big deal and he can get back to playing soon. This smaller aftershock was still upsetting, but it seems like it won’t be one that did much damage.
Other smaller aftershocks have occurred throughout Spring Training for the Mets. Francisco Rodriguez came down with pink eye, but didn’t become a zombie. Fernando Tatis is batting some knee issues, and Nick Evans strained his forearm. Neither is considered serious and Frankie is back and pitching again.
The big thing to remember here is it’s not 2009 anymore. You can check the calendar if you don’t believe me. Every tweak or setback or injury is not indicative of disaster, and the bad luck that plagued the Mets in 2009 was just that; bad luck. The way Reyes did not adequately recover from his hamstring injuries has nothing to do with what his thyroid may or may not be doing right now, and the bone bruise that Beltran had does not relate to his recovery from having his knee scoped in the off season. Right now we’re still in limbo waiting on how Reyes will be treated by doctors and when he’ll get back down to Florida to continue Spring Training, but once he does everything will be alright. Soon it will be time for baseball to count, and we can start obsessing over wins and losses and pitching performances and home run totals instead of thyroid levels and pink eye symptoms.
Without a doubt, the best acquisition the Mets made in 2009 was Citi Field. Given all the problems and the Mets going nowhere, the one new thing this year that helped sooth the pain and will continue to be there year after year is Citi Field.
The stadium was there for all 81 games is was schedule to host, which is more than most Mets can say. It’s a great place to watch a game, and my biggest regret is the season died too fast to really get a feel for how it handles the big game, and what that energy would feel like. There’s great standing room only spots, including the bridge out in center field. We got to keep the Home Run Apple; If only the whole ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ had worked for the Mets this year. Maybe that’s the problem. They certainly didn’t get the Apple to pop up every game.
Mobility and visibility are one of the big pluses of Citi Field. No matter where you are in Citi Field, you’re rarely a few steps from being able to see the field. It’s easy to get around the park as well. It has 360 degree mobility so that if you’re in the right field promenade you don’t have to circle the entire stadium to visit someone or something in left field reserved. You can do it without having to fight through crowded aisles or concourses, or puddles of water or vendors and janitors pushing pallets of trash or frozen burgers through the area. While it’s crowded, I have yet to encounter the type of gridlock that was prevalent at Shea Stadium. With the exception of the middle level club seats you can get to any part of the stadium with any ticket. I wish there were a center field exit to the Pepsi Porch, but I’ll live with it.
The food, beer and distractions available at Citi Field are great. I do agree that the focus should be on the game, but if I wanted to zone out and stare at the game, I could stay home too. I want to immerse myself in the stadium, the crowd, the beer and the food. I want to do it without missing the game, and Citi Field allows me to do this without missing whole innings, something that was common at Shea.
There seems to be a desperate need among some fans for the Mets to upgrade their offense. Some people are overly freaked out to the point (not that it takes much for some) of screaming and yelling about the Wilpons and/or Minaya and the inevitable ‘please spend like the Yankees’ pleas.
They’re off-target. The offense we have is fine. The one area I’d like to see improved is the bench, and this isn’t something you sign Manny Ramirez for. I’d be reluctant to sign an outfielder if it limits Murphy’s playing time, and I think Castillo is going to have a more than acceptable year. Even without those two positions, which was basically where the Mets were last year, they scored the second most runs in the National League (ahead of Philadelphia). Some of it was bad situational stuff, which you have to pin on both HoJo, and Manuel’s lineup and pinch hitting selections. Hopefully both of these get better, but one of the things that definitely will help is the better bullpen. For two years now, repeated blown saves have overshadowed the offense. The Mets weren’t flat in 2007, the bullpen just gave back the lead too often. The Mets weren’t unable to get a big hit in 2008, the big hits just were just obscured by the bullpen giving the lead back, or making the game so out of reach that the big hit that was needed was a 6-run home run.
The Mets will seem to hit better in 2009 even if the lineup stays the same. The Mets will be more capable of winning that 3-2 game, and suddenly their offense will be plenty.
Well, Omar’s poised to make his first mistake of the off season. Hopefully it’s his only mistake. I have confidence he’ll do what’s needed to improve this team, without caving to what whiny fans think is the best course of action. However, keeping Manuel who failed as a bench coach, failed as an interim manager, and may have even failed as a leader in the clubhouse and managed a team that was succeeding and cruising, even without Billy Wagner, and managed to have them crash and burn again.
Luckily managers don’t have that big an impact, and if you give anybody the right players they can’t succeed. If the bullpen did, or will, pitch well enough that Manuel doesn’t have to constantly tamper with it, he won’t be able to screw it up. Maybe if he resides over a spring training for real, he won’t treat next September like one.