Letters to the NL East, Part 5.
Dear Beloved New York Mets,
Get angry. Seemingly everyone is against you and no one believes in you, but just because circumstances have worked against you recently doesn’t mean you’re out already for 2011. What do the experts know? It’s finally time to actually play some baseball, something you’re all pretty good at. It’s time to surprise some people. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a division winner, with the clinching game coming on Sunday September 25th the Phillies on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. Bobby Valentine will call the action.
David Wright says you need to practice beating teams and getting that swagger and confidence back. Do it. The first nine games are against the Marlins, the Nationals, and the Phillies. With the Phillies you get Hamels who pitches poorly against the Mets, Blanton who’s not very good, and Roy Halladay. It’s the perfect opportunity to get off to a fast start, get Bay and Paulino back, get guys healthy and on track, and start doling out punishment.
Remember, as much as the media wants to write about the Mets being in disrepair, the financial mess, and all the recycled story lines about grit and soft players that they’ve used in the past, if you give them a different story to write they’ll run with that too. People still write about the 1986 team, of which it’s the 25th anniversary of, because their story of beating up on the league and being unapologetic about it was fun to write. So give the writers a story about redemption and revenge. Cast the team, and Wright, as David versus Goliath. Treat everyone as the enemy and don’t let up.
The best thing about this team is it’s depth and balance. There aren’t a lot, if any, bad players on this team. No Jeff Francoeur, no Gary Matthews Jr. There are a variety of relievers that could’ve made the team that are waiting around in Port St. Lucie, and there are seemingly a half dozen different outfield prospects that could show up at any given time. Sure, no one ran away with the second base job, but no one threw it away either. Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner and even Ruben Tejada are right around the corner, or at the end of the dugout, should Emaus not be the guy. Your worst pitcher is either a second year prospect who could come close to 200 Ks, or a former All-Star who pitched to a sub-4 ERA in 66 innings last year in returning from injury.
You are not going to be easy to beat this year, and with some discipline and health, you could make it a really exciting season. Remember, no one gets a handicap for winning the division last year, or for having the best team on paper. It’s time to play the games.
Your Excited Supporter,
Optimistic Mets Fan