It’s hard to be optimistic with the state of the Mets right now. It’s hard to be confident in Omar, it’s hard to be confident in Manuel and the coaches, and even the promising young guys no longer seem promising.
How did we go from being disappointed that Murphy got an extra plate appearance last season and wouldn’t be eligible for Rookie of the Year, to a guy that we’re talking about trading while he still has some value. Personally, I don’t agree with that sentiment, but Murphy’s stock has definitely gone down since last year.
Mike Pelfrey was quickly becoming an excellent pitcher, and while there were some concerns most were okay with him being ‘named’ the number two starter before the season. Now he’s struggling to make that next step and gain consistency.
To me both these guys have talent, drive, and are smart enough to learn how to get better. So why aren’t they getting better? While the ultimate onus falls on the player, this is why there is a manager and coaches in the first place. Most people don’t really understand what a coach does, but if they didn’t have a big role they wouldn’t be fired as often as they are, and teams wouldn’t necessarily even have them.
It doesn’t have to be a career All-Star on the bench to be a good coach, merely a student of the game. He needs to be able to identify and assist players with making the adjustments they need to make, or fixing the bad habits they’re picking up. Good players can do this on their own, but even good players often have a blind spot when analyzing themselves. It’s the same in all areas of the world. This is why English teachers since grade school have been teaching us to have someone else read over and review our writing.
It appears that there is something fundamentally wrong with the Mets. This has been the case since 2007, and has yet to be identified and fixed. Too many guys are under-performing, and virtually no one is over-performing. This is what makes or breaks good teams. And this is what defines a good manager or coach. It’s not just luck when a player has a career year; it’s often due to hard work, and proper guidance. The Mets have been a better team than the Phillies for years, but the difference is somehow journeyman middle relief in Philadelphia has been able to excel and pitchers like J.A. Happ have come out of nowhere to pitch brilliantly, while Pelfrey, Murphy, Parnell, Evans and guys that have showed promise with the Mets have fizzled and failed to make good on promises of success.
Is the season over? No, it’s not. I don’t buy the Marlins as legitimate. I’m not sure the Braves will be appreciably over .500, although they do look pretty good. If you buy that, it’s between the Mets and the Phillies. The Mets are far behind, but technically it’s only a game or two. They still play each other eight times, and if the Mets were to win those games they’ll be in good position, which isn’t completely out of the question as unlikely as it seems given the current state of the team. It’s growing more and more unlikely as the Phillies pull off more and more unlikely wins and the Mets continue to struggle to find any consistency, but if the ship were to be righted and players do come back from the disabled list and perform, it’s not out of the question for the Mets to catch up.
When worry over the Mets ability to beat the Braves resurfaced recently with them dropping the series in Atlanta, I didn’t panic. I’m still convinced Atlanta’s not a great team, nowhere near as good as the Mets, and it’s just coincidence that they’ve played badly when we’ve faced them. Call it a let down from the Yankee series or whatever you want, but they can’t win them all. Two days later and the Mets are already further in front then they were before they faced them, so they can just keep winning series and widening the distance.
When the Braves get into a funk, it’s different then when the Mets do. The Braves have now lost three of their last four series, and sure they’ve run into some teams playing well, and some teams that are just good, but when a good team would still be able to beat the Nationals when they’re playing well. The Phillies on the other hand, haven’t been playing that well and recently lost their second closer of the season in Brett Myers.
So again, I’m not worried. To reinforce my not-worryingness, some good signs came out of this series with the Marlins. Carlos Delgado remembered how to hit the ball, hard. Jose Reyes had some hard hits, and was robbed by Miguel Cabrera. David Wright didn’t get hits, but he did get three walks with no strikeouts, and finally John Maine started pitching pretty well again. He did walk some people, but I think he’s making a case that May, not April, was the aberration.
Of course, there were bad signs too. Shawn Green and Carlos Gomez hurting themselves would be up there. Gomez was fun to watch, but even if his injury’s minor, you’re not going to keep a guy with that much speed up in the majors with a hamstring pull. There has been a lot of calls for Shawn Green’s head, mainly because of his defense, and Endy Chavez should continue to get a lot of playing time, especially before Moises Alou returns in the near future. David Newhan will be getting some more chances to prove he’s valuable here, with a couple of starts. Otherwise it’s likely we may see Ben Johnson from New Orleans up here in the near future. Hopefully Newhan can come through, Shawn Green and Moises Alou were big parts of the Mets offense, and even though they can get by without them, it’s never good to lose that production. Hopefully Endy Chavez and David Newhan can have some good games and some consistency as the Mets continue trying to widen their lead in the NL East.
By now I’m sure everyone knows about how great the Mets play in Arizona. Maybe if they moved their spring training camp, like the Dodgers will do next year, they’d play better in the spring too.
Easley came through again Thursday night, to take back the lead in the top of the 9th. Wins like that are so invigorating. David Wright kept the inning going with a 3-run home run of his own, and Billy Wagner probably didn’t know whether to cheer or cry. I’m sure he wanted that save. He got his 6th last night, giving up a walk but getting a nice double play. For the first time in May Wright didn’t get a hit, and facing the reigning Cy Young award winner Brandon Webb might cool Wright off before he has a chance to really get going. I doubt it though, I expect David’s starting to remember how to really smack the ball, and someone’s gotta keep this streak against the Diamondbacks alive tomorrow, so why not him?
Randy Johnson looked mediocre yesterday, and you wonder when he’ll finally realize he’s no longer the dominant pitcher he once was and retire. Of course he’s young and spry compared to Julio Franco, who had both a stolen base and a home run yesterday. It’s obvious he can still play, but I worry that the long season will wear him down, as it appeared to do last year. Luckily the bench with Chavez, Newhan and Easley as well as Franco seems like it will fare much better this year. Add the possibility of players like Ben Johnson, Ruben Gotay and Lastings Milledge to the mix and they’re looking good.
The Mets don’t play any really bad teams in May, the Giants and Cubs being more dangerous than their record suggests and the Marlins having enough young talent that you never know how they’re going to look. A lot of people think the Braves are going to stick around all year, and it’ll be interesting to see as this month progresses if anyone pulls away a little. The Mets will visit Turner Field after playing the Yankees this month, and that might be the time to start making that move. We know June may just be one of the toughest scheduled months in baseball, which them meeting six of the seven playoff teams from last year. Putting together a streak here in May would go a long way to keeping Atlanta at bay, whether or not they fall of the pace. After losing four of six to the Braves, if it’s still this close on May 22nd, I expect the Mets to reassert who’s the team to beat in the National League (East).