Supposedly the Mets have a difficult schedule coming up. To think this is some make or break period though is a little silly. All games count, but there is still so much time left after these games that they don’t quite mean that much in the grand course of the schedule, unless they did something crazy like win 25, or 75, percent of them. I suspect what people are really saying when they tell you about the difficult schedule is that if the Mets can get through another stretch of games and stay in the playoff picture, they’ll start believing.
I say you believe now. It’s more fun. Still, let’s take a look at this so-called difficult schedule. (The New York Football Giants laugh at your strength of schedule arguments btw) Carlos Beltran and the St. Louis Cardinal are next. They’re pretty good, although one game worse than the Mets so far. Nationals up after that, who are leading the division right now but merely 1.5 games up. This is the biggest series of the bunch, for obvious reason.
Then it’s interleague play, which always matters less because the opposing team is not competing for the same playoff spot. The Yankees are currently 1.5 games worse than the Mets and the Rays are only one better. The Reds have one less loss than the Mets and the Mets have already split two with them, and the Orioles are a team picked to finish last like the Mets. (that should be a fun one if they’re both in first)
Not to say this isn’t a tough stretch, but these teams are not teams that are playing better than the Mets, they’re teams playing much like the Mets. Equal competition, not better, unless you’re a non-believer. The only teams truly dominating right now are the Rangers in the AL West, and the Dodgers who the Mets will play at the end of June.
The Mets have actually played well against good teams. In fact they lead the league with 18 wins against teams above .500. Their worst showing of the year was against the hapless Houston Astros. Clearly the Mets have proved they can pretty much play with anyone. Anything could happen going forward but to expect the Mets to falter based on opponent is to have not been paying attention to the first 50 games.
50 seems like a fairly substantial sample size and the Mets have the third most wins in the National League. They have two top flight pitchers at the top of their rotation, one of the best players in baseball at third base, and an offense that seemingly manages to have good at-bat after good at-bat, even when dealing with slumping players and injuries. The bullpen is streaky, but Bobby Parnell and Ramon Ramirez are pretty good, and Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco get the job done more often that not. That’s more than you can say about most bullpens. They’ve been in the money for a playoff berth for most of season and there is no reason to think that’s going to change in the immediate future.
Thrilling come-back win by the Mets. Just when you’re ready to eulogize and bury the team, when you expect them to spiral out of control and crash and burn when two of the best hitters in the league go down, the backups step up and stage an Amazin’ win. The Mets basically erase themselves from playoff contention and the most exciting player in the game is on the shelf leading many to believe it’s time to tune out, and then they turn around and remind everyone that they’re stilling playing baseball. They remind us that whether or not we believe in them, they believe in themselves. It doesn’t matter if we think they’re worth watching, because they think it’s worth playing.
It’s all about depth sometimes. One of the reasons the Mets have been able to stay afloat through all these injuries is that they have had suitable prospects and veterans that aren’t terrible to step in and contribute to winning baseball. That none of the injuries, barring one, have been to the rotation has also helped since the Mets don’t really have as much depth there.
The Mets have sustained a massive amount of injuries, but they still have enough talent and depth to win ballgames as much as they lose them. They will likely stick around .500 the rest of the way because right now they’re missing those players that would keep them winning consistently, although anything is certainly possible. What is pretty certain is that the Mets are creating a lot of options for Sandy Alderson in 2012. The Mets have guys up and down their 40 man roster, and beyond, who have been proving they can be part of a winning baseball team.
So sure, one win is hardly cause for much celebration and doesn’t change anything in the bigger picture, but it still feels good. It’s not just about winning sometimes and it doesn’t matter what’s going on outside of the stadium or in the owner’s box. These 25 men on the field, and their coaches, are giving it their all and it’s been fun to watch. They’re not likely to ride home in a parade, but in 2011 I’m proud to be a Mets fan.
edit: Looks like Faith and Fear in Flushing is proud to be a fan of this team as well.
Tags: 2011 mets, Amazin mets, comeback win, Jose Reyes, Mets, mets don't quit, mets fans, mets future, mets walkoffs, New York Mets, new york mets fans, proud to be a mets fan, quit on the mets, terry collins, walkoff mets win, ya gotta believe
Optimistic or not, the best chance for the Mets to be serious contenders or fade out of it is coming this weekend. Fans often aren’t competitors, and give up before it’s seriously over. They make judgement based on what they believe will happen, and based on what has happened already, or based on small samples or bad losses. That doesn’t mean it’s true, or that the Mets are eliminated, but right now the signs do seem bleak as the Mets have had dozens of opportunities to climb back into the race and haven’t.
So with the chances slim and the pessimists laughing at you for holding out hope while the Mets still have their own destiny in their hands, each loss becomes a nail in the coffin of this season, each opportunity to gain a game missed hurts all the more. The Mets aren’t competing for a wild card spot although they’re not eliminated either. The Mets are one losing streak from the season being all but over, but right now they’re a tease of maybes and what-ifs. The Mets could host Atlanta seven (or six or eight) losses back in the wild card race, and sweep the series to get to four losses out with 50 games left to play, which is certainly on the fringes of the race. They’ve played the Braves well this season so it wouldn’t be shocking to see that happen.
It’s too early, perhaps only days too early, but too early nonetheless to give up on the season. Still, many see the high probability of the Mets staying home in October and start thinking about the future. They opine about where Murphy should play in 2012, and if he should be getting more time at 2B or RF right now. They think about which players will be here, and which won’t. Who will be a free agent? Which teams should we root for in the playoffs? (that’s easy, the Carlos Beltran Giants)
All that discussion is certainly fair given how the Mets have looked lately. But they’ll go through a stretch where they look good again too. Maybe it comes at the right time and they play the Braves tough. Maybe it doesn’t and they’re all but eliminated on Sunday. There will be plenty of time for player development discussion when the rosters expand and in the offseason. It’s a long offseason. You may believe it’s better that the Mets get knocked out now to save us the heartbreak later, but the offseason is long enough as it is and I’ll cling to that small glimmer of hope as long as I can. Stranger things have happened than teams like the 2011 Mets suddenly making the playoffs.
Tags: 2011 mets, Atlanta Braves, hope, Mets, mets braves, mets chances, mets hope, mets offseason, mets season, mets wild card, mets wild card chances, national league, national league wild card race, New York Mets, nl wild card, optimists, pessimists, stranger things have happened, ya gotta believe
This next week or two may be the biggest games the Mets have played since the last week of 2008, and they also might be the biggest games they’ll play for years. The Mets record, as well as the Phillies and Braves, will greatly determine the look of the team going forward this year, and maybe even next year too.
Sandy Alderson has said he would consider trading Carlos Beltran right now a white flag, but if the Mets play poorly over the next two weeks, that white flag is inevitable anyway. It’s probably not just Carlos Beltran either; The Mets won’t get a ton for guys like Chris Capuano or Jason Isringhausen, but if the chances of contention plummet there will be little reason to keep them. If they manage to climb closer in the race, the small return from trading those guys won’t be worth gutting the team. In a way, the Mets could finish a handful of games above or below .500 based on how they do in these next bunch of games.
Either way this season will likely be viewed as a step in the right direction, but if the Mets fall out of it here and restructure the team with next year in mind, the record and excitement levels will fall. That probably won’t be enough to prompt many to invest in this team, raising projected income and in turn, payroll. As the memory of the last Mets game fades, we’ll be subjected to more financial news regarding the Picard lawsuit and the Madoff mess. Their will be speculations about Einhorn’s control, about how much the payroll can possibly go up, and if the Mets will actually field a competitive team. So the only real news will be mostly doom and gloom again, which won’t help sell tickets. Just today someone called into WFAN in the brief 20 minutes I had it on proclaiming there is no way the Mets compete for five or six years.
If the Mets climb back into the race and get closer, Sandy Alderson will be more likely to keep players like Beltran, and may even look to add a reliever or someone, especially if the player can be helpful beyond this year too. Whether or not they can or will win a playoff race is not the point here, the point is that if they stay close and prove that they can play with anyone it suggests that the Mets may not be years from competing. They could go into the offseason with fans thinking they’re getting close and with the right moves, including resigning Jose Reyes, the Mets could be a very good team next year.
There’s going to be a lot of stuff to watch with this team this year, and if they remain competitive and winning games they’ll bring in fans to watch versus fans switching gears to what could be a returning NFL season or something else. Jose Reyes could have a record breaking season, as despite spotting the opposition 11 or more games, he’s still got a commanding lead in base hits. David Wright will be returning, one of the Mets franchising players who they’ve sorely missed. Johan Santana may return, and while that’s still up in the air, as is his effectiveness, it will be nice to see him on the mound again. I would like to be at his first game back if I can at least.
It all starts tonight against the Phillies with your hero in attendence. The Phillies aren’t taking the Mets seriously, opting to give Halladay and Lee some extra rest coming off the break and pushing them back until after the weekend. Facing Vance Worley, Cole Hamels who the Mets routinely beat, and Kyle Kendrick is not a daunting task. Hopefully the Mets can get a hot start to the second half, while exposing the Phillies pitching depth, and start catching both them and the Braves who are playing the Nationals this weekend.
Tags: 2011 national league hit leader, 2011 new york mets, 2012 new york mets, are the mets in it?, believing, beliving, big games, big two weeks, Can the mets compete?, Carlos Beltran, carlos beltran trade, David Wright, fans, Johan Santana, Jose Reyes, Mets, mets fans, mets optimism, New York Mets, nl hit leader, optimism, optimistic mets, pennant race, playoff races, records, Wild Card, ya gotta believe
Sabermetrics or not, the Mets offseason was a collection of minor signings meant to represent depth and upside. There weren’t many good or great players to be had at anything approaching reasonable value and the Mets roster wasn’t the swiss cheese of baseball rosters that many made it out to be. Alderson hit the holes, and hit them hard. Multiples options for second base and lots of bench guys to slot in at various positions around the field to provide suitable backups and provide depth should a regular need to sit out a couple of days. A handful of pitchers who have potential, or have had a great year or two when they stay healthy to make up the two empty rotation spots, and a barrel full of relievers to make up a bullpen in what sounds like it will be a no-holds barred cage match in Spring Training for the last three or four spots.
Optimism is not a sin. I try, and I’ll continue to try until the division is clinched, to make a case for how and why the Mets will win the division. The odds may be stacked against them and they may need more things to go right than would be considered normal luck but that doesn’t mean they it’s impossible, or that it’s useless to be hopeful and upbeat that they can happen, and that the Mets can win.
I truly believe that the Mets could have one of the best offenses in the National League, and I’m not going to be shy about proclaiming that. Looking at the lineup, it’s certainly not a stretch. There is a certain amount of recovery from some and growing from others needed for it to happen, but it’s not out of the question. Closer to Opening Day I’ll make my official case for how and why I’m predicting the Mets will clinch the division on 9/25 against the Phillies.
Most importantly, the games still have to be played. Every year there are dozens of pitchers that were great and revert to being pretty average. There are rookies that take off in their second year to have great years, and players that overcome injury in previous seasons to have bounce back years. When those players bouncing back are perennial All-Stars, the bounce is that much higher. There are surprises every season; no one knows what’s going to happen. Even the predicted favorite from the offseason rarely makes it all the way to the World Series. Take the Sports Illustrated picks from last season; not even one supposed expert got either of the pennant winners correct.
So don’t get caught up in the negativity around the Mets. There is nothing wrong with thinking some of the Mets signings will have a good year and stay healthy, that Ike Davis could blossom into an excellent player or that Reyes and Beltran in their walk year put up numbers close to their career norms. With better coaching and leadership it’s a pretty good bet that the Mets will get more out of their talent than they have in years past. Remember: Optimism is not a sin!
Update: Here’s a post by Brian DiMenna who’s joined the Optimistic Mets Fan Club.
Tags: Baseball, believe, believe in the mets, best offense, best offense in the national league, Carlos Beltran, chris young, Jose Reyes, Mets, mets optimism, mets roster, mets signings, mlb, New York Mets, offseason signings, Omar Minaya, optimism is not a sin, optimistic mets fan, patrick flood, predictions, sandy alderson, scratchbomb, sports, sports illustrated predictions, ted berg, ya gotta believe
I understand the season has been hurtful so far. I also understand that even the worst teams in baseball don’t play this badly, and that they will win more games. So how do we shake this feeling of doom?
I’m pretty confident in Pelfrey throwing a good game tonight. I think what he worked on this Spring is going to help a lot, he’s getting less distracted on the mound, and has that cocky confidence that this team needs.
You never know with Perez, and I worry that the stupid tinkering that Warthen did with Maine was also a failure for Perez, but I think the Mets will have a chance to win the game tomorrow when he pitches.
Santana is due to bounce back and win one on Saturday. He’s Johan Santana after all.
Then Maine, who I think gets a huge boost being out from under Warthen’s shackles. Doesn’t mean he’ll be successful though, especially the first time going back to what’s worked for him, but the numbers are there if you choose to believe. (those numbers being a 4-1 2.75 ERA May last year before surgery in June. Those numbers being that he was hitting 93 last year, and was 91-92 in the return from surgery in September) I’m hoping being able to be comfortable will be like a weight off his shoulder and he’ll do just fine. I’m certainly not ready to believe Maine’s career is over.
Maybe they drop one of those, which would put them at 5-7. Then they go home for a 10 game home stand where if they go 6-4 they’re back at .500 and go to Philadelphia, a park the Mets love to hit in with hopefully the offense finally clicking, and knock the ball, and 2009, out of the park.
That’s the formula to shake these bad feelings away. If the Mets can get to Philadelphia near .500 and play well there against an injured Phillies team and assert, even if it’s just for one series, that they’re the better team it will go a long way to returning the confidence to this team, and to it’s fans.
Tags: attitude, Baseball, Confidence, dan warthen, fire manuel, fire warthen, Johan Santana, John Maine, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, mop, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, optimism, phillies suck, recipe for success, ya gotta believe