It’s become almost impossible for me to watch the Mets now. And this should be the most exciting time of the season. We’re right in the playoff hunt and there’s only one week left in the regular season. The Phillies and Brewers have had their own problems at various times this season. The Mets are better than both of them, or they should be.
At the All-Star break I would’ve told you that if the Mets don’t make the playoffs in 2008 it’s because Carlos Delgado can’t hit anymore or Moises Alou is injured again. But Delgado can, and has, hit and the left field combination of Daniel Murphy, Endy Chavez, Fernando Tatis, and Nick Evans has worked.
Now it’s readily apparent to every Mets fan that if the Mets don’t make the playoffs it’s the bullpen’s fault. Johan Santana should have 20+ wins right now. He’s been victimized more than anyone save the fans. And the bullpen may cost Jerry Manuel a well-deserved shot at managing this team for the next three or four years.
Take a look at the Mets statistics in releif appearances this season. But don’t look at it right after eating. You might lose your lunch. If you go to MLB.com, click Stats, then select the Mets, pitching stats, in relief appearances you’ll see all of the Mets relief appearance stats and it isn’t a pretty sight.
I won’t even single anyone in the bullpen out because they’ve all been so bad. It’s time to move Bobby Parnell to the top of the heap. Could he be worse than what we’ve already seen? I don’t think so.
The Mets had a rough road trip and the two main weaknesses of the team were exposed, the corner outfielders and the bullpen. The two positional weaknesses should be looked at independently.
Sure, the losses of Moises Alou and Angel Pagan for the season and Ryan Church for an unknown period of time have hurt the team. There’s no denying that. Church is being evaluated by doctors in New York this week and may begin rehab games within the next week. The Mets have to count on him coming back in their plan for the rest of the season.
When Church gets back they can mix and match in left field between Fernando Tatis, Nick Evans, and Daniel Murphy. If things don’t work out as planned they may be apt to give Fernando Martinez a shot at the job too.
The bullpen is another story. Although Billy Wagner has gone through bad patches, the Mets are married to him as their closer. As long as he’s healthy he’ll be closing games. Duaner Sanchez and Aaron Heilman haven’t been living up to expectations though. I really think Heilman could use a change of scenery. He’d be great waiver deadline trade bait during August. Sanchez may need some time on the disabled list to refresh his arm. He won’t be successful throwing a fastball in the mid-80’s as he has been over the last week and a half.
The Mets may need to explore a trade for a relief pitcher like Brian Fuentes if the Rockies fall out of contention this month. Heilman for Fuentes would be a fair deal for both teams in my mind. The Mets may need to throw in another mid level prospect but not any of their top prospects. If Eddie Kunz looks good over the next couple of weeks it may not even come to that.
I’m not ready to hit the panic button because of this bad road trip. And I’m not second guessing the Mets lack of activity at the trade deadline. But if they don’t take five out of seven games on this home stand against San Diego, Florida, and Pittsburgh then I will think there’s a problem with this team… again.
The Mets go into the traditional second half of the season tonight with a nine game winning streak, confidence, and swagger. The last two weeks have seen Mike Pelfrey dominate all competition like the next coming of Roy Halladay. His recent performances have symbolized the Mets turnaround from the most lifeless team that money could buy to a team of united players that are achieving, if not exceeding, their potential.
As the Mets series in Cincinnati begins tonight, there will still be questions about Ryan Church’s foggy head, Carlos Delgado’s resurgent bat, Pedro Martinez’ ability to stabilize his spot in the rotation, and Billy Wagner’s ability to close “the big game”, and the crater in left field that Moises Alou left behind.
But there won’t be questions about the Mets desire to win and intestinal fortitude. There were plenty of those questions during the first two months of this season. That has miraculously changed under the direction of manager Jerry Manuel and pitching coach Dan Warthen.
It’s difficult to quantify how much the managerial and coaching changes have changed the Mets. I haven’t seen Dan Warthen throwing seven shutout innings but I have seen that from Oliver Perez and Pelfrey. I haven’t seen Jerry Manuel have a 9 RBI game but I did see that from Delgado. But something clearly changed on this team when the manager/coaching purge occurred. The Met took a little time to stabilize… Then caught fire!!!
The biggest change for me, as a fan, is that I like watching this team over the last month. I didn’t for the first two months of the season. It wasn’t fun or enjoyable. I understand that the Mets winning streak won’t carry into September, that’s not what I’m talking about. What I like about this team is their resiliency, their ability to mount a comeback, and the appearance that they want to win as badly as I want them to. That’s the kind of team that I’ll pay to watch.
Mets outfielder Ryan Church got some good news after visiting the Cleveland Clinic this week for examinations. He’s on the disabled list again after suffering headaches and dizziness. There’s been some question as to whether the symptoms are due to post concussion syndrome or migraines.
The doctors at the Cleveland Clinic determined that migraines are the cause of his symptoms and have put him on a program of exercise and stretching for his neck to relieve the pain he’s experiencing.
That’s great news for Church and the Mets. The Mets need him now more than ever with Moises Alou gone for the season with a hamstring tear.
Before yesterday afternoon, I thought that the Mets would hold tight until after the All-Star break to see if Moises Alou could make it back onto the active roster. Well, we got the news today that Alou is likely gone for the season with a torn hamstring.
Ryan Church is on the disabled list for the second time with post concussion symptoms. It’s the fourth time this season that he’s been on the DL due to two concussions since March. We really don’t know what his long term situation is. Mike Matheny and Corey Koskie both retired within the last two seasons due to concussion related problems. It’s a dicey scenario for Church.
Now I’ve come to the conclusion that the Mets need to put together a short list of outfielders to go after. I love the way Endy Chavez and Fernando Tatis have performed this season. Don’t get me wrong. But I think that both of them are best seen in small doses.
I’m not in favor of rushing a prospect to the majors either. Everyone wants to see what Fernando Martinez can do, including me. But rushing guys to the bigs can be a recipe for failure. The Mets are built to win now, stocked with veterans that aren’t here to play for the future.
So I’ve worked on my list of outfielders that the Mets need to start looking into prior to the July 31st non-waiver trading deadline. Here’s the list:
Omar Minaya announced after the completion of the Giants game that Moises Alou has a torn hamstring suffered in a Double-A rehab game last night. He’s likely finished for the 2008 season. He injured the hamstring while diving for a ball in left field.
The Mets will absolutely have to look at available players in the trade market and free agents. The early names to surface will, of course, be Xavier Nady and Barry Bonds.
Nady would cost plenty of prospects while Bonds could be signed as a free agent.
As the Mets prepare to face the Phillies today at 1:35pm, there are several stories circulating the newswire:
- Mets manager Jerry Manuel told the press that he’s thinking of moving Carlos Beltran to second in the batting order so he sees more fastballs. I’m in complete agreement. Even moving him to third would be better.
- El Duque is going to start his rehab work in Port St. Lucie this week.
- Moises Alou is working out in NYC now. He’s expected to play a few rehab games with Brooklyn or Binghamton before returning to the Mets from his calf strain injury.
- John Maine feels fine after experiencing cramping in his left forearm last night. He’ll be doing his regular workouts between starts.
- A fan has filed notice to the City of New York that he intends to sue for $5.5 million after being hit in the face last August by a piece of Luis Castillo’s bat that shattered.
- David Wright will not participate in the All-Star game home run derby.
- Mike Lupica writes at the Daily News that Jose Reyes is the best shortstop in New York this season and gets picked on too much for the things he does on the field.
There are several Mets related news items today coming off the rare offensive outburst in St. Louis last night. Tony Armas sure wasn’t fooling many Cardinals and doesn’t have the velocity to instill much confidence in the Mets’ fan base that he can capture a permanent spot in the Mets rotation. But he did a nice job for one start. I think he was more lucky than good.
Onto the news for Wednesday July 2:
- Even though I dislike Newsday’s Ken Davidoff columns generally, he has a good point today about the Mets. He writes that the Mets shouldn’t give up on the 2008 season. I’ve heard the sentiment from Mets fans to start breaking down the team and prepare for next year. I couldn’t disagree more.
- Christina Kahrl has an extremely well written column for the New York Sun. She contrasts the Atlanta Braves ability to make a deal for a veteran rental with the Mets. She writes that the Mets farm system doesn’t give the Mets much flexibility to bring in non-waiver deadline deals that will impact the 2008 season. By the way, if you don’t read the sports writers at the New York Sun, you’re missing out. Their writers are without equal when it comes to covering the Mets in longer form columns.
- AP put out a story picked up by just about every sports news outlet that Jerry Manuel is keeping Pedro Martinez on his regular rest today and giving Mike Pelfrey an extra day between starts.
- Ben Shipgel of the NY Times has a couple of nuggets in his column about the Mets seducing fans into believing that the “turnaround” is beginning after games like last night in St. Louis. Perhaps the biggest news is that Orlando Hernandez is about a week away from making his first rehab start and may re-join the Mets by the end of July.
- The NY Post Mets Blog has some interesting information about Pedro Martinez. Pitching coach Dan Warthen says that he thinks that Pedro looks terrific right now and resolved his problem of tipping pitches with the help of the Mets hitters. And Jerry Manuel isn’t babying Pedro like Willie Randolph did. Manuel is pushing Pedro harder and says that he’ll go easy on him after “three or four shutouts”.
- Adam Rubin at the Daily News has several interesting topics today. Moises Alou went 2 for 3 with a homer and 2 RBI’s in his rehab game last night. Jerry Manuel is trying to get Jose Reyes to be more prepared in the field. Willie Randolph will skip the All-Star game this year. Jerry Manuel continues his tweaking of Luis Castillo in the media.
- David Lennon of Newsday has a good column on Carlos Delgado’s statistics when hitting at night versus day games. He’s a much better hitter during the day. And Delgado didn’t know about the difference when it was brought up to him. Delgado actually said that he likes hitting at night better because there aren’t shadows to contend with.
- Roger Rubin of the Daily News talks about Scott Kazmir’s shock and sadness when he found out that he was traded by the Mets to the Rays. Now he’s thrilled to be in first place and hoping for post season baseball in Tampa.