Why should we let the Mets slide after their disgraceful series finale in Los Angeles last night? Because after answering four straight loses with four straight wins, the Mets seem determined to do things their way, no matter how unconventional it may seem. It’s only fair we now let Jon Niese have a say about Sunday’s game, in how he and the Mets respond this Tuesday night in their return to Citi Field. Besides, they have a new task at hand, and that’s to finish out these last six games.
After Sunday night’s let-down against the Dodgers, the Mets now sport a 43-37 record. Over the course of this last series however, the Mets repaired their road record and got it back to the .500 mark with a 20-20 record. And behold Mets fans, even after their first loss of July, your team is still in second place. You know what they say – play .500 ball on the road, and do your winning at home. Now coming shortly, and gift-wrapped, will be an Amazin opportunity to eventually face the Washington Nationals and not only shake up the standings, but seize a mid-season lead on all their division rivals.
Tuesday’s series opener against the Phillies will mark the midway point of the 2012 regular season. In Philadelphia and the Chicago Cubs, the Mets’ next two opponents before the All-Star break, they’ll face the bottom dwellers of the N.L. East, and Central, respectively. Then on the other side of the Mid-Summer Classic, awaits a series against Atlanta, before they clash against Washington, which, if the Mets take full advantage of playing against the next two sub-par teams, and play representative baseball against Atlanta, they just might sway GM Sandy Alderson into making a firm, and concerted effort to improve the bullpen before July is through.
The start of the Washington series puts us at July 17th. The Mets may have till then to show if the difference in this race can indeed boil down to the Mets’ bullpen being better, or not. Foremost, they’ll have to stop playing down to their competition post-haste. But more importantly to keep in mind, the Mets are playing to prove altering Sandy’s master plan is warranted. That’s the Mets’ real gauntlet. As of right now, the Mets and Dodgers are holders of the Wild Cards. That means the Mets are now playing with something in hand, and hold a position in the standings worth protecting, if not (arguably) fortifying.
The strength of their starting pitching, a prolific singles and doubles offense, and a roster full of young contributors have helped the Mets avoid prolonged losing streaks. And on a more promising note, it now appears as if Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis have straightened out their home run strokes. So here we are. Trailing the division leader by a mere three-game series is right where you want to be.
The longer the Mets continue along this path, the more they force everyone to re-examine them and their situation. For their overall play keeps demanding Sandy Alderson take an increasingly closer look at their 2012 possibilities. And so, the General Manager finds himself in an ever tightening spot. Should the Mets reach that series with Washington in a position to take over first place, and if all Sandy Alderson makes is a minimal effort to shore up the bullpen, then an intense backlash is sure to follow, whether it is educated, emotional, both, or otherwise.
Of course everything can change on a dime if the Mets play down to Philly and the Cubs…., again! I grant you all, for the first time in a few years, we are faced with good problems. And we are too deep into this season to let a loss like Sunday’s alter our opinion of this club.
But even one day off is too much for fans. We think too much. After all, we are in second place…, and, perchance to dream. So think about this. Who is, or, who are the impact relief pitchers acquirable by the deadline that will help the Mets through three rounds of playoffs.; I repeat – through three rounds of playoffs? Then what price in players/prospects are you willing to pay? Because unless we are talking about taking on a lengthy contract, I do not think money will be prohibitive. So ponder those two questions first to yourselves, then pause when it comes time for pouncing on Sandy Alderson for exercising prudence.
My opinion is Sandy Alderson will still have to be overwhelmed by his team’s play to even consider altering the master plan, if even somewhat. Making minor adjustments probably goes without saying. And I think the Mets would be best served seeking middle-relief help, and sticking it out with Bobby Parnell, Frank Francisco, and perhaps Jenrry Mejia down the stretch. Sandy has proven himself to be a pro-active guy already. So, yes, a new face or two is on the horizon. An impact, difference maker however, is another issue.