Here are we. The season is 41 games old, or 1/4 of the way down, for those of us who aren’t so hot at math. (Technically, 40.5 is the halfway point, but I was busy in the fifth inning of last nights game)
Let’s talk for a minute. I have a bunch of friends who are Mets fans. (I go out of my way to avoid friending Yankees and Phillies fans, just on principal.) When I talk to my friends, the same conversation seems to arise, and this season it is bothering me. Without going into specifics, it usually ends with “whatever, the Mets suck”. In previous seasons (especially last season), that might be a valid point. This year, I couldn’t disagree more.
Look at this team. Right now, yes they are in the cellar of the NL East (arguably the toughest division in baseball), but their record is 19-22. That is pretty impressive when you consider they started the season with a horrid 5-13 record. Since then, they have a very respectable 14-9 record. On the road, they are over .500 (11-10).
I look more at how they have done it though. No rational Mets fan went into this season thinking this was a World Series team. At best, possibly a wild card contender, but that was with a healthy lineup. Look at the players who have spent time injured or on the DL so far this season. Jason Bay, Ike Davis, Angel Pagan, Johan Santana, Pedro Beato, Jenrry Mejia, Chris Young and now David Wright looks like he’s next. Did I miss a few? Probably. And it’s ONLY MAY.
They have done it with Wright struggling mightily through 41 games, batting .226 and having whiffed a ridiculous 43 times. The have done it with Bay batting .218 and pretty much contributing nothing to this offense in now, two years.
The rotation is filled with fourth and fifth place starters. The leader in ERA among the starters is Dillon Gee, with a 4.44 earned run average. R.A. Dickey is looking like the guy who was looking for work at the beginning of 2010. And Mike Pelfrey? Well he looks like…Mike Pelfrey.
How have they kept this team above water? Well, the offense has come alive with some unexpected help, the bullpen has come around in a big way and K-Rod is finally looking like an all-star closer.
I have high hopes for this offense in the long run. Remember that brief stretch when the entire offense was healthy and the Mets reeled off six in a row? I do. In those six games, the offense scored 39 runs. It’s scary to think what this offense could do if they could healthy for an extended period of time.
It also helps that Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes are having sizzling starts. Reyes is batting .313 with six triples and Beltran has slugged 8 home runs (granted three in one game but still) and 24 RBI’s. If nothing else, these starts will only add to their trade value and the Mets should be able to get some serious prospects in return for one or both of them.
How about unexpected contributors? Guys who weren’t supposed to be everyday players who have been thrust into the role.
Dillon Gee – Gee got thrust into a starting spot when Chris Young went down for the year. He has responded quite nicely. In his last two starts, he went five innings and gave up four and two runs respectively. More importantly, the Mets won both games.
Jason Pridie – I don’t care about the stats. Pridie plays hard on every play (something the Mets have had issues with in the past), and I like his enthusiasm. You can tell he is willing to do whatever it takes to stay with the Major League club. He has some power, as his three home runs have shown. He needs to work on his plate discipline a bit, but has certainly been more than serviceable so far.
Taylor Buchholz– Buchholz has been every bit the player in the middle-innings that the Mets need to hold leads for them. He has a 1.66 ERA and has 24 K’s through only 21.2 IP. More importantly, he has only given up 4 runs this season.
And of course, Frankie has finally looked the part of the shut down closer. He has only blown one save all season and has an ERA of 0.87. He is still allowing too many hits, (18 in 20.2 innings), but he is getting the job done, and that is the job of the closer.
It’s been a rough season for the Mets. Not only injuries to everyday players, but also injuries to prospects such as Mejia have really hurt their development. But they are a strong team and I really like the job Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson have done so far. The thought of these guys in a few years gives me hope. My biggest concern by far is the rotation, but I have faith that Alderson will do what needs to be done in the offseason to make that a better unit.
In the meantime, to my friends and anybody else who says it, stop saying the Mets suck. They don’t. They have been unlucky. It happens.