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Better Living Through Chemistry

Mike SteffanosThursday, April 13, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

It is tempting to get overly giddy about a Mets team that has won 6 out of its first 7 games, overlooking the fact that they've been competing against the two teams that will most likely inhabit the bottom of the division standings. The pitching staff has been indeed been outstanding, but so far all of their innings have been tossed in two of the best pitchers parks in the league. Brian Bannister has opened a lot of eyes, but we still wonder how he might fare against more powerful lineups. When we feel ourselves starting to imagine what it might feel like to compete for a championship, we stop and remind ourselves that it's only April.

There's no doubt that there will be our share of tough times up ahead. A baseball season is long, grueling and seldom features smooth sailing. If Victor Zambrano goes out this afternoon and pitches a stinker, we'll certainly hear from those that aren't fans of his Houdini act on the mound. Moreover, it won't be too long before we all have Kaz Matsui back to kick around some more. Contentment, like crying, has no real place in baseball, especially in New York where the fans care.

I'm sure there will be injuries and struggles, and time when Willie does something that we all won't like. I'm positive there will be stretches of this season where the Mets will look every bit as bad as they look good now. But I'm ready to concede that one of my biggest fears from the off-season was unfounded. I worried that on a team that had so many new faces, compounded by the absence of so many on WBC rosters this spring, that this team would have problems gelling as a team. We've seen this here in Shea before, but it's become obvious that it won't be a worry in 2006.

I'll continue to worry a little about the starting pitching, I'll wonder about the contributions we might receive from our bench. I'll question the wisdom of keeping Jorge Julio on the major-league roster. All sorts of little nagging things will seek to destroy my contentment as the spring and summer roll on, but that won't be one of them. That elusive chemistry that allows some teams to come together and keeps some an awkward collection of individuals has worked in our favor this season. It's almost startling how seemlessly Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Delgado, Anderson Hernandez, Billy Wagner, Duaner Sanchez and all the other newcomers have been integrated as Mets. This really is a team. Now as to whether that translates into a championship, that's a story that will only slowly be revealed over the course of a season.

NY Post: No booing now
Mark Hale writes about the streak of good play at both the plate and in the field that Carlos Beltran has been enjoying since his rocky start. He quotes the Mets' centerfielder:

I feel comfortable. I feel comfortable out there. I'm healthy, I'm having fun, we're winning, and it doesn't get better than that.

Hale also quotes GM Omar Minaya that, despite Mike Pelfrey's hot start in Single-A St. Lucie, there are no immediate plans to move him to Double-A Binghamton:

It's too early. We've said all along that we wanted to start him there, especially because of the warm weather and then see how he pitched and then eventually he'll force us to move him at the right time. But right now, we like him in that environment.

Daily News: Zambrano gets first start
Adam Rubin reports that Victor Zambrano required intravenous fluids during his recent illness. Besides the mild hamstring problem, this was another reason it made sense to bump the start back to today. Rubin also reports that Ramon Castro should see his first start behind the plate today.

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