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Suspect Math

Mike SteffanosMonday, October 2, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

I've mostly decided to join the Mets in taking today off, at least from blogging. I had a lot of work to do for a couple of clients, and I'm bored with all of the endless speculation on what might happen. Besides, I find it somewhat hard to understand how my team -- despite winning 9 games more than anyone in the NL -- seems to have become some sort of underdog as everyone seems to be jumping on the Dodgers' and/or Padres bandwagon.

The Mets won 97 games this year. The Dodgers and the Padres both won 88. St. Louis won 83. So how come I've been reading one expert after another writing off my team's playoff chances? Don't get me wrong, I understand that losing Pedro was a huge blow, but Pedro won 9 games and lost 8 in 2006. This team has managed to win 9 more games than the Dodgers and Padres, but I guess we now have to subtract those 9 wins and call it no better than even, right?

The Mets have overcome a lot to post the best record in the league in 2006, but it seems like there are many that expect them to pack it up and go home because Pedro it hurt. Those quotes from anonymous scouts and "team executives" that are ubiquitous in sports journalism today are cropping up in story after story. This one from Jayson Stark on ESPN.com is typical:

Hardly anyone thinks the Mets can win now that Pedro Martinez is hanging out with his local rotator-cuff surgeon

"You don't get Pedro for the [regular] season," said one NL GM. "You get Pedro for the postseason. That's what they got him for. So without him, they're not the team they were constructed to be."

Even the one GM who picked the Mets to win made his pick before he knew Pedro was done. But there was also no reason to think he'd be the Pedro at that point, either. And that GM still had a gut feeling that the Mets would find a way to rise up.

"I know their pitching isn't great," he said. "But there's something about that group of guys [in the lineup]. They just don't let up on you. They're relentless."

But that was a sentiment no one else bought into. In fact, one scout said the Mets' rotation, minus Pedro, is "the weakest starting pitching of any of these teams. [So] I don't see the Mets making it through the LCS now. I'm not sure they can even get out of the first round."

I understand that in a short series the team with the best regular season record is guaranteed nothing, but what seems to be lacking here is any respect for what the team accomplished this year -- primarily without Pedro, and despite the "contributions" of the late unlamented Jose Lima, Jermemi Gonzalez and Alay Soler. At least we're heading into the playoffs behind guys like El Duque, Tom Glavine and John Maine who have been pitching well.

I really shouldn't complain, I guess. I was never comfortable when all of the idiots were jumping on the bandwagon, so I'm not sorry to see most of them go. I hope the team accepts all of this b.s. as a challenge. It seemed like all year long, despite possessing the best record by far in their league and one of the best in baseball, the experts were loathe to embrace the team. What I wrote back in late August still rings true for me:

It felt weird for so much of the year to have so many in the media whispering sweet nothings in the ears of Mets fans. It rang with all the sincerity of the attention you find yourself receiving in a strip bar. (Note to Lisa: not that I would know anything about that, of course.) It's nice that so many of the "girls" have deserted us for the Bronx, where Brian Cashman and George Steinbrenner are stuffing fifties into their g-strings. Others have departed for the bright lights of Hollywood. Hey, don't let the door hit you on the way out. Looks like it's mostly just Mets fans who believe in this team again. I don't know about you, but I'm fine with that.

Look, winning 9 games more than anyone else doesn't give you any free playoff wins, but it shouldn't be so quickly discounted, either. Jeez...

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Comments (5)

"I really shouldn't complain, I guess. I was never comfortable when all of the idiots were jumping on the bandwagon, so I'm not sorry to see most of them go."

Scream it out loud. I really couldn't say it any better myself.

The sad part though is reading some of these experts give their analysis. One writer stated that once the Dodgers knocks out our starter, there is no one in the bullpen that can keep them from scoring at will. Amazing huh? Like, did this guy even watch ESPN News because he sure didn't watch any Met games this year. Or how about how Lo Duca is the weak spot in the lineup? Or I keep hearing about how "average" Maine's fastball is. The best though? Furcal over Reyes because Furcal will be more comfortable in a playoff environment. Hmmmmm.

BTW, Rob Neyer picked the Dodgers to go all the way. Is that surprise to anyone?

Aaaahhh, the smell of that field of success on which the amazins thrive. I wonder if Wilpon should have his own floral wall in RF.

The amazins are best when no one knows they're coming.

In 1986 We were just chopped liver for mike (sandpaper) scott and Nolan ryan.

Everyone is right, but they forgot that the Mets nedd 5 innings from their starters..6 tops. Given that rule Hernandez, ollie Perez, and Maine are adequate. The idea is 5 and out no fooling with a 6th inning, (unless for Glavine)and keep the 90-100 pitch count. For that reason Dave Williams or an xtra reliever are on my squad over DiFelice. The mets have not had 3 catchers all year.

My next thought is (stunningly) Beltran hits 2nd! OK that might not happen. But Floyd/endy in the #2 spot is likely. Interestingly enuff Beltran STILL finished with more runs than rbi and had his best single season ever. I am still picking Lastings over Tucker as my 5th OFer.

Oh and Mike: i did not see it but as described on the blogsphere Ollie's run came on 2 bloops one that probably milledge or Endy gets to.

i'm saving my Milledge comments for Shari.

Reyes finished with a .300 avg. I remember how last yr and this yr many would say if he hit .275 he would be MVP. What was his avg AFTER the break....

Pedro is irrelevant, and all this talk about power pitchers is one of those "rules" that isn't a rule at all. I actually was relieved when they announced Pedro would be sitting out the postseason -- he was too much of a question mark.

I also figured that the Mets were paying Pedro $1 million a win. He's pretty much on track for that at this point.

The fact is that the experts have a lousy track record of predictions (If you've ever read Greg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column at ESPN, he makes a lot about how his generic predictions do just about as well as predicting the outcome of football games as any expert) and are never held accountable.

But the Mets are able to get away without power pitchers, partly because they have a power bullpen. By the time the other team gets used to the soft stuff, you have a flamethrower are out of the pen to throw them off. That's really the team's secret weapon: a bullpen second to none.

I don't know if they'll go all the way, but they are far from lost without Pedro.

Anonymous - No big shock on Neyer. Wonder if he thinks Reyes is still "one of the very worst everyday players in the majors".
Micalpalyn - I think it's only a matter of time before Reyes wins an MVP, because I think he's still going to get better. Ollie pitched fine. He didn't make the post-season roster this year, but it wouldn't surprise me if he's pitching game 2 next year.
RealityChuck - All they need is to hit like they can in these playoffs, and the pitching will be fine. I'm glad Pedro isn't pitching, too. It would have been demoralizing if he took a beating.

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