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(Not) Taking Care of Business

Mike SteffanosThursday, June 7, 2007
By Mike Steffanos


I've been writing for a while now how I don't have the same feeling watching this year's team as I did last year. Of course they get some slack for their current struggles for all the injuries they have suffered, but they certainly haven't shown the same toughness in the face of adversity that last year's team did when it seemed as if a starting pitcher went down every other day.

I also said that it takes a while for a team to find its identity each season, and I hoped that the Mets would find their 2007 identity sometime soon. Now I just hope that they haven't already found it. Frankly, this year's edition seems somewhat soft to me, and lacking in fire and grit. The can-do attitude that has characterized this team in the face of adversity over the past couple of years just doesn't seem to be around in 2007. I hope it shows up.

Reverend Al, a frequent commenter here, left this one today:

DITTO....check please... Im done... I believed more in last years team then this years team. I am no better then they are right now, I seem to not care as much? I need something, some fire, a brawl,a trade, a win would be nice. This team is becoming boring, laid back zzzzzz. HEY snap out of it. Last year, to me seemed more exciting, we even shared how good a fight was in us when we lost. Is this team so good that they can turn it on and turn it off when they want? ( we can make it up on the road. ) I know last year in the lean times, we were asking anybody if they can swing a bat to step up, but something is differant this year? Or is it just me and I am in a slump too. Last night when I came home and turned the t.v. on it was 3-2 Phillys, I turned it off to watch something else. My fire is going out. Somethings wrong. I think I have to go on the road for awhile.

I think that's what bothers me the most. The perception that this team doesn't care as much as last year has caused me not to care as much. I've been into the starting pitchers, particularly Perez, but not really into the team as a whole. I watch all of the games, of course, but I'm just not enjoying them as much, even the wins.

I still appreciate having a good team that, for the most part, plays solid fundamental ball. Intellectually, there is much to like. They really haven't captured my heart in the way they did last year, though, and in the way some much less talented Mets teams of seasons gone by managed to do. I still like this team, but I don't love them. This has nothing to do with their struggles of the past few games -- this has been there almost from the beginning.

The injury problem is going to be there for a while. Green should be back soon, but Alou is a big question at this point, Carlos Gomez looks like he still needs to be playing every day in Triple-A, while Ben Johnson looks like a AAAA ballplayer to me. There is an opportunity for Lastings Milledge to show that he is ready, if he can make it back from his own injury.

I'm a little tired of waiting for Carlos Delgado -- who I like as a ballplayer -- to decide that he needs to accommodate the reality of time and adapt his style at the plate to regain some consistency as a hitter. Please, Carlos, use the whole field against right-handers, too.

David Wright is experiencing adversity for the first time in his major league career. He'll have to deal with that. I just wish he would shorten his swing back up and not worry about anything but base hits for a while. I'm tired of watching him strike out on outside pitches or pop the ball up.

The bullpen beyond Billy Wagner has been less dependable this year, but Wagner has been great and there is still enough talent to hold leads.

I'm tired of having the feeling that I know whether the Mets will win or lose every game by the fifth inning.

It would be nice for the whole team to get healthy and for the bullpen to get really hot again. It would be nice if the starting pitching can be rewarded for carrying the team since opening day with run support. What would be even nicer would be for this team to rediscover the grit and intensity they had last year. I still enjoy watching them for the most part, but I'd love to fall in love with this team again.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (13)

I'm sure the way last season ended has a lot more to do with how people are viewing this years team than most would like to admit. 2000 was forever ago last year, but Molina's HR feels like it just happened still. Baseball might be the only sport where over-analyzing serves as a wonderful defense mechanism for fans...

Thanks for the mention and confirmation. Maybe we should get Zambrano just for the fire he brings, even if its in our own dugout.

....?

Oh, THAT Zambrano.

I know and feel your pain.That being said, PlEASE work real hard to change your view of this team beause your'e sounding like a Yankee fan!!!!

I have to say, this years team seems to lack that fire, that killer instinct, that they will over come all adversity. They seem like they are spinning their wheels, and I do understand that they are not at full strength, but someone has to step it up and take charge. Losing two of three to the D-backs and being swept by the " Team to Beat" Phils did nothing to boost the confidence level of being in the Big Show come October. They could be up as much as 8 games on the Bravos and would have buried the Phils, but the team that has being playing the last six games looks like the are slightly disinterested. Mets could have easily won 5 out of their last 6 (including sweeping the Phils) and been in the preverbial " Catbird " seat. Instead they look like like a team that is waiting for someone else to get it done instead of being accountable for themselves. Of course it's easy for me to say while watching from the comforts of my livingroom but Willie needs to jump in somebody's $^^%#$# and get it started. This is a team that is on the verge of accomplishing good things, could be a dynasty, but so far they look like they are not hungry any more, like last years East crown was enough.

Jim Borda - You said what I've been thinking. None of us wants to turn into a YankMe fan. But this team gives off the vibe that they think they can turn it on and off at will, only when they REALLY need to do it. That sounds like the attitude of a team on the other side of the bridge to me.

Fess up, now - which of y'all was wondering whether a good old pennant race would be more exciting than another runaway division title? Careful what you ask for.

First, I don't think that Delgado's the big problem for the Mets right now. I think that, asides from the injury bug that hit the entire outfield, Jose Reyes isn't hitting like Jose Reyes should be. He's swinging early in counts at junk pitches that are balls- and he's either digging himself into an early 0-2 hole or popping out. As a result, the 1-2 hitters in the Mets lineup haven't been getting on as much as they should. And Wright, Delgado, and LoDuca have been forced to overcompensate.

The Mets need to get at least one more outfield bat healthy, and they also need to start hitting better, as a team. They need to force pitchers (like they did last year and early in the season) to go deep in the count against them, and get them tired by the 5th inning. Now that Valentin's healthy, they should move LoDuca back to the #2 hole to give the Mets a better chance of their 1-2 guys getting on base before their big bats come up.

I can't even fault the Mets' bullpen. They've been forced to come into far too many games where the margin for error was zilch the past 2 weeks. Down by a run or up by at most, 2 runs over and over grinds on you. And against the Phillies, it caught up to them. This isn't a great Phillies team; they got damn lucky to face a beaten and tired Mets team. Eaton and Hamels didn't impress me at all, and their lineup did diddly squat against the Mets starters.

As for how to get them out of the slump, there are a few things they should do: first, seriously think about pulling a Steinbrenner and firing the batting coach. Putting the Fear Of God into the team might shake them out of their doldrums. Or Willie could pull a Pinella and go ballistic out there, get himself suspended, and then tell his team that he did it to get them to stop being an embarassment.

Second, revamp the bench- I'm tired of seeing Newhan, Franco, and Easley play the game at half speed. Gotay, Gomez and Johnson I like (prob Milledge as well), but the Mets need to make some trades to bolster the bench. For the outfield, I would like either Jeff Conine or Luke Scott. For the infield/pinch hitter, I'd seriously consider Dimitri Young (when Nick Johnson comes back for the Nats), Ty Wigginton, and Mike Sweeney. They're all better fielders and have better batting averages (except Scott) than what the Mets currently have. Omar better stop thinking that his minor league system is untouchable, at least for spare parts like these guys are.

Beyond that, the Mets need to do something about Heilman, Sele and Schoeneweis. The latter's clearly hiding an injury, and if the Mets were smart, they'd void his contract. Heilman's tenure as a Met is about up. Trade him. Sele is useless in the bullpen- bring up Vargas to fill in for that. Burgos should come back to take up Schoeneweis' spot, as well. And the Mets should beg Troy Percival (if he hasn't signed yet) to join them. And as for the rest, wait for Williams and Padilla to come back (I'm not holding out hope on Sanchez).

If the Mets were to look for a blockbuster trade- then I'd be cautious, and either go for Brian Roberts and 2B, Jeremaine Dye or Miguel Cabrera for OF, or Mark Texiera at 1st. I considerably doubt that anyone else will be available at positions the Mets have open (sorry Torii Hunter- Beltran's got Center). And the Mets starting pitching is strong and deep enough that I'm not worrying about that.

Just wait for the lineup to get healthy, and then somehow light a fire under them. Maybe start a fight. Get Willie tossed. Win a dramatic game. Make a trade.

Something. Anything.

wow, all this anger.

remember the aug soon in the wake iof the X-trade? That is essentially who played this past 10 days. Just as last yr the team left the bases populated with more men than in the entire nation of Monaco.

Enter Alou and Green. agreed Shoenweiss (broke or not) is an issue. But Mike, so is Heilman. Yes, I postulate on the addition of Oswalt but realistically a bullpen/long arm might be more feasible. If Williams can comeback (soon?), then more options should open up. Jason also alludes to Dimitra as a 1st base option/PH/(OF) and that's not a 1/2 bad idea.

Bren - I don't even know what to say to this. Your attempt to somehow divine my motives for writing this couldn't be more off base. If you want to disagree with something I write I don't have a problem with that. I could honestly live without the analysis of my psyche, though, and I promise to extend the same respect to you.
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Al - I don't think it's about fighting or showing a ton of emotion. That was never the personality of this team. It's about playing the game right. It's about playing aggressive offensively and not sitting around waiting for guys to hit homers. The success of the starting pitching and Wagner in the early going has masked some of the complacency of this club in the early going.
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Jim Borda - That was kind of a cheap shot, and certainly uncalled for. What bothers me about the club has nothing to do about winning or losing. They've been lucky enough to win a lot of games where they played fairly complacently on offense, so what caught up to them this week with the failures of the bullpen has been bugging me for a while.

I loved the 2005 club, even though they never really gelled as anything more than a .500 team. If this club matched the intensity of that team, I wouldn't have any complaints. I want to see this team go back to playing hard-nosed Mets baseball. I want less waiting around for home runs and more "Willie Ball" from 2005 and last year. I know it's going to be hard for them to win a lot of games in June with the tough schedule and the injuries, but even when they lose I want to get the feeling that I got the last two seasons that my team is playing the game the right way. I don't think that makes me a Yankee fan.
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Nostra - Exactly. As for the pennant race, I plan to enjoy it. Last year felt really weird and anticlimactic in September. I'd rather take my chances with a real September.
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L.J. - I don't think Delgado is the biggest problem on this team, but I think he's overdue to make the adjustments he needs to make to be a more consistent hitter for this team. I agree with your take on better at bats. Again, stop waiting for 3-run homers and play the kind of ball that made the Mets fun to watch the last 2 years.
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Ed - I'm not angry, and I don't believe Reverend Al was in his comment. You're missing the point.

Of course Heilman is an issue now, but no one is making good bullpen arms available at this point. They'll likely have to figure out how to win with what they have for now.

Mike:

Anger?: that really applies to the entire Met kingdom, in this niche jason highlights the mood from my interpretation of his comment.

Me; again the 'LOB' stat is characteristic of this team, even when winning. I am somewhat numb too, but then I expect a Met-surge of 30-12 at some point to pull away from the group...probably concurrent with the next 40+ games Alou plays.

We just need to get healthy and all will be right with the world again . God I hate losing to the cheesteaks !!!

I was excited about last years team because they started winning and kept winning. I remember the days of too many low scores and blown saves as do so many other Met fans. Reyes is still a spark, Lo Duca is still hitting, crouched like a cat behind home plate ready to throw anyone out. The big hitters will hit, the little ones will contribute and I firmly believe that a healed Endy Chaves will make another spectacular leap at some point in the season (or post season)and make us all proud. I love this team!

Ed - I wish I was angry. When they blew that last game to the Phillies I was strangely unemotional. Even last night in the win many of the at bats were terrible, but I least they played great D. More than a winning surge, although that will be nice, I just want to see them play more small ball and aggressively on offense. When Wright got doubled up I last night I was happy that it was on an aggressive play.
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Eduardo - I hope at least that series serves as a wake-up call.
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Genny - I think they'll start winning again, too. They're too good not to. I love every Mets team, that's why I'm a big enough fan to spend WAY too much time on this blog. I don't think this team has shown anything close to the toughness and resiliency of last year's team, though, and I think that needs to change.

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