By Mike Steffanos
Game 75: Mariners 5 - Mets 2 (Monday)
Game 76: Mariners 11 - Mets 0 (Tuesday)
Game 77: Mets 8 - Mariners 2 (Wednesday)
I wish that I was shocked that the Mets played down to the level of their opponent again after a promising road trip. Sadly, though, this is what Mets fans have come to both dread and expect.
Whenever something starts to go wrong I think, "Here we go again." Although they would never admit it, I suspect the Mets players think the same thing at times. The swagger obtained in 2006 is long gone, erased by months of mediocrity and last season's collapse. Combined with an offense that sputters on and off, it's probably going to be difficult to sustain a real streak of good play for more than short periods of time.
What I still think can turn it around is pitching. If the Mets pitching, which has been inconsistent over the first half a season, could really turn it on, that's probably the last best chance for this team to make a run. It could happen.
Sometimes you hear so much negative about how Johan Santana isn't the same pitcher he was a 2-3 years ago -- which is true -- that it obscures the fact that he is still a top echelon pitcher. Yes, he does give a lot more hits than he used to, but Roy Oswalt was a top pitcher in this league for years despite allowing a hit per inning. Given the fact that Santana is undoubtedly still getting used to pitching in this fishbowl, he's been more than adequate.
Pedro hasn't been great at all so far, but if he can regain the form of 2005, the Mets would have an outstanding 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.
John Maine has had some ups and downs in the early going, but his numbers are actually pretty good. Mike Pelfrey has become a more than adequate fifth starter with upside. That leaves the author of Tuesday's debacle, Mr. Oliver Perez.
I think Oliver has proven that it would not be wise to sign him to a long-term contract for top money that Boras will undoubtedly seek. Still, as up and down as he can be, we've seen him produce a couple of months of top-line pitching. As hopeless as he looks at times early on, he can be dominating, too. And you know despite his lack of consistency, being afraid of any situation isn't an issue.
If the starting pitching gels, it will take pressure off the bullpen. There's some decent arms out there who just haven't been consistent so far. They've also been worked to death at times.
Do I think all of this will happen? I'd put the odds on the wrong side of 50-50, but I still believe it's possible. And if it does happen, and they are able to put a solid 3-4 weeks together, the swagger can return just as fast as it left town.
Ryan Church returning should help the offense a little, both by adding back a solid bat to the regular lineup and negating the use of a bench player every day, which weakens both your lineup and your bench.
If the above fails to happen and the team continues to fizzle, I'd love to see them be smart for a change and consider being sellers rather than desperation buyers, but that's a thought for another time. Either way, I think this off-season needs to see major changes to this roster.
I guess I didn't really talk much about the actual 3 games of this series. That would have just involved rehashing issues that we've already beaten to death. I was glad to see that Brian Runge, the umpire who instigated a confrontation with Beltran and then bumped Manuel before ejecting him, received a one game suspension for crossing the line. I respect the umpires, but too often these days they forget the simple truth that they are there to facilitate a game. No one is paying to see them. If you can't put your ego aside for 3 hours a night, you have no business being a professional umpire.