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Not So Fast...

Mike SteffanosFriday, July 25, 2008
By Mike Steffanos


Game 101: Mets 6 - Phillies 3 (Wednesday)
Game 102: Mets 3 - Phillies 1 (Thursday)

I've made the point previously that two years ago the bullpen was the glue that held this team together. While not terrible (think of that 2005 Mets 'pen for that distinction), this year's group has been up and down -- sometimes very, very down.

You have to win with the cards you've been dealt, so this season the focus (and pressure) has fallen harder on the starting pitching. Although Johan Santana hasn't proven to be superman, he's been quite good. Pedro -- if he can stay healthy -- has shown signs of regaining the control he needs to pitch effectively. Mike Pelfrey is growing up before our eyes, even if he isn't quite there yet.

Still, the keys to this rotation to my mind are the two young 15-game winners from last season, John Maine and Ollie Perez. They've been inconsistent, at times maddeningly so, but they came through for the Mets in two huge games against the Phillies this week.

Maine was impressive Tuesday night. Despite giving up back-to-back homers in the second to give back a 2-0 lead, he maintained his composure and gave the Mets seven strong innings in as big of a game as you can get in July. Of particular significance was the fact that it marked only the second time all month he made it past the sixth and only the second time all season he completed 7 innings. It was a significant effort that you hope he can build on.

As for Oliver Perez, he did just about everything Thursday afternoon except earn the win. Perez has racked up five strong starts in a row now, which has to be viewed as a good sign. Although he is only 1-1 with 3 no decisions in those games, the Mets have won 4 of those 5 games.

A few brief observations here. For all those who were eager to jump on Tuesday's heartbreaker as some sort of proof that the Mets lack character and leadership, you've only made yourself look ridiculous. Period.

Aaron Heilman -- I love you and have defended you, but please don't throw any more 0-2 fastballs that get a lot of the plate in key situations.

Maybe it's time for some of us to get over the fact that Carlos Delgado doesn't dive for many groundballs. I thought the Mets were a middle of the order bat away from being a legit contender, but if Church can return and contribute and Delgado doesn't go back into the tank, the Mets might have just enough.

I've said before, what gives me hope about Delgado now is how good he looks during at bats. Even when he would have a hot streak last season he would have some ugly at bats.

Accept Jose Reyes for what he is. The game has changed, and the attempts by some Phillies players to paint themselves as unassuming pros and the Mets as a bunch of hot dogs rings hollow and kind of silly.

As for radio broadcaster Larry Anderson, I think he made himself look like a homer and an idiot with that statement. As others have pointed out, he averaged about one hit batter a year when he was pitching. Hiding behind a microphone has made him much braver.

Enough of that subject. It's time for a quick plug for my friends at Ticket Solutions, who put bread on this humble blogger's table without ever threatening to stick a baseball in my neck -- even when I deserve it. Not only can they hook you up for Mets tickets, but they're the source for (shudder) New York Yankees tickets, if you must. Heck, they can get you tickets for any MLB game.

This club is in first place, at least for a day, but they have a long way to go. I'm just grateful that I have a team to root for again that deserves my attention. Go Mets.

View John Maine's Full Season Stats
View Oliver Perez's Full Season Stats

Game 101 Box Score
Game 102 Box Score

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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