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The Days Dwindle Down to a Precious Few

Mike SteffanosSaturday, September 20, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

Game 153: Mets 9 - Braves 5

With nine games left to go in their regular season, the New York Mets reclaimed first place with a win that featured anything but their crispest baseball.

Over the past couple of months the Mets have worked their way back into contention for the division by playing remarkably fundamentally sound baseball. This has allowed them to persevere despite all of their injuries, the shaky bullpen and an inconsistent offense.

In a season that's been decidely not predictable, however, it seems somehow fitting that the Mets managed their first win in Atlanta this season despite their sloppiest performance in recent memory.

Great starting pitching has also been a factor in their resurgence, but Ollie Perez was only adequate last night. To his credit, he showed a resilience and ability to limit the damage that hasn't always been a hallmark of his game.

I've been following the Mets since the miracle season in 1969, and I just don't remember a young hitter that had such an advanced approach at the plate as Daniel Murphy. David Wright certainly comes to mind, but I think Murphy is a level above where Wright was in 2004. Of course, Wright's ceiling was higher, but Murphy looks to be legit.

A young player can come up and have a hot streak and look a lot better than he really is, but the patience and sophisticated approach Murphy displays is likely to ensure that he will be a really solid major league hitter for a number of years. The real question with Murphy will be whether he can hit with enough power to be a major league corner outfielder -- unless he takes to second base, in which case the bar will be quite a bit lower in that regard.

I talked to my mom after the game last night, and she asked me what I thought might happen these final nine games. I realized I honestly didn't have an idea. It wouldn't completely shock me if the Mets went 9-0 or 0-9, much less anything in between. Whatever happens, though, I'm glad they were able to rebound from those two brutal losses last weekend and the awful first two games in DC.

What a strange ride this has been...

View Oliver Perez's Full Season Stats

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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Comments (2)

Those of us who were watching the game on the telly heard an astonishing comment from Keith; that Murphy may well be destined to the the Mets next #3 hitter. When was the last time that Keith gave that sort of praise to a player this green?

Personally I think his best role, assuming he realizes the promise we've seen so far, would be that of a #2 slot hitter in the Don Mattingly model. Not an exact match, sure; Mattingly had more pop and less patience. But only remember what Donnie and Henderson accomplished together, and drool; that just might maybe be the Mets in a year or so. The question is, can I make the adjustment?

Listening to Murphy talk about his at bat reminds me of hearing Brian Bannister's thoughts on how he approached his craft. I get the strong impression that Daniel has more talent to work with than Banny. I do believe, however, that Bannister could be a .500+ pitcher with a good team, particularly a good fielding outfit. Like the Mets on most days.

Agreed on both Murphy and Brian Bannister. I like Murphy as a #2 hitter -- particularly since he has respectable speed on top of his hitting skills.

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