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You May Ask Yourself, Well, How Did I Get Here?

NostraDennisWednesday, April 28, 2010
By NostraDennis

Last night, I had a dream. I had an awesome dream. The Mets were in first place, and a Mets pitcher not named Santana was leading all of baseball in ERA. This despite the fact that, as a team, they were scraping the bottom in batting average, not hitting for power, and scoring fewer runs than twenty other teams.

Nope. It's not a dream. These first-place Mets are a good team. But we know intuitively that they're not "8 wins out of 10" good. What they've been so far is a combination of lucky and opportunistic. When you give up five hits and five walks in five innings, you can't expect a win, but that's what new Mets ace Mike Pelfrey got the other night -- a shutout win, no less. When your offense in that game consists of five singles and a well-timed scamper around the bases by Jose ("Mis Tendones Son Bien") Reyes, you can't expect a win. The Mets are getting wins we shouldn't rightly expect out of them right now. In recent years, we've sure had enough unexpected losses, so let's just smile and accept these gifts. Doubleheader sweep over the Dodgers? That hadn't happened in decades, until last night.

On Opening Day, this was my list of things to be concerned about: 1) The #2 Pitcher; 2) The #3 Pitcher; 3) The #4 Pitcher; 4) Will Bay Fit In Smoothly?; 5) The 7th and 8th Innings. Today, their starting rotation isn't Johan the Ace and the Four Jokers any more. It's Pelf the Ace, King Johan, and a box of cherries. Because you never know what you're gonna get from the other three. The good news is, the Mets are leading all of baseball in strikeouts (by their pitchers, not their hitters). The bad news is, they're leading all of baseball in issuing walks. That means our starters are throwing way too many pitches. Even when the results are good, that tendency is troubling. In April, you can get away with that. So far, the seventh and eighth innings have not proven to be nailbiters for Mets fans as they have in the recent past. But in June, July and August, this inefficiency will turn into an overworked, sputtering bullpen, blown leads, and heartbreaking losses.

Jason Bay has proven to be a good fit in Flushing right from Opening Day. It's not even a major worry that it took him three weeks to go yard for the first time as a Met. In Citi Field, triples are the new home run, and a .280 batting average makes you the best-hitting Mets regular. How good will they play when their bats finally thaw out? Thank goodness, Bay has proven to be Not Juan Samuel, just as Ike Davis is clearly Not Mo Vaughn. While the Mets' offense isn't lighting up the scoreboard, they've only been blown out twice all year. Conversely, though, they've lost four games by one run, and have only won two. That's a cause for concern, but not despair.

It's human nature as a Mets fan to project their 2007 and 2008 seasons (plus their last game in 2006) as the inevitable future this year. Close enough to compete and impress, not enough to complete the job. Hopefully, that gloomy fatalism is wrong. The last six games have shown us a glimmer that this nice dream has half a chance to turn into reality in September. Since the title of this post quotes Talking Heads, and the opening sentence paraphrases Lionel Ritchie, let's end this by taking the advice of a verse from Crosby Stills and Nash. Just relax. Enjoy the ride.

About Dennis McCarthy: I was born in the Bronx in 1960, but moved to Long Island four years later. I became a Mets fan in '69, thanks to my Aunt Ellen, who still lived in the Bronx.   Read More -->

Comments (6)

It has been nice the past few weeks. I like Ike. Also they seem to be playing to the park more with triples... I kinda think things will even out and be somewhere half way between first 4 series and last 10 games... But for now... I will listen to those guys and continue enjoyin the ride.....

Nice piece Nostra. This weekend may well be far more fascinating than any of us had hoped. The bullpen may be up to the task simply because Omar did his thing in terms of stocking the pens in NY and Buffalo with arms. Igarashi is due back shortly and they still have Dessens, Calero, Dickey and Parnell, who (one or all) could play key roles this season. Don't forget, even the much maligned Sean Green is not going to be on the DL forever. The Phillies have not played well for the past week and the Mets have played only winning baseball. If they can beat Kendrick in the opener and Barajas can give them some little clue to how to score runs off of Halladay... who knows? And who would know better than Barajas?

Thanks for weighing in, Bean and DaMetsman. I was thinking of putting some money where my mouth is and placing a friendly bet with a co-worker who's a huge Philthies fan. Nothing big - $20 for a sweep, $10 for 2 out of three to the winner. But every time my money gets mixed in with my Mets, it does not turn out well.

Didn't we hear very recently that the Mets' farm system was depleted? It's nice to see they're piling up the arms. Experience tells us they will need them, perhaps sooner than we think.

Mets actually have a #3 pitcher as well, with Jon Niese. He's been solid, and if it wasn't for a crap umpire forcing him and Jurrjens to issue 9 walks a few days ago, he'd be even better. Biggest problems with the rotation are Maine and Perez, but Maine did just shut down the Dodgers with a 9 K performance (which would have been better if he was slightly luckier against Russell Martin).

Mets lineup will get better when Beltran gets back, obviously. The two areas I'm looking at making up grades are 2B and RF. I like what Castillo and Francouer bring, but if I can get something better at those positions, I would. Also, don't be suprised to see the Mets go after another starting pitcher to round out their rotation, and possibly also a bullpen arm or two, as well.

What a pleasant change to watch a good baseball game being played by the Mets. It seems it has been a long time coming. I was getting tired watching them, was like watching paint dry. The two things that turned them on, I think was the 20 inning game, that kind of put a "we can win this thing" into them. And Ike Davis coming on with them was a spark that they needed. That kick, Like If he can do it.Then so can I .This can turn out to be a specisl year, like 1969. Who knows? you gotta believe!

J.B. - I gotta say if you moved Frenchie now things would not go as well.. He is a clubhouse leader for what its worth.. He stays regardless and you pray he hits...

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