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A 161 Win Season Is Still Within Reach

Mike SteffanosSunday, April 3, 2011
By Mike Steffanos

The New York Post's Mike Vaccaro wasted no time in piling it on after the disheartening Opening Day loss to the fish:

In so many ways, Pelfrey's quagmire reflected something the Mets are going to encounter time and again this season. They have good players; other teams have better players, and more of them. They have tried to eliminate the slapstick from their workaday existence, have injected more professionalism, and that will put them in position to win more games than normal.

It's just that actually winning them isn't quite that simple.

All I can say to this is that, in so many ways, Vaccaro's spin on this loss reflects something that Mets fans are going to encounter time and again this season. Anything that fits into an endlessly depressing narrative on this club will be emphasized; whatever doesn't will be discarded.

Look, the Mets roster isn't going to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents, but the idea that the team they are fielding is the Little Engine That Only Wishes It Could is silly.

Put this in another way: there are teams in baseball right now with more roster questions than the Mets that will win their share of games and contend. I guarantee you that there is at least one team out there with less talented players than the Flushing nine that will be in the wildcard race well into September. The idea that this team can't be the Mets is based more on our recent disappointments than anything else.

None of us is foolish enough to believe that this is a great team, but if they indeed do eliminate the slapstick and put forth a professional effort, they will win more than their share and be fun to watch.

I can only hope that this scenario Vaccaro describes is the reality right through game 162. They better not try to use their roster as an excuse to not contend, and I don't think that would be something Terry Collins would even consider, anyway.

I'm pretty sure of one thing. If the Mets do manage to play a little over .500 and contend for that wildcard spot, guys like Vaccaro will surely move the goalposts back a little on you and try to convince you that they somehow should have done more.

The only way to ever change this incessant negativity is for the team to play hard and smart and show that they can overcome the slips and bumps that a 162 game season tosses at them. Still, you get the idea that even if they do pretty well, they'll still always be one bad loss away from buzzards circling overhead.

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.

Comments (2)

I knows how you feel, Mike. Driving around this morning I was treated to ten minutes of the ESPN voice telling me how game two of the season was SO vitally important for the Mets -- because, don't you know, things could get ugly if they were to start one and five. Or something. A day or two before some radio head was predicting a fourth place finish for the Mets, followed by a last place finish in 2012.

For my money the Mets have to their credit:
a) hired a management team with a terrific track record of finding cost efficient talent;
b) Chris Capuano and Chris Young starting in place of John Maine and Oliver Perez;
c) Ike Davis to begin the season at first instead of Mike Jacobs. All Ike has managed to do it take a huge stride forward in both of the past two seasons; for most of last year he had risen 4 levels in under a season. Yet somehow most observers assume we have already seen all the improvement that Ike will manage. Not me.
d)Not Castillo at second. Emaus should be an improvement, and if he isn't, Turner will be; and maybe Reese Havens will finally be able to realize some of his promise, and become something of a new Utley.
e) Josh Thole still improving
f) A full season from RA Dickey, rather than the 3/4th season we got last year. His success last year was no fluke.
g)A much more proven commidity on Jonathan Niese. Last season he was coming off a frightful injury.
h) few names, but plenty of arms in the bullpen. If Bucholtz or somebody isn't up to the job, there's Mike O'Conner; there are several good system options, and for the moment there is Izzy.
i) and the Mets will have a hard time NOT getting more productivity from the right field position than they did last year, even if Carlos can't continue.

I have the Mets penciled in to win 84 games this year.

I think asking what would make the NY media stop being negative about the Mets is like asking Fox News to stop expressing outrage on anything Obama does. That is the product that they sell. Really, who would listen to those guys go on for 10 minutes saying essentially "The Mets are not too bad"? This is NY, not Minnesota. If you're not obviously the king of the world, you're a loser, and that's what the media will dwell on. (If you are the king of the world, they will dwell on why it might not last.)

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