We're Going streaking up through the quad and into the gymnasium! Come on everybody, come on! Snoop, Snoop-a-loop! No, it's cool, it's cool, I'm cool.
As of now, there is not one thing to complain about. However, if at the beginning of the year you told me that Jose Valentin would be starting at second base, Cliff Floyd would be down with Endy Chavez starting, Xavier Nady would down, Gary Cohen would down, and two starting pitchers would be on the 60-day DL, I would of told you this team would be in trouble. I'm not talking last place kind of trouble, but they certainly would be struggling.
The fact the Mets have taken over the best mark in the league and sit 8 1/2 games in front of the second place Phillies while fighting through some adversity is amazing. A bench that looked really, really weak through the first month of the season has proved to be anything but weak. Every single person on this team is contributing with the exception of Heath Bell and Ramon Castro. I still think Bell will contribute, but has not done much during this hot streak, and Castro is just stuck behind LoDuca to no fault of his own.
"I would have to say we're playing as well as we can right now," Willie Randolph said after all nine starters had a hit and scored. "Our offense can be really awesome if we do certain things."
23 of 25 guys have looked spectacular in the roles they were given and this team has done so much without Nady and Floyd in the lineup. The Mets have clinched at worst an 8-2 road trip and will go for their eighth win a row and their second series sweep in row when Steve Trachsel takes the mound today against the very hittable Cory Liddle. Even if the Mets fail to pull off their second sweep, they put themselves in a great position with the struggling Orioles coming into town with Glavine, Martinez, and Soler toeing the rubber.
After this weekend series, they face the beasts of the AL East on their turf in the Yankees (5th best home record in the AL), Red Sox (3rd best home record in the AL), and Blue Jays (4th best home record in the AL) and that is after they face the second place Reds (3rd best road record in the Major Leagues) next week at Shea. Those teams combine for a 146-111 record which is good for a .568 winning percentage and will be a terrific gauge for this team.
The Mets have the fourth best home record in the majors and the 2nd best road record in the majors. If this team can perform well against three of the top five teams in the American League on their turf, all the good things everyone is thinking about this team will be validated even more. I was a bit young for the '86 World Series and '88 was the first time I was really into watching the Mets. I have never seen such a good and well rounded Met team since then. Not only do they compare favorably with that Met team, they may in fact be better. Yes, this Met team is hot right now and will not remain this hot, but I have never seen such a dominant offensive display from any Met team in history and probably have not seen such a good Met team since I have been following them.
"Am I surprised?" Randolph asked rhetorically, responding to an inquiry about Philadelphia's sloppy play. "I don't care about that. If they want to kick the ball around, that's fine."
"He's the key to our offense," suggested Paul Lo Duca, who bats directly behind him and closely observes the havoc Reyes can cause on the basepaths. "He's dynamic. He changes everything, even the pitcher's motion."
I have never seen a player that can change the game as much as Reyes.
"I'm learning," he said. "I talked a lot with Rickey [Henderson] in spring training. I look for my pitch now. With two strikes, I used to swing at pitches in the dirt. Now if I'm looking for a fastball, I'm going to wait for a fastball."
The kid's average is not where we want it to be, but it's there because he is learning and wants to learn.
It took just two games of extended spring training for the Mets to see enough from Xavier Nady to promote him – just not to the majors. After undergoing an appendectomy May 30, Nady returned to action Monday. Then he went from Port St. Lucie, where he was 4-for-6 Wednesday with a home run and two doubles, to Norfolk, where he will be with the team tonight.
I'm feeling a hot streak like we saw at the beginning of the season for the rested and fully healthy Xavier Nady when he returns to action.
Even in victory, there was a lesson learned by Lastings Milledge. After the rookie was cut down at the plate on Julio Franco's two-out double in the seventh inning, manager Willie Randolph spoke to Milledge in the dugout and the message was simple: he should have scored.
Milledge sheepishly admitted his wrongdoing when asked if he thought he should have scored on the play. "Could have, should have," Milledge said. "We won the game. It doesn't matter."
As for where Milledge will be when Floyd and Nady come back, it will most likely be in Norfolk which is the right move.
More to the point, Randolph said, "We've accomplished what we wanted with him. He's helped us get through some injuries, and he's played well. But what we wanted was to expose him to what it's like up here, so when he comes back, it's not all 'wow' for him."
I've said it before and I'll say it again, having Milledge as a more of a known quantity in 2007 is so huge. Yes, he played well, but Nady was playing well all year for the Mets despite a bit of slump before he got surgery. Milledge will be back up in September and will be ready to come back up should any more injuries arise.
You have to give the Mets this: they’re not boring.
Last night, they blew a pair of early leads, allowed five home runs and seven runs total, but hung on for a 9-7 road win over the Phillies. It was the Mets’ 21st win by two or fewer runs and the seventh time they’d won while allowing at least seven runs.
The first thing to consider is that the Mets’ 40-23 record--best in the National League, second-best in baseball--is an accurate reflection of their performance to date. Clay Davenport’s numbers have the Mets as a 38-25 squad in the Adjusted Standings, a mark that would still be the best in the parity-stricken NL. While the Mets are 17-7 in one-run games, their underlying performance nevertheless supports their lofty overall mark. That record in one-run games is, as you might expect, a bit lucky, but the Mets do feature a strong bullpen and a good bench, both traits that can help a team outperform the median in close contests.
A bigger factor has been the team’s offense, which is third in the NL in runs and fourth in EqA with a .269 mark. Carlos Beltran and David Wright are having MVP-caliber seasons, while the team is getting credible production from seven lineup spots. Second base has been a well-documented hole, and Cliff Floyd took April off, but on the whole, this is a good offensive team. As mentioned above, the Mets have gotten a lot of production from their bench, where Jose Valentin, Ramon Castro, Endy Chavez and Julio Franco have all been above-average hitters. If Lastings Milledge sticks around after Xavier Nady returns, with one of the two coming off the bench, it just gets that much stronger.
It’s not all sunshine and roses for the Mets’ lineup, of course. The top two lineup spots, generally Jose Reyes and Paul Lo Duca, don’t generate the kind of OBP you’d like to get up top. That means the MVP candidates, as well as Carlos Delgado, don’t get to leverage their slugging as much as they might with more runners on base. Reyes’ speed is going to keep him locked into the #1 spot, but the Mets would get a boost by bumping Beltran to #2 and Wright to #3, with Lo Duca slipping into the bottom half of the lineup. This will be particularly important in the second half, what with Lo Duca’s established tendency of falling off late in the season. Beltran has batted with just 151 runners on base this season, 128th of 214 players with at least 180 ABs. The Mets have to get more guys on in front of him.
What is interesting about that is they are still on the batting order issue that a lot of have discussed throughout the season. While I wrote about it a few weeks ago, it is still a minor gripe and one that should still get looked at if LoDuca goes into his usual second half dive. His .302/.356/.426 line in the first half from 2003 to 2005 is light years better than his .249/.307/.345 in the second half. So while the lineup issue might not be on the front burner right now, it will most likely surface later on.
Cardinals lefthander-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel will miss the remainder of the season after having left knee surgery. Ankiel, 26, injured the patellar tendon in his knee during a spring training scrimmage at the Cardinals' spring training facility in Jupiter, Fla., on Feb. 27. Ankiel never played in a spring training or regular season game this season.
Rarely have I been so interested in seeing anyone succeed from another organization, but it is hard not to root for this guy.