While a 2-4 homestand is not exactly something you like to see, the Mets are still three games up on the Phillies and 3.5 games up on the Braves so that is a positive. However, the Mets have been middling since June 1st and after going 34-18 (.654 winning %) in their first 52 games, they have gone 31-34 (.477 winning %) in their last 64. That is worse than the Cubs, Rockies, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Brewers, Padres, Nationals, and the Braves.
Since the All Star Break, they have looked a bit better in regards to their winning % and have posted a .567 mark since the break, but they have continued their frustrating play. Also, the Diamondbacks, Phillies, Nationals, and Rockies have all posted higher winning percentages than the Mets for what it is worth so I'm not sure the Mets should really be excited to be playing the Nats who have really played pretty well since a bad start and some possible playoff opponents have been playing some good ball of late as well.
The thing that I would say mostly characterized the Mets of '06 was consistency. The thing that I would say mostly characterizes the Mets of '07 is inconsistency. The starting pitching had been the most consistent part of this team this season, but even that is starting to succumb to what has been plaguing this team this season.
What has been the cause? Well I'm not completely sure, but it is entirely possible this team is simply not as good as we thought as previously discussed. Last year the Mets got some great years out of some mediocre players and failed to significantly improve the team in '07. I thought their bullpen would again be one of the best, but that is not proving to be the case.
Last year in the playoffs, Glavine, Maine, Perez, and Trachsel started ten games. They also totaled 46.2 innings while the bullpen picked up the slack. This year, if the starters will not be able to give quality innings, this bullpen has virtually no shot of providing similar results with a similar workload and getting past the first round might be a chore.
The Mets offense has also struggled to maintain some consistency this season. They added Alou to an already potent offense, but he has been injured all season, Beltran and Delgado have not been able to replicate their '06 seasons at the plate, second base has been largely unproductive when Gotay has not played, and right field has a .273/.317/.407 line which is completely unacceptable. So to summarize, left, right, center, first, and second have performed below expectations as a whole, which is obviously not good at all.
Just as a gauge, the red hot Yankees now have better playoff odds than the Mets according to Baseball Prospectus (their ELO version which is supposed to give a an assessment of how strong the team is right now). The Mets are obviously still in a great position to make the playoffs, but they have been negatively trending for a bit and struggling to be that dominating team that we all saw last season.
I am concerned about the Mets, but that does not mean the Mets cannot win it all. We all know it is about getting hot at the right time. The Marlins and Josh Beckett got hot at the right time, the Red Sox followed that up by getting hot down 0-3 to the Yankees, the White Sox got hot in the baseball season I forgot existed, and the Cardinals got hot in the playoffs and dispatched three teams that were better than them. If the Mets can get everyone healthy and get Pedro back by mid-September, they might be poised for a run.
Of course all of that probably does not say a lot about my confidence in this team right now if I'm looking to a hot streak to propel my favorite team through the playoffs, but it is hard not to feel frustrated yet again with this team. Even with the injuries, this team should have been a lot better than they have shown to this point and on paper should be running away from a mediocre pack.
The baseball season and similarly baseball teams are not static. This Met team is simply not as good as the one that played the first two months of the season and they are living off of that strong start and people seem to be turning a blind eye to the Mets situation and assume they will roll into the post season. I'm not so sure cruise control will get them where they want to be and something needs to be done. I've said it before, but Omar really needs to get creative here to get things going as what worked at other points in the season might not be the right thing now and whatever needs to happen does not have to be huge, but something different.
The fact is Green, who has 32 RBIs in 360 at-bats on the season, has knocked in four runs in 80 at-bats over his last 21 games and merely five in 143 at-bats over his last 37 games. The fact is also that Randolph has no inclination to give Lastings Milledge a shot at the job even on a platoon basis despite the fact the Kid has hit .309 with 18 RBIs in 95 at-bats since his July 12 promotion from the minors.
I could sort of understand of not benching a Hall of Fame type player because of track record and stature, though I do not necessarily agree with it, but this is borderline lunacy.
Only four of the first twelve have signed and even though they all signed for slot or below, they were more or less 'safe' picks that could have been expected not to be difficult or costly signs. The Mets have been solid citizens so far and stuck to the recommended slot to the dollar through the first three rounds and kept under slot in the fourth, fifth, and sixth. They really need to go over slot and bring in Brandon Efferson and the commissioner’s office owes them a freebie anyway for being one of the better teams at falling in line.
“Do I want to take a bullet for the industry? Do I want to sit back and watch (our first-round pick) go (unsigned) for the sake of a new policy? I don’t think I can. I have mouths to feed and my area scouts and crosscheckers have mouths to feed. We have good jobs, and we’d like to keep them. The commissioner’s not paying my salary.”
Ultimately teams have to improve themselves and it seems the power still lies in the hands of the agents and players. The only way to truly work this out is with hard caps. Even if this year proves to be a resounding success in terms of keeping bonuses down, it is the first year it will have been implemented and I'm guessing teams will keep pushing the envelope.