A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Some Mid-Season Perspective

The All-Star break is not only good for players to get a break from the action, but the fans as well. Met fans are one of the more rabid fanbases and I know we have all been feeling a bit exasperated of late. There are a lot of teams that have been stumbling a bit in June/July. The Mets are not alone and though they have played badly and were unwatchable at times, they still hold a two game lead on Atlanta for the NL East lead and are only one game behind San Diego and behind only Milwaukee and San Diego for the best record in the National League. Only three teams have winning percentages over.600 (with none being over .609) in the bigs and the Mets are only five games in back of Boston for the best record in the Majors. That should certainly add a bit of perspective in regards to the current state of baseball.

While the Mets have been more exasperating than exhilarating and it is really easy to get down on this team, this is something they can turn around and fast. If you rewind to last season, the Mets owned a 53-36 record at the break and are four games behind last that pace. Would a 45-30 second half really shock us? .600 ball for the rest of the way out would have been a conservative estimate for this team a month ago and that would leave them at 93-69 for the season and more likely than not, in firm control of the NL East and possibly even the NL. I understand I'm ignoring momentum, but I have a hard time believing this team is this bad.

With Pedro and Moises set to contribute in the second half, the Mets are a Carlos Beltran hot streak away from really opening this thing back up.

"We've been very inconsistent," Wagner elaborated. "The young kids in the rotation [John Maine, Oliver Perez, Jorge Sosa] have really stepped up, but the offense has underachieved and the bullpen hasn't been putting teams away the way we did last year.

"But the positive thing is, we are in first place with a chance to improve on that. With the talent we have on the team, we should be better."

And they are better. Athough I've been negative lately, I truly believe they will play more on par with true selves during the second half and reassert themselves as the team to beat in the National League.

* * *

  • Just some forward thinking here in regards to the Mets situation when Alou comes back. Shawn Green has obviously struggled since returning from the DL. While his performance was a pleasant surprise to start off the season, there was a sense that it was a hot streak and it is hard to argue with riding a hot streak until it is over. Green now appears to be settling into being the player we all expected.

    That does not mean he is useless, but with Lastings Milledge tearing up the baseball diamond since his return, it is hard to not make a case for him on the big league level. As exciting as Gomez was/is and the spark he was able to provide, Milledge is more big league ready. Gomez's speed and defense was refreshing and Milledge can add that same spark. I love Green off the bench and spot starting in left, in right, or at first and think Milledge should be getting some regular playing time with Alou once he returns.

    A lineup with Alou, Beltran, Milledge, Wright, Reyes, Delgado, LoDuca, and Valentin would certainly be the best lineup by far in the National League. If the Mets would smarten up and eschew Valentin a bit for Gotay, then it would be even better, but they seem intent on kicking in that very expensive option for the soon to be 38 year old. Of course there is sentiment that with over exposure Gotay may shrivel a bit like Endy, but I say we will not know until see it with our own eyes. I made the statement the other day that not much could be done with this offense, but I was sort of off-base in sense. This offense could look drastically different if the Mets want to make some bold changes and I really think they should stop relying on crusty veterans and infuse some youth until they prove they cannot handle it.

  • I do not think anyone can defend the Kazmir trade, but as a Met fan you'd be hard pressed to be upset about where they have come since then. That being said, Kazmir is certainly struggling a bit. From Buster's column on 7/9:

    Scott Kazmir, D-Rays: He has really struggled with his command in the first half, raising questions about what he is and what he is going to be.

    It seems that the Mets were not entirely wrong in regards to their assessment of Scott Kazmir. Where they missed the boat was in who they traded him for. Of course, the Mets never saw a healthy Zambrano and no one will ever see that pitcher, so we will never know how the deal would have been in optimal circumstances. It's obvious that Kazmir would have helped the Mets out in '05 and '06, but it isn't a slam dunk that Kazmir turns into the pitcher everyone thought he would be.

    He is still only 23 so he has a looooong time to straighten things out, but his .275 BAA and his 58 walks in 112.1 innings and his accompanying 1.58 WHIP are ugly. He could certainly still be a perennial All-Star, but he could also certainly end up moving into the bullpen. Either way, I think we are all sure it will not happen in Devil Rays uniform. He still looks like he has to work to do and he's going to be entering his arbitration years already after this season.

  • Billy lays it down

    "I love Jose to death. He's a great ballplayer. But the way I was raised is you hit the ball, you run like hell. The umpires will tell you if it's fair or foul. When you have that type of talent and you start to play that way, you become a prima donna. And when you're a prima donna, it's not fun to be around you."
    --Mets closer Billy Wagner, on Jose Reyes not running out a ball.

    I'm not concerned one bit about Reyes' standing at home watching Mike Lamb run the ball over to first. He looked embarrassed then and he is frustrated by everything that is going on. Sometimes you need a wake up call and that could well of been his and maybe the entire team's. But as Steve Popper pointed out, it is not just Jose.

    Manager's worst move

    Singling out Jose Reyes for a lack of hustle -- only because there are at least five guys on the team who should have been called out first.

    ..and he again brings it out here.

    But it is the troubling signs of lackadaisical play and inconsistency that will follow the Mets into the break. Jose Reyes w as singled out and yanked from the game Friday night, but he is hardly the first one to not run out a ball. The Mets seemed to sleepwalk at times through the season -- looking like a dominant team for short bursts and then like an aging fossil at other times. What rarely has surfaced has been the hunger that would have been expected after the disappointing end to the 2006 season.

    Isn't that inconsistent and lackadaisical play on Willie's head? Isn't that what he excels at? The only think Willie could be lauded for in his brief tenure with the Mets was that. Without his trait of being able to get the players to play the game right and play for him, you have Art Howe. Personally, I still think Willie will have little to do with any possible renaissance and I do wonder if Omar is thinking that deal through 2009 is looking like a great idea right about now.

  • Be on the lookout for my guest appearance over at Yes Joe, It's Toasted.

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Besides the fact the Mets arent this bad, the rest of the Nl East are not this good. They're all horrible...
    I'm just waiting for the Mets in October.

    No matter what happens to Scott Kazmir, whether he's good, bad, gets injured, becomes a HoF'er, wins a World Series, becomes an All-Star, dissapears, it was still a horrible trade and it broke my heart when I found he was traded.

    So in Jose Reyes' young career that has gone through 522 games, he fails to run out a VERY questionable fair ball and he gets barked at? C'mon guys, lets have some perspective here.
    Where's Wagner's quote when Julio Franco failed to do the same?

    1:29 AM

    Blogger michael o. said...

    No matter what happens to Scott Kazmir, whether he's good, bad, gets injured, becomes a HoF'er, wins a World Series, becomes an All-Star, dissapears, it was still a horrible trade and it broke my heart when I found he was traded.

    I think we all agree on that, but the thing is that the Mets might have traded a prospect at the right time, just not for the right guy. He’s getting less than six innings per start and just chucking way too many pitches. He’s 23 so it’s not quite fair to criticize him as most pitchers are still in the minors, but he has regressed a bit since his initial exposure to the league.

    Where's Wagner's quote when Julio Franco failed to do the same?

    Here’s the thing. No one cares what he does. Julio Franco is not the straw the stirs the drink (anyone see the Bronx is Burning last night?...pretty good). I wouldn’t doubt that everyone on the team is sick of having him waste playing time.

    8:58 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Where's Wagner's quote when Julio Franco failed to do the same?

    When Julio Franco was signed by the Mets, it was done partially for what he could do as a bench player (he has seriously declined since last August), but also partially as a role model for the younger players. As a role model, he is not getting the job done, and should be fired.

    David Wright had a similar thing happen to him last year, and most fans have already forgotten it. Reyes handled the situation very well, from now on, I think he has learned from what happened, and he will run first, ask questions later.

    it was still a horrible trade and it broke my heart when I found he was traded.

    I was also upset with the Kazmir trade, but for all the angst the trade has caused, it is not the worst trade in Mets history. The June 15 1977 massacre is #1 (AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!), Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi is #2. And at least with the Ryan and Kazmir trades, they were trying to improve the club.

    9:35 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Bronx is Burning was pretty good, but not swellicious.

    9:36 AM

    Blogger michael o. said...

    I think we all know he should be cut with Green or Easley backing up first, but the Mets are making a joke of things. If they were truly, truly, truly committed to putting the best product on the field, it would start with cutting Franco. They won’t do that…Willie loves him…Omar I think loves him…I’m afraid he’ll be back in ’08. That is a legitimate fear that I have.

    Reyes’ story is really a non story. I have no problems with what he did. A mental lapse…

    RE: Bronx is burning…

    It’s not swellicious for sure, but it was better than I thought. Interesting to get a semi-factual based take on the lunacy that is the Yankees.

    10:10 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Re: Kazmir. It is never the right time to trade a top prospect if you don't trade him for a decent return, so I cannot get no satisfaction that the Mets may have been thinking correctly because they weren't. Further, I'd think the Zen Master would be able to work his "15 minute" wonder on Kazmir, who is only 23 as noted. Still a pathetic trade.

    Nice to hear Eddie Coleman yesterday on the FAN on my edge of reception car radio up here in Vermont, lightning bursts far out of my area sizzling the words here and there, but there was Eddie saying that the Mets have been very happy with Ruben GoTo and are not thinking of sending him down so that the Mets can keep an extra geriatric on the roster. Gotay deserves more playing time, I think we all agree. From day one of ST the ball has been exploding off of his bat; he belongs!

    And Lastings will not go down. There you have it, my bold prediction. Had he not gotten hurt Gomez never would have had a chance. The kid is ready. Now all he needs to do is avoid the NY media or at least just utter the professional platitudes and leave it there!

    And personally I think that Green has been fine. Much, much better than I expected. I am actually optimistic on his account for the rest of the season.

    Franco will hopefully retire after he gets a ring this year. There's no way the Mets will cut him, and he's not going to retire. Maybe we could ask the league for a half roster spot for a player coach and go with 25.5 players!

    Oh and Mike, the burger sounded righteous!

    2:58 PM

    Blogger michael o. said...

    Alright..I take it back. Kazmir was a bad trade no matter how you shake it. I do wonder where he is going to ultimately end up when it is all said and done. 200 wins or 400 saves?

    RE: Gotay…lots of Gotay talk over at Toasty’s site today, but yes, we are all in agreement about him. It is good that they like him…now how about playing him? Valentin is trucking along to 400+ at-bats so we can see him start there all season next year for like $6,000,000. Let Gotay win the job already. He’s done well in the bigs at a young age before so there is a chance his play is not fluky. Once Willie gets something in his head, changing his mind is like trying to stop an elephant. I’m not saying any manager should be knee jerk about anything, but he takes it to an extreme. So frustrating.

    Maybe Green will be solid. He has a month to prove it because if Millegde outplays him, he should not start. I’m sorry. Also, I like Green and think he is going to be a valuable part of club moving forward, but the best eight should start. Period. If that that’s him, I’m ok with that. But enough catering to vets. This team has been floundering and the best lineup should be out there nightly. Salaries and service time be damned.

    There's no way the Mets will cut him, and he's not going to retire.

    Sad…the bench is so important in the playoffs (not to mention the regular season, but you get my point) and they are just wasting a spot on him.

    It was DG…Swellicious indeed. I have dreams about it and it’s become a legend in my mind .I probably think it was a lot better than it actually was at this point.

    3:31 PM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Yep, the Kazmir trade sucked and thankfully is from a past regime who has nothing to do with decision making now. Who knows, maybe he ends up back in NYC in the next couple years. You never know. But I agree with DG, if Kazmir was here now, Jacket would have him going good. Ugh.

    Am I just a total blowhard fan? I'm actually going to watch the game tonight just to see how our boys do. But when they're pulled, I'll probably turn it off. I am of course interested in who wins to see if we're getting home field this year. But I won't hold my breath on the NL bursting out of it's forever slump.

    Gotay is ready. It's an absolute disaster he's not getting more playing time over Valentin. Valentin was dreadful the last month of last year and thru the playoffs. He's not good anymore. Mike, I don't think he'll get his 400. I don't think they're that hell bent on old crusty veterans to let that terrible of a move happen. Gotay would help this team big time right now. He's proven it all year.

    Bring on Lastings. He's ready. I like Green too. Seems like a great team guy. But let's not get too carried away with how much better he is than what we thought he would be. I hardly call 7hr's and 27 rbi's at the break THAT good with a .275 avg and VERY poor defense. Honestly, I could do without the guy. He's at best a bench guy in my opinion on a championship team. He probably would be very solid off the bench. But it is time for Lastings just like it was time for Kevin Mitchell in 86. Bring it on. He's going to rake.

    I don't see Franco getting cut this year either unfortunately. But I don't think they'll bring him back next year.

    What do you all think about LoDuca coming back next year? Has he been yapping too much? I think he needs to just chill with all the personal crap and keep to baseball. I love the guy. But it's getting to be too much of a soap opera. Just play hard on the field and keep your trap shut about all the other crap. He needs to realize and I don't know if he ever will...you can't beat the NY media.

    All in all, the team can go a very long way. But I do think they need to make some very important decisions to make it happen (Lastings, Gotay, find a way to beef up bullpen). I'm also not set on believing that Alou is going to be ready to contribute the rest of the season which is a shame because he would help big time if he's healthy. These guys need to find a way to light it up. Pedro is the answer to firing up this team if he can come back. Please God...please....

    Bronx is Burning...agreed. Good, but not Swellicious. Very interesting though. I grew up during that time period. So I'm very knowledgeable of that situation. The show kept my interest. Turturro as Billy Martin is awesome though.


    6:28 PM


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