Finally, after a six game road trip to start the season, the Mets roll into Shea this afternoon with an impressive 4-2 record. Sure they could have easily been 6-0, but I’m not going to get all bent out of shape with a .666 winning percentage on the road.
There are some interesting caveats that came out of the Mets’ first week of the season. Chief among them is probably Willie’s decision not to tamper with Paul LoDuca in the two hole as you all know by now, but given LoDuca’s day off on Sunday, it was Jose Valentin, and not David Wright who replaced big Paulie. Valentin proceeded to go 0 for 4. Wright on the other hand is in the midst of a 19 or 20 game hitting streak which dates back to last season, and you figured he would have been the likely two hitter yesterday. It all goes to you show one thing… You just can’t figure Willie out sometimes.
Of course the starting pitching has been nothing short of remarkable. Yesterday’s performance by El Duque was solid if not spectacular and he deserved a much better fate than a no-decision. All in all, the top four starters in the rotation have met or exceeded expectations. I don’t know of any other team that can say that, this early in the season.
Aside from Aaron Heilman’s meltdown against the Braves yesterday, our bullpen had yet to allow any runs. In fact, Heilman had stranded seven inherited runners prior to the 8th inning of yesterdays game. The bullpen does seem a little rusty despite their success, but as guys like Schoeneweis, Feliciano and Heilman round into form, the bullpen should get stronger and better. What’s not to like?
We really haven’t gotten a chance to see Easley and Milledge play yet. They have been riding the pine for quite some time now and I thought there were a couple of opportunities for one if not both of them to get a start. Willie had said all along that Milledge would start one of the games in the Atlanta series, but that never transpired, which begs the question, why would you keep a 21 year old prospect on the bench rather than getting valuable at-bats in the minors?
I also thought that Easley would see some action against left-handed pitching given Valentin’s lackluster results last year and this. He is hitting .125 in 8 at-bats this season. I thought it would have made sense to give Easley the start against Redman.
Our defense got off to a fantastic start before heading into Atlanta. I am going to give the Mets a free pass on this series because the weather played a big part in their performance on the field. Besides, they weren’t the only ones stinking up the joint with sloppy defense as the Braves had a couple of gold glovers that looked like Laurel and Hardy out there as well.
The one thing that I will NOT give the Mets a free pass on is clutch hitting. They stranded something like 30 runners in the three games. That’s inexcusable. If we are to repeat as division champs we need to improve our patience at the plate and get the offense into gear. Last year the Mets would have not lost yesterdays game. They would have scored those two runners in the eight inning and made Heilman’s performance a mute point. So far this year I haven’t seen that same explosiveness at the plate when runners are in scoring position. It doesn’t feel the same.
So now we embark on the first home stand of the season. The Mets need to take it up a notch and make a statement. Maine, Perez and Glavine take on the Phillies, and on Friday we will see Mike Pelfrey make his season debut against the Nationals. The next six games will show us if this Mets team can be as good as last years version who came out of the gate like gangbusters, especially at home.
Enjoy today’s game everybody! I’ll be listening on the radio as I have to work, ugh….