This much we know about the Mets in 2009-the bullpen is improved, Johan Santana appears to be on a Cy Young mission, and Daniel Murphy is a decent #2 hitter. We also know that the Mets can’t hit in the clutch, the numbers 2, 3 and 4 starters are huge question marks, and they have a knack for making huge mental mistakes at the worst possible times.
What’s more, there are opposing players who think it’s their birthright to annoy us Mets’ fans-I’m talking about you, David Eckstein, Jody Gerut, Jorge Cantu and Emilio Bonafacio. Then again, the Mets’ pitchers let these guys annoy us by not getting them out. And credit Florida’s Josh Johnson with having our number, but there is no way in hell he should be Mets’ kryptonite the way Mike Scott was in the ’86 playoffs.
I was worried going into this season that the lineup wasn’t addressed, and I’m still worried. It’s not that this team doesn’t have pop, but waiting for a 3-run homer is not a good idea, and early indications are that Citi Field is going to hold in more potential home runs than Shea. The problem is that these Mets don’t hit the ball when it really matters, as their .246 average with runners in scoring position will attest to (18th in the majors). With the bases loaded, that number drops to .111 (1 for 7). The Mets have left 58 runners on base, surprisingly just sixth worst in the NL. But championship caliber teams should not leave 8-plus men on base per game.
You want more things to worry about? How about the ERA’s of Mike Pelfrey (8.10), Pedro Feliciano (9.00) and Ollie P (16.62)? How about our National League-leading 7 errors? Or worse, the fact that there have been 5 balks in the NL this season and our Mets own three of them — one which cost us the game on Monday night?
And how about the timing of our miscues? The dropped fly ball by Murphy that cost the Mets Sunday’s game and handed Johan a loss he surely didn’t deserve? The 3-base error by the usually sure-handed Ryan Church in right that was followed by Feliciano’s balk that cost us the game? Or how about Jose Reyes and his .241 average, trying to stretch a single into a double with the Mets trailing by four runs with nobody out? All of those were avoidable mental mistakes that focused teams do not and should not make.
Many of you probably want to throw things at me by now, and are surely going to tell me to stop whining. But I am nervous and I think for good reason. I was confident in both 2007 and 2008 that the Mets would pull it out in the end, and all they did was prove that they were built to collapse. The bullpen is fixed and that’s great, but how about giving our relievers a few opportunities to close out games? Yes, it’s early. But I’m starting to cave. I’m hitting the panic button.