As the injuries have been piling up for the Mets over the past few weeks and the losses to teams like the Pirates and Nationals continue, Mets fans have come out in droves complaining about the team and their chances to make any kind of noise in the National League East. To those fans, I say RELAX! There’s still plenty of season left and many things to look forward to. Before you ask me what I’m drinking and how much of it I’m drinking, let me explain why this season is not lost yet.
Last year, a few days before the firing of Willie Randolph, the Mets were in fourth place, 7½ games out of first. With their 30-33 record, the team was doing their best to be the poster boys for underachievement. Their lackadaisical play was prompting the fans to call for Randolph’s head, which was eventually served to them in Anaheim. At the time of the firing, the Mets weren’t in anyone’s rear view mirror and they were showing no signs of breaking out of their season-long slump. Two months later, they found themselves in first place and their early season woes were but a memory.
This year’s start (I refuse to call it a poor start, as the Mets are 29-25 through the first third of the season) can be attributed to injuries and poor baserunning. Despite all this, the Mets woke up this morning in second place, only three games behind the first place Phillies. They have a better record and are closer to first than they were last year at this point of the season, so why are all the pessimists out in full force again?
The Phillies are always a Brad Lidge appearance away from a loss and the Mets are getting healthier, as seen by the return of Carlos Beltran a few days ago and Ryan Church today. When Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado return, the offense will be intact and more importantly, well-rested. In August, when the proverbial dog days of summer are affecting the other contenders, the injured players will all be back and it will be like a second Opening Day for them. Also, don’t forget that Billy Wagner will be back before the summer is over, as well as J.J. Putz. We’ll be able to see if the early-season performances by Putz were really due to his injury. If they were, a bullpen featuring Parnell, Wagner, Putz and Rodriguez will be devastating to opposing lineups. The starting pitchers won’t feel the need to stretch themselves out, meaning fresher arms come August and September.
The Mets have proven that erasing a big deficit after showing no signs of life is possible. They turned a 7½ game deficit into a 3½ game lead last season. Even if they fall further back in the NL East race, the precedent is there for them to make a run for the division title. The team will get healthy and their Opening Day roster will be on the field before too long. No one on the team has a season-ending injury the way the Phillies do with Brett Myers. This Mets team will be a force to contend with down the stretch and the rest of the league should be wary of them. If the Phillies do not take advantage of the Mets’ injuries, they will regret it in August and September.
So Mets fans, stop with the defeatist attitude! Our team still has over 100 games remaining in the season and they will get healthy before those 100 games are up. It’s never a good thing to lose to teams like the Pirates and Nationals, but I’m willing to bet that the Mets’ best days are ahead of them and just like last season, they will make this year’s early season performance a distant memory.