State of the Union

An article by posted on May 28, 2010

Normally I’d like to do these type blogs on the first or last of the month. However, with this being a holiday weekend, I have no clue where I’ll be on any given day or night. So let’s begin our Mets 2010: State of the Union. 

This month looked like it was going to be the month where everything fell apart. The Mets starting pitchers hadn’t won a game until May 17th versus Atlanta. Mike Pelfrey came up huge for the Mets in that game, and since then the Mets are 6-2, and have had chances to win all 8 games. 

We start with Mike Pelfrey. What a relief it is to see that Big Pelf is back where he belongs. He’s a great #3 starter, and a good #2. Last night we saw him go toe-to-toe with Cole Hamels who in my mind is a very similar overall talent. (Great #3, good #2) There’s been a lot of talk about who the catalyst is of this team, and while I agree its Jose Reyes, there needs to be a nod given to the starting pitching. 

I can’t remember watching a team that relied so heavily on their starting pitching looking competent early on. It’s just seemed as though when they see their starter has it going, the offense clicks and the defense performs up to par.

Mike Pelfrey isn’t a Cy Young winner, but in a league full of #1 starters, you need a guy to stand behind your ace and give you a chance at a 2 or 3 game winning streak. Only the best teams in my mind have that option in the NL. Only Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Francisco and probably Los Angeles have that option.

Jose Reyes is starting to come back to life. I posted a blog earlier this week regarding his friend Jose Lima, and the life lesson he left us. I’m not sure if it’s just a coincidence but Reyes was friends with Lima, and they have similar on-field personalities, and ever since Lima passed away, it seems like the old Reyes is back.

Now, there can be no more doubt about whether Reyes is healthy or not. There can be no excuses for horrendous slumps. Jose Reyes 2008 is re-appearing right before our very eyes. When that happens, the Mets perform at a high level. 

This month was also a back page month for Jerry Manuel. I am pretty sure everybody from Razor Shines to Omar Minaya had some piece written about them asking them to be fired. I’m guilty of a Jerry Manuel blog myself. 

Now, coming off a 5-1 set with two of maybe the 4 best teams in all of baseball, Jerry Manuel & friends should be safe for 2010.

Whether Manuel or Omar are back after this season can be debated until we all fall asleep from boredom. For now, they need to be given a chance to ride this thing out. The team is just as good as any playoff contender right now in baseball. They are playing for their manager’s career, and now they need to start playing for the playoffs.

Hisanori Takahashi and R.A. Dickey have performed about as well as anybody could’ve asked. Earlier this morning our good friend Ed Leyro posted a blog about Takahashi, and comparing him to Fernando Nieve of last year. Also stating that Takahashi could be a #3 starter. 

So sticking with “Taka,” I need to make myself clear on this. Takahashi is unlike any fill-in pitcher the Mets have thrown in there. You can tell by watching a guy like Takahashi, he knows how to pitch. He isn’t walking batters, and he doesn’t fall apart when he puts a runner on. He’s precise in the way he pitches. I can’t think of a better coincidence than the fact he wears Tom Glavine’s number.

He reminds me so much of Glavine, while clearly not of the same talent level, but just the way he locates his pitches. Just like real estate, pitching is about location, location, location. 

Takahashi is not vying to be the #3 starter in this rotation. I think it’s a mistake to expect him to fill that role. To me, Takahashi is a quality 5th starter. He’s good enough to stay out there for 5 or 6 innings and keep your team in the ballgame.

He’ll have his hiccups like any pitcher, but to me, Takahashi is in the rotation for good.

R.A. Dickey has been fun to watch, but to me he’s been more lucky than good. When you put 14 runners on base, and nobody scores, that’s more a reflection on the talent you’re facing than on your own merits.

Dickey has done an amazing job, but Mets fans we are kidding ourselves if we think Dickey is or should be a fixture in this rotation.

The lineup is starting to click. I think any offense can have an amazing 6-8 run night, but it’s those games like last night that show what a team can do at the plate. Reyes coming up with that huge double scoring two runs was what you need to see.

The offense doesn’t look as lost as they have in the past.

Mets fans need to live with the fact that Luis Castillo & Alex Cora are your 2B’s in 2010. If you compare them to other 2B’s in the league, they aren’t as bad as you’d think. We need to let go of the Yankees fly ball, and move on. They aren’t “Great” 2B’s, but they are good enough, especially for that position.

Will Carlos Beltran be seen in a Mets uniform this month? Who knows? I couldn’t tell you what the Mets will or should do when he returns either. Angel Pagan has earned a starting role on the field, and Jeff Francoeur is starting to look like he’s coming out of it. The thing with Francoeur is he is such a clubhouse presence, and he’d be a terrible pinch hitter based on his K/AB ratio. That’s a decision the folks who get paid a lot more than me will have to make.

I think this bullpen is good enough to compete in the NL. In a close game, I’d rather go to Feliciano-Igarashi-K-Rod over anything the Phillies, Marlins, Nationals, or Braves can throw at you. Teams in recent years have shown us time and time again how important a good bullpen is.

That only leaves one thing left to be said. Get Oswalt.

I’m not a Cliff Lee guy in 2010. I think he’ll be deal at the last possible second, and I do not expect him to sign with the team he ends up with. He & his agent want to hit the open market. He’s a great pitcher, but he hasn’t been great long enough for me to trust him.

I’m not a Kevin Millwood guy because he’s a #3 or #4 starter on a good team, and I do not think at the end of the day he’s any better of an option than Pelfrey or Niese. Plus he’s got a two year contract, and he’s not consistent enough in my opinion to be guaranteed a roster spot in 2011.

To me, the only option for Omar Minaya is to go get Roy Oswalt. They’ve shown they are a contender with a little help, so the idea that they aren’t good enough for Oswalt to accept a deal is unacceptable.

The Astros literally have maybe 1 good prospect. He’s a catcher, so you know Josh Thole won’t have to be moved which is nice. I think Ruben Tejada has to be a key to the deal. The Mets have their SS of the future in Jose Reyes, and they still have Flores growing in the minors. Tejada has proven he could be big league ready very soon. The Mets could also see if the Astros are as high on Dillon Gee as they are. If so, Gee is a no brainer to put in an offer in my opinion.

The Mets have enough to make a solid offer without tapping the farm system dry. Nobody was talking about Ike Davis in 2009 when the talk of the town was how awful the farm system is.

Will it be the best offer? I’m not sure, but they have to do make it. 

Minaya’s job in the eyes of the fan could be saved if Roy Oswalt is in blue & orange in 2010. To me, Oswalt is the perfect fit for this team. He is a good #1, and a great #2 starter. I’m probably slighting him in some fans’ eyes. I think Oswalt is very good, but he’s a reputation starter. He’s a guy who has brilliant games, but also has games where he can get ripped up. That’s not a #1 starter, that’s a #2 to me. There’s nothing wrong with that either.

That would take pressure off of Pelfrey, it would allow Niese to be who he is, a 4th starter and it would let Takahashi fill the role I feel is best for him.

Oswalt would legitimize this team in the eyes of competitors and fans. Imagine a series against Philadelphia where maybe you luck out and see Santana-Oswalt-Pelfrey. How could you or anybody expect them not to have a great chance to take that series?

The Mets do not need to worry about acquiring offensive help, maybe for the bench only. They do not need to worry about the late innings, if anything maybe a long relief option if Dickey starts to fade.

What they need is 1 pitcher. 1 guy to bring it all together. It’s not Cliff Lee, it’s not Kevin Millwood, it’s Roy Oswalt. 

Daniel Murphy will return to the Mets soon enough, and when he does, he’ll be a solid option off the bench with a chance to show maybe another team that he deserves more playing time. I’m rooting for Murphy to do well, and who knows, maybe he can be that Lenny Harris type pinch hitter?

John Maine & Oliver Perez may never start a game for the Mets again. I certainly wouldn’t be upset. Maine is a thrower not a pitcher, and he has a poor attitude. He’s done nothing to earn a spot in the rotation, and if he wants to be on this team, it’s bullpen or bust. He doesn’t have the stuff to be a starter, but he could be valuable in the 6th or 7th inning.

I was rooting for Perez. I had hoped he’d mature and figure out that if he just had his head on straight he could be a decent pitcher. He’s failed me, and now you just have to hope maybe he can become a guy who can get a big lefty out if Feliciano is unavailable. Perez isn’t going to be cut unless the Mets find a better option for the bullpen. We’ll just have to deal with him, unless he man’s up and takes assignment for the team’s sake.

Overall, I’d say the State of the Union is alright. It could be better, and it could be worse. This team needs to show they can win on the road though.

This team is good enough to compete for a playoff spot in the NL, but the addition of Oswalt could ignite the team, and the fan base. I said I wanted 27 wins by the time the Mets got done with Philadelphia, and they are at 25. A -2 difference isn’t awful.

The month of June carries a pretty tough AL schedule. The Mets will play the Yankees (likely more healthy than they were), and the Tigers and Twins.

If the Mets can pull out 15 wins in the month of June, I’d be very happy with their performance heading into July.

So we’ll see how it goes. For now, the Mets have been watchable almost all season, (excluding a few road games) and are proving to everybody that they do have the talent to get it done on the field. What more could you ask for? 

For now it’s not about fire this guy, trade away this guy or cut this guy. It’s about “go get this guy,” and hopefully watch the team take off.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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