Despite the Mets 63-62 record, numerous team problems, mismanagement and an overall inability to win on the road, 2010 has been a great season for the Mets from a different point of view. I’ll avoid the sappy introduction filled with highlights and recaps of moments when they succeeded and just get into the observations:
1. The Mets apparently have a farm system…with skilled players
This may come as a shock to people, but this year alone the Mets sent out three home-grown players with 0 MLB experience and a handful of others with limited experience. Of those three, Ike Davis has provided the most hope in a place that was formerly seen as an abyss. The Mets have not had a productive, home-grown player on the offensive side of the ball since Jose Reyes and David Wright. Ike Davis, as raw as he is has the ability to be a serious piece for the Mets offense for years to come. Ruben Tejada has flashed a spectacular glove, especially considering that he is only 20 years old and is playing out of position at second base. Jenrry Mejia was a hasty decision, but the flashes of dominance when he was on show what he can possibly be for the 2011 or 2012 Mets.
Beyond the players Mets fans have seen on SNY, the Mets farm system is beginning to turn over, with two solid outfielders at the Triple-A level in Lucas Duda and possible CF of the future Kirk Niewenhuis. Below these two, the list of talented outfielders and toolsy prospects seems extremely nice. The only downside has been the performance of some prospect pitchers, but the offensive side of the ball is looking the best it has in years
2. David Wright can hit the ball far…again.
…and on the 7th day, God said to David Wright “Just pretend this is Shea”. David Wright has come back into form for the most part, proving last years power outage was a combination of non-existent lineup protection, pressing at the dish and realizing that right-center may not be the best idea in Citi Field. David has had a great comeback, and a guy who was being written off as overrated has reclaimed some of the luster that once existed when his name was mentioned. Sure, his strikeouts are up – but David Wright has slowed the K’s down dramatically and he may strikeout the most he ever has, but he is still the same player in essence – a gap hitter who will send his share out of the yard.
3. Jonathon Niese is pretty good
Before the comparison is made – Mike Pelfrey, when he first entered the league had ONE pitch. He threw it TWO ways. It took him THREE years to start throwing other ones. Jonathon Niese got hurt, came back and now throws a plethora of pitches, including a fastball, cutter, big mickey-mouse curveball and a changeup. Niese can crank the velocity up to around 92-93 MPH if necessary, but normally lives in the 90-91 MPH range. He understand the importance of pitching, tries to minimize walks and pitches in the strike zone about as much as you could ask an official rookie to pitch in the zone. Jonathon has the bulldog mentality that all managers love, and he has the pitching IQ to backup the persona. Niese won’t throw 100 MPH heaters passed a hitter, but give him a 1-2 count and that same hitter might be looking at a cutter on the outside corner, or a curveball that has more drop then the BP stock price.
4. Johan Santana looks like…Johan Santana
Whats the difference between 2008 Santana and 2010 Santana? Not much honestly. Johan Santana is still a phenomenal pitcher, and despite some early season troubles, his ERA is below three. His WHIP and BAA are around the same, and he has allowed LESS home runs. Does Citi Field factor into his ability to keep the ball in the park? Without a doubt – but he is pitching better on the road. Since July 1st, Santana has only gone less then seven innings ONCE. August has seen his strikeout numbers go back into their usual vicinity, and his elbow seems to be holding up just fine. One of the biggest worries this off-season wasn’t will Mike Pelfrey be the #2 starter, it was will Johan return to be the #1. Thankfully he has.
5. Angel Pagan is the heir-apparent.
Carlos Beltran is the ire of Mets fans for multiple reasons. Injuries, albatross contract, lack of effort, albatross contract and inability to be a team leader. Oh, and that curveball in 2006. But with his contract running on its last year, and Angel Pagan turning the corner as a player, its fairly safe to say that next year will be Carlos Beltran’s last as the Mets CF, or maybe even as a Met. Angel Pagan is putting up numbers that most players wish they could, and playing defense that most pitchers dream they had. As late as opening day, Angel Pagan was going to be platooned in center field – but how ludicrous does that sound now? The Mets were patient with Angel, offered him arbitration, helped him become a smarter ballplayer, and now he is tied for second in the league in steals and rating as one of the best center fielders defensively. Angel should be looking at a fat contract extension either this year or next year, and should be roaming the spacious confines of Citi Field for years to come.
6. Jose Reyes
He’s back, he has his legs under him, and he is still young. What more can most Mets fans ask for after a botched injury diagnosis brought him from out for a few weeks to done for the year. Jose started off the year very tentative, but as the year has progressed he has gotten back into his offensive form, his speed and confidence are returning and he is player gold-glove caliber defense. But any Mets fan should just know. Jose Reyes. Mentioning the name, without injury preceding or following it is like Christmas for 162 games a year.
….and all of this is what occurred around Oliver Perez being useless in the bullpen and anywhere he was, John Maine being hurt as always, Alex Cora starting at second, K-Rod playing rock-em, sock-em robots with his father-in-law, Pelfrey being an ace, then a joker, then a lower suited card then an ace, Luis Castillo being useless, Gary Matthews Jr. wearing a Mets uniform and all while Omar Minaya ran the front office, and Jerry Manuel coached the team. Under those circumstances, I’d say the above mentioned facts make this a pretty good year. Oh yeah, and playing Jeff Francoeur daily.