I personally view myself as one of the most optimistic Mets fans around. I am fully admitting to that as a disclaimer to this article. Hell, I even had the Mets pegged for a minimum of 85 wins last year and I truly believed in would happen. But even I was was beginning to lose some of my optimism going into this season and I couldn’t really find many scenarios where the Mets finished anything other than last in the NL East. Than a little something happened just before the season started.
The Mets resolved the whole Bernie Madoff issue and for whatever reason it felt like a colossal black cloud was lifted from this team. I wasn’t even one to believe that the Madoff situation was as serious as the media tried to lead us on to believe, but it still felt like there was something just a little bit different from the moment that situation was finally behind the team. If the media wanted to bash the Mets now it would have to be because of their on the field performance and not some case outside of the player’s jurisdiction.
The other main thing that has me going back to my optimistic ways is the performance of Johan Santana. I was pleasantly surprised during spring when it just seemed like he had a shot to start on opening day and then he goes out and out duels a terrific pitcher like Tommy Hanson and a begin to think “Well maybe…”.
Then they follow up with a win over Jair Jurjens who had been 8-4 with a 2.94 ERA against the Mets prior to that game and I continued to think “Well maybe…”
They continue on and get two more wins to improve to 4-0, a better start then I had in my wildest dreams, and every starting pitcher had a pretty damn good start, or at least a pretty encouraging outing.
I wasn’t expecting the Mets to go 162-0 after the first 4 wins, though I’d be lying to say I wasn’t part of the reason the first loss hurt. But the main reason it stung so much was because losing David Wright to an injury was much too reminiscent to years past and the inevitable defensive mishaps from Dan Murphy and Lucas Duda cost the team. Once again I thought “Well maybe…” but this time it was more of a “Well, maybe the season really started today. Here we go again.”
Move ahead a couple games and the Mets got the best of Cliff Lee who just oh, dominated the Mets with a 2-0 record and 0.43 ERA in three previous career starts against them. And they did so without Wright and getting contributions from bench players and
Scott Hairston Jason Bay of all people. Not to mention by getting yet another terrific start out of R.A. Dickey. As good as Dickey was last year, he had a terribly slow start in April and May so a full, strong year out of him could turn out to be huge.
Here are just some positives the Mets have going for them:
- Ruben Tejada looks like a completely different player than last year. He is working the counts like a veteran out of the leadoff spot and making some hard contact. He is doing his best to make the double as exciting as Jose made the triple… But in all seriousness he has made the pain of losing Reyes at least subside for now.
- Johan is still healthy, Dickey looks like he hasn’t missed a beat, Jon Niese showed some of those flashes for why many have him pegged for a breakout, and Mike Pelfrey battled in his first start and actually made mid-game adjustments—possibly for the first time in his career. Now on the surface this looks like a makeshift rotation and Pelfrey specifically still has to show me he can do that again, but at the moment I see five guys who can hand the ball off to the bullpen in the 7th inning every time. Now they might not be a pretty innings like you’d see from Roy Halladay or Lee, but they will at least give you a chance to stay in the game more times than not.
- Building off that, where was this bullpen in spring? I could have sworn Sandy Alderson said the Mets were done making roster moves but it looks like a completely different staff. Small sample size sure, but Frank Francisco has been flat out dominant, Tim Byrdak is a warrior, and I fully believe in the new Bobby Parnell.
- The Mets have been successful without getting almost any production out of Ike Davis and Lucas Duda and if you polled 75% of Mets fans before they season they probably would have said those would have be two of our three best offensive players if the Mets want to have any success.
Now, I am understanding that we are just 7 games into the season but the Mets 5-2 record is nothing to laugh about. If you told me before the year the Mets could start off the season 5-2 with wins over Hanson, Jurjens, and Lee I would probably have given you a big kiss on the lips, regardless of who you were, and said thank you with tears in my eyes.
Last time I checked these wins in April counted the same in the standings September so I am going to enjoy this little hot start while it lasts and hope for the best. After all, ya just gotta believe.