Go East, Young Men!

Much of what dominates Mets talk and is bandied about is whether the Mets will have a successful season in ’10. Can Big Pelf live up to his “potential”? (Don’t you just love that word?) Will Reyes be his old self or even better? Can the #3 through #5 pitchers keep us in games consistently? So many questions, so much time. I am opting to look outside of these norms and explore another route. Numbers and records suggest that the Mets have done historically better when they do well in their division. Inter-league and NL numbers combined cover approximately half of the games they play in a 162 game season.

We are well acquainted with their troubles last year. No need to regurgitate all that in detail with a new season upon us. They were 28-44 against their East rivals and finished fourth in the division. 40-32 in 2008, 41-40 in 2007 (both with 2nd place finishes), and 44-29 in 2006 when they won the division. This is probably a big “DUH” to many of you but obviously, for a team that had so many challenges last year and questions this off season already, this is a prime place to focus their energies.

You always hear it discussed as crucial parts of the battle plan in the NBA and in the NFL, and especially in NCAA football, for some examples. You have to win those division matchups!

It clearly matters here as well. As much as we can’t help doing so, for the moment lets ignore focusing on Philly because they’re the defending East Champions. A new one game at a time, and “every game matters” approach is going to be the mantra in the clubhouse and in the press publicly this season. But my eyes will be clearly fixed on those division matchups.

If we win those, we can certainly expect to be better than 4th place and near the top again so if a Wild Card is the best possible option, we’d be in better position for it. We can’t lose series against the Bravos, Nats, and the Marlins and expect to contend.

So how do we match up? Our offense, in my mind, is comparable to almost every team on paper. A few things that will help the team take the next logical steps toward success is beating the other teams’ aces.

The Marlins’ Josh Johnson has hurt us much last year. He is is 4-0 with a 1.76 ERA lifetime against the Mets. He’s clearly their best pitcher. When we face him again, beating him will go a long way toward our goal.

The Braves’ Jair Jurrjens is 6-1 in eight career starts against the Mets, including 4-0 in five outings last year. Tommy Hanson also must be considered.

With the Phillies, J.A. Happ, Cole Hamels (his record against us stinks but he called us choke artists and I highly doubt any Met or Met fan will forget this when he’s on the mound, true or not), and now Roy Halladay (whose record I love against us. Halladay is 2-2 with a 5.55 ERA in four career starts against the Mets, the most recent of which came in 2006.) We still need to beat these aces for starters but essentially, a winning record against our NL East-mates puts us back in the driver’s seat and perhaps far past the talk about whether we can compete in a division that is ours by right.

We have given it away many times so now it’s time to take it back….by force if necessary. Don’t ask how…..You Already Know…..