.500 Never Looked So Good

If you look at the Mets record, you may think they’ve had a very uneventful season. Afterall, they’ve won 9 games, and they’ve lost 9 games. But in all reality, .500 never looked so good.

Any team with a .500 record is going to have its share of positives and negatives. But for the Metsies, the good far outweighs the bad, because a lot of the ifs are falling into place.

The Mets starting pitching staff was their biggest if. But if was probably a little optimistic. Most people feel Omar Minaya should have signed a starting pitcher this off-season. It didn’t have to be John Lackey, but there were plenty of mid-level pitchers who were there for the taking, that the Mets didn’t take. They compounded that mistake, by letting go Nelson Figueroa.

The Mets rotation coming into the season were Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez, and Jonathan Niese. If the Mets had any hope to contend, Santana had to remain healthy and stay the Ace that he’s been throughout his career. But that wouldn’t be enough to contend. In order to truly fight for the Wild Card, Pelfrey, Maine, or Perez had to match or exceed their career year.

The way Pelfrey has pitched so far, the Mets might be able to fight for the division, let alone the Wild Card. Pelfrey has been dominant. If it wasn’t for Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies throwing a no-hitter, Pelfrey would have a realistic shot at Pitcher of the Month award for April. His 3-0 record, with 1 save, with an ERA of 0.86 has been season-saving for the Mets.

Obviously, Pelfrey is going to come back to Earth at some point, but even if he finishes with an ERA in the mid 3’s, that certainly would be a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.

But because of Minaya’s missed opportunities, a dominant 1-2 punch might not be enough. The Mets still need two of their other three starters to be somewhat mediocre, instead of just plain bad. And so far Perez and Niese have accomplished that. Even Maine was having a pretty decent outing Friday night until he got hurt.

Over time, if the Mets starters keep pitching the way they are pitching, the wins will pile up higher than the losses. Which is a great reason for optimism.

However the field isn’t so green with the Mets hitters. Jose Reyes seems to be coming around after an awful beginning, but the rest of the Met hitters don’t seem to be there yet. And they aren’t giving too much indication, that they will reach their career norms.

Though he has walked a ton, David Wright’s power hasn’t returned like many had hoped, and now his average has diminished. Jason Bay has been Jason Bust, and Jeff Francoeur once as hot as the Iceland volcano, has pledged not to hit until air travel returns to Europe.

But worst of all, Carlos Beltran is doing his best 2009 Carlos Delgado/Jose Reyes impersonation, and doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to returning. And if he returns, you have to wonder if he will be a better than average Major Leaguer. Asking him to return to his elite status, seems out of the question at this point.

The Mets baserunning has been just like their record, hit or miss. While the Mets have been playing hard and hustling more than in seasons past, their lack of intelligence on the basepaths is still a problem.

I’m a fan of tough love, and would love to see Jerry Manuel bench a player once in awhile because of either lack of hustle, or just plain bad baserunning.

So while there are plenty of hitting negatives, to go along with their pitching positives, I think the Mets have to be happy about how things are progressing. Pelfrey appears to be the real deal, and even if Niece and Perez dip below the mediocre level, you have to figure Bay and Wright will step up their play.

And if that happens, and Pelfrey is still bringing it, then its only a matter of time before the Mets start climbing above mediocrity.