An Optimistic Mets Fan Faces The Hard Truth

You may have noticed that I have not written much in recent weeks.  It’s simply because I’ve had little to say.  And as spring training winds down, I am left shocked and speechless, with my mouth wide open.  It’s sad but true.  I am extremely discouraged on the state of the 2010 Mets.

All winter long I stuck up for the Mets.  I jumped early on the Murphy bandwagon and called for fans to accept Castillo and root for him.  I had faith that Wright, Beltran, Reyes, and Bay would spark this team.  And Francoeur, Murphy, and Barajas would add depth to the lineup.  The offense should be good; that is not the problem.

I believed Pelfrey, Perez and Maine would have comeback seasons, crediting their winter work ethic and new found health.  Ryota Igarashi and Kelvim Escobar were going to be the true bridges to K-Rod, a part of the Mets bullpen that his been so sorely lacking over the past several years.

Now I’ve looked in the mirror and don’t like what I see.  I see a team whose offense is good but not good enough to overcome the most putrid, pathetic pitching I have ever seen.  Without sudden reversals of fortune by numerous pitchers, this team is a certain 4th place finisher in the NL East.

So bad does the starting pitching look that the Mets will need several long men in the bullpen like Nelson Figueroa, Fernando Nieve and Ken Takahashi.  When the starters can’t even finish five innings, we’ll need these relievers to pitch multiple innings.  A certain Mets Merized fan would say that Figgy is only good enough to be a #8 starter.  On this Mets team, I beg to differ.  All three will likely start games at some point, hopefully not as our #2, 3, and 4.

The bullpen has been no better.  Escobar is injured.  Igarashi is no good. Calero has given up three home runs in five innings.  Green has pitched so poorly he likely won’t make the team.  Are the answers Elmer Dessens and Raul Valdez?

Here is a look at selected spring Mets pitchers statistics.  Read ’em and weep. It’s not pretty.

Player        ERA       HR      OBP   WHIP

Pelfrey       7.97        8        .375      1.77

Perez        8.66        5        .400      1.92

Maine        7.94        3        .370      1.59

Niese        5.65         0        .377      1.74

Santana    6.75         4        .420      1.98

Igarashi    7.50         2         .424      2.08

Calero      6.75         3         .360      1.50

Green      4.50         0         .391      1.70

We assume Johan Santana’s spring doesn’t count and that he will right himself.  Can it be that spring training doesn’t count for anybody?   At what odds can anyone and everyone turn on the switch come April 5th and start pitching well? 

Something tells me that the continuation of last year’s dismal performances this spring, especially by Perez and Pelfrey, do not bode well for the regular season.

It will be very interesting to see how Omar Minaya reacts to continued poor pitching performances.  How long will he stay with Pelfrey, Perez and Maine in the rotation?  Pelfrey could be sent down to the minors.  Perez might find himself staying in Port St. Lucie for extended spring training.  Can Jon Niese pick up the slack even though he too has pitched poorly this spring?  Maybe Fernando Nieve and Nelson Figueroa can get on a hot streak for awhile.  They did last year.

It’s not yet time to jump ship.  Let’s remember that it is a long season and all players have hot and cold streaks, even pitchers.  An abysmal start by some of the pitchers could be reversed.  Given some time and patience, their seasons could turn around.  Ah, patience – who has time for that.

Mets fans low expectations going into this season will not soften the blow of a poor season.  It will certainly harbor comparisons to the dark ages of the 90s when high expectations ended quickly and embarrassingly.  Seeing Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya fired by mid season will offer little consolation.

I am no longer the eternal optimist.  All I know for sure is that unavoidably and for better or worse, starting on April 5th, the truth will begin to unfold.