High Hopes + Low Expectations = No Consolation

Sorry Mets Merized fans.  I am still unwilling to dive head first into the Koolaid just yet, and I’m still somewhat negative on the 2010 Mets.  I know it’s early and a lot can happen.  And there are some positives.  But overall I see a bleak picture for the 2010 season.  A .500 winning percentage is the best that I see.

What we’ve seen so far through the first 14 games is a team that is trying to find its identity  Jerry Manuel still doesn’t know what he has at many positions.  In my opinion there are still so many question marks, and the odds are that too many of them will turn out negative.

Let’s start with the manager.  The players have endorsed and are standing behind Jerry Manuel.  That should count for nothing.  The players liking the manager, and not blaming him for the team’s failures are not reason enough to keep the manager.  Yes, it’s not Jerry’s fault that the Mets offense has been pathetic as neither is it Howard Johnson’s fault.  But many of his moves can be questioned.  Batting Frank Catalanotto cleanup the other night is as boneheaded as it was to bat A-Rod 8th several years ago.  The need to split up two right handed bats with a soft hitting lefty between them is not logical baseball thinking.  Sitting Jason Bay is not the issue.  It would have made more sense to bat Rod Barajas 4th if you really wanted to shake things up.  Otherwise just move everyone down in the order.

In Saturday’s twenty inning game, Manuel warmed up K-Rod almost every inning during the extra innings.  He through the equivalent of well over 100 pitches.  At some point Jerry should have put K-Rod in the game and let him throw two innings.  It was a total miscalculation and misuse of any pitcher let alone your highly paid star closer.

So much for the manager.  Now for the players.  The offense has been pathetic. Team stats (not including Tuesday) are .228 BA, .318 OBP, and .341 SLG.  The team has averaged 8 strikeouts per game.  They are batting .186 with RISP, and .000 with the bases loaded.  I won’t bother to even give you the numbers for our three top players, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay and David Wright.  Yes our problems would turn around quickly if all three starting playing up to their potential.  And possibly they will.  Still I question David’s ability to return to his 2008 and prior numbers.  Carlos Beltran will certainly bolster the lineup “when” he comes back.  In any event,  the last time the Mets have hit in the clutch and with any consistency was way back in 2006.

Don’t fool yourselves into thinking that Ike Davis can be the savior.  Yes, he can contribute more than Jacobs, Tatis, and possibly Daniel Murphy, but don’t look for a total package of home runs, RBI, and high average from Ike.  He still needs more seasoning, which will apparently be coming by necessity at the major league level.  Look for continued anemic production numbers from the 1st base position.

Pitching is next on the agenda.  Mets fans are still hoping.  Santana and Pelfrey have been strong.  But it’s premature to call Mike a consistent #2 starter.  Jon Niese has been good, will hopefully improve, but again can not be counted on to be a true #3 at this point.  Who knows on Perez.  Two starts, one good and one mediocre do not tell much of a story.  But at least you could say there is hope.  Lastly John Maine is a big “if”.  Is he healthy?  Even if he is and he is throwing without pain, he may never get his velocity back.  So it could be goodbye to his 95 MPH fastball.  For that matter, it seems nobody but Pelfrey can throw a 90 MPH fastball anymore.  By the way, there is nobody in the minors who looks ready to step up to a big league role.  Dillon Gee seems like the first to get an opportunity.  A trade for a starter is only possible if the Mets are contending in July.  Until then it’s go with what you have.

The relief pitching has been surprisingly good.  I think question marks remain.  I am uncertain whether K-Rod can consistently close games without giving Mets fans heart attacks.  And that makes me nervous about our overall chances.  We might send Jenrry Mejia down to the minors, but bringing up Bobby Parnell might not be an improvement.  Did you see Bobby’s line in Monday’s game?  0 IP, 4 runs, 1 hit, and 3 walks.  Otherwise we are relying on Ryota Igarashi, Fernando Nieve, Ken Takahashi and Raul Valdez to complement the steady Pedro Feliciano.  Feliciano has been great.  The others have been very good at times although three of the four have already blown games.  Relief pitchers are fickle by nature, being hot and cold.  But you’d hope that at least K-Rod could close the door often and easily but that doesn’t seem to be his style.

To date, the Mets are 1-4 in one run games and 0-2 in two run games.  Not very pretty.  The clutch hitting has been invisible.  The clutch pitching has been erratic.  On a positive note, the Mets have been contending in almost every game.  Can the Mets win the close ones?

Finally, there are no pushover teams in this league, at least for the Mets.  The Pirates, Reds, Nationals, Padres – they all can beat the Mets.  And on the road, we have been and appear to be a lousy team.

Two games against the hapless Cubs, or even a series sweep will not change my mind.  I don’t even hope for a championship this year.  A playoff berth would be shocking.  I just hope for better, consistent play on the field.

And if and when Jerry and Omar are fired, for me, it will be no consolation to a disappointing year.  I want more than to look forward to the next season of hot stove baseball.