Mets On The Right Track?

If you polled Mets fans today, there would be disagreement as to whether the Mets are on the right track.  So far this season we’ve already seen the two extremes.  We’ve seen the Mets go on a great streak, winning ten of eleven games.  But we’ve also seen the dark side – a team that can’t hit and can’t pitch.  The result being a 12 – 22 record when deducting their one good streak.  So what’s it going to be as the season progresses.

Hopefully, we’ll see more winning streaks.  I don’t think you’ll see the extreme downside.  The reason is Jerry’s and Omar’s willingness to make changes, albeit slowly and methodically, as the season progresses.

A huge reason for my thinking is that Oliver Perez and John Maine have been taken out of the starting rotation.  Basically, other than an exception or two, when Perez and Maine have taken the mound, the Mets had little chance of winning.  The game was usually over by the third inning.  You can’t be a good team when you have two pitchers who don’t give the team a chance to win.

We don’t know if Takahashi and Dickey can be consistent starters, or if Jon Niese can come back and pitch effectively.  Niese was already erratic prior to his injury.  However, until July, the Mets will likely go with what they’ve got.  Don’t expect a trade for Roy Oswalt or Cliff Lee until July, and only if the Mets can hang in the pennant race until then.  What will make a trade difficult even then, is that Ike Davis and Jenrry Mejia are in my opinion untouchable.

Mets fans are rightfully impatient.  But I respect Jerry Manuel for giving players time to find their way and role on this team.  I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that your opening day roster need not resemble the roster at the All Star break.  In other words, you don’t have to play all your cards early in the season.  With the season only 25% done, this is already true.  Chris Carter has replaced Frank Catalanotto.  Perez is in the bullpen, and will be used sparingly.  If John Maine recovers, he will have to prove himself in order to stay on the roster.  His role and contribution might turn out to be in the bullpen.

Others will be tested and if they don’t perform, will not stay on the roster.  I would put Fernando Nieve, Jon Niese, and Gary Matthews Jr. on this list.  Raul Valdez has been very good, but if he falters he will be replaced too.  Jeff Francoeur will be re-evaluated if he continues to slump.

Fans are impatient and want changes immediately with instant gratification.  But Jerry is correct in giving these players time to break out of slumps, proving their value to the team.  As great as Fernando Nieve was in April, he is horrible now.  If it had been the other way around and he had been sent to the minors, we would have lost out on his positive contributions.  Cut him some slack.  And give him some needed rest.  Maybe he can turn it around again.

Jenrry Mejia is the most intriguing of all when it comes to value.  The jury is still out whether or not he can or should hang with the team this year; or given time to develop in the minors.  I for one, am mesmerized every time I see him pitch.  I have never seen a 97 MPH fastball move like his does.  It is unhittable if he can gain better command.  At best it would be pounded into the ground.  He is potentially a strikeout and ground ball pitcher; a combination that you rarely see.

The final piece of the puzzle and the most important, is the revival of the Mets offense.  On Saturday and Sunday, we saw a glimpse of this resurgence when the Mets scored 8 runs after two were out.  If Reyes, Davis, Wright, and Bay start hitting consistently, all at the same time, and in the clutch, our offense will be potent and able to compensate for some pitching weaknesses.

Figure on a roller coaster ride this summer, where the thrills will hopefully outnumber the fright