Friday, May 22, 2009

The Mets are just a .500 team

Before I say any more, let me preface this by saying this - a good team/player can have a bad game or bad stretch, and similarly, a bad team/player can look good for a period of time. When you have a real .500 team (give or take a few games), you get enough stretches like that that it balances out what looks like, on paper, either a really good team or a really bad team. The Mets, on paper, looked like a really good team. They have had stretches this season where they just didn't show it, and times where they did. Hence, I call them a .500 team. It's different than the .500 team that played out 161 3/4 games last year (yes, I know they were a bit over .500, but not much, and one more good stretch than bad accounts for it).

Another factor of a .500 team, that I do see in the Mets, is some really strong points and some really weak points.

  • They're strong in starting pitching. Really strong at the top of the rotation, and with Ollie Perez sitting in sunny Florida working out his "injury", I really don't see a weakness here. Remember, you won't get 162 quality starts. Sometimes, a pitcher can be distracted by mini-earthquakes on the pitchers mound in a city that's physically always on the move. Sometimes, he just won't have his curve ball. That's ok. Move on.
    Grade: A

  • The bullpen is better than it was last season, so far. It will always be fresher at the start of the season than it will be in August and September. It has to be. But last season's bullpen, almost an entirely different set of arms, was supposed to be good too. This year's home makeover version has been good, but not great. Something is wrong with J.J. Putz. Either with his head, his shoulder, or both. Bobby Parnell has been great in the 7th, and can mature into a more important role someday. K-Rod can be dominating some nights and a bit scary on others. Sean Green has probably been the most consistent weak link. Some days, pitching bad is infectious.
    Grade: B+

  • The defense has seen a topic of discussion. The Daniel Murphy experiment in LF was a complete failure. That definitely cost the Mets a few games. Funny thing is, I don't remember this being an issue last season. David Wright needs a week's vacation from 3B. I still contend a shoulder or arm injury that either the fans/media don't know about, or one that nobody knows about. He can't seem to get a throw all the way to first on the fly to make it easy for the first baseman. Carlos Delgado made him look good there, and we'll miss him for the next couple months. Beltran has been outstanding, and better when the other outfielders can get out of his way. And nothing else stands out to me there. Let's see how Sheffield handles playing every day in LF and Church and Reed split right.
    Grade: B-

  • The offense, at times, has lacked the clutch hit (and usually with David Wright batting that month), and at times, didn't have that pop out of the box. And don't forget that 7 game HR-less stretch on the West Coast.
    Grade: B

  • They lack depth. I'll skip over the bench and go right for depth. It's a system-wide problem. We have an infielder go down, so we call up an outfielder. And we're asking to do it again with Reyes's injury. We couldn't find a left fielder worth a damn. And he was moved to firstbase, after a week without a real firstbaseman (and nobody in the minor leagues seemed to be able to do the job). We got lucky at catcher with Omir Santos. Damn lucky. We couldn't seem to find someone satisfying to play for Reyes at shortstop.
    Grade: C

  • Management. So bad, that some fans want us to go to Japan to change the tone of the club. That's another post. Player management, position management, and injury management. I'm not sure which has been worse. Injury management is the same medical staff that mis-treated Ryan Church last year. Well, I wrote about that a few days ago. Field management has been on the level of Willie Randolph's club (and that's no complement). You can't over use the bullpen in April and May. You need them in September. This is where we need the most a fresh new look.
    Grade: C-