Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The one-sixth report

The Mets have played 27 games in this 2010 baseball season. That is exactly 1/6th of a regulation season.

The Mets are 15-12 , 1/2 game back of Philadelphia for first place in the NL East. They're also 1 full game back of San Francisco for the Wild Card lead. The Giants come to New York this weekend.

So far, the Mets have played Florida (13-13), Washington (14-12), Colorado (13-14), St. Louis (18-9), Chicago (13-14), Atlanta (11-15), Los Angeles (11-15), Philadelphia (15-11), and Cincinnati (13-14). Of the teams that the Mets took series from (all at home and all on the same homestand), they average 12-15. Of the teams that have taken series from the Mets, those teams average 15-12. And they're split with Cincinnati playing the rubber game this afternoon. The point with those numbers was to see that the Mets beat on 3 teams that are all sub-.500, while losing to 4 teams that are at or above .500. It's early, it doesn't say much.

Now onto the team itself.

Coming out of Spring Training, I said that the pitching scared me. What I didn't see coming was a bullpen overhaul. Only 2 spots were secure, 1 went to a former starting pitcher/injured player from last year's roster, and 4 spots belong to newcomers, while parts of last year's bullpen are down in AAA Buffalo. One deserving of that demotion ended up getting injured early on, and one new guy also was injured in the first month. It doesn't seem contagious though. Point being, the bullpen has received rave reviews this year. The pitchers that scared me are mostly in Buffalo.

The starting pitching has been getting through battles even if the team had lost more games than it seems. I also didn't expect Jon Niese to propel to the 3rd starter, and wasn't surprised to see Mike Pelfrey down at 4th. Pelfrey had been the ace up until Philadelphia on Saturday. I said that John Maine needed extended Spring Training to get things worked out. He ended up doing that with the big club, but maybe, just maybe, he's close to his older form. Santana has had too many outings where he was shaky or without his fastball. And Ollie Perez has been a bit better than expected. The starting pitching through 27 games has 9 wins and 7 loses. They're only averaging 5 1/2 innings per start (which is 5 innings and somewhere between 1 and 2 outs in the 6th). That's too few innings from your starting pitchers (148 1/3 overall). They also have an ERA of about 4.00, which is a bit too high. That's about 2 1/2 runs given up before getting pulled. It forces too much reliance on the bullpen to be good, for the bullpen to eat up lots of innings, and for the offense not to be anemic.

And the offense has been anemic at times. The only ones on the roster batting over .300 are 2 relief pitchers, each with a hit in 3 times at bat. Ike Davis is the closest at .295. Reyes got off to a slow start, but he had lots of cobwebs to shake. Wright and Barajas are your HR leaders, and that part is a sign of improvement over last year. But only 4 of 8 position players are averaging better than 1 hit in 4 at bats - Davis, Wright, Castillo, and Francoeur. That's not going to cut it. Bay, Pagan, and Reyes, all of whom you expect big things from, aren't delivering, and it's hurting the club.

Now, let me ask this. Are the Mets a good team that turned the corner when Ike Davis arrived, 2 days after the 20 inning game, and had a bad 3 games over the weekend in Philly and Cincy? Or are the Mets a bad or average team that had a great homestand against 3 clubs currently below .500, including sweeps of 2 teams that are each 4 games below the even mark? In 2008, I said that the Mets were a .500 club that also had one big winning streak not long after their manager was fired, and nothing more. And that was a team that broke our hearts making us think they were good, and contending, and blew it. I'm starting to think that the 2010 Mets are getting back to that 2008 level, and with overuse of the bullpen, I wonder if there won't be another collapse, especially if they continue to rely on them for almost half a game every night (20 inning games excluded).

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