I still think the Mets true identity is a team that plays almost like a champion at home and can't find their way on the road. I have to think that at least one of two things accounts for this - Citi Field truly is a unique ballpark built for the Mets and the Mets are conditioned to win there and only there - and/or the manager of the Mets only knows how to manage the Mets in a "home" game and can't quite figure it out in a "road" game.
On to the players of the first half of the season. Coming into the season, I don't think most knew what to expect from the Mets 2 best starting pitchers - Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese - or the thought that those would be the 2 best starting pitchers. The Mets have a good crop of in-season callups from Buffalo as well - Ike Davis, Chris Carter, Ruben Tejada, R.A. Dickey - to go with the homegrown core of the team (Wright, Reyes, Pelfrey, Niese).
There's a few players from past years that seem to be "missing". Carlos Beltran, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo. I almost think that the Mets could do without at least 3 of these guys and bringing any one back would be a big disruption to something going well.
Let me ask a question in jest. The Mets are playing well in an 9 game home stretch. Name 2 things that can disrupt it. Answers - one of those "missing" players returns, or the homestand ends.
The biggest concerns for me for the 2nd half of the season are Johan Santana, the bullpen, and the return of the injured players. Yes, you heard me right. I'm concerned about Johan Santana. He hasn't recovered from his offseason surgery. He has the mentality of an ace, but doesn't have the physical abilities, at least this season, to back it up. The bullpen is weak and overused. The overuse is on Jerry Manuel's shoulders. Something's wrong with the Mets closer. Maybe he isn't being pitched enough, or in the right spots, but he's paid to get guys out and just isn't able to. This will be 2008 all over again when Jerry Manuel ran the bullpen into the ground and cost the Mets a playoff berth. And the aforementioned injured players, older, rusty, and/or overpaid, coming back could disrupt what the Mets already have. Think about where you, as a fan, would want those players inserted into the lineup and starting or bullpen rotations.
For the 2nd half, well, I think my March prediction of 75 wins might be a bit short, but I don't see 85 wins happening. I expect a deja vu of 2008 (which I admit is better than a deja vu of 2009), and I expect the Mets to miss the playoffs again.
Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com.
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