The New York Mets as I See It

The Mets are currently at 54-54 with 54 games to go.  Last year’s team finished at 70-92, blamed mostly to injury.  This year’s Mets were recently 42-31.  The losing started with a road trip to Puerto Rico and Washington and has snowballed since.  Below is my analysis of the team:

First Base:  After failures by Mike Jacobs and Frank Catalanotto, they appeared to found a keeper in Ike Davis.  He has pop in his bat and is a decent fielder.  He has yet to show he can hit the curveball.

Second Base:  Despite what many Mets fans will tell you, Luis Castillo is a gamer.  His batting average is low and he has been grounding into a lot of double plays, but he still has a knack for getting on base.  He is also one of the toughest batters to strike out.  His batting is slowly improving and will be an important part of any resurgence the Mets may have.

Shortstop:  Jose Reyes came off to a slow start due to missing Spring Training and the first two weeks of the season.  He (and the Mets) caught fire in May and most of June.  He injured his oblique in Puerto Rico and hasn’t played the same since.

Third Base:  David Wright is the one Met who can carry the team when he is hot.  He currently leads the Mets in home runs and RBI.  Like many of the other Mets, Wright is currently on a cold spell and is pressing.

Outfield:  I am lumping them together because the Mets have four everyday outfielders for three outfield positions.

Jason Bay:  The good news is that he isn’t the liability defensively that he is rumored to be.  The bad news is that he has been a major disappointment batting.  He draws a good amount of walks, but hasn’t produced the hits or the power expected.

Carlos Beltran:  It will take Beltran a while for him to get back to his standards in hitting.  He returned to the lineup three weeks ago and is struggling at the plate and the field.  The Mets will need Beltran to improve and he can only improve by playing every day.  It took Reyes over a month so we will have to be patient.

Jeff Francoeur:  The best fielding right fielder the Mets have had in a while.  His arm has saved the Mets runs.  He has been a disappointment at the plate.  But unlike Bay and Castillo, Francoeur does not draw walks and has an on-base percentage under .300.

Angel Pagan:  Arguably the best player the Mets have had all year.  He started the season on the bench while Gary Matthews Jr. had been given every opportunity to cement the starting Center Field job (at least until Beltran came back).  Pagan finally started and became a catalyst during the Mets’ hot streak of May and June.  Putting him on the bench proved to be futile as he has been the only outfielder hitting all season.

Catchers:  Rod Barajas started off hot and led the Mets in home runs in April.  His batting has gone downhill since and continue to goes downhill.  Henry Blanco doesn’t have Barajas’s power, but has a more consistent bat, plays better defense, and handles pitchers better than Barajas.  Josh Thole will be the Mets starting catcher soon and is already getting increased catching duties.  He can hit for average and some power, plays a steady defense, and is improving in handling pitchers.

Bench:  There is nobody on the bench that hits decently.  Alex Cora is a steady defensive replacement for Castillo, but otherwise, nothing very good defensively either.

Starting Pitching:  Johan Santana has had a couple rocky outings, but has been solid other wise.  He would have more wins if the Mets could score runs for him.  the Mets have lost seven games that Santana was taken out of which he had given up one run or less.  Three of those games were games that Santana did not allow a run.  Mike Pelfrey had been a top pitcher the first three months of the season, but has been awful since.  Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has been the most consistent pitcher since he first the team in June and has been a pleasant surprise.  Jonathan Niese has been steady and keeps the Mets in games.  Hisanori Takahashi has been good out of the bullpen, but has had moments of mediocrity as a starter.

Relief Pitching:  The same can be said about most of the relievers.  They go through streaks when they are solid and periods when they have been horrible (especially in games Johan Santana started.)  Their best reliever was Jenrry Mejia, but he was sent to the minor leagues to learn to become a starter.  Francisco Rodriguez has been shaky at times, but has been pitching his best as a Mets over the last two weeks.

Managing:  Jerry Manuel has to be relieved of his duties if the Mets are going to have any chance of winning the division.  He has the odd habit of sitting the hot batter.  Some of the lineups he has made out have made no sense.  He has one of the best hit-and-run tandems in Reyes and Castillo, but rarely hits-and-run.  Jerry is a mellow person, and there are times where his mellowness has helped the Mets.  But there are times that the team needs somebody with some fire to get them out of funks like the one they are in now.  His handling of pitchers have (for the most part) been dismal.  He pulls Santana too early and other pitchers too late.

Outlook:  As of now, I see the Mets finishing 75-87.  If the Mets start to hit-and-run more and if Jerry does a better job with the pitching staff (I would have Blanco catch Santana and Pelfrey and Thole catch the other starters), they will do better.  If Jerry is fired and replaced with somebody competent, then the ship can be righted and the Mets can win.  Otherwise, it will be a long two months in Flushing.