Yes, they're not Mets, they're a mess.
It's no secret that my favorite National League team is the New York Mets. My family is full of Mets fans, born and raised, and of course, living in the New York broadcast market, I got to follow the Mets more as a kid than I could the Red Sox (before Extra Innings and MLB.tv packages and what not). Last season, the Red Sox won the world series, and that was fantastic, but it was still difficult to watch the Mets lose in the way they did. I came into this season with similar expectations I had from last season; the possibility of a repeat of the 1986 World Series. The Mets blew it last year, and this year, they aquired one of the best pitchers in baseball to boost their staff. But what has it got them?
Right now, they're a .500 team. They have been since late last season. Old tendencies are coming back and this team is hurt internally and externally. Basically, from what I'm watching right now, they're awful. How can a .500 team who is under 5 games out of first place that awful, in May none the less. Well, there's plenty of reasons, and I'll touch on quite a few.
To me, this doesn't look anything like the team that came out in 2006 and dominated from the start, despite a lot of players being the same. This team looks more like the team that would have a 4 game win streak, and then a 3 game losing streak. The team that let the New York Media get to some of them. The team that struggled mightily with inconsistencies, disappointments, and did not win in the end.
This team looks like the 2005 Mets.
Now, the 2005 Mets should not be disappointed with what they accomplished. They were a building team that was moving the Mets out of a few very bad seasons, and under Willie Randolph's first year as manager, they finished 83-79, good enough for 3rd place in the NL East.
Think about it. The 2005 Mets had a big time superstar patroling centerfield, and despite his reputation for good power numbers, he hit .260 with 16 homers in the entire season. It was Carlos Beltran, and he definitely had a hard time adjusting to the NY media spotlight. In 2008, he declared the Mets the team to beat in Spring, trying to rile up his team and reclaim the NL East crown. Right now, he's batting .253 with 3 homers, on pace for an eerily similar season.
The 05 Mets had a lefty outfielder who had decent numbers through his career pretty much have a career year, at least in terms of power numbers, his name was Cliff Floyd. This year, Ryan Church is looking pretty similar to that.
That's just the offense. The pitching has it's similarities too.
Both teams had 2 very good front starters; Pedro Martinez (2.82 ERA) and Tom Glavine (3.53 ERA) against Johan Santana and John Maine currently. Both teams had 2 okay starters who were inconsistent but could put in decent outings; Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano, both had ERA's slightly above 4, and now, Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfry (I am placing Pelfry here because his past few outings were good, and if it weren't for a lazy Castillo tonight, he would've been out of a big inning).
Diving a little deeper, the 05 Mets were 6-13 against the division rival Braves, this year so far, they're 2-6.
On May 22nd in 2005, the Mets were 23-21. This year, they'll be 21-21 (not counting tomorrow's game yet).
The 05 Mets would go on a 4-5 game winning streak, and then go 1-6 over the next stretch. The 08 Mets are looking similar to that, getting hot in a certain series, and then blowing a series or two to another team.
It may be late May, but this team still has a legitimate chance. They have a good team, but a few things need to be done in order to get them rolling again. Here are some ideas of what I think would help these Mets get back on track:
- Willie needs to stop being a player's manager and just be a manager, not their friends. In the past 2 years, he'd take a player out for not hustling, yet after Castillo's lazy play tonight, he remained in the game. He should've been yanked faster than a wisdom tooth in the dentist's office. If he wants to keep his job, get tough, show some freakin' emotion, and kick some @$$ on and off the field. Threaten to bench a player if they're slumping, threaten to move a starter to the pen if they're struggling, threaten to remove a player if they don't hustle, and for the love of god, don't ever give Aaron Heilman the ball. If he can't do this, then he needs to be fired. This, in all honesty, is his very last chance.
- Move Aaron Heilman. He is awful, he doesn't have it. I've been saying it for over a year now, he can't consistently spot his fastball, which makes him overly rely on his changeup, which he will throw back to back, over the heart of the plate, which hitters sit on and drive. He is not a good pitcher, and he needs to go. Trade him, send him to AAA, something, but he should not be on their major league roster right now.
- Ban the sports section of newspapers, sports magazines, and sports shows on tv and radio. The LAST thing this team needs is to be listening to more drama. Willie's last concern should be what he said to the media. The players don't need any more controversies, playing into any more drama, and definitely not any more distractions.
- Pick a 2-hole hitter, STICK WITH IT. Is it Church? Is it Castillo? Is it Anderson? Is it Chavez? I say Church, since he gives good power, and doesn't load the middle of the lineup with 3 straight lefties when Delgado is batting 6th. Castillo, he's patient, and has decent speed, but isn't hitting too well this year, Church is. Stop flipping people around in the lineup, it's not good unless it's something like bumping someone down in the lineup because they're struggling. Speaking of which....
- If it comes to it, move Beltran to the 5-spot and have Church bat cleanup with Castillo batting 2nd.
- Don't rely on Pedro Martinez or Orlando Hernandez to come back and contribute too much. They might surprise, but if they struggle for a short period of time, a move needs to be made, quick. Even Mike Pelfry, he's been showing improvement, but if he starts struggling over a good stretch, move him, AAA, bullpen, whatever.
- Willie, stop holding off on going to the bullpen so that you can try and get your starter a win. The team win matters more, not the individual win. He's doing it with Pelfry, he did it with Glavine last year a lot (although that was partially for win #300, but still).
- This team makes unknown starters look like Brandon Webb, but actually hits well against Brandon Webb! They're too agressive at the plate for the most part, which is part of why the offense is so inconsistent; it works against some pitchers and not against others. Work counts more, see more pitches....
- Move runners over, especially you, Carlos Beltran. Play small ball, manufacture runs...you can't hit a grand slam without runners on base, so stop trying to. Big innings aren't sparked by solo homeruns, they're sparked by baserunners and smart hitting.
- Something needs to ignite this team. Someone needs to stand up and say something, without causing controversy like Wagner did (although it kind of worked). Wright, step up and say to the press "we suck right now", be the team leader, call a meeting and do something. Pitchers, don't be afraid to throw inside. You hit a guy, a benches clearing ball might happen, that could be the best thing for this team. Something to ignite them!
- Lastly, as much as I hate to say it, one more stupid distraction, one more stupid comment, one more stupid move or anything from Willie Randolph, and he should be fired. I like the guy, I really do, but something needs to wake this team up. His leash is as short as ever right now.
Right now, the Phillies have Jimmy Rollins back and Ryan Howard is starting to hit. The Braves have a great offense, and Jair Jurrjens is looking great, plus with Smoltz going to close out games upon his return, that makes the game almost virtually over in the 8th. Marlins, playing great ball, I don't think it'll last, but they're hitting and pitching right now. The Mets need to step it up, or else they will be too far out in this race, and I don't see the other teams blowing a lead like the Mets had last season.