I like to break down a season into (8) 20 game segments. Here I'll be discussing games 1-20 in the first installment of my 8 blog entry series. I will also end it with some thoughts overall about this team. The first 20 games were pretty ugly, but ended with some hope. Here we go...
The Mets starters were horrendous. They have the 2nd worst ERA in the NL next to Arizona. The "top 3" were particularly brutal. Pelfrey, Niese and Dickey won 2 games while losing 8 and it could have been even worse. Each had only one quality start. That can't continue or else this team will be lucky to win 70 games. Young pitched brilliantly in his 2 starts before the injury and Capuano has done a solid job for a #5, actaully leading the staff in wins with 2. Gee was ok in his spot start, while Carrasco was putrid. Overall they were 6-10 with a 5.3 ERA and no complete games. Ugly and troubling. This is at best a pedestrian group. Mejia could replace a flailing starter later on this year. That could even happen over the next 20 games, but I doubt it. More length(like the last 3 starts) is absolutely necessary.
The bullpen hardly faired better. Carrasco and Parnell have been totally ineffective and Boyer was beyond terrible. Fortunately, the Mets didn't wait and just cut him. Brydak has been ineffective as the lone lefty. Beato and Buchholtz have been very good with Izzy returning and looking very effective, winning the set-up job. Carrasco, normally a decent reliever has been terrible and has been pretty much buried in the backend of the pen. Igarashi isn't anywhere near a major league pitcher and should be waived and replaced by Tankersley, giving Collins another lefty in the pen. Rodriguez blew his first save, but has been ok in limited use. The pen is 1- 3 with 4 saves. However, they've been overused and mostly ineffective. If the starters can go 6-7, then Collins can shorten the pen to Beato, Buchholtz, Izzy and Rodriguez. If that occurs, we could see a turnaround over the next 20 games. Carrasco could settle in as the long man. Here there is hope, but changes need to be made with the lefties and Igarashi must go. Parnell when he comes off the DL needs to close @ AAA and get his head on straight. He's their lone true power arm and will be needed later either to set-up or close, when Rodriguez is dealt. There is nothing @ AAA of any use. Nothing.
The offense has been ineffective in the clutch with the exception of Ike Davis(who won tonight's game). They leave too many men on base, strike out way too frequently and simply do not get runners home when they are in a position to score. The return of Bay should help, not only in production, but lengthening of the line-up and strengthening the bench. Unfortunately, Pagan is going to be out for much of the next 20 games, so we'll see Pridie, Harris and Hairston in CF. Pagan wasn't doing anything offensively, but he has talent and was due to break out. Hopefully, he'll rest up, relax and return hacking. Reyes has been hitting and stealing bases, but not scoring runs. Jose still makes incredibly bad decisions on the basepaths and too often doesn't run early in the count setting up the #2 hitter for an RBI. Reyes also rarely if ever hits in the clutch and his average with RISP is poor. Wright started off great, then went a career worst 0-20 before hitting a HR last night. He's also striking out at an alarming rate. He seems to always take the first pitch, even if it's right down the pike. He then fouls off a pitch or 2, then K's. You can just feel the fact he's going to whiff. David needs to be more aggressive early on and put the ball in play. He also needs to hit line drives and not worry about the dimensions of the field. Beltran has been okay, but hasn't knocked in a lot of runs. He had that 2 HR game and his numbers are fine, but he's not really a #4 hitter, but rather more of a #5 or #6 hitter. Clutch he isn't. Murphy is finally getting more playing time and looks like he may get locked in. Murphy is a solid hitter and if he can play everyday should be an asset either hitting #2 or #7. The fact he's hitting #7 shows this can be a pretty good line-up. Thole has been okay, but has slumped of late. After a few days off, I'm sure he'll bounce back. Thole can hit. Emaus was a flop. Again, Alderson didn't wait and acted by cutting him. The Mets bench has been a huge disappointment, especially Hairston who is a solid player. Harris should be settling there now, even with Pagan out and that should help. The return of Paulino will help because he cripples lefties. Hu can't hit a lick and Justin Turner is a AAA player who has no punch whatsoever. He'll be gone shortly. The offense has potential, but hasn't done the job especially int he clutch. I believe it will come around. They may have to carry this team because of the pedestrian pitching.
Defensively, the infield has been fine(with shakiness @ 2B the exception), but the OF has been horrendous. Pagan, Harris and Hairston, who are normally solid fielders, have all misjudged or dropped balls. Beltran loafs after balls consistently. It is so obvious he's a DH and you wonder if he'll ever bust it for fear of getting hurt and jeopardizing his next contract as a DH in the AL. Watching him play RF is painful and infuriating. Jason Pridie is supposedly a good CF, so perhaps he'll help in the short term. With this staff, any defensive lapses could spell doom. The defense has to be tight. Off the bench Hu is a good defensive player either @ 2B or SS. Turner is not. In his first start he threw one ball away for an error and throw 2 balls in the dirt of would be DP's, that Ike dug out. I don't understand why he's here. He can't hit and defensively he's porous. Hu should be the defensive replacement. Turner isn't needed. Hu's only value is just that. The Mets have no one in the minors to call up for defense only, unless they want Tejada to play 2B, which makes little sense. I say let Murphy start every game and double switch Hu in for defense late.
Lastly, I want to touch on the managing/coaching. Collins hasn't been impressive, but at least he's trying. He's making moves, but they're backfiring. He's trying to keep the players positive and he's communicating. He hasn't lost his cool either. Unlike Manuel who managed on autopilot, he's involved in the game and seems to live-and-die with each game. Terry knows he's here to change the culture and get this team to play baseball the right way. So far, he's been unsuccessful, but it's due to a lack of effort. I do believe the Mets should look at their pitching coach and consider a change. Warthen has not had the best relationship with Pelfrey and his lack of success with Pelfrey, Niese and Parnell is telling. Remember each of them faltered late last year, with only Pelfrey briefly rallying. Mejia also didn't pitch well @ the MLB level. The Mets lead the league in walks and are 28th in ERA. That's reflection on the coach as well as the players. The Mets AAA PC Ricky Bones had his Bison team lead the IL in K's and they had the least walks despite having pedestrian talent. I mean Dillon Gee lead the IL in K's. He helped turn around Niese last year and Mejia has been lights out so far in 2011. Bones may be a boost to this staff in terms of teaching and listening. I honestly believe Ricky could be an asset to a staff which needs all the help it can get. Other than that, Mookie and Hale are fine and Hudgens is hard to judge so early. The Mets do have Mike Easler @ AAA and the Hitman has been a hitting coach for a few MLB teams before. So it is possible change could happen there, if this team continues to slump. Ken Oberkfell is an excellent bench coach and is 1-0 managing with Collins ejected.
In closing, 7-13 and a pathetic 3-8 home record have this team off to a rough start. The media is punishing them and some fans are throwing in the towel already. I find that puzzling. We all knew this was a transition year and Alderson was taking on the role of Donnie Walsh trying to pare down a payroll and terrible culture Minaya had left him. Most of us see this as a mediocre team with some talent, that should get an infusion of youth throughout the year and especially once Beltran, Rodriguez and possibly even Reyes are dealt on or before 7/31. 20 games do not make a season. This team should rally, hover around .500 and once the dust clears in late July should see an influx of youth and hopefully talent from elsewhere. Hopefully, Collins and the coaching staff work well with them and keep the atmosphere professional and teach. The Mets could be like the Orioles were the last month or so last year. 20 games shouldn't depress us or keep us from looking at the big picture. I believe in the next installment we'll improvement and creep closer to respectability. This isn't a good team, but it's not as bad as it's played. This team is mediocre and I think we'll see that play out.