The Mets are 44-37. They went 23-18 in this second quarter despite injuries and a difficult schedule. The Mets current rotation is 32-16 and is leading the way. RA is the overwhelming choice right now for Cy Young and Wright is an MVP candidate. Santana is pitching like the old Santana minus the velocity and Jon Niese is coming on strong. The Mets must address their pen both internally(Beato, Edgin and Mejia) and externally(Balfour, Gregerson). If they could add a right-hand hitting catcher, that would be awesome, but highly unlikely. Anyway, let's take a look at this "surprising" team at the official half-way mark.
Starting Pitching: The current rotation is 32-16. The only weak spot right now is Dillon Gee and he's been fairly solid. Ideally, the Mets would be better served moving Dillon for BP help or a strong right-handed bat, but that may have to wait until the off-season. Matt Harvey is pitching great @ AAA and is close. If Gee goes, Matt comes up and enters the rotation where he expects to be next year and many years to come. To me Gee's only future here is in the pen. Harvey and Wheeler will be here in 2013 and the Mets even have Collin McHugh who is supposedly similar to Gee. This team's future rotation is bright. Currently, it's pretty good as well. RA has been unreal. I think RA stands for Routinely Amazing. Johan has been the Comeback Player of the Year. Niese has been solid and getting better. Young is a total pro. This is the Mets strength. There is no doubt about that.
Bullpen: It's been a tad better, but honestly outside of Parnell and Brydak, I don't trust anyone. Francisco's injury hasn't hurt. Parnell has had only one opportunity and converted it. This new opportunity should increase his confidence and when Frank returns, he'll set him up and if Frank falters, Bobby can step in. Rauch started off great, then lost 7 straight decisions and many were agonizing. He's become the mop up guy. I wouldn't be shocked to see him DFA'd when Beato, Mejia and possibly even Edgin get here. Batista pitching in the 8th inning is just scary. At best, he's a long reliever. He's another DFA candidate. Hefner is ok, but he's here until reinforcements arrive. Hampson is here until Edgin is ready. The Mets will add a reliever @ the deadline according to John Ricco and others internally. This has been the Mets weak spot. There is no doubt about that.
The Offense: Incredibly as I write they're 3rd in the NL in scoring and first in 2-out RBI's. This despite getting little from Davis and Murphy until fairly recently. Duda has been inconsistent and Tejada very good, but he was out too long to truly assess his impact. Hairston was amazing for the first 50 or so games, but has tailed off. Still he's been terrific vs lefties. Thole is getting better, but his production is porous. Kirk started off great, but has tailed off. He may have hit the rookie wall. Don't forget he missed nearly all of last year with a shoulder injury as well. I like what I see from him because he's fearless at the plate and in the field. He needs to show more patience at the dish. Torres has been horrible at the plate and on the basepaths. He's a better player then he's shown. Maybe he'll have a better 2nd half. If not, he could also be benched or even demoted. Jason Bay did little when healthy and will get one more chance to save his career here. One more injury and I think the Mets will cut the cord. If he falters, expect a platoon with Baxter who should return a few weeks after the AS break. The bench is too infield heavy with Turner, Cedeno and Quintanilla. I'd honestly DFA Cedeno and keep Quintanilla, who can play both SS/2B and is a solid 2B. I never liked the Cedeno move. Turner can play some 2B and is a good pinch hitter and can pinch-run. He's a nice 25th man. Nickeas is awful at the plate and his defense has been surprisingly poor. Rob Johnson should be here and Mike should be @ AAA. Rob outplayed him in the spring and when both were filling in for Thole. The Mets need an everyday catcher and should address that in the off-season. Thole can be a back-up. I think this team can score enough runs with their pitching, but Bay, Davis, Duda and Murphy have to step up. David Wright has carried this offense. There is no doubt about that.
The Defense: It's been positively offensive! They currently lead the league in errors. Murphy and Duda are both big reasons for that, but Davis hasn't played well and both Cedeno and Quintanilla made SS an adventure when Ruben was out. Kirk has made some boo-boos and Torres looks like an older Pagan in CF. Even Wright had a 2-week span where he made about 6 errors. This last week or so, he's turned around and has made 3 or 4 highlight reel plays. I expect David and Ruben to solidify the left side. I expect Davis to bounce back, but Murphy will always be a negative. He tries and occasionally makes a great play, but has little grace there. The Mets are so much better with Valdespin @ 2B. If Murph gets hurt or slumps, Jordanny will get his shot. Then this infield has a chance to be solid. The outfield will improve with Bay in LF and Kirk in CF, but Duda is a problem. TC thinks he'd be better in LF, but as long as Bay is here, he'll play RF. The Mets best defensive alignment would be to call up den Dekker who is a highlight reel CF, move Kirk to RF and have Duda in LF. That won't happen until Bay is gone. Bay in LF, Kirk in CF and Duda in RF is at best decent. Kirk being the best of the 3. The Mets have to get better here. There is no doubt about that.
The Management: I cannot tell you how thrilled I am with Sandy, Ricciardi, DePodesta and TC. They are making this team professional again after years of being a laughingstock. Sandy was given a mess(ala Donnie Walsh) and quietly has rebuilt the system by fortifying it with talent. The deal to get Wheeler was a steal. The dumping of TKO-Rod was masterful. The hiring of Depodesta and Ricciardi, 2 former GM's and well-respected talent evaluators, was superb. However, his best move? Hiring Terry Collins. He took hits for that in the press. Heck, I would have preferred Wally Backman. But he was right. Terry has done a masterful job handling the players and press. He's kept his cool. He's gone from obnoxious to endearing. He's at best a mediocre in game manager, but overall how can you argue with his results and how this team consistently plays hard and bounces back? He's one of the main reasons for this team's resurgence. There is no doubt about that.
Outlook for the 2nd half: No one has a crystal ball. Last year we saw perhaps the craziest ending to a season in MLB history with IMHO the most exciting final day ever. However, there is no doubt with this team's pitching, the leadership of the manager and GM, the talent still available @ AAA and this team's grit, they can battle for one of the 2 Wild Card spots and maybe even the division. This is one tough little team that is a joy to watch. There is no doubt about that.