While we’re on the subject of Mr. Horwitz, have you given him a follow on Twitter yet? You should. You really should. Here’s a sample tweet about one of his all-too-common minor mishaps:
With a day off today, the Mets have time to reflect on losing six of their last seven games. Things could look pretty pretty crappy right now.
But a day off is also a good time to put something in a broader picture: it’s nothing short of miraculous that the Mets were in a position to lose six of seven games and still have a 32-29 record in the middle of June.
This team could have folded a long time ago. What reasons could they have had for throwing in the towel and calling it an inevitable losing season?
- Ike Davis, supposed to be a core part of our lineup, has arguably been the worst hitter in baseball this year with a .162 average.
- The Mets have a bullpen ERA of 5.46. The next highest ERA in MLB? The Cubs at 4.41. According to sources at the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s like really, really bad.
- In March, more people would have thought Omar Quintanilla was a new dish at Taco Bell instead of the team’s latest shortstop for the last stretch of time.
- Mike Pelfrey. Season-ending surgery. Remember him?
- Jason Bay is still the Jason Bay of the Mets. He’s hitting .197.
- Andres Torres, who has played 38 games this season in primarily centerfield, is hitting .209.
- The Mets may need to move the fences in another 20 feet if Daniel Murphy wants to start knocking it out of the park. In 232 at-bats, he has yet to homer.
- The Mets have a run differential of -19.
- The team ace, Johan Santana, began the season returning from a shoulder surgery people were unsure he’d ever recover from.
The fact that they are above .500 despite all of this is incredible.
This year, the NL East was meant to be a race between four teams, with the poor ‘ole Mets limping their way to another rough finish. In March, don’t you think everyone other than a Mets fan would have laughed at the notion that they’d be above .500 at this point in the season? What if you told those people they’d be above .500 given everything up there?
Before the season, 50 ESPN writers made predictions for the MLB season. Not one of the 50 said the Mets would win the NL East or claim either of the wild card slots. Each of the other four teams in the division received plenty of mentions in the predictions.
And right now, the Mets are pretty average. And average isn’t acceptable, in the long run. Nor does it mean the Mets will be average at the end of the season—they could be better or worse.
But, take a look at the lineup they’re trotting out there on a daily basis, the stiff competition in the NL East, the injuries, the pitching—isn’t it pretty goddamn amazin’ that the Mets are average at this point?
And Ike Davis won’t hit .162 all season. The bullpen can’t have a 5.46 ERA all season (they can’t be that bad…right? right?). Daniel Murphy will probably end the season with a home run and an OPS above his current mark of .690, because he’s just a better hitter than that.
Maybe Omar Quintanilla will be a recognizable name among Mets fans by the end of the season because the dude is hitting .314 with a .956 OPS.
And Johan’s arm is only going to get stronger.
It’s pretty awesome that the Mets are in a position to compete right now. Between the disastrous bullpen, major holes in the lineups and injuries to critical players there was a lot of room for this team to be dreadful. Miserable. Terrible. God awful.
Yet here they are. 32-29.
A lot of these problems can be fixed over the next couple months—at 32-29 the Mets have a legitimate shot of winning the NL East or a Wild Card birth. With everything that has hit the fan so far this season, that’s pretty freakin’ amazin’.
There isn’t much that I’d define as “good,” but how about we go with “encouraging” instead? Let’s apply that to the fact that General Manager Omar Minaya has decided to infuse a touch of youth onto the roster. I don’t know if there’s anybody who doesn’t like Alex Cora, but we all know he wasn’t going to start the amount of games necessary for his vesting option to kick in, and he wasn’t very effective anyway. Jesus Feliciano is a guy who I’ve never seen swing so hard to hit a ball 6 feet in front of him. The Mets welcomed Ruben Tejada and Fernando Martinez back to the Majors, and Luis Castillo has been delegated to a bench role. Is this the answer? No. But it is encouraging that some young guys are here to play.
Can anybody answer what the hell’s going on with Mike Pelfrey? Anybody? Bueller? I remember how, after a month of a half into the season, Small Pelf was a part of early Cy Young and All-Star game discussions. Any discussion concerning Pelfrey now pretty much always starts with “I don’t know…” Why? He’s a guy with all the talent in the world, and clearly has the ability to be an extremely effective pitcher. His fall from grace this year has been nothing short of alarming, and if the Mets are going to at the very least make the last two months of the season remotely interesting, they need him to return to form.
Other problems with the team pretty much all concern the heart of the order. I’m talking about Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and Ike Davis. This trio are 11-62 over the last week, with Ike responsible for 6 of those hits. Together, they have 3 RBI. If you’re head didn’t just completely explode, and I hope it hasn’t, you’re probably thinking that that is completely unacceptable. Because it is.
Jose Reyes has been absolutely brutal with the glove - and more confusingly, his arm - last week. The only thing that’s worse than Reyes making an error is the fact that it seems as if it always leads to at least a run, and usually more.
Someone needs to teach Jerry Manuel how to use a bullpen. After walking Chipper Jones in the Mike Pelfrey game, why he was left in to pitch to Brian McCann, who already had 2 hits on the day, is beyond me. How about leaving him in long enough to hit a batter with the bases loaded to force in a run? The only thing I’ve been able to say whenever the manager makes a mistake like that is: “Oh, Jerry.”
Then, there’s this:
Isaac Benjamin Davis made his Major League debut on Monday, April 19th, 2010, and since that day, the Mets have lost 1 game. Coincidence? Absolutely not. Ike, who if I understand correctly we all like, is batting .318 with a double and a home run, a couple of RBI, all while playing beyond solid, sometimes over-the-top defense. He’s single-handedly* saving the Mets from their poor start.
Daniel who? Mike what? Carlos Delwhonow?
The scary thing about all this? Ike’s accomplishments are don’t stop at the baseball field:
- Ike Davis’ homer last week has now become Jupiter’s 64th moon.
- Ike Davis moved the old Home Run Apple from the Bullpen Entrance to outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. With his bare hands.
- Ike Davis beat Chuck Norris in a thumb-wrestling contest. With his pinky.
- E=mcIke Davis.
- CoCo’s with Ike Davis.
- Ike Davis is my Man-Crush of Eternity.
*Joking aside, there are a few other factors that have contributed to the Mets’ highly successful week. Jose Reyes' presence in the lineup, when playing the way we're used to, instantly provides a spark to the lineup and the energy of the club in general. At the same time, Mike Pelfrey continues to dominate, with an ERA of 0.69 after last night’s rain-shortened win. If last night’s start was what Mike Pelfrey looks like when he struggles, then I don’t know what else to say, I’m giddy. Still, Ike Davis deserves the nod, because the guy looks like a gamer, while having a great idea at the plate, and flashes some leather. He was an easy choice for Man-Crush of the Week.
Along with the weekly Man-Crushes come the Dog House Residents. For every awesome player on your team, there’s also an equally terrible player, which I’m pretty sure is the exact definition of Newton’s third law of motion.
I’m just going to say this as plainly as possible: Mike Jacobs has been awful this week. Before today’s game, he’s got one hit, 2 broken bats, and a bunch of strikeouts. The Citi faithful started to really let him have it, before he finally broke through with his 2-run shot this afternoon. If he can hit a bit of a groove, then maybe, just maybe, I won’t feel nauseous every time he walks to the plate. Do I want him to do well? Yes, of course. Do I trust him to sustain any type of rhythm at the plate? Not whatsoever.
Ever since he was traded to Florida years ago, all fans have been clamoring for was his return. Finally, he’s back, and I’m glad. Why? Because those same people get to learn that he isn’t close to the player they thought he was. Now am I saying that Daniel Murphy's much better? Not really. For one, he doesn't have the pop. He, somehow, probably isn't a better fielder. The sooner he returns, though, the sooner we'll get to find out once and for all whether Murphy is a capable major league first baseman. If he is, great. If he's not, then hopefully we'll see the beginning of the Ike Davis era before too long.
Speaking of Ike, he’s got 4 hits, 2 doubles, a homer, and 4 walks in 14 PA so far in AAA Buffalo, which I wouldn’t put that much stock in if it wasn’t for his fantastic spring. How soon will we start to hear “I like Ike!” chants? Probably sooner than you think.
Mike Jacobs, you almost changed my mind today. One good swing doesn’t a good week make, however. Welcome to the dog house.
*Bonus item! Mike Jacobs is the true Dog House Resident of the Week, but Jerry Manuel is in there with him. Can anybody, anywhere explain to me why it was a good idea to hit him 4th in the lineup between David Wright and Jason Bay? Please don’t tell me it was to split up the righties, because all he did was split up the good hitters with one godawful hitter. Luckily, it took him only 2 games to wisen up on that. Although, it’s 2 games too many.
It’s funny. We were 3 games into the season and already there was panic amongst the Met fan base. And can you blame them? After an utterly lost 2009 season, the Mets needed to get off to a fast start, and so far it hasn’t looked like that was going to happen. Citi Field’s been described as a morgue by many last night, and the crowd tonight appeared to be sparse as well. The Mets needed a shot in the arm, and didn’t get one. They got 3. Here’s what I took out of tonight:
- Since John Maine's poor start on Wednesday, the starting pitching has looked better, with Jon Niese last night, and Mike Pelfrey tonight. Pelf spread 4 hits out over 6 innings, with 4 strikeouts. The 4 walks, hopefully, will lessen in his next start.
- David Wright and Alex Cora made a couple of stellar defensive plays in the 4th and 5th innings to stop the “Natinals” from even sniffing any momentum.
- I’ll admit it. When Big Pelf fielded the grounder back to him with his bare hand and walked the next batter on 4 pitches, I thought we were about to witness another meltdown.
- 4 homers! In 1 game! And it only took 2 guys! Jeff Francoeur and Rod Barajas showed their power strokes, while Wright… well, he went into his trot, so that has to count for something. The Situation approves.
- Jenrry Mejia, in his second appearance, pitched a 1-2-3 inning to end the game. An encouraging bounceback.
- Get Mike Jacobs off the team. Also, I like Ike (Davis).
- Finally, finally… Jose Reyes is back in Citi Field. I can’t wait for him to actually take the field tomorrow. It’s going to be a fantastic sight.
The 3 shots in the arm, the performance by Pelfrey, the power hitting, and Reyes making his first appearance are what I hope helps this team find, what Willie Randolph would call, a “nice little rhythm.”
Submitted by Dave Rosado
I grant you that there are still 2 weeks left in spring training, but these guys are so exciting to watch that I’m confident in making the following arguments.
Slugging percentages of .917 and 1.000. Batting averages of .472 and .500. 6 homers between the two in exactly 60 at-bats. 57 total bases. And they said the Mets farm system was weak. Who am I talking about? Anybody who’s paid attention this spring should know that these are the numbers of Ike Davis and Fernando Martinez. These are a couple of guys that we’ve heard plenty about (moreso about F-Mart) the last couple of years, but only now have gotten to see just how good they can hack it. And how about that Jenrry Mejia?
Martinez used to be called the “teenage hitting machine,” but has taken a bit longer to be noticed because of all the injuries he’s had to deal with. Last year, when up for a cup of coffee, Martinez struggled at the plate and in the field (type his name into a Google search and look at the auto-fill options. “Faceplant” is one of them). His value took a little bit of a hit, and he wasn’t spoken about too much for the rest of the season. This spring, however, has been Fernando’s coming out party. Unfortunately, however, there’s a pretty slim chance we see him patrolling center field at Citi anytime soon, with Angel Pagan likely getting the nod. Martinez has not been playing center in Florida, and I’m guessing the logic is that they’ll keep him at AAA to get uninterrupted playing time while Pagan keeps Carlos Beltran’s spot warm for him. Might he end up being a blue chip in a trade deal down the line?
There’s been less hullabaloo concerning Ike Davis when compared to Martinez before this spring, but it’s clear this “kid” (he is 23 today) can hit. And hit. And hit. He’s made a few errors in the field, but his reputation is that of a more than capable defender. So why is the prevailing thought that he’ll start the year in AAA? Daniel Murphy, whose hype machine (through no fault of his own) ran completely rampant last year, will get every opportunity to fail at first base in 2010. He’s hitting a paltry .133 this spring, but look! He’s got a new, taller batting stance! I like Murphy a ton. He’s a hard worker, he’s great when interviewed, and you can really tell that he cares. Can you hit a ball into the gap with caring, though? We’ll get a chance to find out, and I’m far from alone in saying that Murphy’s leash will shorten in a hurry if he continues to struggle into April and May.
The guy I least want to start the year in the Majors is the guy who’s most likely to. Go figure. Still, he’s having a very productive and impressive spring, basically using one pitch to strike out 8 in 9.1 innings pitched. Talk about efficient. There are guys who, when pitching, are just fun to watch, and he’s one of them. It’s easy to see his potential, and his “I’m ready now” attitude is always a plus. Thing is, the bullpen does not look like a weakness on this year’s Mets team, but manager Jerry Manuel, perhaps in a bid to save his job, insists that Mejia be a part of it when the squad comes north anyway, and that’s the unfortunate part. I believe he should be in the minors to get some more seasoning as a starter, which would potentially make him much more valuable to this team down the road. Instead, he’ll probably be pitching in the 8th inning, which certainly might be an upgrade from Bobby Parnell, but in a role that might interfere with his development, especially if he hits a snag and starts struggling against some bonified Major League lineups.
These guys are the reason to watch spring training this year. They’re energetic, full of talent, and are basically pounding on the door to the MLB. That’s why this trio of Mets prospects gets my nod for Man-Crushes of the Spring.