On the first Monday of each month we roll out our Monthly MLB Report Card (forever to be known as MMLBRC) for the Mets, Phillies and Yankees. We’ll still check in from time to time with short posts to quickly take the pulse of each team, but think of the MMLBRC as an in depth physical (anal probing not included). Truthfully, a month is probably too small of a sample size to make overarching claims like we will attempt to, but dammit, you want content! So rather than write well-reasoned quarterly updates, we’ll make rash decisions based on far too little data. Next on the list: the quandry in Queens.
What a wacky month July was for the Mets. It was probably the month that saved their season, and our summer (of all sports, baseball has to be the most brutal one to follow when your team is out of contention). What went right? Just about everything, from the rotation tossing gem after gem; to the resurgence of Carlos Delgado, which we’ve mentioned in this space before, and Fernando Tatis partying like it’s 1999 (pay no attention to the poor grammar from the page’s sponsor, we’re sure he/she is a Bleacher Creature).
The only problem? The calendar turned to August, and with that the Mets have given us a few too many reminders why they might turn to pumpkins before the clock strikes midnight on the season:
- The corner outfield predicament. There just aren’t enough good hitters on the roster to realistically expect the Mets to be much more than a slightly above average team. Endy Chavez is a fantastic bench player. Great glove, will play his bum off when he gets a start, and can provide a spark as a pinch hitter or runner late in games. But he’s not an everyday outfielder. That said, I don’t blame Omar Minaya (and don’t say I give Omar a pass) for not trading for an outfielder before the deadline. The Mets were never in the Manny Ramirez discussion (although we don’t agree with the reasons why this was the case), and it’s fairly safe to presume they weren’t willing to part with Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese plus at least another prospect in a possible Jason Bay deal (rightly so, might we add). The remaining rumored options, headlined by Raul Ibanez, were not worth packaging your only young starting pitching prospect, Niese, with other mid level prospects to acquire. It will hurt the Mets this season. In an honest (depressed) moment I can admit the lack of production from left and right field in the next two months will be one of two (we’ll get to numero dos next) main culprits for why the Mets miss the postseason again. Of course a trade would have helped, but you can’t mortage what little of a farm system you have unless the return on investment is substantial.
- Culprit number two in why Shea Stadium’s doors will close for good on September 28 is the bullpen. The pen has been streaky all year, and had it’s best collective month in July. Except there was no way they could sustain that success. Public enemy number one here at TGE has been Pedro Feliciano, who ma as well be the Grim Reaper when he enters the game. After a solid couple of months, Aaron Heilman quickly reverted back to early season form (not a compliment), and even TGE favorite Duaner Sanchez has been shaky at best. No lead is safe anymore, especially when it’s Johan Santana’s turn to take the ball.
- The aforementioned Tatis. Tatis has been fantastic thus far, more than any realistic fan could hope for. But, he’s not this good. Ideally, he’d be a pinch hitter with more than enough pop coming off the bench. For the Mets right now, he’s the fifth hitter. It’s scary to root for a team hoping Tatis can keep this up for another two months. At some point, the other shoe’s gotta drop
I’m not dogging this team. There are many positives that often shake me from my doubting ways. But the holes in the outfield and in relief will catch up to this team. They already have started to.