METS 2005

Seven dreary months ago the Mets were closing out a 91 loss season with Art Howe somnambulating through his starring role as the Most Boring Man in Baseball, there was no staff ace unless you counted Al Leiter's 12-15 outs-per-start performances and no five tool superstar although it had been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that their one former superstar, Mike Piazza, had no business standing anywhere near first base unless it was as a baserunner.

Seven dreary months ago, The Idiot Collective had traded the most exciting pitching prospect in the system for a sore-armed former Devil Ray who couldn't find the strikezone with a TIALD pod, and the superstar shortstop with the dazzling smile and the rice paper hamstrings had wasted another promising season with various interpid adventures on the DL whilst learning how to play second base only to go back to shortstop again when the shortstop they'd signed to play shorstop and moved their promising shortstop to second base for, proved not to be able to play shortstop after all and was going to be moved to second base as an offseason project whilst the original shortstop cum second baseman was moved back to short.

The Reyes-Kaz Man failed experimental switch, the failed Piazza at first experiment and the seemingly submoronic trade of Kazmir for Zambrano was pretty much the gold standard for futility last season. It was almost better to have been a Brewers fan. At least the beer would have been cheaper.

But that string of nightmares called the Old Mets is allegedly all behind us now.

In it's place, we've had Omar take the reigns at GM, we've swept away the corpse of Art Howe that lingered like the stench of decomposing flesh all season and replaced him with Willie Randolph. The ace is none other than Pedro Martinez and the most sought-after free agent of the offseason, the five-tool Man of the Future, Carlos Beltran, is on our side. Nightmare to wet dream, almost.

And now, for the first time in at least three seasons, we don't have to look at the future with an armless and legless dread. We don't have to listen to Fred Wilpon's empty promises of "meaningful games" while pondering how meaningful it was becoming to finish higher than the Expos for a change. We don't have to dry heave through another season of farcically facile Art Howeisms nor do we have to give up hope before Memorial Day weekend.

These are, they say, the New Mets, not to be confused with the Mets of old which stunk like stale urine on the mid-August teenage runaway sidewalks of Lower East Side Manhattan.

Yes, alot could still go wrong: Pedro's back or labrum could wave farewell at any moment. Hamstring Jose could tear his hamstrings getting out of bed tomorrow morning. Mike Piazza could increase his three hop throws to second base to four hops and continue to age disgracefully and wistfully as he watches the twilight of his career flash before him knowing at least he's got the goddamned record for homeruns by a catcher. The bullpen could lose every lead that Pedro, Glavine or Benson manage to leave the game with. Someone in the NL East could pull a crazy, dominating season out of their hat and leave everyone else in the dust by July. Willie Randolph could prove incompetent managing tight games in August and September.

But alot could go right too. Pedro could win the Cy Young and Benson could add another 15-20 wins. Reyes could steal 80-100 bases and cause chaos for every team facing him. Piazza could have a monster farewell season in New York. Willie Randolph could prove to be a master rather than a mistress of fate. Beltran could prove to be worth every penny.

Most likely, the season will fall somewhere in between. The starting three of Pedro, Glavine, Benson could be the strongest starting three in the division, dominating at times, whilst the tail end of the rotation with Ishii and Zambrano could be maddeningly inconsistent with spurts of unhealthiness sandwiched in between.

Their batting order, if healthy, should be one of the best in the National League. IF healthy. Everyone's mantra for the season. Piazza and Reyes, two keys to the season, have been hurt more than not two seasons running and it would be a minor miracle if they make it through the year unscathed. Not to mention the annual fragility of Cliff Floyd, who is hurt almost as often as he shoots off his mouth loudly and inappropriately for the media about his disdain of an unappreciative, booing public.

Sophomore slump for David Wright anyone, or another season of seasoning to turn him into an All Star third baseman? At least, I can say with relief, Carlos Beltran doesn't look like he's going to shatter like glass and experience a nervous breakdown at the thought of fan expectation and the inevitable, daily raking in the tabloids and on sports talk radio every game he fails to make a spectacular grab in centerfield, steal two bases and homer to win the game.

They should be fast, well balanced at the plate, good defensively and they should give the Braves, Marlins and Phillies a run for their money. IF it doesn't all fall apart before we can even start to enjoy it.


In the meantime leading up to Opening Day for the New Mets in Cincinnati, Kris Benson quietly left camp last Wednesday for an MRI in New York after he felt awkwardness in an upper chest muscle Monday against St. Louis. (Insert Anna Benson upper chest muscle joke here) He was scheduled to start Thursday in Cincinnati, but will swap with Kaz Ishii, who was slated to pitch next Saturday in Atlanta. By all accounts, this is just another spooky reminder of how close disaster is around the corner and not the real thing.

Joining him as a question mark, albeit less worryingly, Mike Cameron revealed that his surgically repaired left wrist is hurting and he might not make the Opening Day starting lineup. Limp wristed, Cryin' Mike Cameron is hurt again. At least it isn't his feelings this time around.

With the Mets pushing Beltran a few steps over to left field and shading Cameron a bit toward the right-field line so they both can have alot of territory to cover and not fight over it, imagine how little Cliff Floyd is going to have to run out there in left field all season. Then again, Cliff Floyd is the human bone spur and it isn't unlikely that he could get hurt if a strong breeze blows out at him in left field.

Although it solves some of the bullpen backlog, I'm not sure Matt Ginter to the Tigers for Steve Colyer was such a great idea. Not with Ginter capable of spot-starting on a rotation that will seem, many times this season, on the verge of collapse. Coyler, 26, was 1-0 with a 6.47 ERA in 41 games with Detroit last year and 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 11 games during spring training.

What it all means is that the bullpen numbers have been solved. Well, the problem of the bullpen weakness hasn't been solved. But at least we have an idea who will be out there blowing the leads for us in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings. Braden Looper and Mike DeJean are in and will very likely be joined by lefties Mike Matthews, Dae-Sung Koo and Felix Heredia, and righties Manny Aybar and Roberto Hernandez.

And another Mets blog to link, The Blog about the New Mets, (o god, what an unexpected and original title!) has an interesting set of Keys to the Season.

One more day to go.


Russlan said...

As the other of the New Mets blog, I must admit your title is much more interesting than mine.

Russlan said...

that was supposed to be author.