Mets Back On Top!

Now that I have returned from my secret mission I can advise that I am finally back from a brief sejour a Paris, the first thing to be unveiled was how the Mets did in my absence.

Question One: Are the Mets In First Place?

Indeed they are! Sure, it's only a half game over the bloody Braves, who also lost to the Rockies, but it's still a tender, precious lead, bound to grow in the weeks to come.

Question Two: Any surprises?

The Mets were to have faced the Rockies at Shea three times and then travel to DC to beat the pulp from the Nats over the course of three games. It not even mildly suprising that they did not sweep both series' but four out of six was sufficient pace to keep the Mets ahead of the Braves.

Moises Alou leading the Major Leagues with a .397 batting average whilst leading the NL with a .434 average at night and tied for first in the NL with 11 multi-hit games?

But in my book, the best surprise was Willie Randolph losing his cool on Saturday and the Mets going on to win.

It's rather dire when you lose two games in a row to the likes of the Rockies and Nats (as the Mets did on Wednesday and Friday) and rightly, the pressure was building - the indignity of such losses a slap in the face to expectations. The 12th inning rally was just the sort of comeback the Mets were renowned for last season and just the tonic to wipe the smile off Brave faces.

By the way, if the Mets hit a losing streak this season, a flat liner moment - will there be calls for Jerry Manuel as the no-brainer replacement? A bit of style and substance during his fill-in for Randolph, right? Blasphemy to even consider such a thing? Well trust me, nothing is certain in baseball. Not if we can lose a game to the Nats for crissakes. Even if it's just one. And look, if it weren't for John Maine pitching the daylights out of their Triple-A batting order, where might the Mets be today with their three hits and lone run pulled like lyposuction from Sunday's tepid 1-0 victory?

Question Three: The Losses

Well, technically not a question. But losing second baseman Jose Valentin to a knee injury weakens the team. I mean this if this is the kind of injury that causes us to summon the likes of Anderson Hernandez it must be a bad scenario. Hernandez not only hits like a goyle at the plate but a still-more damning mark against his character as a Met is that he allegedly doesn't sign baseball cards that fans send him.

You'd think he'd be bloody well grateful that anyone would want his autograph what with his miserable and enfeebled .208 batting average against minor league pitching (oddly about on par with his hitting against MLB pitching) but perhaps the problem is illiteracy. Perhaps he cannot sign his own name and is simply embarassed. Or perhaps he believes the images of himself are pieces of his stolen soul. What do you think?

More troubling and more predictable is the potential loss of El Duque and his right shoulder discomfort. Yes, John Maine has probably been the Surprise of April and we should be grateful there is more depth in April's performances than we could have expected but Chan Ho Park and his Triple-A ERA of 7.29 is no answer. And beyond the short term, neither is Aaron Sele.

Still, what with Jorge Sosa winning four games in five starts and a 1.13 ERA (not to mention a 29-4 strikeout to walk ratio over 32 innings) perhaps we might later this season welcome the dodgy right arm of El Duque.

Question Four: What About the Pen?

Well the rage was swallowed by the hype about the starting rotation but there were plenty of squeaks and wriggling about the bullpen. So far Wagner's only had two saves but oddly, he's only had two chances.

For the bullpen as a whole it's good news: 16 "late" innings in close games pitched, 13 hits and 3 runs surrendered. That's a 1.68 ERA, lads. And quite frankly, if you take away Aaron Heilman who continues to give people their fair share of late inning agita, it's even more impressive.

Question Five: Where are we headed?

Not far. Home for a three game series against the Marlins (are we playing out the entire NL East rival schedule in the first month of the season or does it just seem that way?) before embarking on a 7-game West Coast trip.

Meanwhile the Atlanta Braves will host their next 10 games in a row! They will open a three game series against the Phillies followed in order by the Dodgers and Padres.

And the Phillies, well they aren't quite the laughingstocks of a fortnight ago having won 7 of their last 10 but the NL East is still a two team race. Did you really expect them to continue on in the bottom of the division all season? With the Nats and Marlins ahead of them?

I didn't think so.


Sanchez said...

welcome back, what was the secret mission, finding a new Mets second baseman?

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