I don't know that, in all my years as a Mets fan, I've been through a more difficult season than 2008. Coming off of last year's miserable ending, with the heightened expectations after the Santana deal, this season held a lot of promise and even more pressure. Being in the Media Vacuum of New York City didn't help matters, but it seemed like every victory was met with cheers and chants of an imminent World Championship, while every loss was met with Gloom and Doom and Ill feelings. There wasn't any relaxation watching this team, and although there might have been great times and great individual performances, and great team moments, there didn't seem to be an overwhelming amount of fun.
At the outset, I likened the Mets to getting back together with an emotionally abusive ex-girlfriend. You knew she had all the potential to screw you over and break your heart again, and yet, you had to take that chance; you loved her far too much to just say no. But she went and did it again, didn't she? As the season was winding down, we began to hear more and more about how the fans were easily dissuaded from the team, they were detached from the team, and so on. I think the fans were afraid to get too attached to this group. We knew the assumed risks. There were flaws on offense and in the bullpen. And it was easy to want to detach yourself from the team. They were far too confident for the talent they had. Far too cocky for their own good. Trading high, perhaps, on the results of years past. We learned just how much other teams, teams that they had to play an awful lot, really hated them, and really took a lot of joy in sticking it to them. We were the guys who talked a lot of junk, but ultimately couldn't live up to our own hype. In the end, Philly pulled away, Atlanta beat us up, Washington pushed us around and Florida finished us off. And at the end, there we were again. New year, same stupid result. Another loss at home on the final day to send us home for the Winter. A lot of questions, few palatable answers.
So, with that, the ratings for the 2008 Mets:
Willie Randolph - F
Willie basically started this season off with a gun to his head, and I think it's safe to say that he managed as if he literally had a gun to his head. The fun Willie was gone. Willie this year was constantly embattled, constantly making excuses and eventually ran out of options. He lashed out when it appeared he wasn't long for the team, and his firing was more or less going to be a relief to everyone. So, of course, Omar Minaya picks the most asinine moment possible to fire him, making Willie into some sort of bizarre Martyr and making the Mets even more of a laughingstock than they already were. But Willie certainly didn't endear himself to anyone by fully buying into the bullshit, writing a sob story by-line, and then showing up all smiles back at Yankee Stadium for the All Star Game and the Closing Ceremonies. 34-35 with a team that had World Series aspirations wasn't acceptable. He's proven himself incapable of handling criticism and I don't see another team giving him a shot as Manager. But I'm sure he'll always have a place in the Bronx. They're welcome to him.
Jerry Manuel - B-
I'm going to be a little harsh on Jerry, but hear me out. Yes, the team played vastly better under Manuel. Yes, Manuel is a funny guy who kept the team loose. Yes, Manuel was almost totally hamstrung by the issues in the bullpen. But, Jerry Manuel did a pretty substandard job of managing the team. I don't mean the players, I mean The Team as a whole. Manuel's method is far too much "By the Book" managing. There's no real outfoxing Manuel when the game comes down to strategy. In fact, even Willie did some more unconventional things than Manuel. There was too much willingness to stick to his plans, which down the stretch seemed to involve playing Ryan Church when he was clearly clueless at the plate, and having too quick a hook on his starters far too often, which led to a maddening succession of relievers who couldn't get the job done. The Mets may have played better under Manuel, and they may have enjoyed playing for Manuel, and they may continue to do so in the future. But while Jerry Manuel may be able to get the Mets to win, the Mets aren't going to win because of Jerry Manuel. I'm leery about bringing him back. There's a good chance he'll be exposed.
Brian Schneider - B-
Let's be honest. We knew what we were getting out of Schneider. Solid defense, spotty offense. There weren't too many surprises to his game, but more often than not, he proved to be a liability because his offense was so sparse. He went through a brief power spurt in late August, which was nice, but considering he could only muster 19 extra base hits for the season, he made the bottom of the order a virtual black hole, harkening back to the days of Rey Ordonez.
Ramon Castro - C
Too injury prone. He could have stepped in and taken some of the pressure off of Schneider, particularly against lefty pitchers, but he played in only 52 games this season. Not good.
Robinson Cancel - A-
Because he actually played a hell of a lot more than anyone would have thought he would (27 games) and actually chipped in with a key hit in a couple of spots. Not bad for a guy who hadn't played in the Majors in 9 seasons. I'm not at all advocating that he should be involved in any future plans, but given the porous nature of the Mets clutch hitting, ANYONE who delivered in notable spots should be given due notice.
Raul Casanova - C-
Tolerable while filling in for Castro early in the season.
I think he started once. Didn't he?
Carlos Delgado - A-
At or around June 25th, we were all ready to throw Delgado under the bus, never to be heard from again. He was either hitting fairly meaningless Home Runs or striking out, looking like a shell of his former self. Which is why his turnaround was so impressive. Beginning with his 9-RBI outburst at Yankee Stadium on June 27th, Delgado went on a streak that saw him drive in something like 66 runs in his next 66 games. I don't know if it was because the wrist and elbow injuries he'd had over the past year just took that long to heal, or whether he was more motivated after the firing of Willie, but it was a revelation. Not only was he hitting with authority like the old Delgado, he was making his hits count. Much moreso than Wright, Delgado is the kind of player who can come up in a big spot, lean back and hit the big home run, because that's the kind of hitter he is. In fact, he did this so often in the 2nd half of the season, that he began to earn chants of MVP. And it wasn't even Home Runs he was hitting, he was chipping in with hits to create and extend rallies, and drive in even more runs. He was and probably is now even more of a longshot for MVP, but if nothing else, he's proven to everyone that reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated.
Damion Easley - C
Good, heady player off the bench once again, who got hurt and fell flat at the end of the season. This probably hurt the team more than you might think, given the situation at 2nd base, and his unavailability combined with the desire to not play Castillo at any cost left the Mets with few, if any, palatable options at 2B. And that's not saying that Easley was a standout anyway. But at any rate, Easley got hurt, and then got thrown up to the plate in some "emergency" situations during the final week, and looked pretty bad at the plate. That wasn't so good either.
Luis Castillo - F
He's like a no fun Cliff Floyd with no power. He was always hurt and his presence in the lineup somehow always managed to bring the team down. Fell into such disfavor that it wouldn't surprise me at all if, should he be untradeable (not impossible given the asinine nature of his contract), the Mets would be better served just cutting bait and getting him the hell out of here.
Argenis Reyes - B-
He can work a count, but all too often he can't parlay that into a hit. Excellent defensive player, however, with a good chance of making the club as a backup MI next season. I don't, however, forsee him becoming a starter or a long term solution.
Ramon Martinez - A
For two reasons: 1) Another one of those guys who came out of nowhere and somehow contributed more than anybody thought he would. Thrust into the lineup based on Manuel's Anybody But Castillo policy, somehow Martinez chipped in with a pair of clutch, run scoing hits in Met victories in the final week. 2) The Speedy Gonzalez music they played when he came to bat was just hilarious.
Jose Reyes - B
"As goes Reyes, so go the Mets..."was the statement we heard all too often. I have to give Reyes a lot of credit for understanding his responsibility towards the team and putting a lot of pressure on himself to stay focused and stay prepared after the way last season fell apart for him. He's still got a lot to learn, but he did make significant strides this season towards becoming a more complete ballplayer. But, down the stretch, he fell into an extended patch of inconsistency, and that, more than anything else, was the key to the team's success, or failure. The difference in the Mets performance when he was getting on base and scoring runs and not getting on base was staggering. And all too often, during the final month, Reyes wasn't getting on base. It wasn't as exaggerated and obvious as it was in '07, and that's a good sign. In fact, it was mostly during the final week that Reyes seemed to sputter and burn out. But Reyes is the kind of player who will play in 159 or 160 games a season, barring any unforseen injuries. He's got to be able to finish the job down the stretch, otherwise he's just going to continue to be the laughing, dancing jester that's the poster boy for every other team's hatred of the Mets.
David Wright - B
Maybe this is a little harsh. But David Wright is our guy. He's the Golden Boy, the face of the franchise, the leader of "The Core," whatever you want to call it. And anyone who goes .302/33/124 deserves a great deal of credit. But Wright seemed to put it all together in a somewhat hollow fashion. Looking deeper within his numbers, you'll see that Wright hit a paltry .243 with men in scoring position. .241 with 2 strikes. .167 with men on 2nd and 3rd. .200 in the 9th inning of games. Wright seemed to abandon the approach at the plate that had made him so successful in '06 and '07. He stopped taking pitches and driving them the other way and got pull-happy. His swing got long and he was pulling off pitches he used to hammer. His killer instinct with 2 strikes was gone. But worst of all was that he tried to do too much. Yes, he hit .340 in September. But when it seemed to matter most, Wright appeared to be squeezing his bat to sawdust and taking wild, undisciplined hacks. Someone should have pulled him aside and told him to relax a little bit. Where was the batting coach to get him out of his bad habits? I refuse to believe that Wright is deserving of these A-Rod Choker comparisons. Let's be realistic. The guy's 25, not 33. He's got the talent and the desire to get it together. But there's a fine line between caring about the fate of your team, and trying to carry the team when you're not mentally prepared to do so. Maybe Buster Olney is right when he says Wright should visit a Sports Psychologist. I'm not sure. Wright has appeared so polished and perfect since the day he arrived in the Majors that it's often been tough to find places he could improve. But a player can always improve. I don't think Wright has seen his best years yet. I don't think the Mets should give up on him because he's performed poorly in key situations. Two years ago, he had 4 walkoff hits in the span of a month. He's got clutch ability. But he's the face of the team, and one of the best players we have, and as such, he gets graded on a tougher curve.
One of those guys who mysteriously shows up on the team stats page and you think to yourself, "Wait, he played this season?"
Carlos Beltran - A-
I'll be straight. I'm tired of people dumping on this guy. I'm tired of people getting on him for the way 2006 ended. I'm tired of it. We know what we're going to get out of Beltran. He is and will always be a streaky hitter, but he's the kind of streak hitter that when he's down, he will compile respectable numbers very quietly and when he's hot, he's going to carry the team. And down the stretch, Beltran was as hot as he'd been all season, and far too often, he was the only guy who was getting the job done for the Mets. But think about it. How many times has he come up in a big spot and gotten the job done. I know all everyone would like to remember is him freezing on that final curve from Wainwright, but let's face it, nobody was hitting that pitch. People like to use that to discount Beltran's ability in key spots. But how about that final Thursday night, when he scalded the game winning hit virtually through Hoffpauir's glove? How about the Grand Slam off of Kevin Gregg in Florida? How about the final Sunday, when he was the only hitter who bothered to show up for the Mets? He's not flashy and he doesn't say much. But when he does talk, he does his best to try to back it up. He bangs himself up chasing down fly balls and refuses to come out of games. He missed one all season. I defy you to find another Center Fielder who could even come close to replacing him on this team.
Endy Chavez - B
Endy is what he is. An incredibly popular and heady ballplayer, with at best marginal offensive talent and beyond exceptional defensive talent, who has an uncanny knack for making a key play in a big spot. I'll never count on him as anything more than a defensive replacement, but, man, is he a guy you love to put out in Left Field in a close game or what?
Marlon Anderson - F
Another one of those guys who played well down the stretch last year and everyone wanted back, only he came back and we realized that he wasn't as good the second time around. I had a long argument with El Guapo about this one night late in the season, as Marlon pinch hit and flailed away, that it's difficult to be a pinch hitter, and if he were a better player, he'd be playing every day somewhere. But Anderson had already cut his niche as a pinch hitter with this team, only he would come up as a pinch hitter and he had this annoying habit this season of NEVER GETTING A HIT IN A PINCH!!!
Ryan Church - C-
It's difficult to grade Church because what was a promising start for him got submarined when he ended up with his 2nd concussion in 3 months in May, and then the team botched handling him after it happened, and he ended up spending the better part of 3 months on the DL. He was absolutely the team MVP for the first two months of the season, before his collission with Yunel Escobar. Then, he came back and had about two good games over the final 6 weeks, and his presence really hurt the team more than it helped. But, for some reason, Manuel insistently continued to play him, despite the fact that he was killing rallies and other teams were pitching around Delgado and Beltran to pitch to him. There were also some rumors floating around that he didn't like New York, he didn't like the team, and he didn't feel comfortable, which were even more disheartening. But at some point, he should have been removed from the lineup, or at least platooned against lefties. His only shining moment over the last half of the season was slipping around a tag and then flopping back to touch home plate. He followed that game up by striking out in 5 consecutive at bats, and then making the final out of a miserable season. I don't know what we have and I don't even know if he'll be back. I'm inclined, based on just how bad he was over the final month, to think that he played over his head earlier in the season, and his norm is something closer to his performance last year with the Nationals, which is perfectly middling.
Moises Alou - F
I know most of us advocated for bringing him back, but we were all wrong. It was a bad idea.
Daniel Murphy - A-
A 3rd Baseman by trade, Murphy took a crash course in Left Field so as to ease his path to the Majors, and then came up and started to hit like a house afire, earning him the fans' eternal adoration. He did come back to earth in the last couple of weeks, partially because, stuck in a platoon, he didn't play for about a week when the Mets faced nothing but lefties, and then scuffled when he did play, but I like his approach at the plate. He knows how to take pitches and it seems like his hits always seem to count, even if the guys behind him can't follow it up.
Nick Evans - C+
Lacks the patience and polish of Murphy, and might have been a bit over his head, particularly the first time he was called up from AA. I'm not sure what he would project to, and he's got a lot to learn. Could be good. Could also be good trade bait. I'm not sure which.
Fernando Tatis - A
Because nobody expected him to come up with as many big hits as he did. He sort of supplanted Damion Easley in the "Don't Panic" role, and managed to parlay that into the starting Left Field job for a few months. He came back to earth a little bit and got lost in the rookie shuffle in LF, but losing him for the season in September probably did more damage than we realized; he likely could have spelled Church down the stretch against lefties.
He actually played in 11 games with this team. Were things really that bad?
Angel Pagan - B
He did have a nice run at the beginning of the season, but things had already started to catch up with him when he got injured in LA and ended up disappearing from our consciousness.
Apparently he only made the team because Fernando Tatis hadn't had enough time in Spring Training. Joe McEwing type without the Joe McEwing charm.
His most notable moment came in the infamous June 11th game, where, in the 9th inning, his single was celebrated as his 1st Major League hit. People were cheering and the ball was taken out of play. Except that when I got home and checked Baseball Reference, I found that it was not his 1st Major League hit. It was his 52nd Major League hit. The Mets made a huge stink about Chris Aguila's 52nd Major League hit. I should have known we were doomed right then and there.
Johan Santana - A+
As advertised. He has proven himself someone who can simply will his team to victory any time he takes the mound. His 16-7 could have easily been 22-7 if the bullpen had held things for him. Even more tantalizing, his 2.53 ERA, which led the league, by the way, was the lowest ERA of his career. Pitched a 3-hit shutout with the Mets backs against the wall, on 3 days' rest, in the rain, with a torn meniscus. Heart, Guts, Balls. This is an Ace, in every sense of the word.
Pedro Martinez - C
I'll give Pedro this high of a grade because he wasn't as terrible as he sometimes looked. And sometimes, he looked like he was pitching on fumes. He definitely had some major 1st inning problems, particularly with the longball. But if he could get through the 1st inning relatively unscathed, he would often settle down and keep the game manageable, which was all you could realistically expect. But, let's face it, he's a shell of his former self, he can't be counted on to pitch a full season, and he probably won't be back.
John Maine - B-
Counted on to build on his success of 2007, Maine tried, and didn't quite follow through. Too often, Maine would be unable to put hitters away, and would waste a frustrating amount of pitches early in the game, and then have his pitch count up too high by the 5th or 6th inning. Then, we found out he'd been pitching with a bone spur in his shoulder that was screwing him up. I wonder just how long he'd been pitching with it? I still have a lot of faith in Maine, particularly since he had successful surgery and will be ready for Spring Training, and he put a lot of pressure on himself to try to come back. But he needs to learn to put hitters away, or at least be better at pitching to contact and letting his fielders do the work behind him.
Oliver Perez - C+
Similar to Maine. Oliver Perez was, well, Oliver Perez. Enigmatic. Unpredictable. Brilliant one day, putrid the next. There was no consistency and no pattern to any of his outings, but you could usually tell which Oliver Perez you were getting after 1 or 2 batters. If he got the first two batters out pretty quickly, then it was Good Oliver. If he went to a 3 ball count or walked a guy, or gave up a hit, look out. He still had the knack of pitching well in big games, including taking a shutout into the 6th inning on that final Sunday, the kind of outing you prayed for, except that his offense didn't back him up. Followed up a 15-10, 3.56 potential breakout with a 10-7, 4.22 regression. And, of course, it's his walk year, and he's a Scott Boras guy. Lord only knows what sort of ridiculous contract he's going to want, but the Mets have to draw a line and stand firm. Let someone else give him $12 million a year if that's what he wants. I like Ollie and it would be nice if he could stay, but I'm not going to be too heartbroken if he leaves. You can afford to let him walk, particularly because of...
Mike Pelfrey - A
If, at the beginning of the season, someone asked you who, of the following three pitchers would be the best young pitcher in New York, out of Joba Chamberlain, Philip Hughes or Mike Pelfrey, chances are, you wouldn't have said Pelfrey. He wouldn't have even been on your radar screen. But by the end of the season, not only was he the best, it wasn't even close. Pelfrey's maturation process was stunning. Not because of a lack of talent, certainly not. But consider how dramatically he turned things around for himself. After getting beaten around by Florida on May 26th, Pelfrey stood at a miserable 2-6, with an ERA of 5.33, and was hanging onto his job by a thread. But he quietly began to turn the corner with a solid 7-inning outing against LA on May 31st. He followed that with 6 strong in a loss to San Diego on June 5th. Then, came the outing of June 11th. I've written about this game alot, and I think we can point to this game as the game where Pelfrey truly broke out. But in what appeared to be a mismatch, Pelfrey completely outdueled his mound opponent that night, Brandon Webb, over 8 magnificent shutout innings. All of a sudden, he wasn't trying to blow people away, he was mixing his pitches. He was using his fastball to set up the power sinker that hitters would just keep pounding into the dirt. He was doing the kind of things that Brandon Webb was supposed to be doing on the mound that night. Yes, Wagner blew the lead and he took a ND. But rather than regressing, Pelfrey built on that night, and never looked back. In the span of 10 days in July, Pelfrey allowed 1 run over 3 games and 22 innings against St. Louis, San Francisco and Colorado. In August, he began to elevate his game, pitching to even more contact and keeping his pitch count manageable to the point where he threw two consecutive complete games. Before our eyes, Pelfrey had developed into the kind of pitcher we were told he'd be when he was drafted in 2005. Even when it came down to the end, Pelfrey persevered, despite reaching a number of innings he'd never thrown in a season before. Although he didn't win after August 25th, he pitched admirably well each time out, despite his offense providing him with 3 runs or less in 4 of 6 starts, and the bullpen blowing another outing. Even if he was a little gassed, he can't be blamed. The future is tantalizingly bright for Pelfrey, and it's not so outlandish to say that he's easily the #2 pitcher on this team, and if Santana weren't here, he'd be the Ace. Hell, there's a number of teams that he'd be the Ace of, unquestionably. He's begun to pitch with confidence and fearlessness, and won't back down when challenged. And he's got the stuff to make you believe that he's not going to look back.
Aaron Heilman - F
Clearly the whipping boy and he deserved it. There are no excuses for how often he came into a game and promptly allowed 2 singles and then a 2-run double, or got 2 outs, then walked a guy and gave up a 2-run HR, or walked in runs, or whatever. I thought he should have been dealt last year, and I still think he should be dealt, but I don't know who the hell would want him at this point.
Luis Ayala - D
If you'd told me that he would have been the de facto closer at the end of the season, I would have laughed my ass off. Yet, there he was, closing out games down to the end, or at least attempting to close out games. Another one to throw to the wolves.
Joe Smith - C-
Smith might be the only guy in the bullpen that I'd be relatively comfortable bringing back, if only because it seems like he can get guys out on a relatively consistent basis, and has some ability pitching to both sides of the plate, as opposed to being another of the dreaded "Specialists." Then again, he wasn't that great against lefties...
Pedro Feliciano - F
As I mentioned the other night, El Guapo had mused about a time when we believed Feliciano was the best guy in the bullpen. The scary thing is that he still might be the best guy in the bullpen. He was the only guy I actually thought could get guys out from both sides of the plate, except that he got so overworked so early in the season that by the time things were winding down, he was having difficulty getting anybody out, lefty or righty. I still disagree in using him as a lefty specialist, but then again, let him make me believe he can still get lefties out and maybe I'll change my mind.
Duaner Sanchez - F
Go away. You and your jackass idea of what constitutes a good pitch. Let me tell you something, idiot. A good pitch is the kind of pitch that gets the batter out, not the kind of pitch that the batter hits 400 feet.
Scott Schoeneweis - F
I know that, on the final day, he was going through some difficult personal problems. But that doesn't excuse him from the remainder of the season when he was at best, barely passable, and at worst, miserable. I can't believe I actually stuck up for him earlier this season. There was no reason to be nice. And what does he do? He goes and TURNS BACK INTO THE HUMAN GAS CAN!!! AAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!!!!
Billy Wagner - C+
When I named Billy Wagner one of the 5 Key Mets for the season, I had no idea how prophetic my words would be. I was somewhat fearful of him coming down with an injury, and the Mets not having a proper contingency plan, and that's exactly what happened. It's not so much that Wagner was totally lights out, but it helps when you have a real closer who can come in to finish a game. We got a frightening taste of this in July, and then when he went down for good in August, the entire bullpen was thrown into a state of chaos from which it never recovered.
Nelson Figueroa -
Claudio Vargas - C-
Pitched admirably well in a spot start that El Guapo and I attended. Then, Heilman pissed it away for him, and he didn't really do much to distinguish himself after that.
Brian Stokes - C+
Gets this high of a grade because, I'll be honest, the fact that he'd been cut by Tampa Bay didn't inspire much confidence in me, and yet somehow he pitched passably enough to earn the 8th inning role by the end of the season. Then again, he was alternately good and bad and there wasn't an in between with him, so it could just have been that he sort of lucked his way into a key role because he didn't screw it up all the time, just some of the time.
Carlos Muniz - D
Up and down I believe 5 times this season. Didn't pitch much in September, and by the time September had come around, I wasn't sure I remembered him pitching well or not.
Jorge Sosa - F
Somehow won 4 games despite a 7.06 ERA. Earned all the vilification he got. Cut outright in May after signing a 2-year contract. Long forgotten by the end of the season. I seriously doubt he would have helped.
Jonathon Niese - Inc.
Work in progress. Shoved into some spot starts in key games and didn't do so well. I think he has a nice looking arsenal of pitches and he certainly proved himself capable of dominating with his strong performance against Atlanta. Worth a look at the back of the rotation next season.
I still think it's weird seeing a guy on the Mets in a Knight jersey that's not #22.
I think I fell asleep during the game he started.
Promising, and probably earned himself a few outings late in the season simply because he was able to record 3 outs in succession, something that was beyond the realm of the other guys in the bullpen.
Stole Edgardo Alfonzo's At Bat music. Another lefty specialist who had the annoying habit of not being able to get lefties out.
Come on, could he have been worse than any of these other clowns?
After the final game, I mused to El Guapo as to whether or not this team was ever any good. Maybe, I thought, 2006 was their fluke. They were overachievers two years ago, but really little more than a good team with a chance to contend to the end of the season. Maybe this is my own overreaction, but consider that the Mets and Phillies have sported more or less the same team for the past 3 seasons. The Phillies have been to the playoffs twice, the Mets once. And I don't know anybody who thinks that the Phillies are a better team outright. There's problems with the Mets that go deeper than arrogance and deeper than problems with the supposed core.
It's not outlandish to say that there are truly only three players on the Mets that you'd consider "Untouchable," as far as you can't deal them as it would do great harm to the team's chances. Santana, Beltran, Pelfrey. These are your guys. But it seems to consistently come back to "The Core," which is a term that I don't think anybody ever referred to before Sunday, and will probably be the defining term of this offseason. We can't move The Core. Or can we? I'm not advocating for it, it certainly wouldn't be a popular move, but should the right offer come along for Wright, or Reyes, or Delgado, why wouldn't the Mets take it? It's too easy to just say that the Mets need a Left Fielder, or the Mets need a Right Fielder, or the Mets need a Second Baseman, or they need to overhaul the Bullpen. The Bullpen always has a different look from year to year, and it's hit or miss. The Mets were fortunate, in 2006, to have outstanding years out of guys like Darren Oliver, Chad Bradford and Pedro Feliciano. You just have to bring in guys and hope for the best. There are guys the Mets could bring in at these other positions that would certainly help, but for the most part, if "The Core" remains intact, this team will pretty much look the same.
And considering that the guys in Philly have already demonstrated an ability to find themselves and string together victories when it matters most, and considering that Florida stands to be vastly improved as they mature as a team, and the Mets are oddly right back where they were at the end of last year, even with Santana. They're not much better than a 3rd place team that could compete until the end, but lack that killer instinct to finish the job. And I don't know what needs to be done in order to bring the justifiable swagger they had in 2006 back.
This offseason is going to tell us a lot. But right now, I don't have a great deal of confidence in the 2009 Mets.