Monday, June 1, 2009

Grabbing a Toehold

It's beginning to border on ridiculous, the amount of injuries and illnesses and bizarre ailments that continue to afflict the Mets on what seems to be almost a daily basis.

Fortunately, the team, which has seen the offensive firepower quite literally cut out from under itself, has been able to survive based on a continued string of solid outings from their starters, plus a clutch offensive performance here and there to push whatever meager runs the team scores across the plate. For the 3 game series the Mets just completed against the Marlins, the Mets scored a grand total of 8 runs. And it seemed like the 8 was a struggle. I've had this long-winded and continuous discussion with my infamous co-worker about the Mets offense and how terrible it's been. The arguments he makes, which tend to be bellowed at about 740db, consist of how Manuel is an idiot for continuing to start the guys he starts and how, eventually, the offense will be so bad that it will completely demoralize the pitching staff and they'll give up. Bear in mind that he said this following the Mets winning 2 of 3 in Boston.

It's true that the offense has been patently awful for the most part, especially with Reyes and Delgado out. Aside from one-game explosions, guys like Murphy haven't been so hot as well. Even Wright has come back to earth. What little offense that can be generated seems to be coming from Sheffield, who's looked great, but can't do it alone, and Santos, and while Santos' production was enough to make Castro expendable, you have no idea how long this will last for him.

On the other side, the pitching has been carrying the team, and this is even with a 5th starter masquerading as a 4th starter and another 5th starter who displays all the consistency of Steve Trachsel. True, you don't know how long their collective success will last, and if they don't score, it makes for a lot of those annoying 2-1 losses that piss everyone off. But I don't think Santana, Maine and Pelfrey are going to suddenly become demoralized and pitch badly. You can't account for the competitive fire suddenly vanishing, and I don't think that happens with most professional athletes, and certainly not on guys who put enough internal pressure on themselves to succeed on a regular basis. But it's those 3 right now that are running the show, Santana, who has a tendency to look good even on his worst nights, Pelfrey, who over the past month has very quietly started to turn into one of the best starters in the National League, and Maine, who has been solid just about every time out.

Friday and Sunday, two of those guys were key in putting the Mets in line for a pair of low-scoring, late inning victories. It took until the 11th inning on Friday night, and it took Sheffield pushing the envelope and making the Marlins make a mistake for the Mets to finally push the winning run across. Sunday, it was Maine simply holding the line and keeping the Marlins in check just long enough for the Mets to string a pair of slight rallies together and then stifle a Marlin rally late to hang on for the victory. Saturday's game was a different story, and one that seemed to draw the ire of many Mets fans who were in attendance based on the B-lineup Jerry Manuel threw out there. Perhaps it's frustrating to watch a game like that, but it was bound to happen sooner or later, and the people that are really upset are losing sight of the larger picture: That was the only game the Mets lost this week, and it was basically a giveaway game. Right now, the Mets are beating the teams that they're supposed to be beating. They're 5-1 in the middle of a 13-game stretch against some poor competition that will continue this week in Pittsburgh and Washington.

This 13-game stretch is especially important for the Mets when you look at the 28 games that follow, starting on June 9th. Here's what the Mets will be looking at:
3 vs Philadelphia
3 @ Yankees
3 @ Baltimore
3 vs Tampa Bay
4 vs St. Louis
3 vs Yankees
3 @ Milwaukee
3 @ Philadelphia
3 vs Los Angeles

These 28 games take the Mets, basically, to the All Star Break. It's safe to say that the Mets will need to get some of their injured players back and start to generate a little more offense if they expect to survive this particular stretch.

No comments: