Monday, July 15, 2013

Working Forward

It's very easy to complain about several of the bad things that have gone on with the Mets to this point this season. It's also been just as easy to forget that nobody thought the Mets would be especially good to begin with. But, in the thick of the Baseball season, emotions always get the better of us. That's just part of being a fan. The Mets, to this point, have been often maddening, often frustrating and sometimes enjoyable. And with the season half over, it's time to take a look at what the hell has gone on this year.

What's Gone Right:

Matt Harvey: Duh. But what's been surprising about Harvey is just how completely dominant he has looked so early in his career. We knew he'd be good. We didn't think he'd immediately launch himself into a Seaver/Gooden stratosphere in his first full season in the Major Leagues. But that's what's happened. He started off his season with a 7 inning, 1 hit, 0 run, 10 strikeout effort and hasn't looked back, to the point where his good outings usually involve him taking a shutout or a no-hitter into the late innings of games, and his bad outings might be better than the best days of most. Fans have picked up on this. And the reward is that Harvey will now be introduced to the entire nation when he starts the All Star Game tomorrow night.

Bobby Parnell: I was pretty sick of Parnell after last season because he never managed to put it together enough to have an actual role in the Bullpen. And he had a good season last year, but when he was bad, he was awful. That said, when Terry Collins named him the closer in Spring Training, I was all for it, just to see what the hell he was made of, once and for all. And Parnell has responded by, for the most part, having a great season and really carving a niche for himself as a Major League quality closer.

David Wright: At this point, Wright is sort of just doing whatever he can to carry the team. The problem is that he's had no consistent protection or support and so while his numbers look somewhat thin, how much more could he logically do?

The Future: It's going to be interesting, if nothing else. Harvey's proven himself to be such a polished product that he's put a bit of heat on these other young pups that are on the way up. Zack Wheeler has come up and was up and down in his first couple of outings, before putting forward a great start in San Francisco (that I was only able to follow on a rumor level from Canada). Meanwhile, there's also Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero who are lighting things up in the minors. The problem is that although there's a boatload of pitching, there's no offense to speak of, at least as far as I can tell. Wilmer Flores appears ready to ascend, but does he have a position? Does anyone else really register on anyone's particular radars? Which begs the question: Will Syndergaard or Montero really make an impact here, or are they going to be some high-level trade bait?

What's been OK:
Daniel Murphy: Yeah, sure, when he gets on a hot streak, he looks great, but then he goes into one of those funks where he starts grounding out all the time and moping around like Leonard Hofstadter. Strange as it may sound, Murphy is actually one of the elder statesman on this club and it's hard to imagine that he's going to get much better than he already is. That's all fine and good if he's going to be the Murphy who can hit .320. But if he's the Murphy who hits .268, that won't wash.

Jeremy Hefner: Jeremy Hefner deserves some particular commendation for pitching as well as he has of late, because I really don't think anyone gave him enough credit to pitch that well. I certainly didn't, and I've been pleasantly surprised by how well he's performed. His record is still sort of ugly, but it's been a bit more bad luck and less bad pitching as his season has progressed. Yes, he was bad at the beginning, but he's proven himself a valuable part of the rotation, particularly as injuries cropped up around him.

Dillon Gee: Similar to Hefner. Gee had an awful start to the season but he's turned it around, pretty much starting with his outing against the Yankees and working forward from there. Safe to say he's just about back at the level he was throwing at when he got hurt last year. Except when he faces the Phillies.

Other pleasant surprises include: Josh Satin (Expected nothing, got surprising production), Omar Quintanilla (Holds the fort well enough), Carlos Torres (Got people out), John Buck (April only).

What's been bad:
Unfortunately, everything else. Ike Davis got off to the same bad start he got off to in 2012, but this time he couldn't pull himself out of it and now appears to be right on the verge of hopelessness, which is shocking because he hit 32 Home Runs in about half a season last year. Lucas Duda somehow drew all sorts of attention for walking a lot early in the season, which seemed to be to be a whole lot of grasping at straws because he also had numbers that looked something like 6 Home Runs and 14 RBI, which means that he's either walking or hitting a HR, and that only works if your name is Dave Kingman. Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Anthony Recker have run into a couple of fastballs at opportune moments in time but that's about the only noteworthy things they've done. Ruben Tejada made me look like an idiot for casting Edgardo Alfonzo comparisons on him, and after last season who wouldn't have, but his performance to this point has been beyond reproach. Jordany Valdespin has proven himself to be little more than an untalented Lastings Milledge-type and his recent outburst over his demotion may have signed his ticket out of town. The Bullpen, the bullpen, the bullpen. Passes go to LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Rice and David Aardsma but everyone else? No, no, no. I'd go in depth but who needs the aggravation? Jonathon Niese has, to this point, failed to build on his strong year last year and in the process is now injured, the rest of his season in limbo. Shaun Marcum, I only shake my head and at least there was some tangible reason for the fact that he looked like the most miserable man on the planet every time he took the mound.

The past few years, the Mets have come out of the All-Star Break after a reasonably promising first half and proceeded to make complete asses out of themselves each year. This probably won't happen again, if only because they sufficiently buried themselves in the first half, but maybe these pitchers will keep the Mets sort of afloat, and just maybe they'll pull themselves up to around .500 for the season. I don't know for certain if they can pull this off, but they've managed to drag themselves out of the abyss over the last month and one can only hope that this will carry over into the 2nd half. Again, the key word here is hope, because that's the one thing the Mets have left.

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