Johan Santana – B+: Recently seeming to shed many doubts about his abilities…
perhaps pitch-tipping and negative publicity combined to cause his string of poor
starts…regardless, remains a warrior in top shape who will continue to be a
valuable top-of-the-rotation starter for the Mets.
Mike Pelfrey – A-: Faltering lately, but even his faltering is improved over
the past…hot start cannot be forgotten as it came when we the team was
dealing with Ollie, Maine, and rotation woes…is getting better across the
board, and his youth, fitness, and growing arsenal of pitches can only
suggest that more improvement is yet to come.
Jonathon Niese – B: The curve is becoming more dominating, and Niese’s overall
game is following suit…another Junior Core member making the critics of the
Met farm look really silly…has been gaining confidence in every aspect of
his game, and is working on cementing his name in this rotation for the next
R.A. Dickey – A-: A true Godsend…a la Darren Oliver, a pitcher with a long
and terrible career who never stopped learning and who has remade
himself…the number four for the
foreseeable future…maturity, confidence, and unflappable attitude make this
picture even brighter….and his hitting and fielding only help to complete
the pleasantly surprising picture.
Hisanori Takahashi – C+: Tough to gauge…seems as though, with his mediocre
velocity, everything has to be working perfectly for him to win…has had
many good games, but has also had some clunkers…may indeed have greatest
value as 6th/7th inning bullpen arm; the jury remains out on his overall MLB
John Maine and Oliver Perez – Incomplete: Charity for them both…weak
mentally and physically, the clock seems to have struck midnight for these
two, who, after 2008, looked like they would be 2/3 of the Met rotation
forever…two years was all it lasted…surgeries (or PED withdrawals?) have
reduced their velocity to the point where they both would make fine
mid-rotation starters for a bad AAA team.
Francisco Rodriguez – B+: Several blown saves, the usual issues about his
usage, but remains one of the game’s better closers.
Pedro Feliciano – B+: When not asked to be more than he is, he actually gets
the job done quite well…he’s just not good or dominant enough to be “the”
setup guy…but still extremely effective against tough lefties, and overall
remains awfully good and awfully valuable.
Elmer Dessens – A-: Perhaps the better comparison to Darren Oliver…remains
to be seen if he will keep this up, but thus far his 2010 has been nothing
short of remarkable; even more amazing if one is familiar with his overall
Bobby Parnell – A-: Too early to tell if we are witnessing 2009 redux, but
he sure looks good since being recalled…if he can continue to vary his
approach to complement his very fast fastball, he will be a success at this
level…may become the Lindstrom/Bell successor who didn’t get away.
Fernando Nieve – C: Pretty decent at everything, very good at nothing…just
appears to be good enough to be exactly what he is-a 6th or 7th starter,
and/or a 4th or 5th guy out of the pen.
Ryota Igarashi – Incomplete: Generous grade for a guy who has thrown a few
serious meatballs…seems as though he was reaching a comfort zone before the
injury, to which he has yet to fully return…something in the C- or D area
will be what awaits him should he not turn it around with a healthy and
productive 2nd half.
Ike Davis – B: Has been decent offensively, and being rushed to the bigs may
have slowed his progress…still, has shown a lot of promise in his power,
his general plate disclipline, and his ability to recover after a
particularly bad game…defense is excellent and should improve…overall
attitude seems serious and mature as well.
Luis Castillo – C: Production finally dropping to levels his detractors
thought it was at the last three years…his physical situation has finally
caught up to the complainers…a very good player, one of the most unfairly
maligned in team history, is clearly breaking down…it might be time for him
to be mostly a bench/platoon player and/or tutor to Ruben Tejada.
Ruben Tejada – B-: Another youngster here a tad before his time; shows
serious promise at a new position…Tejada’s ability to move from SS to 2B
this smoothly speaks well to his overall talent…in addition, his
improvement across the board in the minors year to year suggests a player
with much potential to continue getting better…will he hit enough? If this
team continues its progress over the rest of the year, a light-hitting,
slick-fielding 2B in the 8 hole might be just fine in 2011…a few more
months in Buffalo also might be what is called for here if Slappy is indeed
healthy enough to squeeze three more months out of his rusting chassis.
Jose Reyes – B+: The slow start and recent setback are all that keeps this
grade below an A…Jose has regained his stroke and is once again amassing an
amazing team W-L record in games he scores, drives in a run, steals a base,
etc…and Jose’s fielding and cannon arm have been again creating calls for a
David Wright – A: Doing it all…striking out, but also doing everything
else…power, average, OBP, baserunning, excellent fielding…a great player, a
5-tool player, and the veteran face of the next Met champs within the next 2
Jason Bay – B: A major disappointment power-wise, but basically everything
else about his game is at his usual productive levels…still, should he
finish with the projected HR/RBI numbers, the George Foster/Carlos Beltran 1st
year Met blues will be rightfully belted out by the usually off-key Chorus
of Complaint…regardless, remains a productive, hustling, excellent
Angel Pagan – A-: Must be considered, along with Pelf and Dickey, as one of
the season’s nicest surprises…last year’s gaffes have totally disappeared,
and Pagan has made the Beltran-less CF a productive spot for the Mets…just
a fine season in pretty much all respects.
Jeff Francoeur – C+: Great guy, funny man, hustling and well-liked
teammate…just not all that good at hitting a baseball..his offense simply
cannot be counted on aside from 2-3 week hot stretches which fall between
extended glacial periods…fielding, arm, hustle, and “intangibles” make him
decent hitting 6th or 7th in a very productive order, but without Jason
Bay’s power, and while Beltran is out and Barajas is cold, Frenchy’s rarely
thawed bat is definitely a liability.
Rod Barajas – B: Came back to Earth with a rather loud thud after the
Bench-ian start, but still remains an improvement over recent years behind
the plate…cannot overlook what he and Blanco’s reputations with pitchers
have been when now viewing the years being enjoyed by Pelf, Niese, Dickey,
Dessens, and others.
Henry Blanco – B: Largely a perfect backup catcher. Has some pop, is fine
with pitchers, and is a good fielder with a fine arm…an excellent guy to
have on the team.
Alex Cora – C+: Surprising RBI power of late; still, remains a marginally
effective bench player/spot starter.
Fernando Tatis – C-: Has been a good bench player and pinch hitter as a Met,
but age seems to have finally sapped his ability.
Chris Carter – C-: Clearly possesses some of the mystery shine which also
glows off of Nelson Figueroa; people want him to succeed so badly, but alas,
he’s just not very good and will enthusiastically prove it in many ways.
Take away those two AB against the Orioles, and despite a couple of nice
hits here and there, he sports a pretty shockingly unproductive 72 PA for a
guy who cannot run, throw, or field…if the power from the Oriole series had
just established itself, might actually be a 1-tool player.
Josh Thole – B: Have to like this kid’s approach at the plate; very patient,
makes contact, rarely strikes out…did not become a full-time catcher until
2008, so skills behind the plate may very well improve…little HR power and
not overwhelming overall, but certainly has tools; a platoon in 2011 with
Barajas might be ideal for Thole to work his way into the majors…like Ike,
Mejia, and Tejada, very little time above AA, so may have a lot of growth
ahead of him.
Jerry Manuel – B: Won with the White Sox, and edging closer to winning
here…the bullpen cannot be the 1969 or 1986 or 2000 Met bullpen with the
personnel it has now…Igarashi isn’t Ryan, Nieve isn’t Aguilera and Pedro
isn’t Orosco, no matter how Jerry uses them…still bunts too much, and still
makes questionable bullpen moves, but a contending team doesn’t lose due to
its manager and win in spite of him, no matter how many experts repeat the
Dan Warthen – B+: Seems like he must deserve some credit for Pelf, Niese,
Dickey, Dessens, and others.
Omar Minaya – B: Lots of season to go, but the Don brought in Dickey and
Dessens, did not bring in any of the outrageously overpriced pitchers so
many pined for, and remains loaded with highly-regarded prospects…Omar is sitting on the
opportunity to join a very select group of Met GMs; his moves over the next
9 months may indeed have an excellent chance to give birth to the third
title team this franchise has spawned.
Overall – B+.
This team is in great position. The year started out with John Maine, Oliver
Perez, Mike Jacobs, and Gary Matthews Jr. all getting serious playing time.
Since all four of these guys were shown the door, the team has gelled on and
off the field and played largely consistent and very good baseball for
nearly 2 months now.
No Beltran for half the season, an inconsistent Johan Santana, nothing
(positive) from our projected 3 and 4 starters, green rookies at 1B and 2B,
a very mediocre bench (other than at C), considerably less HR and RBI
production from Bay than expected, a terrible first two weeks of the season,
and we are a serious division and WC contender at the halfway point.
This team is really precisely on schedule. Perhaps a more even first half,
with less roller-coasterish highs and lows but yielding the same record,
might better highlight this team’s progress.
Regardless of the never-ending complaints about Omar, Jerry, and just about
everything else, this team is re-inventing itself before our eyes. This is
not your 2007-2009 NY Mets. This team hustles, plays fundamentally sound,
does the little things, sticks together, wins at home as well as anyone in
the game, and is coalescing into a very healthy, loose, tightly-knit mix of
young veterans and rookies, with more youngsters to come.
Will adding the right starter be the one piece to put this team over the top
in 2009? Probably not. But this group is not more than a few pieces away-and
Ike and Niese might very well be two of those pieces.
One or two FA or trade moves for the right guys, one or two more members of
the Junior Core coming to Queens, and some more ripening for Ike and Niese,
and we are going to be watching a powerhouse in 2011, if indeed not by the
end of this year.
All systems are back on “go” for this often ridiculously maligned franchise
and its leadership.