The Mets currently sit at 22-24. A close examination of that record shows the following:
Against the DBacks, Astros, Nats, and Dodgers, the team is 13-7.
Against the Marlins, Phils, Giants, Braves, Rockies, and Yanks, they are 9-17.
The only series against winning teams they have won all year are the opening series against the Marlins and then the recent series in Colorado; of course, the Rockies earlier swept four at Citi.
To this writer, much of this can be viewed as reason for serious optimism.
Just as some liked to blame Jerry Manuel (and Willie Randolph before him) for everything from Met performance to stock prices to the common cold, some want to hang Terry Collins for Pelf’s meltdown in Yankee Stadium.
Sure, maybe Pelf should have come out earlier, but when you are working with pitchers like Misch and Byrdak, the game very likely might have been lost anyway. Painful as it may be to admit, the Yankees have much more talent than the current Mets do.
The team is playing without Ike Davis and David Wright, as well as Angel Pagan, and is saddled with the final horrific millstone of the Minaya era of error, the useless Jason Bay; albatrosses of this size are generally only found in works of fiction.
Despite this, the team quite clearly is playing hard, and playing much better fundamental baseball. Making fewer errors, getting better pen performance from the top bullpen arms, and showing the beginnings of improved depth in the form of Turner, Pridie, and Paulino.
Most importantly, as the above numbers show, the team has begun to win every series against teams they should be beating.
Since the 2-11 stretch, the Mets have played 5 series with sub-.500 teams and won all 5. To this writer, this shows that there are no letdowns for bad teams as in the past, and the team truly is coming to play; indeed, they consistently beat teams they are better than.
The problem right now is that they just are not as good as the Phils, Marlins, Yanks, Giants, Braves, etc. It will take time to remedy this.
But after what we saw last year, and what almost all realistic fans admitted was a lackluster team which wanted to do anything but work hard and hustle for the most part, we are seeing a vastly different group.
And after several years where we would see the same players given a seemingly infinite chance to keep failing, we are now seeing terrible players jettisoned with a new alacrity which bodes very well for the future.
Emaus, Hu, Boyer and others were replaced in a much more reasonable time frame than might have been expected in recent years. Yes, the team is playing with a large AAA contingent, but these players want to be here, they want to be major leaguers, and the feeling here is that they probably are not worried about card-playing prior to games or extra running should they be asked to play unfamiliar positions.
Gee, Beato, Turner, Tejada, and Pridie clearly want to be major leaguers, and even if they do not all become MLB regulars, they are very easy to root for after the last two seasons of Met baseball.
As many thought would be the case, Terry Collins comes to the park filled with enthusiasm. This surely rubs off on many of his players. While Collins does not have enough firepower yet to challenge the better teams, he has clearly shown an ability to maximize the results of the roster he has. Having the players hustling and getting the most out of them are the most important changes that were needed to lay the foundation for a successful future; thus far Collins gets top marks in these areas.
Yes, the team sits at 22-24 approaching the 1/3 mark of the season. But the team has had a very difficult schedule, and played without key players almost every game. When considering the 5-13 start, the team’s current record must be reasonably viewed as at least acceptable.
The feeling here is that the corner has been turned attitude-wise. There might still be a holdover like Jason Bay, who is not going to change anything regardless of his consistent failures, or a player like Thole, who just might not be ready for prime time, or a pitcher like Misch, who is here due to the currently thin nature of MLB-ready Met minor league pitchers.
But the team is hustling and playing better fundamental ball. It is not giving up. It is coming to play every day, and going into every series expecting to win.
Beato and Izzy and KRod form a fine 7-8-9 combo. Turner and Murph could be a really good 2B platoon when Ike returns. Pridie’s play could mean the welcome exit of Harris or Hairston when Pagan is back in CF. Tejada’s glove AND bat are superior to Hu’s. And all of this of course means improved depth when Wright, Ike, and Pagan are back in the lineup every day.
The feeling here also is very strong that as long as this continues, it is not fair to blame Collins and the current roster for the abject mess Minaya left the team in, or for the financial situation of ownership.
It says here that the real fan should cheer for this team as long as the players continue to play hard and consistently beat the teams they should beat. If they maintain this path, Alderson makes more changes, the injured heal, the minor leaguers develop, and we bring in some more good players over the course of the next year, it is only a matter of time before the Mets once again become a winning franchise.