My name is Alex Spatt and I am one of the new writers for The Real Dirty Mets. I will be posting this intro on my first few posts to acquaint myself with you, our loyal readers, so get used to it. I was born and raised in Manhattan and am currently a Senior at Northwestern University. Like you, I love the Mets and (mostly) everything that comes with that. Unlike (most of) you, I will be writing about our boys – their ups, their downs, and everything in between. Whether you find yourself loving every word or disagreeing on the most fundamental levels, know that my ultimate goal is to provide not just an informative, but an entertaining look at the team we have all come to feel so passionately about. Your feedback is both welcomed and encouraged. On that note, let’s get to what you’re here for.
Now we know what we’re in for. While there has been ample time to celebrate the front office heroics of Mr. Alderson and co., it is now time to confront the reality that is the remainder of the New York Mets’ 2011 season.
Last night was a good showcase.
Let’s start on the offensive side. While the Mets have impressed thus far with top-8 rankings in runs scored, batting average, and on-base percentage, the loss of Beltran must, and will be, felt. After cooling off (literally) from the Cincy series and the opener against the Nats, the Mets have put up just a combined 5 runs in their last 3 games. While Duda has had a fantastic initial response to his added responsibilities and Wright has been absolutely scorching since coming off the DL, there is an important note about those 5 runs over 3 games. They were all by the long ball. We cannot rely on late game heroics such as Hairston’s two solo shots in Washington, obviously. Perhaps even more obviously, we cannot rely on Bay to homer like he did last night. And though Duda should eventually develop a power stroke – Keith referred to him as “Bunyan-esque” the other day – we need him not to feel like he needs to homer every at-bat to create some runs.
The Mets’ offense has made a name for itself by taking a ton of pitches, finding ways to get on base, being aggressive on the basepaths when they do, and manufacturing runs. This is obviously all much easier when Reyes isn’t in his first mini-slump of the season but we need to stick to this mentality. Reyes needs to keep doing what he’s doing and Wright needs to continue his willingness to go the other way and hit the gaps. If we can do that, hopefully the loss of Beltran won’t be felt too hard.
The other side of the ball poses some bigger problems. The starting rotation is still in tact, despite Pelfrey’s continued insistence on inconsistency. But the bullpen has been badly exposed as of late. In Washington it was Parnell. Like Duda, he initially responded well but then fell apart in Florida and in Washington. If he doesn’t get that slider working, it doesn’t matter how hard he can throw. In Florida it was Izzy. Let me say first that I absolutely love Izzy but anyone who thinks he can be a full-time closer at this age is mistaken. His savvy and experience will make him a valuable asset to our younger arms, especially Parnell, but without K-Rod, we don’t have a reliable way to end games, as was so evident last night.
Then there’s the enigma of Daniel Murphy. Be it missing a signal on the basepaths, nearly breaking his and Izzy’s legs on a botched play at 1st, or mucking a simple toss last night, it’s clear some of the little things are becoming big holes in Murph’s game. But that isn’t even so much the issue. When (if) Ike comes back, what do we do with Murphy? He was not just the Mets’ best hitter in July, but arguably the best hitter in the entire league last month. As that bat can’t be taken out of the lineup, where does he go? Second? That’s a defensive disaster waiting to happen, not to mention I’d hate to see Turner have his playing time reduced. Outfield? For who? Not Bay because he gets paid too much (though personally I don’t think that matters at this point). Not Pagan because of the defensive drop off. And not Duda because we need him to develop the mentality of an everyday outfielder. So what to do? I don’t have much of an answer for this one. Maybe we trade Bay for a motivational coach to get in Murph’s ear and teach him the little things? I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.
At the end of the day, the offense needs to find its rhythm again, Murphy needs to know what a key piece of the puzzle he is, and Parnell needs to listen to Izzy so we don’t get more games like yesterday’s. There had to be a fallout from losing Beltran and K-Rod, and this is it. It is better than the best we could have hoped for coming into the season but it’s time to come down from Cloud Nine and face the road ahead. Thankfully Sandy and Terry have earned my trust…as I know that matters so much to them.