<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Monday, April 12, 2004

Week 1: The Battle of the "ifs" 

The first week and first two series have come and gone and the Mets find themselves tied for second place with the Braves, both at 3 and 3 and both trailing the first place 5 and 1 Marlins. After dropping 2 of 3 to the Mets in San Juan, the Expos are fourth at 2 and 4 and the Phillies, who many picked to win the division, have gotten off to a slow start at 1 and 5 (how long until Loco Larry Bowa is shown the door?). The first week was, in a word, strange. The Mets traveled down to Atlanta to one of the best pitchers' parks in the NL and promptly scored 25 runs in three games and still lost 2 of 3. Then the Mets hopped on a plane to Puerto Rico to play in perhaps the most hitter friendly park in baseball and found themselves in three straight pitchers' duels while taking 2 of 3. While the first week might have been odd, Mets fans may want to brace themselves because what we now see as odd will soon become common.

Before the start of the season many people thought that if several "ifs" worked out in the Mets favor they might find themselves playing those coveted "meaningful games in September." What we saw in week one was some of the ifs working out in the Mets favor and others, well, not so much. This battle of the ifs creates great highs and equally drastic lows that, if week one is any indicator, will drive Mets fans batty all season long. Let's review some of these ifs:

If Tom Glavine can rebound, the Mets might . . . .
Two games started, 2 wins, 13 IP, 1.38 ERA. Yeah, I'd say this if is working out in the Mets favor so far.

If Al Leiter can have another decent year, the Mets might . . . .
One game started, 0 ERs, 4 Ks. Like Glavine, Leiter shut his critics up. For now at least.

If the Mets can get solid production out of at least one of their young arms in the back of the rotation, they might . . . .
Enter Tyler Yates. 1 game started, 0 ERs, 0 BB, 4 K.

If Mike Piazza can stay healthy and productive, the Mets might . . . .
26 ABs, 3 HR, 5 RBI while hitting .308/.333/.692. Piazza was hitting the cover off the ball in spring training and transferred that right into the regular season.

If Kazuo Matsui can be a bona fide lead-off man, the Mets might . . . .
24 ABs, 7 BBs, 1 HR, .333/.484/.624. Matsui's 7 walks ties him for first in the NL with Albert Pujols.

If Mike Cameron can add to his defense, which is a given, with solid offense, the Mets might . . . .
22 ABs, 5 runs, 2 HRs, 4 BB, 4 SB .318/.429/.591. While this is only 22 ABs, Cameron is showing that out of SafeCo, he is an elite offensive CF.

If Cliff Floyd can just stay healthy, the Mets might . . . .
Floyd was in the process of treating us to a glimpse of what he can do when healthy, going on a tear to the tune of a .350/.417/.600 hitting line. But then, you guessed it, he's now injured. Floyd is on his way to a stint on the DL when he came up lame while attempting to do something truly bizarre; run to first base. Initial reports are that there is no tear, but a strained right quadricep. Floyd will have an MRI today but things don't look good:
Floyd: "I think it's a really bad strain"
Howe: "We'll know more about his situation, but it doesn't look like he'll be able to play for a while."
Mets Fans: Motha F*&#) Son of a *#(@ Glass *#*!

If the bullpen can come together to bail out the aging starting pitching, the Mets might . . . .
The Mets bullpen is already taxed only six games into the season, pitching 22 of 54 innings. Unsurprisingly, the overworked bullpen sports a bulky 7.77 ERA and has lost two games thus far.

If Jose Reyes can just keep his legs healthy, the Mets might . . . .
Reyes has played in 0 games so far and there is currently not even a timetable for his return. The always insightful Art Howe says, "He'll play when he's healthy." What's the over/under on Piazza, Floyd and Reyes playing in more that 10 games together this season?

If Steve Trachel can even come close to his 2003 performance, the Mets might . . . .
Last year's ERA: 3.78. This year's: 24.00

If Art Howe can stay out of the team's way, the Mets might . . . .
Howe gets a C+ so far. Howe gets some points for taking both Tom Glavine and Tyler Yates out of the game in their first starts but he also made some very questionable bullpen moves in the first week. Also, in the series opener against the Expos Howe found his team "battling" with a 2 to 0 lead in the 7th inning. So what did he do? He ripped the teeth out of an already toothless offense by taking out both Cliff Floyd AND Mike Piazza. Sure enough, the Expos rallied back, the game went into extra innings, and the Mets top two offensive forces were riding the pine. No thanks to Howe the Mets ended up winning the game so the miscue got swept under the carpet.

If the Mets can just reclaim a little respectability in baseball, they might . . . .
Brooklyn Cyclones manager Leon Lee, father of Cubs first basemen Derek Lee, resigned last week after turning himself in on two misdemeanor counts of exposure when he allegedly . . . . You know, I don't even feel like getting into this.

This is just a sampling of the ifs that have and have not worked out for the Mets. Only six games into the season and we have seen what great things this team is capable of when the ifs work out in their favor and also how miserable things can get when they don't. This week might have illuminated a reality; the battle of the ifs might produce a stalemate where the Mets don't fall into oblivion but at the same time will suffer enough frustrating setbacks that will keep them from reaching their potential. A skeptic might say that the result at the end of the year will be what we see right now only six games into the season; an unlucky .500 ball club. However, here at The Shea Hot Corner we practice hopeless optimism. Part of this religion is to always look on the bright side. The primary bright side of week one is that the biggest question mark and most critical factor of the Mets success is their starting pitching. Aside from one poor aberration of a start, the Mets starting pitching has a 1.61 ERA and has not given up an earned run in 18 innings. The key to any successful season is starting pitching and the Mets have shown that their starting staff can hang in there against division rivlals. If this if continues to pan out positively, the other ifs will work themselves out. Who knows, maybe those meaningful September games are not such a long shot.
Site Meter Listed on Blogwise Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?