NY Sports Dog: Mets Midseason Grades

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mets Midseason Grades

Oh what a long strange trip it's been....

So how are we to view this first half of 2008? Are the Mets the woeful wannabes who struggled to get out of their own way? Or are they the ultra-hot Mets version 2.0 under Jerry Manuel?

First, there was the beginning....

Mar/Apr: 14-12
May: 13-15
June: 13-15

And then the Magic came back...

July: 11-2

And Mets fans hope it's here to stay. The Mets have had their fair share of injuries--Moises Alou, Ryan Church, Pedro Martinez, Luis Castillo, etc, etc. Not to use injuries as an excuse, but we're talking all-star caliber players, or at least quality major leaguers, at positions of need....that "hurts".

Toss in a dose of Matt Wise, Brian Schneider (Mr Green thumb), El Duque, Angel Pagan and the mini-dings of Carlos y Carlos, and it's easy to point to injuries as a major part in the struggles.

How about the ridiculous schedule? Devoted readers are probably sick of hearing about this from me, so I won't belabor the point. That said, the simple fact of the matter is that the Mets had a stupidly constructed schedule, yes, MLB schedule maker, I said you suck, and the worst of it came in late May through the middle of June.

OK, OK, no more excuses--the Mets have played poorly for the majority of the first half...that is a given. There have also been flashes of brilliance, a resurgent Jose Reyes, great signs from Delgado and Beltran, a clutch Damion Easley, more good news than bad from our pitching staff, and one hell of a great stretch from Mike Pelfrey.


Front office: C-

Not that I don't appreciate some of Omar Minaya's great trades and pickups, but I am troubled by what seems to be a certain stubbornness when it comes to player evaluation. He loves the scrap heap and seems to abhor youth. He has led something of an underdog existence, and that shows in the players he favors--underdogs. Is he the right guy for us? I think so, but I don't think quite as highly of him as I once did.

Manager: C+

Willie Randolph did the best he could with an ill-constructed team...and it just wasn't good enough. He had some communication issues in the clubhouse, but I also would like to point out that he was a better field manager in 2008 than in year's past. Then again, he's another guy who has a stubborn streak in him--especially when it came to lineup construction. He was very much a guy who would put his guys out there regardless of current production. Sometimes you have to just sit someone down for a day or two and get them back in synch. Willie seemed loathe to do that.

Jerry Manuel
, on the other hand, is a merit-based manager and divvies up playing time based on a variety of factors. The club is much looser under him and the results, at least thus far, are very promising.

Starting Hitters: C

Brian Schneider is very easy to root for. He plays hard, has a wonderful rapport with everyone, calls a good game, blocks the hell out of the plate, throws very well....and he can't hit a lick. C

Carlos Delgado: After a horrendous start he is hitting the ball well, driving in runs, and the numbers are creeping up to very respectable levels. C+

Luis Castillo oh Luis...I had such high hopes. The bottom line is his production is awful, his fielding has taken a downturn, and he can't stay healthy enough to play. It is going to get very interesting when he gets back...is he a sulker or a team guy? I hope the latter. D-

Jose Reyes
is having the best offensive season of his career. He should have been an All-Star based on first half numbers that place him in the MVP discussion. Sure, he's had a few issues this year with the glove and with his temper, but he is still the most irreplaceable part of the Mets lineup. A-

David Wright
is something of an anomaly in 2008. 70 RBIs are great, his hustle is always there, he is walking a ton, and he is out there giving 110% every day. Still, he has struggled against righties and he is hitting .239 with RISP, which seems a bit at odds with his 70 RBIs. I expect a much better second half from DW. B

Moises Alou
oh yes, Moises Alou. Great guy, great bat, and just broken down. What a shame. F

Carlos Beltran
is a wonderful player who has run hot and cold in 2008. He got off to a miserable start in April (.211), had a great May and June, and he has slumped again in July. The rest will do him good. Even with his sometimes inconsistent play and reduced power numbers, he is on pace for 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs. B

Ryan Church
started like a ball of fire--the Shea faithful fell in love with him, and then the concussion occurred, his second of the year. He gamely tried to return (twice), but the lingering affects and the migraines were too much. Reports of his current health have either been greatly exaggerated or he is coming back to finish what he started. B-

Starting Pitchers: B

Johan Santana
has been the bearer of more bad luck and lack of support than any pitcher in recent memory. His sparkling 2.84 era and 114 Ks against only 35 walks all point to a guy who should have 12+ wins. In his no-decisions Santana has a 1.69 ERA. In his losses it's 3.35. With just a bit of support he would have started the All-Star game. A

Pedro Martinez
came back, probably too soon, got hurt again, and fought his way back to some shaky starts. He is still Pedro and he has looked much better of late--that is until he tweaked his shoulder. Who knows what we'll get with Pedro in the second half....his first half was a disaster. D

John Maine looked like he was going to embark on a 18-20 win season at the end of Spring Training. It was all working, he was in great shape, and the snap on his fastball made it look unhittable. And then a funny thing happened--the season started. His numbers have declined each month of 2008, and I have begun to wonder if something is physically wrong with him. His ERA by month, is: 3.58, 3.72, 4.24, 5.23. If that doesn't give you pause, then let me give you a tip--it should. I am watching Maine closer than any other Met over the next two weeks--I think we'll learn a lot. C+

Oliver Perez
continues to confound Met fans the world over. Good Ollie or bad Ollie? Lately it's been a lot of the good--his last three starts have been superb, and we're all hoping that Good Ollie is here to stay. That said, he has been awful at times and cost the team some games. C-

Mike Pelfrey
is coming off the best week of his professional life. In his last 9 starts he has a 2.26 ERA, and the team keeps on winning every time he goes out there. Yes he started slowly, but the Big Pelf of the last 7 weeks is the man. B

The Bullpen: B+

Pedro Feliciano
is one of my favorite guys on the team. Gritty, nasty, death to lefty's...in fact, they hit .207 against him with a silly .585 OPS. He pitches all the time too--48 games already. A-

Aaron Heilman
has turned his season around. From the worst stretch of his career to maybe the finest. He is our best bridge to Wagner and is getting incredible movement on his pitches. His grade here is lower because of his awful start, but my confidence in him is very high. C-

Joe Smith
is the righthanded Feliciano. Yes, you can laugh at my man-crush now, but how many other 24-year old relievers hold the opposition to a .207 average? Righty's hit .190 against him, and lefty's hit a whopping .257. This kid is special. A-

Duaner Sanchez
is one of the great Mets pickups of all-time....yes, I just wrote that. People outside of New York don't realize just how good this guy is. MLB is batting .205 against him with a .288 OBP. Sure, he has had 2 or 3 bad outings this year, but the fact of the matter is he is one of the very best middle relievers (I hate that term) in the game. B+

Scott Schoeneweis
has really shown me something in 2008. He has pitched out of some tough jams, has an ultra solid 2.85 era, pitched whenever and wherever called upon, and helped solidify this pen. B+

Billy Wagner
has been GREAT, then CRAP, and then GREAT again....the story of his career. Billy is Billy. B-

Bench: A-

Damion Easley
turned his season around when he began starting. Solid defender, nice pop, gets the clutch hit--he is Mr Professional. A-

Fernando Tatis
does the right thing at the right time. The feel good story in the NL in 2008. I love his exuberance. A-

Endy Chavez
is not a starter, doesn't have any power, his speed is a bit overrated, and he is probably the best defensive outfielder in the game. A great guy to have on your bench. B

Ramon Castro
is either the best backup catcher in the game or the slowest guy in professional sports this side of John Daly...I vote both. Got to love Shrek. B+

Marlon Anderson
is having a rough year. What the heck happened to his bat? D

Overall Grade: B-

My expectations for the second half are riding high....I like the Mets chances....a lot...hope you do too.

Enjoy your coffee my friends! It's time to play some baseball!

Zemanta Pixie

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