In terms of future ramifications, this April might be as important a month as any in the franchise's history. The fundamental frustration of Mets fans now stems from inert management. After a season in which everything unraveled and the need for major changes seemed evident, the Wilpons changed nothing. This season, though, the Mets will either succeed due to some incredible swing in luck, satisfying fans, or lose again and surely force a major shakeup at the top. The worst scenario would seem to be a good-but-not-good-enough run, a la 2008, which leaves the Wilpons with some doubt about who to fire.
April will be a microcosm for this imminent crossroads. As they say, pennants aren't won in April, but an extremely good or an extremely bad month can throw you into or out of the race. I'm rooting for either and not just because of the aforementioned chance of Minaya getting fired. We often caution drawing conclusions from a player's performance in April, because the small sample size often leads to statistics unrepresentative of a player's true talent. This April, I'm rooting for a lot of misrepresentation:
- Jenrry Mejia--If he pitches poorly the Mets might demote him to the minors with Kiko Calero and Bobby Parnell potentially ready in AAA. If he succeeds, it will be because he is awesome and may be the rare reliever-to-be-starter, such as Pedro and Johan, who can worry about the breaking ball later, because his other stuff is so good.
- Mike Jacobs--I'm all for seeing Ike Davis and/or Chris Carter now, and nothing would expedite that like their good work in the minors and Jacobs' failure in April. HR/FB and batting average, however, can vary greatly in just 30 games, see: Mike Jacobs in his other one-month stint with the Mets. A 2005 repeat, or something close to it, could keep the Mets in the race until someone else more competent can take the job. The Mets smartly platooning him only increases the likelihood of some fluky success. He just being his normal self is pretty dreadful, but could fool the Mets.
- Alex Cora/Gary Matthews--Cora and Matthews are two bad players holding the place of two great players, so obviously some fluky success would be a nice holdover until the real lineup. They are both, however, blocking two young players, Pagan and Tejada, who are probably better now and potentially starters in the future. The Mets will be carrying Ruben Tejada opening day and he may just sit for the whole week. And while I can't envision a scenario where he has time to establish himself over Cora, a good showing from Ruben could put him in line to replace Luis Castillo in case of knee complications.
Everyone else on the team would benefit by doing their best. The Mets' schedule for April is 70% home games and moderately difficult in terms of opponents. As they're built the Mets are a .500 team, but the last thing I want is to enter May 11-12. I'm excited for the season because it means something has to happen--good or bad--to a franchise that has quite literally been going nowhere.