Prior to this season, I would have predicted that the Mets would win around 85 games this season. They won 71 games last season, but were really around a 75-76 win team based on their run differential. I would have figured they added around 10 wins over last season's total based on the additions of Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran along with the maturation of David Wright.
After losing their last two series to the Astros and Angels, the Mets find themselves one game over .500 at 32-31, five games behind the "upstart" Washington Nationals. For all of the come-from-behind victories and the Pedro-mania, the Mets are still little more than a .500 team, and .500 teams do not make the postseason. They certainly don't mortgage their future for a fleeting chance at the present.
If the Mets continue to play their cards right, they can certainly have a bright future in front of them starting as soon as 2006. The reason they've struggled with mediocrity so much this season is easily summed up thusly: they simply aren't that good.
- 8th in the NL in ERA
- 4th in the NL in K/9
- 1st in the NL in OPS against
- 6th in the NL in starter ERA
- 7th in the NL in reliever ERA
- 9th in the NL in walks allowed (1st is worst)
- 10th in the NL in OPS
- 9th in the NL in runs scored
- 8th in the NL in homeruns
- 14th in the NL in OBP
- 3rd in the NL in strikeouts (1st is worst)
- 8th in the NL in walks
The Phillies and the Marlins have the most talent in the division, with the Phils sporting the best offense and the Marlins sporting the best rotation, Al Leiter's miserable season notwithstanding. I still contend that one of those two teams will walk away with the division crown this season.
Still, as much as my brain keeps telling me that the Mets are also-rans, my heart always thinks there's a chance they could surprise some people. As long as there are still games to be played, and as long as the rest of the division can't get out of its own way, the Mets will always be in play. At the very least, they're the most exciting show in town.
All I ask for the rest of the season is that the Mets keep playing like they care, keep playing that fun type of baseball that we all love to watch. I also ask that the current management team takes a close look at the mistakes that were made last season and make damn well sure that they don't repeat them this July.
If the Mets are still in it at that point, pick up a few spare pieces for the stretch run. If they're out of it, sell off players like Tom Glavine, Mike DeJean, even Cliff Floyd if you can get something good in return. Don't trade Mike Cameron unless you get blown away with an offer. Keep the core intact, and this offseason look to upgrade at first base, second base, catcher, and the back end of the rotation.
The Mets network kicks off in 2006 and, with a little luck, the Mets' new stadium will open in 2009. I want to be there to see the David Wrights, the Jose Reyes', the Philip Humbers and Yusmeiro Petits, and I'm more than willing to sacrifice a few wins this season to make that a reality. I'm sure all of you are willing to do the same.