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Keep On Keepin' On

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The NL East standings look like this:

2006 National League Standings
EAST           W   L   PCT   GB    HOME  ROAD    RS   RA  STRK    L10
NY Mets       44  26  .629   ---  21-14  23-12  373  299  Won 1   7-3
Philadelphia  35  36  .493   9.5  18-22  17-14  353  364  Lost 1  3-7
Florida       30  37  .448  12.5  15-17  15-20  311  313  Won 9   9-1
Washington    32  41  .438  13.5  15-19  17-22  331  367  Lost 2  3-7
Atlanta       30  41  .423  14.5  14-18  16-23  348  375  Lost 8  1-9
The once-dominant Atlanta Braves are 14.5 games back of first place, and the Phillies, after losing to the Yankees on Tuesday, drop back to 9.5 games off the pace. The upstart Marlins have reeled off nine straight wins to land them in third place.

The Mets have been home for five games since coming back from their very successful road trip and, despite going just 2-3 so far, they maintain the division lead they came home with. It seems that even when the Mets struggle to come up with wins they are picked up by their divisional rivals, all of which are sputtering.

Nine-and-a-half games is a huge lead, but there are still ninety-some-odd games to go in the season and any number of outcomes are still imaginable. Yet, as June draws nearer to a close, the Mets have the most comfortable first-place lead in baseball, and every gear in the Big Met Machine is running smoothly in most cases and at least capably in all cases.

The Mets' biggest detractors point to their rotation as a sore spot, but the Mets are second in the National League in starters' ERA, just percentage points behind the Dodgers. Aaron Heilman has been struggling in the bullpen, but other guys like Chad Bradford have been there to pick up the slack.

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Random thoughts...

  • Last year, many fans crucified Willie Randolph for his mismanagement of the bullpen and the lineup. This year, the complaints have been few and far between. Has Randolph become a great manager over the course of one offseason? Are the Mets simply proving that a manager is only as good as the team he coaches? Bullpen-wise, the 1-2-3 of Wagner-Sanchez-Heilman hasn't given Randolph too many opportunties to make mistakes. Lineup-wise, sure, there are some minor tweaks that could be made to optimize the batting order, but the payoff may not be worth "fixing what ain't broke".
  • Is it just me, or is there not a single guy on this ballclub who is hard to root for?
  • Stay tuned to AA, as I have some Mets '86 World Series DVD sets to give away; three to be exact. They will all be given away as prizes to loyal members of the AA community. Details to follow.