So, the Mets are a little more tha a month into the season. First place in the NL East. Nice lead on the Nationals. One 11 game winning streak. Amazing pitching performances from Bartolo Colon, Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom and Jon Niese. All this with David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud on the DL. So that all sounds like good news. Why am I still not quite buying what I’m seeing. Here’s why. Championships are won with great pitching and great defense up the middle. The Mets only possess half that equation. Juan Lagares is the best center fielder in baseball. But the infield defense is a horror show. It’s like watching a scary movie every time a ball is hit to Wilmer Flores or Daniel Murphy. Will they catch it? Throw it away? I can’t watch! I avert my eyes every time. Cross your fingers. Only god knows what might happen. So what to do? Well, until Wright gets back Dilson Herrera is the every day second baseman. He is a huge upgrade over Murphy. And he needs to stay there when the Captain returns from the DL. The Mets seem intent on giving Flores every chance to succeed. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. His range is terrible. His arm is inconsistent and even the routine plays are in question. And in a division with Andrelton Simmons and Adeiny Echevarria it’s hard to not imagine how much even a minor upgrade would help the Mets. It will be interesting to see what Sandy Alderson does as the weeks play out. Will trades be made if the team remains a contender? Let’s hope so. It would be a shame to waste such promise because of two players.
Those of you who aren’t Mets fans may not get this. Almost 30 years after the “other” New York team won a World Series they appear to be on the right track once again. But can we truly believe? As Tug McGraw said in 1973, Ya Gotta Believe! No no!! I can’t, can I? Is that light at the end of the tunnel the gleam from the sun shining at Citi Field reflected off the World Series trophy? Or is just the 7 train just barrelling toward our dreams, poised to run them over? After nearly 45 years as a Mets fan, pardon me if I am more inclined to believe the latter.
I’m not going go into the sordid history. The trade of “The Franchise”. The dark Joe Torre/Lee Mazilli years. The Dodgers crushing our hopes in ’88. I don’t even remember the 90’s. Endy Chavez making the catch, only to have Yadier Molina launch one and kick us in the nuts again. Piazza flying out to end the 2000 series against the hated Yankees. Ok, you get my point (and I haven’t even mentioned the dark post-Madoff years).
But could this year be different? The plan seems to be coming together. All that vaunted young starting pitching is either here or just about to arrive. All the head scratching moves Sandy Alderson has made or hasn’t made in the past two years seem to all be the right moves. Fourteen games into the 2015 season and the New York Mets are tied with the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals for the best record in baseball. Someone said to me yesterday that penants aren’t won in April. No, they are not. But they can be lost in April. Having a bad start makes you play catch up the rest of the year. Your always chasing those early season losses. So, getting off to a good start is far preferable to getting off to a bad one.
The Mets are doing this the right way. I sit and watch them almost every day on MLB.TV (shameless plug) and what I see is great pitching, clutch hitting and picking up your teammates. Where have we seen that before? Uh, how about the 2010, 2012 and 2014 San Francisco Giants. Seems to have worked out for them. And the minor league depth has offset a rash of early season injuries. David Wright is on the DL with a wonky hamstring. How can any team lose two key guys (Travis d’Arnaud and Jerry Blevins) to fractures in the same game, within 20 minutes of each other. It’s freaking bizarre. But they have continued to win becuase there are minor leaguers in place to pick it up. Next guy up. Your turn. Don’t let your teammates down. And that depth means that if they need a piece later in the season, they have trade bait.
So yeah, I’m moving toward optimism. But it’s hard for a Mets fan. I mean, these are the Mets.