Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Mets 10-Game Report: Volume 1

Greetings, friends, and welcome to the first official installment of the 2009 Mets 10-Game Report.  

Games: 1-10
Record: 5-5

@ CIN W 2-1
@ CIN W 9-7
@ CIN L 8-6
@ FLA L 5-4
@ FLA W 8-4
@ FLA L 2-1
vs SDG L 6-5
vs SDG W 7-2
vs SDG L 6-5
vs MIL W 5-4

Runs Scored: 52

Runs Allowed: 45

Team BA: 96/339 = .283 (not bad)

Team BA with RISP: 25/88 = .284 (why doesn't it feel like it was this good?)

Team BA with RISP and 2 outs: 13/47 = .276 (really? this felt more like .001)

HRs: 9 (nice)

Team ERA: 87.2IP, 35ER = 3.61 (decent)

Starter ERA: 54.2IP, 33ER = 5.47 (wow.  yeah, this was bad.)

Bullpen ERA: 33IP, 7ER = 1.90 (wow.  yeah, this was good.  nice change from last year!)

HRs allowed:

BAA: 78/331 = .235 

Errors: 6 (too many)

GIDP: 8 (too many)

Fielding DP: 5 (too few)

SB: 4 (Jose is off to a really slow start with his base-stealing.)

Volume 1 MVPs:
Starter: Johan Santana:  Every starter has had two starts, and he's the only one who produced two quality ones.  
Reliever: K-Rod:  Just about everyone in that bullpen is deserving of this.  
Hitter: Luis Castillo:  I know, I know... there were many other hitters in the lineup deserving of this, especially Delgado, but I gotta hand it to Castillo.  This guy was my personal whipping boy last year, and I'm pretty sure he was everyone else's too.  But he has had a really, really good start to the season this year, and has provided the lineup with some serious depth since he's hitting 8th.  The guy is hitting .387.  And he's dropped about 15 lbs since the end of last season.  And he got the game-winning hit tonight against the Brewers.  

Volume 1 players making me drink:
Starter: Oliver Perez:  Same old Ollie.  Looks terrible one day, giving up 8 runs, and looks like a world beater the next day.  This is what he is.  And we just have to accept that.  At the end of the year, his numbers will mostly be solid.  
Reliever: Pedro Feliciano:  It figures that the only guy in the bullpen who would drive me to drink would be the only guy left over from last year.  He balked in the go-ahead run the other night against the pathetic Padres.  
Hitter: Brian Schneider: He's pretty much the only guy not hitting.  And now he's on the DL.  That's fine.  Ramon Castro has some pop.  

Summary Analysis:  The gist of what we have seen so far is as follows: bad starting pitching, great bullpen, very solid yet very un-clutch offense.  Now those numbers with RISP are not too shabby.  But as Lou Pinella once said, "Statistics are like bikinis.  They show a lot, but they don't show everything."  The Mets have perfected the art of not doing squat when the bases are loaded.  And, as they did so many times in 2007 and 2008, the Mets have - in this first 10-game stretch - scored a lot early, and then... zilch.  And of course, the opposition takes advantage and eventually takes the lead.  So frustrating.  

I believe in the concept behind the 10-Game Report.  It keeps things in perspective.  Now, 5-5 is nothing to get too excited about.  But it's not terrible, and what we Mets fans have to keep in mind is that every little thing that goes wrong with this team is magnified 10-fold because of the way they finished the last two seasons.  Anything that remotely reminds us of the last two seasons, like the lack of clutch hitting and the lack of late-hitting after early success, makes it seem like the world is ending.  Well, the world is not ending.  

Though the offense has been frustrating during this first 10-game stretch, the biggest problem by far was the starting pitching.  The numbers don't lie at all in this case.  That starters ERA is putrid, and must improve.  And it will improve.  Oliver Perez is not going to be as consistent as we would like him to be, but he is going to give us similar results to what he gave us the last two seasons - which, I think, all of us Mets fans will gladly accept.  Maine had one bad inning yesterday in which the Padres got a bunch of softly hit singles.  It happens.  Pelfrey has some tendonitis, which is worrisome for sure, but you saw what this guy did last year when he got in his groove.  You saw him blast through the opposition from the end of May to September.  He has the stuff, and he will be fine.  Livan so far looks like a good number 5 starter, and we all know what we have in Johan Santana.  The starting pitching will come around.  

Since the Mets only went 5-5, the fact that the Bullpen was so good will go overlooked for this first 10-game stretch.  But don't overlook it.  The success of that bullpen is going to pay HUGE dividends over the course of the whole season.  For the first time in a LONG time, I feel good when the Mets have a lead late in the game.  At the very least, I don't feel tempted to pour myself a tall glass of bourbon.  And for a moment - think back with me to 2006.  With the exception of the first couple months of that season, the Mets basically had no starting pitching outside of Tom Glavine.  They won that year with a great bullpen and a clutch offense.  Our starting pitching this year is light years better than our starting pitching was in '06.  

The Mets' offense will get on track.  Hell, if you look at the individual batting averages so far, you would think the Mets should have scored 100 runs by now and should be 10-0.  What encourages me so much about this offense is its depth.  With Castillo hitting well, 1-8 in the lineup is solid.  And, how nice is it to see the Carlos Delgado we all know and love?  The middle of the order is solidified, thanks to him.  

Last year the Mets were a .500 team until mid July.  Yes, we all know how they finished last year.  But they seriously turned things around, especially offensively, at the mid-season mark.  It's early, folks.  Keep things in perspective.  

Some thoughts on Citi Field: I haven't been there yet, and I won't until I see the Mets play the Yankees on June 27th.  I can't wait to see my fanwalk brick.  I have to say - I cannot believe how many Mets fans called up WFAN to complain about the new park.  The main complaints have been: 1) obstructed outfield views; 2) not enough Mets' paraphernalia; 3) green seats instead of blue and orange seats.  C'mon, folks.  The only complaint that seems valid here is 1).  Do we really want bright and tacky blue and orange seats??  We didn't even have that at Shea!  The classic dark green looks fine.  As far as there being not enough Mets' stuff in the park, to some extent I can understand being upset with that.  The Wilpons definitely went heavy on the tribute to the Brooklyn Dodgers.  But that's okay with me.  The Brooklyn Dodgers are the bloodline and heritage of the New York Mets.  And Mets management has recently said that they plan to put in a Mets museum in Citi Field, so hopefully this will make everyone happy.  

Now, it will take some time for this place to feel like home.  But eventually, it will be home.  And nothing will expedite that process better than Ws.  Just win, baby.  

Oh, and congrats to Gary Sheffield for hitting his 500th homerun.  Not only was it his 500th, but he did it as a Met, and in a big spot.  He tied the game.  (Funny, he seems so much more likable in blue and orange than in pinstripes.)

Records of other teams of interest:
Phillies: 4-5
Braves: 5-5
Marlins: 9-1

Well, relatively speaking, the Mets really are doing fine so far.  The Phillies and the Braves are off to lukewarm starts.  The Phillies seem to have problems both in their starting pitching and in their bullpen.  But the big story here is the Marlins.  Those guys just won't lose.  No one should underestimate them.  They have very solid starting pitching, and lots of power in that lineup.  Of course, their defense is just awful.  But still, they are contenders.  

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