Elster's World

Monday, July 09, 2007

As the season hits All-Star break, the New York Mets are floundering. The team is mixing together inconsistency on offense and defense, a number of tough injuries, a serious case of complacency as well as a general lack of hustle. The result? Um, well they are in first place in the National League East, but they are one Atlanta or Philly hot streak away from failing to reach the playoffs.

Of course, they also happen to be one hot streak away from running away with the division as well, but this is a more critical analysis of the team:

First Base - Carlos Delgado has been mired in an entire year slump. He's not hitting for power and he's not driving in runs. This is HUGE PROBLEM NUMBER ONE for the Mets. The middle of the lineup is not mashing like it did last year. The Mets need Delgado to take a longer look in that notebook of his and figure out what is wrong.

Second Base - Before his injury, Jose Valentin was at least playing lights out defense at second. Now he can't field or hit. With the recent emergence of Rubin Gotay, you wonder it Willie Randolph will start playing Gotay more in the second half.

Short Stop - His lack of running out a few grounders aside, Jose Reyes has been having a typically good (though not MVP type) season. He's walking more, stealing bases, hitting for average (though his power is way down this season) and playing flawless shortstop.

Third base - After a very slumpish start, David Wright looks as though he has righted himself (no pun intended). He's really starting to pick it up. His defense improves each season. Has been the only consistent bat in the middle of the lineup lately.

Right Field - After last year's debacle, Shawn Green has been playing decently in right. He's a poor fielder (doesn't get to many balls) and he doesn't have a great arm. He's batting just under .280 but he's hit some very timely home runs for the Mets. All in all, very average since he's off the juice.

Center - after an MVP-type season last year, Carlos Beltran has come back to earth a little bit this season. He just has not been consistent at the plate. Incredibly, he's still on pace for around 30 home runs and 100 rbi. And he's still a magnificent defensive outfielder. His catch on Saturday night gave the Mets a victory. But he's not impacting games like he did last year and often he's an easy out. Pitchers are killing him with breaking stuff.

Left - There's nothing to say. The Moises Alou experiment has been a complete disaster. Couple that with the Lastings Milledge foot injury and you get almost no productivity from a traditional power position. The only silver lining - the slow emergence of Carlos Gomez - who was starting to show he would one day belong in the Met outfield when he, too, was lost for 2 months with a broken leg. Not sure about you, but I'm not loving heading to war with David Newhan and Shawn Green as my corner outfielders.

Catcher - Typical Paul Lo Duca season. Lots of wear and tear, decent average, fiery demeanor, a lot of outs in key spots. How much longer can he play with the punishment his body takes? The Mets are betting not long, refusing to extend his deal. He does seem to handle the staff pretty well though.

Pitching - Sure they have been wracked by injury, but lots of disturbing signs. Tom Glavine has been maddeningly inconsistent, following up a gem with a 4 inning, 6 run, 9 hit 4 walk type performance. And he's the de facto ace of the staff. El Duque has very little left in the tank. Whe you have the bases loaded and you are 302 and all you can come up with is the Ephus pitch - well that's not a good sign at all. And his month-long August vacation is coming up. Oliver Perez has been a real turn-around. With luck, he'll be back after the all-star game and picking up where he left off. Still, I don't trust him in big spots (prove me wrong lanky-one). Jorge Sosa, another scrap heap find, was also lost for significant time with a hammy. Dave Williams was throwing 84 yesterday. He was also throwing batting practice. Jason Vargas is...Jason Vargas. And poor Mike Pelfrey. He is going to need one of those starts where the Mets score 10 runs in the first to help him break his 0-7 skid.

Then there's John Maine. Maine has been nothing short of fantastic this year. He should have made the all-star team over Oswalt. It's been a pleasure watching him develop over the course of the last season or so.

The bullpen - Simply put, Scott Schoenwiess should be gone. Aaron Sele is nothing more than an innings eater, Mota needs some 'roids to get back on track and Heilman is not trustworthy in big Spots. Smith has gone through the ups and downs of a rookie campaign. Only Feliciano and Wagner have been lights out.

Prediction: The NL East is wide open. Thanks to their torrid start, the Mets still hold a lead in the standings. And the truth is, if they get healthy, if Pedro comes back, if Alou or Milledge can give them anything in left, if Perez and Sosa come back. If Minaya can swing a righty bat and a top relief pitcher. If Beltran and Delgado start hitting. If these things happen, the Mets will run away with the East.

The problem - too many ifs. I still think the Mets will hold off the Braves and Phils, but the way things are now, I don't see better than a second round playoff flameout.

Halfway Point Prediction: Mets hold onto the top spot and get eliminated by the Dodgers in the opening round of the playoffs. Note that all bets are off if (i) the Mets get healthy and hot, (ii) the team keeps getting wacked by injuries or (iii) Minaya pulls off some crazy trade.


  • You left out the manager.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 1:10 PM  

  • It's not yet possible to rationally discuss Willie.

    By Blogger Elster, at 2:50 PM  

  • I did also want to point out that Julio Franco needs to get promoted to assistant bench coach - and let's give his roster spot to someone who can actually hit and play defense.

    By Blogger Elster, at 2:51 PM  

  • Now that your position is coming close to mine, I hope you'll soon agree that Willie is a buffoon. His in-game moves make no sense, he forgets to double switch, he refuses to let Castro hit (if he was manager in 1999 forget the Pratt NLDS game winner), he keeps playing Valentin, Mota and Schoeneweis. Yesterday he said Alomar was catching because Alomar caught Williams in AAA - never mind that he never had.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 2:59 PM  

  • And who cares is he DID? I can catch an 84 MPH fastball.

    I think Willie gave away Sunday's game in order to try and save the bullpen.

    Mitigating Schoenweiss point - supposedly he's pitching with an injury all season. If so, then shut him down. he's killing up.

    By Blogger Elster, at 3:01 PM  

  • "Prediction: Mets hold onto the top spot and get eliminated by the Dodgers in the opening round of the playoffs. Note that all bets are off if (i) the Mets get healthy and hot, (ii) the team keeps getting wacked by injuries or (iii) Minaya pulls off some crazy trade."

    Prediction: Elster continues to get comments from only one reader. Note that all bets are off if (i) Elster returns to writing about his efforts to get his books published and his family, (ii) MoChassid links to Elster or (iii) Elster is traded in exchange for Semgirl, Jewboy and the future rights to Jewboy's son's upcoming blog.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 9:51 AM  

  • You failed to consider me and my sporadic commenting habit that I cannot seem to kick.

    By Anonymous Sara, at 12:34 PM  

  • Why the Elster hatred Joe? I have long since stopped caring who reads my blog. If I waned comments, I'd go back to the old Elster's World.

    And what do you want me to do? I's impossible to adaquately figure this team out. The just fired Rick Down and replaced him with....Rickey Henderson??? He was playing cards in the clubhouse while Rome burned!!

    So who knows...

    By Blogger Elster, at 10:38 PM  

  • They need to also bring back Bobby Bonilla to replace the clubhouse influence lost with the release of Julio Franco, and to provide a poker partner for Henderson.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 11:19 AM  

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