Friday, September 26, 2008

Lightning in a bottle

If the Mets make the playoffs or even if they don't one of the amazing story lines will be their ability to catch lightning in a bottle. The Mets are on the verge of a 90 win season which is a very respectable number and even though we'll be disappointed if it doesn't result in a playoff birth the fact is they rebounded well.

Who would have thought when we were in fourth place, seven games behind, double digits below five hundred, and being swept by the lowly Padres in a four game series by the score of 2-1 in three of them, with Willie was on the verge of being fired we would be where we are. We actually have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs with just three games left to play and while I would have liked them to play better down the stretch they have shown enough resiliency and determination to stay in the fight....

Yes, the expected players have come through as Delgado has rebounded from what probably was a slow recovery from a wrist injury. Church carried the team through the first quarter of the season and when he went down Wright took over until Sept. All along Reyes has fueled the fire and Beltran continues to quietly stack-up HOF numbers.

But if you said that a team would lose their number three starter (Maine), Projected Fifth starter (Hernandez), All-Star Closer (Wagner), Starting left fielder (Alou), Fourth outfielder ( Pagan), Fifth outfielder (Nixon), Sixth outfielder/utility player (Tatis), Seventh outfielder (Clark) and ground ball specialist reliever (Wise) all for the season. And then get no production out of the starting second baseman (Castillo) due to slow recovery, lose the starting right fielder for half the season (Church) and your number four starter (Pedro) who when he did finally come back was in-effective. The bench consisted of a never used third catcher, and two ineffective players (Chavez/Anderson) who slump offensively most of the year. Along with losing the replacement second basemen (Easley) down the stretch to injury and having both catchers in and out of the line-up all year. Also losing back-up pitching options in AAA to injuries ( Armas/C. Vargas/J.Vargas/Burgos), couple that with a nightmare manging distraction and you'd say it was a fifty win season.

The Mets have had a successful season thanks to contributions from the most unlikely characters and even some of those are part of the injury list but Manuel became an expert at catching lightning in a bottle.

To start the season Angel Pagan became the player who was passed back and forth between the Mets and Cubs for cash considerations to a .275 hitting starting left fielder.

Regardless of missing the last two weeks of the season Fernando Tatis should be the comeback player of the year, before dislocating his shoulder diving for a fly ball he was hitting .297. Tatis a natural third basemen was a starting corner outfielder, number six hitter and a key component of this team after not playing regularly since 2003.

Then their are the two rookies straight out of double A, Nick Evans and David Murphy. Evans had that three double debut in Colorado and has cooled since but the righty is still hitting a respectable .262. Murphy already has a nickname ( D-Rex) and has turned into a starting number two hitting table setter. Murph is hitting .325 and continues to come up big hitting a ninth inning triple in a tie game.

Then there are the journeyman who are the epitome of playing the hot hand. Rem. Raul Casanova the catcher who's bounced through multiple organizations and hit .273 in 20 games when Schneider went down. Now Robinson Cancel who has been a career minor leaguer is filling in at catcher and had a huge game tying hit last night along with hitting .245 (not bad for a catcher). A. Reyes stuck in the Indians system for six years signed a minor league deal this year and came up for the first time to play a decent second base and while he's very cool now (.219)in July hit .286. Who would of thought the 28 y/o castaway from the Rays, Brian Stokes would have played such a key role in the pen down the stretch or waiver wire pick-up Luis Ayala would be the closer. The regulars in the pen have been bad but some of the call-ups have contributed at times including 33 y/o Brandon Knight and Nelson Figueroa. Until the three run bomb Mexican League pitcher Ricardo Rincon had been perfect against lefties.....

Finally with second base once again becoming a black hole and other then one year of Jose Valentin hasn't been productively filled since Jeff Kent/Edgardo Alfonzo days, Ramon Martinez emerged. Manuel has been reluctant to use the call-ups he's been unfamiliar with and Martinez was waived earlier this year by the Dodgers when they were begging for infielder but he was slow to recover from a thumb injury. In his first major league at bat of the season he hit a double and then drew a walk. Last night he got his first start and played a solid second in the muddy infield, with the season on the line he had a huge hit.

It's truly Amazin that the Mets are even in this position.......