Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Maybe The "Experts" Were Right? This Is A .500 Ballclub.

Coming into the 2011 season, most MLB “experts” picked the Mets to finish below .500. These “experts” said that they were relying too heavily on reclamation projects with low risk/high reward expectations. They said that in order for the Mets to finish over .500 , they would have to have a healthy and productive Jose Reyes, a healthy and productive Carlos Beltran, the bullpen was going to have to over perform, and the starting rotation was going to have to pitch way over their heads, and maybe that wouldn’t even be enough. Well if you look at the 2011 season thus far, the experts seem to be dead on.

Granted we are only 35 games into the 2011 season and a lot can change over the next 127 games, but the Mets seem to be exactly what everyone in the Major League Baseball circle predicted, a below .500 team. Some of the things that MUST go right according to most baseball people have indeed gone right.

Jose Reyes has been an absolute beast this year. He is hitting a fantastic .320 and his OBP is at the highest it has ever been in his career at .367. He is 12-14 in stolen base opportunities and leads the Majors in triples with 6, and has 18 extra base hits. Not to mention, he has played a fantastic SS and should be right near the top of the Gold Glove voting if he continues his strong defensive play.

Carlos Beltran has also been fantastic this year. Many people questioned what Beltran had left in the tank after consecutive injury plagued seasons in 2009 and 2010. Beltran however has proved all his critics wrong so far in 2011. He leads the NL in doubles with 12, has a batting average of .289, 5 HR, 18 RBI, and is 11th in the NL in OPS among players with over 15 games played, while making a smooth transition to a new position in RF. To say Beltran is having a productive year might be an understatement.

However, some of the several things that MUST go right have gone terribly wrong. The Mets pitching staff has not been good. The teams ERA is a poor 4.06, 11th in the 16 team NL. The staff has walked the most opposing hitters in the NL and only trails the Toronto Blue Jays by 6 for the most in the Majors. While reclamation project Chris Capuano has pitched fairly well, Chris Young lasted only 4 starts for the Mets before suffering a potential season ending injury. Mike Pelfrey has clearly taken a step back to life after his 15 win season a year ago, while R.A. Dickey has seemingly come back to earth after his surprise 2010 campaign.

So after 35 games and a 15-20 record, it appears that the experts were correct. This is a below .500 team. So what does this mean for the future of the New York Mets? I would imagine that even if the Mets somehow fight their way over the .500 mark, we should expect to see Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez traded to a contender come July 31. It makes the most sense as they are clearly aging players producing at a high level that can bring a decent amount of talent back in return, while they help another ball club.

Then there is the Jose Reyes question. I keep fighting myself back and forth as to what will happen with Reyes. Of course we all know that he is supposedly not a Sandy Alderson guy. However, this is the first time that Alderson has actually watched this guy play on a daily basis and I can’t imagine him not being impressed and thinking that he is definitely part of the solution and the future of the New York Mets.

So as we watch the 2011 Mets struggle to reach the .500 mark and break our hearts once again while hoping that they somehow produce miracles and shock the world, at least the there is reason to continue watching. So as the saying goes, there is always next year, and in the Mets case, maybe the year after that.