Saturday, April 7, 2012

2-0, 160 to Go

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Somebody was paying me to write for a while, so it was tough to find the time to write for the blog here. But, as it turns out, I kinda suck, so they stopped paying me. So, I stopped writing. Cause and effect.

Which means you guys are now stuck with me. Just pretend I never skipped a beat.

So the Mets are 2-0. The pennant is within reach. Kinda. After a winter of financial news that would have depressed Mr. Met if he was on Prozac, an injury to a starting center fielder on Opening (FREAKING) Day, and a lineup that has a guy named Duda in it and a catcher with as much pop as an opened, three week old RC Cola, we are undefeated and have already clinched our first series win of the season. If my calendar reads correctly, its time for somebody on this blog (patterson, lowercase) to start talking about the wild card or some such nonsense, games over five hundred, our lead over the Marlins, or whatever. But let's take a step back and measure what really might be important to this team this season from what we have seen so far.

First, and foremost, David Wright is hitting. As one who believes the larger portion of his troubles have been mental, seeing him not only hit but stroke the ball to the opposite field means that maybe Wright has retrieved the aggressive, unafraid hitting style that highlighted the earlier portion of his career with the Mets. I firmly believe that Citi Field got in his head, then taking a fastball in the helmet got in his head, and then things spun out of control for David Wright. Getting going in the right direction could spell a big season for right.

Note that I didn't say the Wright Direction. It's a cheap pun. Nobody should use it. Ever. Except Andy Martino of the Daily News, because he kinda sucks anyway, so why not?

Second, the first two pitchers were solid if unspectacular. While some, myself included, speculated that a compilation of number four starters could not compete in this league, Santana and Dickey could form a competitive balance at the top of the rotation. Both can gut their way through the tougher parts of the game and get through some formidable lineups. How far they can get after early season pitch counts are lifted will be revealing, but early returns are promising. Up next is newly extended Jonathan Niese, then renowned headcase Michael "There's Salt On My Palms" Pelfrey, followed by Dillon Gee, who may prove to be not the least talented arm in this staff.

Its... sketchy from here on out. Niese is talented, but has never been a stand out for an entire season. Almost nothing Pelfrey did would surprise me. He could throw a perfect game. He could get knocked out in the first inning. He could sprain his ankle jumping over the foul line on his way out to the mound. Who knows. In my mind, he's the best chance for the Mets to get a no-hitter, or score a man from first on three consecutive balks. Neither would make me faint.

Gee could be extremely durable as a fifth starter. Against other teams' bottom of the barrel pitchers, he could hold up quite well. A double digit win in this slot is completely feasible for Gee, even if the team has a losing season.

So, how should optimistic Mets fans keep their emotions in check? Look at Jason Bay. Despite getting a hit on Saturday, he still looks like a lost puppy at the plate. He needs to come around, and soon, to avoid falling prey to the New York fans and media, which are circling him like fresh roadkill.

Take a gander at Ruben Tejada in the lead off spot, which we'll have to do until Torres returns from the DL. He's technically a batter because he holds a wooden stick while near the plate, but the similarities end there. Watching him wave at pitches and hit soft grounders all year will make us remember why we miss Jose Reyes. You remember him? NL Batting Champion last year? Tejada could spell a .100 point drop off at that position. Ouch.

A few wins at the beginning of the season is making me feel good, don't get me wrong. If everything continues to fall the Mets way, we may even play meaningful games well into the month of... July? I hope I'm wrong. I don't know. But for now, lets just focus on the growth of Lucas Duda as a power hitter, Wright's return as an elite hitter and, hopefully, his continued career as a Met, and the progress of some of the Mets pitching staff. As for now, we'll keep our eyes on that, and leave the outlandish optimism and predictions for somebody else.