The New York Mets meltdown in mid season
It just isn’t the New York Mets’ season is it? Nothing seems to have gone the way they’ve planned and now they’re sitting eight games behind their archrival Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East.
As a team, they’re falling apart and the Phillies (50-38) have made the division their own. To add insult they’ve taken one of the Mets old fan favorites, Pedro Martinez, and turned him to the dark side. At least New York has the Yankees to stand up and deliver. Even when the games seem desperate the Yanks pull a win out in the end (they really earned that series win versus the Detroit Tigers after the break). It’s the difference between a healthy team and a team beat up with injuries. It’s also the difference between a team with a strong backbone and a team that needs a restructured support system. It’s the move they made with the Atlanta Braves (the Jeff Francoeur/Ryan Church trade), and the subsequent series afterward that’s been a sign of the times. Coming off the All-Star Break (again, the American League will take home field this season after their 4-3 win), the Mets are going to have to savor those intermittent wins and the prospect of the 2010 season because this just isn’t their year.
Now, I’m not a defeatist. I don’t like to consider myself one; I don’t like to give up on the underdogs. The Mets (43-47) surely are an underdog if I’ve ever seen one, and resurgence along with the hope for a playoff is still possible and would make for a great story. It’s just that you can only give a team the benefit of the doubt for so long before they start breaking your heart.
Is it the injuries? Last year the Mets weren’t without Carlos Beltran or Jose Reyes for more than a week each and they still fell to the Phillies come crunch time. Is it the manager? The same failings that were put on Willie Randolph’s shoulders between the 2005-08 seasons are haunting Jerry Manuel as he pushes on into his second.
I’d blame the history, attitude, and expectations that go along with being the Mets in general, but it’s probably a combination of all of this. The Mets have taken steps in the off-season as they bolstered their bullpen (J.J. Putz is almost back from the DL) and during the past week to strengthen their weaknesses, but their bit players don’t seem to be able to hold up the team.
The Atlanta Braves (45-46) hosted the New York Mets two days after the Midsummer Classic, which made for some interesting fodder for conversation. One of the steps I’ve just mentioned that the Mets have made in bolstering their lineup was the trade in which they received the 25-year-old Jeff Francoeur and cash from the Braves for the relatively young yet injury prone Ryan Church. It’s difficult to say who got the better of the deal, but let’s look first at the careers of these two right fielders, and then how they performed in the series.
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