Monday, August 9, 2010

Don't take those shovels out just yet

The Mets have played a lot of good games this season. Good, close games. Pitcher's duels. Exciting games.

It's just that they've lost most of them.

It seems that whenever the Mets do something well, like put up runs against Roy Halladay, something goes bad, like R.A. Dickey allowing eight hits in three innings. Or when Jon Niese holds the Phillies to one run in seven innings, only to see Bobby Parnell give up four straight hits in the bottom of the eighth.

It's always something.

Other than that stretch in May and June when the Mets went 24-10 before heading to San Juan, the Mets have been off.

The current downfall has been caused by a struggling offense incapable of generating anything in a 23-game stretch since the All-Star break, one that featured 17 road games and a bunch of quality starters on the other side. Not a good combination.

Carlos Beltran has not been himself and should not be batting third or fourth until he gets hot. David Wright, the only one hitting for a while, is now slumping, and he and Beltran went a combined 5-for-45 in the games at Atlanta and Philly.

The changes the Mets made over the weekend were positive, especially releasing Alex Cora, but understand that as good as Ruben Tejada is defensively, he is a black hole on offense. Luis Castillo should not be banished to the bench completely. Despite his current numbers he brings more potential to the lineup and second base should be treated much like right field, where Castillo starts 3-4 games and Tejada starts the others, to see if that can light a fire under Castillo the rest of the way.

And when he plays, Castillo bats second. Please. We saw this again over the weekend when Reyes was on first and Pagan was trying to bunt him over and the announcers were screaming.

That's why Castillo should be there, taking pitches so Reyes can steal or bunting Reyes over, or bunting for a hit, so Pagan or Wright or whoever is batting third can drive him in. Move Pagan to the middle of the order, third or fifth or sixth, unless Tejada is at second.

The Mets haven't proven they can win back-to-back games, let alone series, in this slump and they need to break out of it soon, and the six home games against Colorado and Philly is a great place to start, followed by seven road games against Houston and Pittsburgh. That's followed by six home games against Florida and Houston.

I hate projecting the schedule -- it's such a talk radio show thing to do and the projections never come true -- but let's say 13-6 happens in that stretch, and then the Mets split four at Atlanta and take 4 of the next 6 at Chicago and Washington.

That 19-10 run would put the Mets seven games over .500 at 74-66 on Sept. 9, an off day. From then on the Mets would play 17 of 22 games at home.

Can they go 16-6 down the stretch and win 90 games? Will that be enough for a wild card spot?

It's still possible. Maybe not likely, but possible. A lot has to happen.

The season ain't over just yet. So keep the shovels at bay. At least for another week or so.

1 comment:

  1. I want to believe. I really do. But you said it yourself: the Mets are losing most of these close games. The hallmark of a playoff team is that somehow things go your way. Friday's game was a perfect example. After the bullpen collapsed against the Phillies in the 8th, I knew that the Mets would put up a 3-spot in the 9th. Not enough to win. Not enough to tie. But enough to get my hopes up. It's been that kind of year.

    Still, I like the decision to bring up F-Mart and Tejada. Add a spark to these remaining games and lay the groundwork for 2011.