You can’t tell it by the standings, which after Wednesday night's loss to the Phillies showed the Mets in second place in the NL East with a 31-26 record. They were 3 games behind the Phillies and held a narrow lead in the NL wild card standings. All-in-all, not a bad place to be with two thirds of the season yet to be played.
But the standings are deceptive. This is a team wracked by injuries, lacking in power and facing the most demanding one-month stretch imaginable: 28 games in 31 days against many of the best teams in both leagues.
After the current series against Philly, the Mets go play three at Yankee Stadium. After a refreshing interlude against the Orioles, the Mets face the Rays, the Cards, the Yankees again, the Brewers, more Phillies and finally three at home against the Dodgers.
For a team that couldn’t beat Pittsburgh in three tries, this is not a happy prospect. Barely treading water right now, by this time next month, the Mets could be so far out of it, September will be irrelevant.
On the other hand, if the Mets can somehow stagger through the next month playing even .500 ball, they could be in position to do something when their key players start coming back from the repair shop.
I wouldn’t put anything more than the loose change in the couch cushions on the Mets surviving, and I wouldn’t even risk that much if I had something better to do with it, including throwing it out the window.
The Mets have the second-highest payroll in baseball after the dreaded Yankees. They also have a team that’s been to consistency what the Octomom has been to family planning.
After starting the season 10-13, the Mets got hot. From May 4-16 they went 11-2, including two-game sweeps of Atlanta and Philadelphia. They were 21-15 at the end of the streak and in first place in the NL East, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Phillies.
And then the wheels and doors and fenders started falling off their little red wagon. Carlos Delgado, their main power threat, went out to get his hip repaired and won’t be back until August. Shortstop and leadoff hitter Jose Reyes started tearing things in his legs and might not be back until July. Setup man J.J. Putz first lost his effectiveness, then shut it down to get his shoulder repaired. Other key players felled by injuries included Ryan Church, Ollie Perez and Alex Cora. Scariest of all, closer Francisco Rodriguez missed time at the end of May with back spasms.
The Mets have no power, a situation exacerbated by their new ballpark, Citi Field, which has an enormous field surrounded by 16-foot walls. David Wright is one of the league’s leading hitters, but he has just four home runs. No one has more than seven, and the team has just 37 home runs, fewer than everybody except San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
The pitching has been remarkably good, which it has to be. But it’s hard to win when it takes two or three hits to score a run. That’s been clear since that 11-2 run. In the next 19 games, the Mets have barely treaded water, going 9-10, losing 4 1/2 games to Philadelphia, and most recently getting swept by the pathetic Pittsburgh Pirates.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
The Mets will take it anyway they can get it. But there’s no enjoying it, not with the Phillies and Yankees and Dodgers and Brewers and Cardinals lined up to see if they can give the Mets a taste of September in June.
HBT: Robinson Cano homered twice while David Phelps had the longest outing of his career as the Yankees topped the Blue Jays 7-2 this afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
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