Thursday, September 28, 2006

LADIES & GENTLEMEN, YOUR 2006 NORFOLK TIDES

This sucks.

And I haven't even started talking yet about Pedro. I'm talking about the lineup. Baseball -- with its long season, blah, blah, blah -- is a game of momentum, of ebbs & flows. Guys get hot and make square contact with every pitch for weeks at a time. Other guys get cold and flail ("Pull off" as The Eternal Captain would say), swinging wildly at slop & sliders in the dirt. Good fielding is contagious. So is bad fielding. The boys have been committing a ton of errors lately. Their record since June's World Famous 9-1 Road Trip ended? 51-42.

So what's been going on? Well, here are the September numbers for some key bats:

Beltran: 160/364/280. 2 RBIs.
Wright: 1 home run. This mysterious power blackout extends back to early summer: 7 HRs in 264 ABs since the end of June. Homerun Derby, indeed.
Valentin: 178/238/397
Floyd: 236/283/345. But you know what? Those numbers are about in line with the rest of his season, so no cause for panic there.

You'll note I'm not even bothering to list team-wide hitting stats, because of all the subs that have played since the call-ups/the clincher. No, I'm merely focusing on the mystifying dearth of production from three of the five guys who've carried the Mets amazing hitting attack this year. The fourth & fifth cogs, Reyes & Delgado, haven't burned it up in September, but they've been ok.

If these guys don't start hitting next week, it's gonna be over real fast, no matter who they play.

As to the pitching, I'm not really panicking. The Mets have won this year on the strength of the NL's best hitting (until the last month); with a lot of help from a deep bullpen; a little help from a decent-but-not-great starting rotation made up of Tom Glavine plus journeymen, rookies, and washed-up vets; and a bonus in the form of a 30-16 record in one-run games.

You'll notice that a 20-5/2.38 season from Pedro Martinez isn't part of that formula. They've done it without him this year. Assume he's done for the season at this point. It's insane to think otherwise. Perhaps he wasn't as crazy as we all thought when he broke down in the dugout a few weeks ago. Maybe he knows his own body afterall.

If Glavine/Duque/Maine/Trachs can do their standard 4.50 thing, while the bats roar & Chad-Brad, Mota, Heilman, & Wagner do their usual 3.00 thing, the Mets can win it all. They may not, but they can. But even if the starters pitch to the best of their ability and submit a 3.75 or so performance, the Mets will still lose (in round one) if the big bats don't get on track.

I know it's unfair, but at moments like this someone has to right the ship himself. Show the guys that he's gonna get them back where they belong. I'm not sure he can do it (for crissakes, he's only 23), but I wanna see David Wright come out tonight and bash two homers, drive in 5, give the Mets an early lead. I wanna see an error-free game. I wanna see line-drives, regardless of whether they're caught or not.

We see those things, and the momentum may return. We could be two days from those 3 run first innings we got used to. But if those things don't happen, and happen real soon?

There's enough panic & negativity flying through the atmosphere. I won't add to it. 4-0 from here on out.

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