Update on first-half questions.

When pitchers and catchers reported Feb. 18, I posted five key questions the Mets faced heading into the season. Let’s revisit those questions at the All-Star break.

1) Question: What is this team’s attitude?

Assessment: By all accounts, it has been superb. There is a different chemistry in the Mets clubhouse than I have previously seen. The Mets have shown a remarkable resiliency to bounce back from adversity and Sunday’s win is just another example. There have been no issues about a lack of hustle, and no finger pointing. Both Jeff Francoeur and Angel Pagan said the right things about the prospect of reduced playing time as Carlos Beltran is about to be activated from the disabled list. The only sour note was, surprise, Oliver Perez’s refusal to accept a minor league assignment, instead, waiting for the disabled list to leave the roster to work on his issues.

2) Question: How healthy is this team?

Assessment: Injuries sabotaged the 2009 season, and injuries have cost Beltran and Daniel Murphy in the first half, and Jose Reyes for nearly a month. Beltran is due back to start the second half, but there’s no timetable for the return of Murphy, who reinjured his knee while on a rehab assignment. Murphy was playing second base at the time in preparation for a position change. After treating Reyes with kid gloves in the wake of his thyroid issue, the Mets rushed him back from an oblique injury, which he aggravated Saturday. There’s no telling how long he’ll be out. Luis Castillo is on the disabled list and his is another injury where the Mets tried to have him play through. Fortunately, his replacement, Ruben Tejada, has been more than filled the void. Reliever Kelvim Escobar, penciled in as a set-up man, is out for the year with a shoulder injury. The Mets are still trying to find an eighth-inning solution. Oliver Perez and John Maine are currently on the disabled list.

3) Question: What is the status of the three pitching questions, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine?

Assessment: Pelfrey made a point of saying he understood this trio represented a significant key to the Mets’ success this season. Perez and Maine are on the disabled list, but the team upgraded with R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi. Pelfrey was superb for much of the first half but has been going through a dead arm period and has been largely ineffective over his last five starts. Perez balked at a minor league assignment, but an injury was found that conveniently landed him on the disabled list. He has been sound, and somewhat effective, in his rehab assignment. Look for the Mets to activate him shortly after the break and send Takahashi back to the bullpen. There’s no timetable for Maine’s return.

4) Question: Who is fifth starter?

Assessment: Fernando Nieve, Jon Niese, Nelson Figueroa and Hisanori Takahashi were in the mix in the spring, but Niese won the job and has been very good since coming off the disabled list. Niese has been so good that management tabbed him untouchable when Seattle asked for him in trade discussions surrounding Cliff Lee. Figueroa is now in Philadelphia, while Nieve is in the bullpen. Takahashi replaced Perez in the rotation and pitched well at first, but clearly showed he’s more valuable in the bullpen. The Mets are searching for a fifth starter in the trade market, as there are lingering questions about Perez and Maine.

5) Question: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

Assessment: Jenrry Mejia went north in the pen in an undefined role, but eventually went to the minor leagues to work on being a starter, when he was injured. Losing Escobar went a large part in opening the door for Mejia, who threw hard, but never grasped the eighth-inning role. Bobby Parnell, who appeared to wash you last year, now appears to be the arm having the inside track in the eighth inning to start the second half. Ryota Igarashi was the guy at one time, but pulled a hamstring and hasn’t been the same since. He’s now in the minor leagues. Nieve and Pedro Feliciano were over worked early, and still have heavy workloads. The distribution of work should be improved when Takahashi goes back to the bullpen.

8 thoughts on “Update on first-half questions.

  1. The Mets are the walking Wounded.
    and for all their handle with care. it doesnt seem to work.

  2. 1

    isn’t it great? I think the infusion of new blood helped a lot here.

    2

    are these injuries on the order of what we had last year? I say yes.

    the difference is we had replacements this year. I am not willing to say this was planned as much as to say we were lucky.

    beltran is a no show for the season so far. pagan came in and showed he can actually play. he is not making bonehead decisions on the bases or in the field. ruben has made us forget about luis. i dont like his errors yesterday, but he has been solid so far. murphy was hurt which opened the door for ike. i like ike! defensively and offensively there is no comparison. maine/ollie vs taki/da. no comparison. these guys have come in and saved the season. it looks like taki is overwhelmed, but da so far is the real deal. i hope ollie doent come back and ruin things.

    so what is the take away here? we got lucky on the injuries. can we honestly say that omar was smart and judiciously picked up others’ trash to spin gold? i think not.

    3

    in big pelf we trust. ditto for niese.

    4

    i hope it is not ollie.

    5

    can i ask what is the makeup of the rotation? if the rotation can give us 7 solid i think we are ok with the exception of our closer.

    if our rotation has maine and ollie our bullpen is an hell hole.

    again we come back to our continuing thread of the past few years. yes the dreaded pitch count issue. the favorite self destructive device of all major league teams.

    mlb needs to go back in time and groom their pitchers to learn to pitch. this means learn how to throw more than a fastball. this means learning how to pitch out of jams. this means that as they approach 80 innings not to look for the door. i am not saying that young pitchers should not be given slack. just like young hitters wont play every day, young pitchers should not be expected to be atlas. but if in the minors they are expected to go 5 innings how can you expect them to be anything more than they are? long relief pitchers masquerading as starters.

  3. by the way john

    excellent post.

    it is good to come back to the opening comments and review where we are midseason.

  4. 3.) I missed sundays game. i guess it was good huh :-(
    tejada has made a few mis plays. but he’s young. its growing pains.

    “in big pelf we trust. ditto for niese.” agreed.

    taki needs to be back in the pen. he’s better suited.

  5. 1. yes, the attitude is much improved. ollie and maine being gone is a big part of that. Manuel gets credit too. not a baseball genius, but but his gansta jive keeps the troops loose.

    2. lets keep our fingers crossed on reyes. without him they are going nowhere. Its good that they had some in house replacements this time. Tejada needs to go back down for more seasoning as the mendoza line approaches. 3 cheers for dickey!

    3. one out of three IS bad.

    4. Niese has been a sweet surprise. has pitched himself to the third starter. You know Ollie will get his chance. Not expecting much outside help if any at all.

    5. Parnell is impressing me. threw some really nasty breaking stuff yesterday. I like the way the system has been producing this year.

  6. well it looks like the stankees had another tragic loss.
    Steingrabber has gone to the house that Ruth built.

    You bought a lot players for your team be proud there big guy.. No better bought team in baseball.

    The Mets play harder with less because of you …. However, that was your job and you did it well.

  7. questions should also be asked about mets management. Omar better find some real help this summer for a change. Manuel has put the mets entire season at risk by playing an injured reyes to try to save his job and Omar really is the one who should have stopped him. It may be worth missing the playoffs again just to be rid of these two and hopefully wilpons as well.