Looking for a silver thread ….

The Mets are 10 games behind Atlanta and below .500. They have an upcoming schedule at Houston – which is playing better since the Roy Oswalt trade – and Pittsburgh – which always plays them tough. This is their last chance to make up some ground and bring interest into September.

Frankly, while I doubt they’ll make a real run, there could be some interesting ball ahead.

Their pitching, supposedly the weak link entering the season, has been surprisingly good, and if not for Mike Pelfrey’s July slide it would be good enough to have them in contention. What has been dismal, and has since the beginning of the season has been the offense. Also weak has been the bullpen.

As the season slowly fades into disappointment and winter, let’s take a moment to look at some of the positives through 117 games:

1) The record. Seriously. Last year on this date they were 55-62 and sinking fast. David Wright had just been plunked and would be rendered useless for the rest of the season. They have made improvement and with a full season from Carlos Beltran and a productive year from Jason Bay, they’d be over .500 and within spitting distance even with their bullpen woes. Hey, you take your positives when you can.

2) Johan Santana. We’re looking at 15 victories easily with a little run support. There was a brief four-game stretch when we were wondering about his fastball and whether he was still an ace. Well, he is. There are times when I wonder if he regrets coming here, but he’s the ultimate professional and will never show it. The Mets are lucky to have him, and hopefully the younger pitchers in the rotation are learning from him. Eventually, there will be a decline, but not now.

3) Angel Pagan. He began the season behind Gary Matthews, but has evolved into the Mets’ most reliable offensive performer. He’s the best they have with RISP, has some pop, can steal a base, and has surpassed Beltran as the team’s best center fielder. What Pagan showed last year was no fluke. This is a player the Mets can build around.

4) Ike Davis. He wasn’t supposed to be here until late in the season, perhaps September, but has become one of the NL’s premier’s rookies. He hits for power and should finish with over 20 homers and plays a sparkling first base. Davis has made Daniel Murphy a footnote. First base will be his for years to come.

5) Josh Thole. Another young player who arrived ahead of schedule. The pitchers like throwing to him and he’s not an easy out at the plate. Rod Barajas is coming back, but the position is Thole’s to keep. The time he’s getting now will only help him in the future.

6) Jon Niese. The question as the fifth starter going in, Niese has become a dependable starter, perhaps the No. 2 with Pelfrey being erratic. He’s not afraid to challenge hitters and works quickly and efficiently and with remarkable poise. He’s getting more adept at making adjustments within the game. He was in demand at the trade deadline, but the Mets were wise to say no.

7) R. A. Dickey. The other shoe has yet to drop for Dickey. He’s been impressive from the outset, but none more so than rebounding against the Phillies after the same team hammered him the previous week. That’s hard to do. The way things are going, it wouldn’t surprise me if he led the team in victories before it is all over. The Mets still need to add a starter in the offseason, but not to replace Dickey.

8) Hisanori Takahashi. The numbers are night and day between Takahashi the starter and the reliever. Forced into the starter’s role, he performed admirably before being exposed. He’s great one time through the order and that should be his role. Hopefully, Pat Misch will step in and allow Takahashi to do what he does best.

9) Bobby Parnell. Still a work in progress, but he’s made strides since last season when he was yanked around between roles. I believe Parnell has what it takes to develop into a solid set-up man. The experience he’s getting now can only bring hope.

10) Mike Pelfrey. I mean the pre-July Pelfrey. For two months he was better than one could have imagined, working with confidence and command of all of his pitches. Then came July, but has last two starts have been much better, an indication he might have learned from his slide. Of all the things I’m anxious to see during the final six weeks the most is whether Pelfrey can rebound completely. It would say a lot about his maturation process if he can take something out of his adversity.

11) Ruben Tejada. There’s no questioning his defense, and although he’s not hitting now he showed some glimpses early. The Mets played with energy when he was in the lineup replacing Luis Castillo when the latter was on the disabled list. I think the Mets will be in good hands when he finally takes over for Castillo.

12) Jose Reyes. If nothing else, the Mets finally learned Reyes is a leadoff hitter and nothing else. He’s lost focus at times this season, but he’s overcome his injury problems and the team still thinks highly enough to want to sign him to an extension. Perhaps the focus will always be a problem, but when he’s on his game he’s still a dynamic presence at the top of the order.

13) David Wright. Despite a horrible pace for 176 strikeouts, which must come down, he’s also on pace to hit 24 homers and drive in 107 runs, showing an improvement over last season’s power outage. Wright has been streaky all season, but he’s still the best this franchise has to offer.

21 thoughts on “Looking for a silver thread ….

  1. I am sure we can us e a silver thread from our hair.

    All kidding aside. Great synopsis.

    Now if they could live up to the expectations of their fans and the positions they have played/earned.

  2. I’m not sold on Ike yet as the future. He has shown some promise, but let’s face it he is down near the bottom of NL 1bman offensively. I think we overhype him because he is homegrown and cheap. But if the chance to acquire Prince Fielder or Albert came along, I wouldn’t hesitate to move him.

  3. Regarding Jose the Mets are apparently going to pick up his option for 2011 which I agree with. I would have to wait to see if he is really worth a long term contract until at least the midway part of next year.

  4. I think you are right about the pitchers.

    I can be comfortable going into next season with:

    Santana/Niese/Dickey/Pelfrey/Misch. I would like to get some other guy for long relief for injuries or in case someone is a fluke. There is no help in the minors as yet which is why I think we need another pitcher. If these guys can pitch into the seventh I dont think we need to do much to the pen short of replacing KRod.

    I agree on Pagan. I am surprised he has played this well. He has been a headcase both on the bases and the field. This year he has been solid and I have no complaints.

    I like Ike. He is really good defensively and needs to continue to progress at the plate. If he can hit 280 or so with 15/20 hr’s. Ill take the second coming of Olerud.

    I worry about Wright. Way too many strikouts and his arm needs to be controlled.

    Bay needs to earn his contract.

    Do the pitchers really like Thole? I thought he can’t catch? That was the scouting reports on him. Weak D, weak arm.

    If Beltran can be healthy we have something.

    You still need to get rid of Ollie and Castillo. You can’t have 2 black holes on the team taking up space.

    Nice post.

  5. (6) Not saying you were. And I think there is promise too…but if the scouts are right and the upside is Adam LaRoche..not that it’s awful…but it doesn’t entrench him at 1b for the next decade IMO.

  6. Oh.

    In your comments on Pelfrey an even bigger concern was trotting out Maine and Ollie week after week to burn the season and the pen.

  7. (7) Dave: I think they definitely need a front end starter. I’ll have to see Dickey keep it up for another year to be sold on him, and also need to see Pelfrey be successful until the end of this year. After his awful stretch, he has pitched really well his last three starts. Misch to me is more depth than anything else.

  8. Back to Ike, Lucas Duda is having a breakout season in AA/AAA and he is only 24. .318/.389/.657 at Buffalo. If given a chance, maybe he is better than Ike? Who knows.

  9. Steve

    Yes. I would like a front end starter too, but in reality what is out there and what can we afford?

    I agree that most likely Dickey is a flash in the pan. Also Pelfrey has yet to put together one solid season. And Misch is another question mark. But considering the affordable talent out there the past few years, Misch is just as good as most of the 5-8 million dollar players and much better than our own 13 million dollar one.

    But based on what these guys have produced this year it is not a bad rotation. Hopefully in the offseason the opposition does not take Niese apart, but I like what he has done this year.

  10. (12) The pickings for a starter are slim i’m afraid. You know they’re not going to attempt to sign Lee…quite honestly I wouldn’t throw $20 mil per season at him either. If Westbrook gets it together in St.Louis, I would take a shot at him if he isn’t that expensive.

  11. Steve O (10): I’m sure the Mets will look past Dickey, but I think he’s earned the chance to be in the starting rotation next year and going to spring training with a spot.-JD

  12. dave (12): The options in the free agent market won’t be to the Mets’ liking. When it comes to pitching, they never are. I wouldn’t give Lee $20 million a season. Not with all the expensive, non-productive contracts they will be carrying.-JD

  13. 15. Dickey, next to Santana, is our most consistent pitcher. and has proven he can bounce back from a bad game.

    If he didnt earn a spot it should be another nail in the M&M coffins.

  14. 19

    thanks. i forgot that.

    the issue is the mgr treats his players like men.

    that means he leaves them to dangle in the wind like men.