The Iconoclastic Cynic vs. The Unabashed Fanboy
I never thought I would be typing these words this year, but I actually set time aside on Sunday to tune into the Mets-Marlins game. It didn’t hurt that my new favorite Met was taking the hill, but also after catching the final few innings of Saturday’s come from behind win, I wanted see what they could do for an encore.
The Mets didn’t disappoint, erupting for nine runs in convincing thumping of the Marlins, a team that less than one month ago, appeared poised to leave the Mets floundering in their wake. With the win and the series sweep, the Mets have moved into third place in the National League East, and left me saying “who are these guys?” to myself.
And then, as if the day couldn’t get any better, I got back from my announcing gig in time to see Noah Syndergaard get the save in the Futures Game.
The last few years have been brutal, just as bad IMO, as the late 1970’s. Self-preservation and advancing age have made me reflectively cynical about anything Mets. For example, this ESPN piece on Sandy Alderson looking for a shortstop and a leftfielder at the trade deadline struck me as an outright lie, calculated to build website traffic and fan interest. After all, the Wilpons still own the team, Alderson is still the GM and Terry Collins remains the manager.
I still think that when the Mets do finally get good again, that most of roster will have been turned over. But, I am softening my stance a bit in that the turnover percentage may be lower than what I thought it needed to be during May and June. While the Mets will likely not make the playoffs, there is still half a season left and I believe that there is a way for them to stay interesting without having to Kazmir-Trade the (hopefully) near future away.
They have most of the pitching they need. The next step is to get a day-in-day-out starting lineup and batting order. Collins may have stumbled over/awoken to something with the batting order during the Miami series. Starting this Friday in San Diego, this should be the Mets regular lineup:
1. Curtis Granderson: I mocked it at first, but inserting Granderson in the leadoff spot may end up being Collins’ best move all season. Granderson could only lead off once per game, but it’s those extra at bats this affords him that are benefiting the team. Plus—it gives everyone else a “spot.”
2. Daniel Murphy: Speaking of spots, Daniel was really jerked around, both in the field and the lineup for several years. I wonder just how much he has benefitted from a consistent place in the lineup. Yes we know all about Wilmer Flores (more on him shortly) and Dilson Herrera, but there is no way the Mets should part with Murph at the trading deadline. I know that I am writing this on a blog that has historically been more empirical rather than anecdotal, but Murphy seems to really “get it” and I think the Mets would greatly miss him.
3. David Wright: Will success spoil him? Will he walk around a champagne-soaked dressing room with a smug “I told you so” look on his face? Wouldn’t we like to find out?
4. Lucas Duda: With every passing game, it looks ever more certain that Alderson guessed right in keeping Duda over Ike Davis. If Lucas has finally realized that there is also a left field and if he can consistently drive balls that way, then he may be changing the course of his career.
5. Travis d’Araund: Like the Granderson move, I wasn’t crazy about d’Araund in the five hole, but upon further reflection, this is the type of trial that a team like the Mets should be taking. Instead of babying him any further, they need to be tossing him into the mix, so they can find out by the end of the season if Travis can cut it. He certainly has looked like a new man since his return from Vegas.
6. Kirk Nieuwenhuis: Saturday’s Chris Young heroics aside, my sense is that left field and the six spot need to go to Kirk for the remainder of the second half. Kirk may prove to be at best a fourth or fifth outfielder, but he has shown just enough flashes in all aspects of his game, that like Duda and d’Araund, he should be afforded a longer look. There have been plenty of upper cut swings and misses to keep me skeptical, but barring any trades, the alternatives here are the Youngs and we know what we are getting from them.
7. Juan Lagares: Defensively, he’s the goods. They need to keep him healthy. Also keep him low in the order Terry! Remember how he batted fifth all those times last year?
8. Ruben Tejada: Ugh. I am still not a fan. I would rather bring the hot-hitting Flores back up and insert him a little higher in the order. But I will give Tejada his due, he has been playing better. While he is only 24 (the youngest Met regular), I get the feeling that he has peaked already. He doesn’t do any one thing particularly well. But if I can get the other seven in, I guess I will take Ruben.
Just entertain me for the next ten weeks, that’s all I ask. (Unless they keep winning, then I’ll want more).
So how goes your fandom?