Turning a Corner?

I’m afraid to say it, because the last few “signals” were bluffs, but …

… are the Mets finally turning the corner?

The immediate response to “The Meeting” between the Wilpons and Willie Randolph was a lifeless, lackluster loss to the Marlins — after gaining a 3-2 lead, no less. Since that game, however, it’s as if a new set of individuals has put on the orange and blue uniforms. Or, rather, the individuals have exited, and the team has formed.

For the past week, the Mets have played with obvious spirit and fire. They have played fairly sound baseball, save for a few physical errors. They have worked the count as a team for the first time in a year. The struggling veterans are being benched in favor of anxious, hustling reserves. Those same veterans are working with the hitting coach on improving their performances. The bullpen has been spotless, except for five unfortunate minutes of an Aaron Heilman appearance. Bunts are being placed. Runners are stealing and taking extra bases. Come-from-behind wins have become routine, rather than a rarity. For the first time all year, it is the Mets jumping ahead of, and burying, an opponent early on in the game.

Willie Randolph is smiling, and joking around.

A week ago, there was tension, and from my perspective, frustration in watching the Marlins, the Braves, and the Phillies all pass by the Mets in the standings. I’d see the scoreboard and mentally calculate the space between them and the Mets, who were spiraling downward. Today, though, I don’t care at all about anyone other than the Mets. It doesn’t matter — right now — their place in the standings. I’m watching the Mets and enjoying myself, and getting fully “caught up in the moment”. I’m focused on the Mets and the Mets only because I know if they continue to play the way they’re playing, it’ll “all come out in the wash”.

But for a moment, let’s crawl out of our microcosm — Metsocosm? — and look at the schedule ahead.

Right now, the Mets have momentum, and are going into a three-game series with the Giants followed by a four-game set in San Diego. Those two clubs are struggling mightily, and fighting each other to stay above the Rockies, who are in the cellar. In other words, there couldn’t be a more opportune time for the Mets to turn around their season and make up for the first two months of the season.

That’s not to say the Mets can just show up in San Francisco and San Diego and expect those teams to roll over — quite the contrary. If they can keep up the energy and the consistent execution they displayed over the last six days, they could come home looking down at the rest of the NL East, instead of up at them.

Let’s hope Oliver Perez and not Mr. Hyde shows up tonight, and keep that momentum going for Pedro’s first start since the cruel joke played on him on April Fools’ Day.

That light at the end of the tunnel is starting to become visible.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude June 2, 2008 at 11:32 am
    The team’s success on their recent homestand (5-2) shows the Mets are more than capable of playing well, being energetic, and executing the fundamentals under the helm of Willie Randolph. That’s why I refuse to blame Willie for their struggles. Clearly, as displayed this past week, the team can be very dangerous under Willie’s guidance. And they are not winning in spite of him…in fact, it’s quite the contrary. Outside of the Heilman debacle on Friday, Willie has managed flawlessly. It was just a matter of time before the players clicked into gear and starting producing like they are capable of. The way I see it, there is a strong possibility things will keep getting better, as Pedro, Alou, and Valentin are nearing their returns.

    HOWEVER – I agree 100% – we have seen this same scenario play out before. The Mets get momentarily hot and fool us all into believing they have turned the corner. So I’m not holding my breath for an extended winning streak or a 20-win June. The only difference THIS TIME seems to be the team is displaying that energy and swagger they possessed in 2006/early 2007. They don’t think they’re supposed to beat anybody, and aren’t expected to beat anybody either. Instead, they’re playing like they have to earn every win, not just have it handed to them. That’s the big difference I’ve picked up on over the past week. I can’t put a finger on what caused this resurgence, but right now I’m perfectly content riding the wave – which hopefully won’t crest until we’re well into October baseball.

  2. Micalpalyn June 2, 2008 at 11:58 am
    Very good Isuzu:

    1. I commend your stance on Willie. You of all people were the MOST supportive. This is his best volume of work in 4 years. But he has flaws. He got breaks this past homestand. The call up of Evans was big…the fact he let him play was bigger. Ditto for Tatis who keeps getting HUGE hits.

    2. The MAGNIFICENT transition has been his use of the pen. I think intolerance has been his forte. In other words a quicker hook. second obviously there has been a (club house) watershed event…Evans call up, the benching of Del, …) but Reyes, DW and Beltran are visibly relaxed, Reyes had an error prone week but he shrugged it off.

    3. Before you relieve him of blame i still think both of the losses on the homestand could have been wins…and a 6-1 or 7-0 homestand would have really put the doubters to sleep (for a while). However considering that point in the Marlins game to last night there was a huge up lift and I would point to the Beltran homer on Sat that elevated the mets and changed that homestand from 3-3 (at that point) to the 5-2 it became. Kudos here to Pel who gave up 2 runs in 7 innings…….Yeah tTHAT pelfrey.

    4. As a body we have lost belief in Del. Willie is still full of cliche’s but a platoon is obviously the best situation. Having him and Chavez on the bench makes the subs look pretty potent. Plus Moises and Tatis starting hardly weakens the starting 9.

    5. Isuzu. Man for man this IS the class of the NL east. Again pointing to the flaws, Willie must be more visible and vocal to translate results to the road otherwise he plays to the opposition manager who WILL fight for the call at 1st and the pitch outside knowing Willie wont…He cant just say my man needs to put the ball past fielder or make contact .

  3. Coop June 2, 2008 at 4:07 pm
    Right on everyone – I am not holding my breath but remain cautiously optimistic about this team, which is more than I can say since like last June. I don’t get why Delgado is freaking out about not playing. Everyone knows he’s not worth a pair of Payless shoes these days, yet he still gets paid as he sits on the bench. I know he wants to contribute, but he should EARN it back because he hasn’t really put on a hitting display as of lately.
  4. sincekindergarten June 2, 2008 at 4:15 pm
    Hopefully, that “light at the end of the tunnel” isn’t the headlamp of an oncoming train. 😉

    Anyway, I still think that Delgado is going to be useful for Willie in both a PH role, and in the field. Yeah, he’s slow and doesn’t have a lot of range, but he has saved both Reyes and Wright a lot of errors over the last few years.

    We are the class of the NL East, as Mic points out. The Phillthies will die fairly soon, as soon as the effects of not having a few starters that can get out of the sixth inning catches up to them. The Braves are injuring SP after SP, and the Marlins are starting to hear the clock strike midnight.