Mets First Half: il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo

Mets First Half Analysis: The Good The Bad, and The Ugly

I’m a game or two late on this, but herewith my synopsis of the first half of the Mets’ 2008 season. Individual analyses will come over the All-Star break, when news tends to be slow and we as rabid Mets fans will be chomping at the bit for any kind of information NOT related to the last season in Yankee Stadium.


The Good
(il buono)

Tough to find the good here. Ryan Church had a remarkable start to the season, then was felled by a concussion. Billy Wagner is having an outstanding season statistically, but has already blown five saves. David Wright is on pace to drive in almost 130 runs, but is not hitting nearly as well as we expected (amazing, isn’t it?). The overall “good” is that this season is not yet lost, and is looking like it could possibly be a repeat of 1973, when the Mets won the NL East with an 82-80 record.

The Bad
(il brutto)

Carlos Delgado is having the worst season of his career, and on most nights drags the team down — at the plate, in the field, on the basepaths, and with his attitude. Aaron Heilman has been terrible when summoned into games with runners on base. Johan Santana has a .500 record. John Maine and Oliver Perez have been wildly inconsistent. Moises Alou and Orlando Hernandez have been MIA most of the season (as in, Missing In Action and/or in Miami — no one’s certain). Pedro Martinez has been awful. The fifth starter has been a revolving door of ineptitude.The defense has made 57 errors. The pitching staff is leading the league in hit batsmen and is third in wild pitches.


The Ugly
(il cattivo)

In classic Robert Irsay fashion, the Mets fired Willie Randolph just before 3 am EST to keep the news out of the New York tabloids. Eventually, we found out the firing was the culmination of a two-year project by pit bull Tony Bernazard, who undermined the former manager at every turn. The Mets’ front office has shown weak leadership, poor planning, and little class in personnel decisions and public displays. The farm system other than Fernando Martinez is devoid of anything resembling a bonafide prospect. With Randolph gone, GM Omar Minaya is next on the chopping block. The Mets as an organization appears to be going backward, yet ticket prices went up 25% and promise to increase again with the move into Citi Field. Need I go on?

Conclusion

Despite all the turmoil and an under-.500 record, the Mets by some small miracle find themselves in the thick of the pennant race. No matter how poorly they play, they remain in the fight while the rest of the NL East swims just above or below mediocrity. If the Mets can simply stay around .500 through the next two months, there’s a very real possibility they can take the division by stealing a page from the 2007 Phillies’ play book and getting hot in September.

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. Walnutz15 July 2, 2008 at 7:59 am
    Another half of Mets baseball — thanks again, Joe for the wonderful insight you provide on a daily basis over the course of the season.

    Personally, I’ve modified my original prediction: that this team would win 92 games in 2008.

    I now feel that this team is going to finish somewhere close to .500. (I’m guessing their max win total is around 85 or so.)

    Two unrelated points:

    1. I’ve noticed that Jose Reyes seems to be much (and I mean, considerably) less patient when he bats with runners in scoring position.

    Today I decided to look it up. Because — who knows, maybe it was just my imagination?

    Here are his pitches seen per plate appearance:

    ¨ Bases empty: 3.9

    ¨ Runners in scoring position: 3.6

    ¨ Bases loaded: 2.6

    Put it this way, when Jose comes up with the bags full – it’s a very bad time to get up and take a leak…..you’re definitely going to miss the at-bat.

    His mindset with the bases loaded seems to be: “Good, bad or ugly, let’s just get this over with as quickly as we possibly can”.

    His BAVG with the bases loaded is .143 (2 for 14)……my God!

    2. The Hardball Times website tracks team defensive stats.

    According to their data, the average NL team turns a groundball into an out 78.4% of the time. It’s not a number which is arguable, or even debatable by stat-heads.

    Either the grounder becomes an out or it doesn’t. In the NL, groundballs become hits (or errors) 21.6% of the time. The top three NL teams at turning grounders into outs are SD, STL, and Houston. They are each a bit above 81%.

    Care to guess which team is “rock bottom” at converting grounders into outs?

    You got that right:

    Los Metropolitans of Nueva York; and it’s not even close — or funny, for that matter.

    The Mets are at 74.2%; easily dead last. That’s one of their problems. There are other issues, but their subpar infield defense is definitely — without a doubt — hurting them.

    However, their OF defense is tied for third best at catching flyballs; only the Giants and Padres are better.

    Can you win anyway with a porous infield? Sure, but it would help if their pitchers had more strikeouts (they’re only 7th best in the NL) and more importantly issued fewer walks; only three teams have allowed more walks than the Mets. Not good.

    Needless to say, I’m not exactly optimistic this team is poised for a white hot second half of the season……but I won’t stop watching, boring as they may be on any given night.

    Let’s Go Mets, baby…..please give us something interesting to watch in the 2nd half!

  2. sincekindergarten July 2, 2008 at 10:22 am
    Something that was on MetsBlog yesterday–Ollie Perez is 3-0 v. the Yankees and Phillies this year. He gets the ball on Sunday at CBP.
  3. Micalpalyn July 2, 2008 at 4:25 pm
    SK: Ollie and Warthen: I like Ollie very much. I hope he can build on his last outing.

    …The Mets are at 74.2%; easily dead last. That’s one of their problems. There are other issues, but their subpar infield defense is definitely — without a doubt — hurting them. However, their OF defense is tied for third best at catching flyballs; only the Giants and Padres are better.

    I was glad to see this reference here (as i only comment here). It is really hard to believe that STAT and obviously with an infield of Reyes, Wright and Castillo the GLARING weakness is Delgado. My knee jerk reaction is to call Seattle and ask for a trade of Sexson for Del. at least THEY can DH him.