Deja Vu All Over Again

Something seems awfully familiar …

The Mets in first place, with a slim lead over the Phillies in the final weeks of the season.

A bullpen which had been pushed pedal to the metal since Opening Day, suddenly faltering — and, amazingly, everyone wondering why.

A manager panicking in response to the above, and “going with the hot hand” without any other thought, reason, or logic.

Starting pitchers dropping like flies.

A glut of veteran and rookie pitchers hanging around the bullpen playing pinochle, with no real chance of ever throwing a meaningful pitch in a game. (Visions of Bobby Parnell starting a big game in the final week of the season keep pestering me.)

Hobbled veterans in and out of the lineup, most notably at second base.

Jose Reyes slowing down — in fact, almost grinding to a halt.

David Wright coming on strong in the final weeks, attempting to carry the team on his shoulders.

Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like September 2007, but we do have a few differences:

1. A manager who may be just as numbskulled as his predecessor, but who gives the media plenty of quotes and sound bites (whatever that’s worth).

2. Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran helping Wright carry the team.

3. A fresh-faced kid named Daniel Murphy continuing to hit.

Yes, before we write off this season as another, albeit less dramatic, collapse, let’s take into consideration that this 2008 team is currently hitting. At no point in the last two years has all three of Wright, Beltran, and Delgado been hot at the same, and those three bats can obviate bullpen catastrophes and starting pitching breakdowns. And yes, you CAN hit your way into the postseason — just ask the 2007 Phillies (how far you get is another story). So as long as the big three keep whacking the ball, the Mets have a chance to stay atop the NL East.

I think.

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 September 15, 2008 at 12:11 pm
    It would help immensely, as well, if someone could beat Philadelphia. It seems like the Mets have been playing .700 baseball since the start of August, yet here the Phillies are just a game out of first. How the hell the Brewers made it this far without their bullpen or strikeout propensity making them a sub-.500 team is beyond me, and they looked absolutely hopeless against a streaking Phillies “juggernaut.” Maybe there will be room for both the Phils and Mets in the postseason, after all. No way will 2 teams make it out of the West, and if the Brewers continue to fade and the Astros fall back to earth, it is a definite possibility. The issue would then become, would we rather face the Cubs or the Dodgers? But I guess we should focus on beating the Nationals first, starting tonight with getting Pedro back on track. With the way the Mets have showed their bounce-back tenacity this year, I’m not writing them off just yet.
  2. Walnutz15 September 15, 2008 at 1:46 pm
    This is not to get into another Willie-Manuel debate, however:

    1. A manager who may be just as numbskulled as his predecessor, but who gives the media plenty of quotes and sound bites (whatever that’s worth).

    For once, I agree whole-heartedly with Gary Cohen — in that Willie’s “reluctance” to give the media true “down and dirty” answers — led them to go down a road of hounding certain players for their “true” insight…..and in turn, it led to the “we play to the temperature of our manager” type crap we saw so often anonymously pop-up in the media until Willie’s bitter curtain.

    (Instead, Willie would go for the “catch-all” “everything-will-be-fine” gloss-over response.)

    I think that Manuel trumps Willie in this department — and it helps tremendously, given the microscope of the NY media….they’d be dealing with a tremendous amount of additional crap, not unlike 2007 — headed down the stretch in 2008.

    For this, I’m grateful. Randolph was a complete and utter failure in the NY media….and that, for a guy of his supposed “pedigree” was disappointment, defined.

    Here’s to hoping that the 2008 Mets are up to the task at hand…and tackle things head-on, starting tonight with Pedro on the hill.

  3. Micalpalyn September 15, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    1. Manuel is approx 20 games over since taking on the job. DESPITE..injuries to Maine and Wagner, and to some extent Heilman. He is getting ‘production’ out of Ayala imported with an ERA of 6.0

    2. If as you said we could play for 8 inning games we’d have locked this up. BUT as I pointed out, MAYBE the Mets and Phils ARE the best 2 teams in the division and eclipsing mil was just part of the script.