So the Mets have fallen to second place, after a lackluster two games in DC. They’re not flat, though, so no worries — they’re just not hitting, according to Jerry Manuel. Whatever that means.
To add injury to insult, the Mets have lost starting left fielder Fernando Tatis for the remainder of the season. He joins closer Billy Wagner and previous starting left fielder Moises Alou on the season-ending DL, which John Maine may or may not be part of. We assume Orlando Hernandez is also on the DL, but since we haven’t heard hide nor hair from him since March, it’s anyone’s guess.
Let’s step back for a moment. The Mets are without:
1. Their starting left fielder, and the starting left fielder who replaced him.
2. A closer.
3. A reliable arm in the bullpen.
4. Their #2 or #3 starter, depending on who you talk to.
5. A healthy, MLB-caliber second baseman.
6. A legitimate, MLB-caliber fifth starter.
In addition, their starting catcher is wobbling on weak knees, and their #3 and #4 starters are suddenly question marks.
As Mets fans, we can look at this in one of two ways. We can either cry in our beer, claim woe is us, and worry that the Mets will re-construct (destruct?) their 2007 collapse. Or, we can be REAL Mets fans, expect the worst, and be pleasantly surprised if they find their way to the playoffs.
Yeah, I know … it’s hard to expect nothing from a team full of stars, and equally difficult to term a club with a $140M payroll as an underdog. But it’s in line with the team’s oft-beleaguered history, and will help deal with what is sure to be an excruciatingly stressful two weeks.
There is one good thing: Milwaukee’s firing of manager Ned Yost would suggest that the team is mailing it in for the remainder of the season. Either that or they really believe such a change could spark the Brewers to a wild card berth. If so, it’s a tremendous gamble at this point of the season, and I’m betting on them falling short, which should push the second-place team in the NL East into the postseason. Of course, there’s an outside shot that the Astros (believe it or not) could pull off a miracle — they’re only three games out of the race — but it would take a, um, collapse of colossal proportions by the Mets to allow that to happen.
So no worries … if the Mets don’t win the NL East, no big deal — they’re almost a cinch to get the wild card. And if they do get into the playoffs that way, they’re guaranteed NOT to be the favorite — the familiar role of underdog will once again describe the boys from Flushing.