The Mets left last night for their west coast trip, which starts in San Francisco tonight. This will be a big test for them, as they are facing the Giants and Dodgers, both pretty much undefeated at home this season.
Carlos Delgado and his lingering hip injury is the primary question mark entering the road trip. Delgado has missed several games the past two weeks and Jerry Manuel is openly pessimistic about the status of Delgado's return.
However, he is not the only one whom the Mets are concerned about. JJ Putz is battling a bone spur in his elbow, and David Wright was nailed by a pitch just above his right wrist in the 10th inning of yesterday's game.
Here is the link to ESPN on Wright and his reaction to hit by pitch.
Both Putz and Wright are drawing a lot of criticism for under-performing in 2009, after they both were instrumental during the WBC and helping Team USA to the semifinals against Japan.
Putz has been giving up a lot of runs during his appearances out of the bullpen, and he is claiming that some of the reason has to do with him being a closer, but, with the acquisition of K-Rod, his role has changed.
The Mets bullpen is wearing thin already, due to lackluster starts by pitchers other than Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey.
Putz and K-Rod will both be used in roles that they are not accustomed to, but that's baseball. They are part of a new team, and their attitude should reflect that each opportunity to come in to a ballgame, whether the Mets are winning, losing or tied to help them get out of jams.
Wright has been making more errors lately and striking out more than typical, but he is still managing to hit over .300 for the season. He has already made five errors, but this is not uncommon.
Last season, Wright's defense improved drastically during the second half, but this year, the errors seem to be more costly than usual, which is why fans and media are being more critical.
Wright's offensive statistics are very rare, because he does not usually strike out so much, he is normally very patient at the plate and has a good eye. His average at this time of year does not usually exceed .270, and he does not maintain .300 until after the All-Star Break.
Even though his batting average is higher, he is still being criticized because his outs are not productive.
As a .300 hitter, he will fail seven out of 10 times, but if four or five of the seven are strikeouts, then it is glaring that his at bats are non productive, even if the three hits are HRs, doubles, or triples.
Wright will not ask to be out of the lineup no matter what, but the Mets do need to be concerned about his arm, which is no doubt very sore and bruised.
They will also need to monitor how well Wright is swinging the bat, and being that it is his right arm, how well he can throw the ball across the diamond.
His throwing ability is sometimes very shaky to start with and not having Delgado at first who is accustomed to fielding Wright's throws could lead to more errors.
Delgado is most likely heading to the DL within the next few days, but the Mets have to decide who to bring up to replace him in the lineup and at first base.
This road trip will be a challenge for the Mets, with or without Delgado, Wright, and Putz, as both Reyes and Beltran will need to step up their game to help carry the load even if Wright plays as expected but is hampered by pain.
Beltran has been incredibly valuable, carrying his teammates on his back for most of the first 30+ games, but is understandably showing signs of slowing down, and Reyes is making a lot of baserunning blunders that have been just as costly as Wright's errors.
Good luck to the Mets during this 10-game trip to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston.