New York Mets: From the Scrapheap to the Top of the Heap

Hot Stove New YorkSenior Writer IMay 27, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 23: Starting pitcher Livan Hernandez #61 of the New York Mets throws against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 23, 2009 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Mets 12-8.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Livan Hernandez was signed to battle for the fifth starter slot. Gary Sheffield was signed to be a pinch-hitter. Omir Santos was signed probably because the Mets thought he was somebody else. But all three have been instrumental in keeping the Mets near the top of the division standings.

With Oliver Perez, Brian Schneider, Carlos Delgado, Alex Cora, Jose Reyes, and Ryan Church (and don’t forget about Billy Wagner; well, maybe we should) all on the disabled list, and Carlos Beltran, Ramon Martinez (what a great job of fielding he’s been doing lately), J.J. Putz and Frankie Rodriguez battling one injury or another, the performances of Hernandez, Sheffield and Santos have been nothing short of a miracle for the Mets.

Hernandez threw the team’s first complete game last night, so forget about being the fifth starter, he may now be their second best starter. He’s 4-1 with a 4.28 ERA. The team has a 6-3 record in his nine starts this season, and he’s giving the Mets a chance to win almost every time out. He’s second on the staff in innings pitched (54.2), and has performed better than the Mets could have hoped for. And he’s fun to watch pitch, to boot.

Sheffield has already contributed more than the Mets could have expected. When Delgado left the lineup, it seemed like the Mets were playing a joke on everyone by inserting the 40-year-old into the cleanup spot. But in his last 12 games, he’s belted four dingers, driven in 12 runs, scored 15 and upped his average from .178 to .291. He’s always been an on-base machine and so far this season is sporting a .430 OBP. It seems like he’s found the fountain of youth. Let’s just hope it didn’t come with a label marked “Cream” or “Clear.”

Santos became a Met legend with his game-winning jack off of Jonathan Papelbon at Fenway, and has come out of nowhere to claim the starting catching position. He’s fifth on the team with 15 RBI’s, and every one of them seems to be clutch. The pitching staff likes throwing to him, and now the Mets are letting Schneider take his time coming back from the disabled list. In fact, they just sent Schneider on an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe so they don’t have to decide what to do with their three catchers until later in the season.

Who could have imagined Sheffield would be batting fourth, Hernandez would be the team’s second best pitcher, and Santos would even be in the major leagues at this point in the season. But, unbelievably, that’s what happened. So where would the Mets be if they didn’t pick these guys off the scrapheap?