Right now, Mets fans all over the Tri-State area are panicking. They are worried about the health of the team, both in the training room and in the standings.
I am here to tell you to have faith.
There is no team as decimated by injuries as the snake-bitten Mets.
The Mets have been without Jose Reyes, Oliver Perez, Ryan Church, and Carlos Delgado for extended periods of time. While those players were out, the Mets dealt with John Maine and Carlos Beltran having gastrointestinal viruses that forced them to miss time. All the while, J.J. Putz is trying to pitch with a bone spur in his elbow, Gary Sheffield is fighting through a clearly debilitating hamstring injury, and both of Reyes' backups, Alex Cora and Ramon Martinez, have been injured.
Making matters increasingly difficult is the organizational health. As Matt Cerrone points out, "Triple-A infielder Javier Valentin injured his shoulder last night in Buffalo, while Dillon Gee, Argenis Reyes, Carlos Muniz and Bobby Kielty remain on the [Minor League] disabled list".
Despite all the injuries, all the uncertainty and all the chaos, the Mets remain only three games back of the first-place Phillies.
They have won seven of their last 11, and 18 of 28, while putting a below sub-par product on the field. This is something to be proud of rather than worry over.
Yes, they lost the last two to the Pirates, but what makes you think the team on the field is more talented than the Pirates?
This team took two out of three from the Red Sox in a series that it had no business winning a single game. Why don't we take those two surprising Mets victories and weigh them against the last two unsurprising losses? The Mets are faring far better than they should.
I give most of the credit to the wonderful job done by Jerry Manuel, who I have suggested is the leading candidate for NL Manager of the Year thus far. He has taken a second-rate club and kept them afloat during an increasingly tough stretch.
Many want to blame GM Omar Minaya for the state of the team. The fact remains he has assembled a team that includes arguably the best starting pitcher in baseball (Santana), arguably the best closer in baseball (Rodriguez), and arguably the best center fielder in baseball (Beltran).
It is not his fault when players get injured. It also doesn't help that the organization at all levels can't stay healthy. They could trade, and they likely will, but it's not necessary right now.
My main point is this: Yes, at the start of the season if you had said this team would be three games back and five games over .500 on June 3, I would have been disappointed. However, with this unreal run of unfortunate injuries and illness, it is something to be celebrated.
There is hope. Injuries heal. Reyes and Church will be back this week. Cora and Beltran come back tonight. John Maine is feeling better. Ramon Martinez is no longer necessary. Sheffield can return to his proper role and rest his hamstring. Bobby Parnell is performing wonderfully and should be able to take over the eighth inning while Putz gets right—either in his mechanics or his elbow. And in a couple of months, Carlos Delgado will be back just in time for the stretch run.
They also have five games against the Pirates and the Nationals in between now and their upcoming series with the Phillies.
When healthy, this team is a force. The Mets have more roster talent than 99 percent of the league. They have stars at almost every position.
The Shea Faithful need to remain patient. The Mets are just fine.
Update: 5:53 pm EST
Jose Reyes has suffered a set back in an extended spring training game and will fly to New York to be re-evaluated. Jerry Manuel said to WFAN if all goes as planned, he should return next Tuesday.