This morning, the Mets are getting ready to leave New York for their first West Coast trip of the year, where they open with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who own the National League's best record. Many regard this series as a potential NLCS preview however, the way the Mets are playing now, there will not be very much postseason play.
Fortunately for the Mets, it is too early in the season to accurately pass judgements like that. Therefore this series with the Diamondbacks must be viewed as more than a playoff preview. The series with the Diamondbacks raises the question, how much longer will the Mets window of opportunity be open?
As the Diamondbacks continue to prove that a big name in the lineup is not necessary to win, the Mets are not getting any younger. The Mets are relying heavily on an aging and very rapidly declining Carlos Delgado as well as a fragile Pedro Martinez. The Dbacks rely on young, scrappy, hard-nosed team baseball; the type of baseball that any baseball purist dreams of.
If the Diamondbacks have their way this weekend with the Mets, something that would not shock very many people, it could prove to the baseball world that big names are not the key to success.
Furthermore, the upcoming weekend series could show the American League contenders how weak the National League truly is. Again, if the Diamondbacks have their way with the Mets and easily take two out of three or even worse sweep the Mets it will show the American League contenders that only the Diamondbacks are to be feared in any potential world series match up.
To set the table for the series, Arizona will send Micha Owings (4-0), Brandon Webb (6-0), and Dan Haren (4-1). The Mets will counter with John Maine, Nelson Figueroa and Johan Santana. Other than Santana the Mets do not know what kind of starting pitching they will get in a series they need to have great starting pitching. The Mets starting pitching was made even more important yesterday when Oliver Perez had his second straight bad outing, forcing Willie Randolph to over use the bullpen once again.
The Mets need to take two out of three in this series in order to silence many of their critics.