The first month of the Mets’ 2008 season played out like a microcosm of the 2007 season.
The Mets took two out of three from the Florida Marlins, including a 7-2 victory for the season opener (technically March 31) and Johan Santana’s Met debut. The Flushing faithful were able to look the other way on the night after Pedro Martinez’s hamstring injury when Oliver Perez and the Mets’ bats led them to a 13-0 blowout.
The rest of the month showcased inconsistent play, including the bullpen struggles of Aaron Heilman and Jorge Sosa, as well as the downhill turn of Oliver Perez who gave up 18 runs over his last four starts after giving up no runs over his first two.
The position players have provided plenty of headaches as well. The final batting averages of many of the Mets’ regulars are disappointing, including:
Luis Castillo (.259)
Jose Reyes (.250)
Carlos Beltran (.211)
Carlos Delgado (.198)
Luckily, others were able to pick up the slack, including:
Ryan Church (.316 AVG, 19 RBI, 46 TB)
Brian Schneider (.309 AVG, .391 OBP in 16 games before his various ailments)
Raul Casanova (.286 AVG)
David Wright (23 RBI, 51 TB, .948 OPS)
The Mets (14-12) actually stand in a virtual tie at this very moment with Florida (15-13, after May 1 loss) and Philadelphia (15-13, with a May 1 night game scheduled) for first place in the NL East.
Similar to the end of 2007, they would have been in sole possession had it not been for the 13-1 shellacking they took at the hands of the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates on the last day of April. John Fennelly, a Bleacher Report Senior Writer and proprietor of mrflushing.com, when asked to choose his April Awards said, “After today's game I might leave all 3 awards blank.”
Nevertheless, on with the awards…
Some of Bleacher Report’s loyal Mets’ writers were asked to pick the Most Valuable Player (position players only) for the Mets during the month of April. Here’s what they had to say:
Martin Fitzpatrick says of Ryan Church, “Church is one of only two players on the Mets hitting above .300 at the moment. He leads the team in hits and runs scored and is tied for 2nd in home runs.”
David Marine (also of metslifer.com) is also in support of Church, stating, “Did you ever think that the words ‘Ryan Church’ and
‘MVP’ would be mentioned in the same sentence? He's been the best surprise in all of baseball.”
Agreed, fellas. While David Wright has a slight edge in homers and RBI, Mr. Wright has been quite streaky this April, not to mention his difficulties in throwing the ball.
Church ahs played a flawless right field and has been the one Met acquisition in recent years that has (thus far) actually over-achieved. We’ll see how well Ryan Church adjusts as teams explore the possibility of using the shift against him. He does have the propensity to hit ground balls to the right side, so HoJo will have to work with him on going the other way.
Ryan Church come on down and accept the Mets’ April MVP award.
These same writers also made their cases for the April Cy Young.
Marine says of Johan Santana, “even though the wins don't show it, he's been everything we've wanted and more.”
Fitzpatrick says of Santana and Billy Wagner, “[it] was a tough choice between Wagner or Santana. Santana has gotten off to a good start but Wagner has been almost unhittable this season (aside from the other night). He's given up 3 hits in 12 innings and has 12 strikeouts. He is 6 for 7 in save opportunities.”
One thing is certain of Santana’s April performance: The guy can hit. His three doubles give him as many as Carlos Delgado and more than Luis Castillo. He also has a higher slugging percentage (.467) than everybody but Church and Wright.
However, this award is about pitching and while Johan has been “workmanlike” in the words of SNY’s Ron Darling, Billy Wagner has not only put up better numbers, but his effectiveness in the ninth inning has saved (no put intended) the Mets from an even more depressing April.
For those that like statistics, Wagner is out dueling Santana in strikeout-to-walk ratio, walks-per-nine-innings, strikeouts-per-nine-innings, hit-per-nine-innings, batting average against, walks-and-hits-per-innings-pitched, and more.
Billy Wagner, please accept the Mets’ April Cy Young. (Honorable mention to Nelson Figueroa…Where would the Mets have been without this guy?!)
Last, and certainly least, is the Mets’ April LVP award. There are so many players that one could be deemed the Least Valuable Player. Let’s see what the writers think:
Fitzpatrick says of Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran, “Amazingly, Delgado is batting only .198 so far this season. The Mets' offense in general has been atrocious but Delgado has been the worst of them all. Beltran is a close second though coming in with his stellar .211 batting average.”
Marine sums it up nicely by stating, “[It’s] a no-brainer, batting average below the Mendoza line and several fielding blunders at pivotal moments makes him the easy choice.”
While an outsider gives Aaron Heilman his “Meow Mix” award for the month of April (5.51 ERA [It’s that low?!], four homeruns allowed) he has five holds (okay, that just means non-blown saves) which is ahead of where he has been the last two seasons.
Jorge Sosa can also be considered for this award, with his 7.02 ERA and four homeruns allowed, but even he has managed to win three games (though many consider wins to be a throw-away stat for a reliever).
Those two can thank Duaner Sanchez for sparing them the humiliation of being crowned the Mets’ April LVP, as his mostly triumphant return have bumped Sosa and Heilman down on the depth chart.
Carlos Delgado, continue helping kids follow their dreams and come accept the Mets’ April LVP Award.
[Any writers interested in contributing to future Mets’ monthly awards should leave a note on Dan Siegel’s profile if not already on his mailing list.]