May 6, 2008
The New York Mets are now 30 games into the 2008 season. There are many fans, including this one, that are upset with many different things involving this ball club. One of those things being the hitting. With a lineup containing several run producer, plus electric Jose Reyes, they have managed just over 4.5 runs per game in the early going. I will not sit here and defend that number because we all know damn well this team is capable of more than that. However, the hitting is not the biggest problem, at least not in my mind it isn't.
Say what you will about the lineup and this and that and Ryan Church needing to be in the 2-hold since Luis Castillo hasn't swung the bat since his knees were good. That is not the issue. The lineup will come around. The focus here needs to be the pitching. The bullpen is to be left aside for this one. I am talking about the starting rotation in Queens. We know what we get form Johan Santana. He is arguably the best pitcher in baseball and is the guy to stop a losing streak and keep the team afloat. He is everything the Mets needed coming into this year, especially with Pedro Martinez on the Disabled List. But Santana is really the only constant in the rotation. Mike Pelfrey is still a young kid out of Wichita State learning the big league hitters. Give him time. Nelson Figueroa has filled in nicely, but he is not part of the long term picture nor is he nearly as important and John Maine and Oliver Perez. These are two men the Mets need desperately if they are to go deep into the playoffs and finally capture that pennant that left Shea Stadium just as Yadier Molina's home run did in Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series. Both of these guys were 15-10 last year, and were great for the Mets, and vital to their success. Maine I will give a pass on because he is certainly talented and coming into his own not just this season after a shaky start, but as a major league pitcher all around. Now on to Oliver Perez. The Mexican southpaw was a throw-in in the trade between the Mets and Pirates when New York sent reliable outfielder Xavier Nady to the steel city for beyond-aging Roberto Hernandez following Duaner Sanchez getting injured in an auto accident over the All-Star break. He has got all the talent in the world, really great stuff and he can be potentially great. Key word there is potentially. He has yet to prove he can harness that talent and turn himself into a really good big league pitcher. He was clutch for the Mets down the stretch in 2006, and good last year with that 15-10 record, but is ridiculously inconsistent. He needs to settle down, work with pitching coach Rick Peterson, and get his head out of....well, you know where. If Oliver Perez can straighten up and fly right, and if John Maine can continue to improve, the Mets will be off into the postseason and ready for any team in the National League. The lineup will come around, and now as a whole, its time for the starting rotation to come around also.
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