The Mets are six-and-a-half games behind the Phillies (and of course also trail the Marlins and Braves) and are also six-and-a-half back in the wild-card race (and have seven teams ahead of them), so it may take a miracle or at least wishful thinking for them to make the playoffs.
But here are 10 reasons why the Mets should at least have some hope going into the second half of the season.
1. Their injured players are starting to come back. So far it’s only been Angel Pagan and Oliver Perez, but Pagan stabilizes their outfield defense and is a better leadoff man than Alex Cora. Cora can move to the eighth spot, and Luis Castillo slots into the second hole, which improves the lineup. Perez was his usual crazy self in his one start back, but he did win the game and he has to be better than Tim Redding, right? And there have been actual signs of life for Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes. They’ve both started working out, and we may start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully Carlos Beltran and John Maine will be right behind them.
2. Daniel Murphy is starting to come around. He seems to have made the adjustment to the inside pitch and is now driving the ball with authority to right field. Now Jerry Manuel just has to keep him in the lineup every day. He’ll do that, won’t he? Please? This would keep Fernando Tatis on the bench where he should be—hitting pinch-hit home runs like he did on Sunday. And maybe Murphy’s magical play at first against the Dodgers is a sign the Mets’ karma is turning.
3. The Jeff Francoeur trade. This wasn’t a blockbuster by any means, but with the Mets being in such a funk any move to shake up the team and give it a shot in the arm is good. Francoeur may have the plate discipline of John Goodman, but so far he has four hits and the Mets are 2-0 with him.
4. Johan Santana. He didn’t lose a game the second half of last season, and after struggling through a horrible June, he has pitched two gems in a row (14 total innings, two runs), and in his last five games has only let up 10 runs. He’s too tough to have a bad second half.
5. Their bumbling, lack-of-fundamentals type play in the first half of the season is correctible. It’s certainly reasonable to think that they won’t drop anymore popups or miss any misses the rest of the season, right? Well, let’s hope so.
6. Starting pitching. The Mets rotation had been flat-out awful lately, but they’ve gotten three good outings in a row. Manuel’s patience is running out and needs them to perform or else. Livan Hernandez is now on a short leash, with Jon Niese waiting in the wings. They can’t be as bad as they’ve been (that seems to be the running theme here).
7. Bobby Parnell is coming out of his funk. He hasn’t given up an earned run in his last five appearances. And he’s striking out batters again—seven in his last 5.2 innings pitched. If his rebound continues, he stabilizes the back end of the bullpen.
8. Frankie Rodriguez is their closer. Last year Luis Ayala was in that role at the end of the season. K-Rod has struggled of late, but he’s better than Ayala—and just about everybody else for that matter.
9. The Mets’ second half of the season can’t possible be worse than their first half. Everything went wrong the first three-plus months for them, how can it get any worse?
10. Because no matter how good or how bad they play, I’m going to watch every game. I want and need them to have hope and turn their season around so I don’t spend two-and-a-half months wanting to crawl under the home run Apple and get crushed to death after one of their infrequent long balls.