I had a great opportunity to get some free publicity for my blog (South of Shea) and my writing in general on Friday afternoon. The guys over at one of my favorite baseball websites (hotstove.com) asked to interview me about my thoughts on the current state of my favorite team the New York Mets. I had a great time with them, and though I was nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs - I had a great time talking about one of my favorite subjects... baseball.
Well I thought it went pretty good and I got some good feedback from some readers who listened and some friends who caught the show, so I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then I saw this from the description of our video chat at their website:
"Onan takes a very optimistic view of the Mets’ chances this season, despite the injuries to Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, as well as the team’s suspect 2-5 spots in the rotation."
Now to be fair I am an optimist despite these things... but when I first read it I felt a little defensive. It sounds like I might be living in some fairy tale land a-wishin' and a-hopin' for some crazy fantasy outcome. I read over it a couple more times, and even watched the interview again and decided that I won't hold it against them. Sure it feels like they might think I'm living in la-la-land but they seem like great guys and like I said, I am a huge fan of their site - hotstove.com But I am going to defend my "optimism" in spite of the points that they mentioned. First, here's the video of our chat.
Alright lets break down the reasons that the guys give for pessimism.
1. Jose Reyes' hyperthyroidism
2. Carlos Beltran's knee injury
3. The pitching staff (2-5 in the rotation)
All of these are great reasons to be pessimistic, but allow me to be little miss sunshine to the cloudy day that is the injuries to Reyes and Beltran. These two injuries taken together should not be reasons for becoming "Debbie Downers" but instead be reasons to find the silver lining, if you are a Mets fan. Sure, if the injuries hadn't occurred things would be even better - but imagine that in Beltran's case he decided to try and rehab through the start of the season and at some point in July everyone realized that he should have had the surgery. We (Mets fans collectively) would be screwed. Instead of losing Beltran midway through the season with a lingering knee injury, he will only miss a couple of weeks and (fingers crossed) actually be stronger upon returning from his knee injury rehab.
I would make a similar argument for Reyes - yes, it would be nice if no injury/sickness existed but finding out before the season starts and knowing it can be fixed before the season really gets going is a huge blessing. No one would want to lose Reyes midway through the year for a 2-8 week period - better that happen now, while most of that time is Spring Training.
Now the pitching staff... this is a harder area to look positively on. Pelfrey, Maine, and Perez have been a collective train wreck over the last two seasons. Yes, at different point each one has had their positive moments, but in general... train wreck. How can I find any reason to be optimistic here, you ask? Well, as I look at the rest of the National League I find that our pitching staff when healthy is actually as good or better than the majority of the league. I think our staff can go toe to toe with just about any staff in the league (with some notable exceptions IE; the Phils, Braves, Cards, and Giants). If (and it is a BIG IF) Maine can stay healthy, Pelfrey can stay out of his own way, and Oliver stops acting bi-polar... the Mets staff might just be alright. I actually think the #5 spot in our rotation will be a position of strength, no matter who wins the job out of camp. Takahashi, Niese, Figueroa, and Nieve all have different aspects of the game that they are good at and all could offer the Mets some great moments. I am pulling for Niese here, because he is a young guy with some nice upside and if he can make it - it could go a long way to settling our staff.
Yes, I really do think that if EVERYTHING goes right the Mets can make the playoffs. No, I don't think that that is the most likely scenario... if I were a betting man I would say they would probably finish 3rd (ahead of the Fish and Nats). I make no guarantees but... i'd like to think my team can get the job done.
Am I a too optimistic? You be the judge, but like I said at the end of the interview... "I am an optimist, and this is Spring Training." If I can't be an optimist now, with Opening Day right around the corner...when can I be?