Mets Nation: Way Too Soon To Panic

Richard MarshSenior Analyst IMarch 14, 2010

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Third baseman David Wright #5 of the New York Mets poses during photo day at Tradition Field on February 27, 2010 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Here it is, one day before "The Ides of March" and the so-called pundits, as well as the vast majority of the Mets' faithful, are in full panic mode and have come to bury Caesar long before the body is cold.

Come on everybody, 2009 was officially over on Oct 3. Or if you believe in the Julius Caesar calendar, how about 11:59PM and 59 seconds on December 31.

Just because two out the top five players will not be in the starting lineup on opening day and the so-called starting rotation has looked a trifle bit shaky three weeks into spring training, it doesn't mean we should holding our Hari Kari swords about 18 inches from the point of entry.

It's true that I have been a Mets fan since Opening Day, 1962, and believe me there were years that the season was over before the first pitcher threw their first fastball in February.

It wasn't until the spring of 1968 did any Met fan on the planet see this team with the possibility of showing some real competition between the lines. Seaver and Kooseman were young arms with a world of potential, and the manager was a patient man who was going to observe his team very carefully for the entire season and make the adjustments to turn them into a perennial winner and contender for years to come.

But I am digressing a bit here, so let's flash forward to 2010.

What is it going to take from the Mets organization to put a winning and competitive team out there and challenge the Phillies, while keeping pace with the Braves and the Marlins as well.

Are we closer to last place than to first?

I don't think so. Outside of Mets training camp, all the talk has been about the injuries to Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes and why it's "Deja Vu" all over again.

No! It is not by a long stretch of the imagination. Let's take a better look.

In the case of Beltran, who started off the 2009 like a house on fire and seemed to be heading for his best season as a Met, Carlos had his surgery in January. Not May, not June of 2010, but in January. Early reports said we wouldn't possibly see him until June.

Panic time? NO!

With Opening Day still three weeks away, now we are hearing the possibility for a mid-April return. Not too shabby.

For Jose, we are hearing anywhere between two and eight weeks. But that started a week ago, not yesterday, and since this has been a mild thyroid case (according to medical experts), a return by May 1 is certainly not out of the question.

I remember an Angels team as recently as last year that had none of it's starters ready for Opening Day and wound up taking the Yankees to six games for a World Series appearance.

My worst nightmare is to see an opening defense with Alex Cora and Luis Castillo moving in slow motion for a ball hit up the middle. Oh no, that thought is in real time.

Rueben Tejada is a very acceptable, one month replacement.

Here's what I have seen so far that has me greatly encouraged:

David Wright has three spring home runs, and he is looking very comfortable at the plate not lunging after fastballs that he couldn't catch up to last year.

I like that Mike Pelfrey got banged around against Boston in the first inning and then bounced right back and threw three, almost unhittable innings, striking out batters in the process.

I liked that Ollie Perez is in the best shape of his life and is also throwing strikes. Four hit-less innings wasn't all that shabby either.

I like the fact that Nelson Figueroa doesn't look 35, and he would my choice as the fifth starter ahead of both Jon Niese and Fernando Nieve, who are both quite capable of pitching in the five spot.

I like the energy and emotion that Jeff Francoeur is bringing to this club, and for those of you who think his totals for the Mets last year were an aberration, you are all in for a big surprise.

I like that Fernando Martinez and Ike Davis are tearing the cover off the ball, and with 400 ABs in AAA, these two guys may still contribute to the big club before the end of the season.

I like the professionalism that Jason Bay has brought to the team. For those of you who don't believe he is a 25/100 guy, you are dreadfully wrong.

I like the way that Daniel Murphy gets better everyday, both on the field and in the box. I watched every inning of every game last year, and this guy doesn't know the meaning of quit. There will be a lot less pressure on him this year, and I expect a very solid, if not outstanding, performance from him. No, he isn't Keith Hernandez or John Olerude, but he's only 24, and he will wind up as a very productive player in 2010.

I like the fact that those who see our farm system as weak and without depth need to look no further than 20-year-old pitching sensation Jenry Mejia, who is already drawing comparisons to Dwight Gooden and Mariano Rivera.

I like the catching situation, with two extremely capable veterans in Barojas and Blanco being there to mentor future catcher Josh Thole, who has "Major League" written all over himself.

What I like the best is that this year's New York Mets will be underestimated by every team they play, and like Tampa Bay of 2008, this Mets team is going to surprise a lot of people—especially its fans and those who cover this team in the media.

Most of you reading this are probably thinking this guy's nuts and the Mets will be closer to last place then to first by season's end. And that's your right to believe and think that way. I just want to go on record early enough to pick the team for a definite run for the playoffs in 2010.

Playoffs? Did he really say playoffs?

Yes I did, and living here in Vegas, I get the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. Right now the Mets over and under for the season is 81 wins.

Are you kidding me?

They will have 81 wins by September 10. You heard it here first, and blast me if you will, but mark this one down and take it to the bank.

Let's Go Mets!