The New York Mets have not had a highly successful first week of the regular season. It was one filled with uninspiring play and comebacks that fell just short. We've seen grand slams and staff aces get booed at their home park. We've even heard stories of the manager, Jerry Manuel claiming to not be prepared for his team to face a pitcher that they had just pitching for them. It was indeed a inconsistent week.
The team is currently standing at a 2-4 record. It is hardly the time to panic, but when one sees the upcoming schedule, one may want to limber up their fingers in preparation to press the button soon. The team is coming off of an off day on Monday as they travel to Colorado.
Unfortunately, they are not playing the South Park Cows. They are playing the Colorado Rockies. A team that is young, scrappy and hungry. The type of team the Mets don't fare well against. A team that also sports a certain bullpen pitcher that could currently have been pitching in Queens had the Mets given him a respectable offer. The pitcher is Joe Beimel.
The Rockies are an especially dangerous team at home. They do something that the Mets, thus far in a little over a year of playing in their new pad, can't do. They utilize the ballpark to their advantage and build their team around the style needed to be played in that park. They are a high scoring team with decent pitching and sound fundamentals. They are also a perennial playoff contender, which makes this an even more intriguing early season series.
After a trip to the mile high city of Denver, the team will then embark on a visit to an even more complete team that plays in the midwest, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals are not only a favorite by most to win their division, but a favorite by some, including me, to be the National League's representative in the World Series. They are a complete team from top to bottom.
Many people will argue the Philadelphia Phillies are a better team, and they may be right to some degree. However, the Cardinals are stacked in their lineup every bit as much as the Phillies and they have a more complete and proven starting rotation. They have a solid bullpen with a consistent and healthy closer.
Much like both the Rockies and the Phillies, the Cardinals know how to use their home ballpark. I will be surprised if the Mets walk away from this six game road trip with a 3-3 record, which would make them 5-7 overall. It is more realistic to think they may lose four out of the six again and fall to a more probable 4-8 record.
That, also, would not be the onset of the next ice age and Armageddon , but it would put the team in a very deep hole, very early. The team's plan is primarily focused on a make shift lineup until they can be entirely healthy and see the likes of Carlos Beltran and Daniel Murphy return to prominence and to form.
The problem with this logic is, that by the time they are able to return, the current team's play may not make the team worth returning to all that much. The possibility of heads rolling and a fire sale will most certainly be prevalent if this becomes the case. This season, I do not believe that ownership will accept injury and team fate in the hands of the baseball gods as an excuse.
They will most definitely become impatient should the team struggle. This is the reason that I stated in the last article "Mets need a win to salvage first week", that games in April and May are just as important as those in August and September. Seasons can be won and lost in April too.
The team will be having the rest of the rotation primarily on exhibit this week. Staff ace Johan Santana, fresh off of his shellacking at the hands of Josh Willingham, will most likely only be pitching in one of those games. So it will be up to the entire team to unite and put up a fight if they want to avoid a deeper hole than that in which they have already dug for themselves.
I expect home runs for all the teams involved, but I also expect a few lopsided losses too. They may be able to rise up and find something inside of themselves that makes them capable of playing to not only their fan's expectations, but that of themselves as well.
It is entirely possible, that the Mets find themselves and that this becomes an early turning point toward success. That they answer a symbolic war cry and charge into battle, swords in hand, ready to vanquish their adversary. This is, however, the Mets and that means that it is highly likely that if they do charge into battle this week, it will be on limping horses and wielding dull swords. It is in fact most likely, that they will not charge at all, but rather briskly jog onto the battle field looking around for the first signs of a battle cry and then inevitably, walk off wondering why they lost.
It is indeed a tough road that they will be embarking on over the next week, but it is also a necessary one. An early crossroads. An intersecting path between victory and despair. Between triumph and tragedy. The choice is theirs and theirs alone. Let's hope that they choose wisely their path.
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