This season has been full of surprises for the New York Mets . They have shown dominance at home and futile efforts on the road. They have had several injuries to key players, but these injuries have also been considered a blessing to some.
They have taken advantage of injured players and their vacated roster spots. Most notably, John Maine, Oliver Perez and Carlos Beltran. They have done so by inserting hungry players to take their place—players like Angel Pagan, R. A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi .
Take Dickey and Takahashi , for example. They have combined for a 7-2 record in nine combined starts and their ERAs are 3.20 and 3.80 respectively, compared to Oliver Perez and John Maine, who are a combined 1-6. Both are also sporting an ERA over 6.00.
Granted, Dickey and Takahashi have amassed this combined record in half of the combined starts, but are still impressive nonetheless. It is an estimated eight starts for the Dickey/Takahashi duo and 16 for the Perez/Maine combination.
Still, this has been a breath of fresh air for not only the ball club, but for their fan base as well. Another case in point would be Angel Pagan. In his time with the Mets , he has shown flashes of greatness, only to have that fire extinguished by injuries.
Now, he seems healthy and productive as ever. In his time so far this season, he has made the most of his opportunity. Going into today's double header, he has a .294 batting average with four home runs, four triples, 25 RBI's and 11 stolen bases in 56 games. In other words, he is not just taking advantage of his chances, but also of the ballpark in which he is playing.
While Carlos Beltran has been ridiculed and criticized for his poor decision to have surgery nearly a month and a half before spring training, Pagan has flourished. With all this good, warm sunshine on the roster, news of rain must come. Not the rain that forced a double header today, but rather an interesting tidbit of news on the rehab front for the club.
According to Mike Puma of the New York Post , Maine and Beltran are making progress. Maine is preparing to make a few starts in the minors with the AA Binghamton club.
He begins his stint with the AA team on June 13. Also, Beltran has been starting split squad games down in Port St. Lucie under the careful watch of Mets' brass and trainers.
This is all good news for them, but not necessarily for the team. If the Mets are to continue their rise in the standings and preserve team unity, they need to keep these hungry players around as long as they can. Keep in mind, the players that are being discussed in rehab assignments are part of the old regime.
Beltran has been under the continual microscope over the past few seasons due to his repeated comments about division rivals and rivalries. His stats when healthy have been wonderful, but he is not the best clubhouse presence. Some may even call him stale air as opposed to the fresh air of the youth that has been pumped into the locker room as of late.
Maine has been scrutinized for his heart and passion, after comments in spring training and poor outings so far this season. He is considering a move to the bullpen upon his return, which shows he is thinking of the team's needs. Still, how effective will he be if he continues to show a lack of intensity, especially in that role?
Oliver Perez has been a constant distraction in the locker room and in the media. His open refusal to be demoted to the minors to work out his problems and unproductive outings have left him ostracized by both the media and the fans. Perhaps even the players may have alienated him for his selfishness as well.
This was followed by a controversial decision by the Mets to place him on the disabled list. That move has been investigated by the MLB and has since been approved, though the transaction had odd timing. A supposed injury to a disgruntled, struggling and cancerous-to-the-clubhouse type of player is a curious move indeed.
All of these players may be nice people, as written and reported countless times by the Mets and their media affiliates, but they are not helping the team with their controversy or selfishness.
The replacements, however, are helping the team in several ways. If these players are in fact riding a hot streak in their careers and the Mets are catching lightning in a bottle, then they must be given every opportunity to succeed.
By succeeding individually, the team will succeed collectively. That is the common goal—teamwork, dedication, and energy. These present players are exhibiting those qualities. The old regime has proven one thing: They can't stay healthy long enough to be successful enough to make a run to the World Series.
The nucleus of this team is not getting younger, and their time and prime are dwindling down, game by wasted game, season by wasted season. The Mets roster has been turned over more times than a hamburger in a frying pan these past few seasons.
While the same few players that the franchise has been built around are stuck in mediocrity, the team as a whole has either come up short or come up lame.
If they are to contend, they need passion, heart and confidence . I have previously written about this in an article entitled, "Five Things the Mets Need to Seriously Contend."
In it I wrote the following:
"The swagger I speak of is that of confidence, not so much arrogance, but a realization that you're good and can match up with anyone. They had that once, and they need to reacquire it, or else they will be doomed to mediocrity."
These players bring that energy and confidence to every start and every at bat. If the Mets and their fans want all of the players to bring that energy and that air of confidence, then the Mets need to hang on to players that invigorate others.
These players not only do so, but they make the team stronger, deeper, and more exciting. That is something that has been missing for a few years now.
For more of my work, check out my blog: http://nyfaninsjersey.blogspot.com