The New York Mets. Anybody who would have told you the New York Mets would be leading the National League East by 2 games in May would have been thrown under the guillotine for blasphemy. On June 10th, the Mets trailed the Philadelphia Phillies by 7.5 games in the division. The team was a huge letdown, and job speculation was on with their manager. Despite this, the Phillies could not take charge of the division as they struggled themselves. Then Willie Randolph got fired, Jerry Manuel steps in, and since the Mets are now rolling. They are neck and neck with the Phillies. And now here we are in the final month and I am going to tell you why the Mets will win the National League East and take back a division that is rightfully theirs.
First things first. Collapse or no collapse, the Mets were better than the Phillies last year and its the same story this year. There is no way you can honestly tell me that top to bottom, everything taken into account, that the Phillies are the better ballclub, becasue they're just not.
Lets start with the hitting. Top to bottom ,you can definitely say that the Philadelphia lineup is more dangerous than the Mets. Besides the likes of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Pat Burrell, they have guys that get the job done in a big way. Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino solidify a ridiculously powerful lineup, no matter what ballpark they play in. The Mets lineup on the other hand, although maybe less of a juggernaut, is still fear-instilling. Jose Reyes is the most igniting player in baseball. The Mets go as he goes and his .300+ overage has the Mets going good. Then there are guys like David Wright, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and recently returned Ryan Church that are extremely efficient in driving in runs for this team. The role players, however, are who has really kept this team going. Fernando Tatis, Daniel Murphy, Nick Evans, Damion "The Hitman" Easley and Ramon Castro are to thank for the team staying afloat when the 3-4-5 hitters weren't hitting at all. So this team can score runs at just about the same pace as the Phillies, putting ban box ballparks aside.
Now, to the pitching. The Mets have Johan Santana, who is obviously better than anyone the Phillies have in their version a starting rotation. Santana is historically a second half pitcher and has been lights-out in the second half this year. He is backed up by Oliver Perez, so-so Pedro Martinez and young stud Mike Pelfrey. Even with John Maine potentially out for the season, they still have an above average starting rotation. Everyone knows the Mets bullpen-by-committee is a mess and the bullpen in general leave alot to be desired. If the band aids can just hold up until Billy Wagner comes back, which i believe that will, they will be fine with Luis Ayala adding some stability out there. September call-ups are a good thing for the Mets bullpen too with guys like Bobby Parnell coming up who can take Aaron Heilman's spot of official game-blower. It is pretty easy on the other hand to sum up the Phillies pitching. They have none. A very solid starter in Cole Hamels and then a bunch of guys you cannot rely on. Jamie Moyer throws 37mph and on any day can give up seven earned runs in three innings. Brett Myers might throw seven innings of good baseball, but might walk nine in five innings, who's to say?(much like Oliver Perez early in the year.) Kyle Kendrick is decent but can't match up with a guy like Pelfrey, who shares just about the same pitching style. And I don't even know what the deal is with Joe Blanton he was 5-12 when acquired, and the Phillies did that based on two good starts against the Mets with Oakland. Their bullpen is overall better than the Mets with Chad Durbin and Brad Lidge closing games, but they aren't lights out by any means out there. Overall, the Mets pitching, even with a terrible bullpen is ten times better than that of Philadelphia.
It does not matter as much as the players on the field, but the Mets also have the better manager. Manuel(Jerry, that is) might play the percentages a little to much, but he has lit a fire under this team that would not have been sparked by Willie Randolph in a million years. no disrespect to Charlie, he is a fine manager, but there are tactical moves that he does that could be questioned...just like any manager. But he wasn't the guy to take a sub-500 team and lead them to a National League East title.
Yes...The New York Mets are the better team. They should, and will will the division and as I eluded to earlier, take what is rightfully theirs.