The most important play the Mets made this year has nothing to do with anything they did on the field. Rather, it has everything to do with what was not done on the field. In fact, that one play may be the only reason General Manager Omar Minaya comes back regardless of the seasons outcome. Johan Santana was out there for the taking, and the Mets took.
There have been many stories and rumors floated around out there as to why the Mets ended up with Johan. Some would actually say it was an accident out of frustration with two other teams with far superior offers. Or it could have been that the Met offer was seen as better. Just take a look at the studs the Yankees offered up for Mr. Santana's services. For one reason or another, all three of them are minor league ball players.
There was Johan Santana, wearing the jersey of the New York Mets, pitching another gem in another big game the Mets needed. He is the reason to believe. After being hard on the orange and blue in my first two articles it seemed appropriate to give them credit where it was due. Of course, it was the Washington Nationals, and not a top tier team by any means. However, it was a game these Mets needed. It was a game the Mets had to win in order to qualm the ideas that this September would be identical to last. And Johan delivered.
The numbers simply do not lie. The man has not lost a game since June 28, before these Mets really made their comeback. He is just as big a reason as any to the overall turn of the Mets season for the better. Consider his stats his last 14 starts: 7-0, with a 2.26 ERA. The scary part, if not for the Mets bullpen, he could have had a chance to win all of those starts. The ace of the staff is now 14-7, with a 2.65 ERA. Again, if not for the Met bullpen, he would easily be in the running for the National League Cy Young Award.
For the first time in what seems like a long time he got some help from the offense. There was Carlos Beltran, another guy who was supposed to be a Yankee, delivering a big run scoring triple in the third. And Daniel Murphy continued to prove he belongs in the lineup everyday, batting second behind a rejuvenated Jose Reyes. Just as satisfying was seeing Ryan Church deliver two run scoring singles and also seeing Brian Schneider hit two home runs. The Mets traded Lastings Milledge, 0-3 with an error, for these two guys. Does it need to be pointed out now who got the better of the deal? This is what this lineup can do.
After a sluggish weekend, and an embarrassing first two games against the putrid Nationals, there was very little reason to be confident that these Mets could win the division. There was very little reason to believe they could even make the playoffs. And still, there are some troublesome signs. David Wright put up another 0-5 night, although had some better swings at the plate, and the bullpen was shaky once again.
But because of the game they won last night and the pitching performance by Mr. Santana tonight, the Mets built a mini winning streak and gave you a reason to believe. They gave you a reason to believe during the off season after the most gut wrenching collapse in sports history. Start counting the reasons, it will take you a long time. There are 137,500,000 reasons to believe in this team.