The negativity this franchise has inspired since Carlos Beltran went down looking to end the 2006 NLCS, has reached peak levels coming into this year. Start with six straight losing seasons, and with David Wright out most of the year leaving zero star power in the field. Add in an unpopular dunce for a manager and what has to be the least trustworthy medical staff in baseball, and it all adds up to another painful season on the horizon… or so it seemed.
Truth is, these Mets are actually succeeding. Without a starting 3B, a closer, any reliable middle reliever, and perhaps the most unreliable middle infield in baseball; this team is in FIRST PLACE.
Say that to yourself again, “First Place Mets”. Hell, we are 1.5 games in front of the NL East, six games over .500 so far for the season. All this with our customary depleted lineup. So what’s changed? Why is this team the most successful edition in Queens since before the Obama Administration took office? Well that’s the best part, nobody knows for sure. Theoretically, we should be in the midst of another long painful season but we are most certainly not. My best guesses, because baseball is subject to such randomness, that all we can do is guess most of the time.
Losing Zack Wheeler turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Forcing the Mets to tinker with the rotation has resulted in calling up purported future ace Noah Syndergaard. Add in the return of Matt Harvey and reigning NL ROY Jacob deGrom, and you have three power arms under 26 who can pitch you to compete in ever series. Plus, the ageless Bartolo Colon appears to be pitching as good as anyone right now. Augmenting what could be come a staff who challenges the 1986 rotation of Gooden-Darling-Ojeda-Fernandez-Aguilera for possibly the best in Mets history.
2. Adding by subtraction.
Getting rid of Campbell, Niewenhuis, Recker, Gee, was a great first step. These players are middling pros who likely would never start for another team. Gee looks particularly awful compared to previous years. Adding Dilson Herrera, Wilmer Flores and shifting Daniel Murphy to third base until David returns has actually invigorated our lineup. Travis d’arnaud has actually been having a career year in his limited play so far this year. Kevin Plawecki and Darrel Ceciliani have also contributed in their short time up on the big squad so far as well.
The most mind-boggling element of them all. The guys are trying, they are not giving up and continuously fighting. Does this come from Terry Collins? Doubtful. From being severely underpaid? Possibly. From just wanting to win after so many years of losing? Unlikely. But I would like to think that has a hand in it. After all, you do not become “First Place Mets” by accident, do you? Perhaps.