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Jockbeat: The Mets at Midseason

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The Mets aren’t going to win anything this year. That’s what you really want to know, so we’ll give it to you right off. 

They’re only four games under .500, but the problem now isn’t just that the Phillies appear much stronger, but that Florida and Atlanta are in front of them in the NL East. There’s just too many teams ahead of the Mets and too many holes they have to dig themselves out of for any optimism.
 
Some observations…
So far, Citi Field seems fairly neutral as a hitters park. At the
All-Star break, the Mets were hitting .269 with 28 home runs at home
and on the road .270 with 24 HRs. Jump ball. For some unexplained
reason, though, Mets pitchers are much more comfortable at Citi Field
(3.70 ERA) than in other NL parks (5.07). Johan Santana’s mysterious
fade after his sensational first two months may be due to overwork —
18 starts and 116.1 innings up to the All-Star Game — but he’s still
averaging almost a strikeout per inning and has won 10 games.  F-Rod
has been, overall, everything New York could have hoped for, 23-3 in
save opportunities and a 1.90 ERA. With the exception of Pedro
Feliciano (48 games, 2.52 ERA), the rest of the staff has ranged from
the mediocre to the disastrous — 11th out of 16 teams at 4.33.
 
It
just isn’t likely that the Mets are going to do a sharp turnaround in
pitching. Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, and Livan Hernandez are a combined
17-13 with an ERA of 4.76, and there’s no help coming on the horizon. 
 
Even
worse news, though, is that the Mets can’t get back in the field what
they give up on the mound. They’re currently 9th in the National League
in runs scored, and that’s probably going to get much worse if Carlos
Beltran doesn’t come back. (As of Thursday, the outlook for a quick
recovery from a bruised knee was gloomy.) Beltran was headed for the
kind of season that would have cemented his Hall of Fame credentials,
leading the team in batting (.336), RBIs (40), OBA (.425), and Slugging
(.527) when he left the lineup — this is addition to stealing 11 of 12
bases and heading for another Gold Glove in center field. How much have
the Mets missed him? They’re 7-13 without him.
 
The team’s
biggest puzzle is David Wright, whose batting average for much of the
season was hovering in the .350-.360 range. His current slump, which
has brought him down to around .320, is no reason to panic, but his
baffling lack of power is. With just 5 home runs in 87 games, he’s
headed, easily, for his worst power numbers as a major league player.
(What odds would you have gotten at the beginning of the season if
you’d have bet that Gary Sheffield would have twice as many home runs
as David Wright at this point in the season?)
 
As we go to
press, Carlos Delgado (who wasn’t doing badly when he was injured after
26 games, hitting .298 and on track for at least 120 RBIs) is taking
batting and fielding practice, and yesterday’s report on Jose Reyes is
that the strained hamstring is showing “much improvement.” But by the
time both are back in the lineup, the Mets season may be effectively
over, especially with Beltran not likely to reappear until late season
if at all. 
 
Our guess is that Jerry Manuel won’t survive the
seven-game western road trip which begins August 6 and the team will
return to New York on August 12 without him. Look for the Mets to
finish around 76-86.

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