Mets Rumors & News
This entry was posted on Monday, July 7th, 2008 at 8:15 pm and is filed under Baseball, Mets Rumors & News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

It’s safe to say that for the New York Mets‘ players, fans and front office, the season to date has not gone according to plan. Expectations -like the payroll- are very high and the vision Mets supporters had in the spring has not matched the reality of the present. The preferred blueprint would have included among other things: a healthy Moises Alou batting in the middle of the line-up and driving in runs, Aaron Heilman returning to his 2006 form and teaming up with Duaner Sanchez to dominate the 7th and 8th innings, Luis Castillo providing steady defense at second base and Ryan Church adding depth and pop to the bottom of the batting order.

Well, that blueprint has gone up in flames.

While hovering around .500 for what seems like forever, the Mets have, out of necessity changed course. For better or worse, the Mets hopes now hinge on a group of role players now asked to do more than what was originally expected of them. Whether its due to injuries (Alou, Castillo, Church) or ineffectiveness, (Heilman) Damion Easley, Fernando Tatis and Joe Smith among others have been thrust into key roles that will determine if the Mets will go to the playoffs or go home when the calender turns to October.

So far these unlikely heroes have been up to the task. Damion Easley, seeing increased playing time due to Castillo’s cranky knees, has been one of the Mets hottest hitters, batting .364 over the last 30 days and .440 in July. As part of the meltdown that affected the entire bullpen last season, Joe Smith wasn’t expected to make the roster coming out of spring training. After coming on strong toward the end of camp, he seemed slated for long relief and mop-up duty. When Aaron Heilman began to give up homeruns at the worst possible times, Smith became the right-handed specialist and occasional 8th inning bridge to closer Billy Wagner. Although Smith had some rough moments in June where he pitched to an ERA of 4.50, he has gotten off to a strong start in July, allowing only one run so far in five innings of work. Fernando Tatis is the most surprising contributor. After losing out to Brady Clark for one of the final spots on the roster in the spring, Tatis was called up to Flushing in May to add depth to an depleted bench. With Alou and Church both spending more time on the disabled list than on the field, Tatis has filled in at both corner oufield spots. While his overall numbers haven’t been earth shattering, Tatis has shown a flair for the dramatic with two game winning hits to date.

Can these spare parts continue at this pace? It doesn’t seem likely. Easley in his 18th season as a major leaguer could break down at any moment. Joe Smith’s second half collapse still lingers. The last time Tatis played more than 50 Major League Baseball games, it was for a team named the Montreal Expos. With that said, losing a 7 game lead with 17 games left didn’t seem likely.Expos fever, catch it!!

It’s obvious that the Mets cannot win with only Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran. And there is no guaruntee that the high profile supporting cast members like Castillo, Church or Alou will be healthy or productive enough to have a significant impact on this season. So the Mets trudge on as they attempt to get back in the race for the National League East, taking a route they didn’t plan, but is the only one available.

There are currently 2 responses to “The Unusual Suspects”

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  1. 1 On July 7th, 2008, J Atwood said:

    In what blueprint would anyone count on Moises Alou being healthy? That guy hasn’t been healthy in years.

  2. 2 On July 8th, 2008, Kwame Flaherty said:

    I completely agree. Thats why they’re called fanatics I guess..

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