|Amazinâ€™ Start to 2010||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on April 30, 2010
Way back in 2004 Mets owner Fred Wilpon had a goal for this team.Â He wanted the team to play "meaningful games in September;" right now many of us can't believe that they are still playing meaningful games at the end of April.Â After two seasons of collapse and a season of catastrophe the 2010 Mets looked dead in the water coming out of Spring Training.
After all, the injury-decimated Mets didn't have the offense, didn't have the pitching, didn't have the heart, the spunk, or the off the field leadership to do more than try to stay out of the cellar this year.Â And through the first 12 games of the season it didn't even look like they could do that.
And pitching is what has carried them into this weekend series in Philadelphia as the first place team in the NL East.Â While it's easy to predict that they won't be in first place following the weekend set, it was impossible to predict that the Mets would still be relevant to discuss, just 30 days into the season.
Can this continue?Â Maybe, and the biggest reason might be the one that most fans and pundits overlooked this offseason when we were busy condemning the Mets front office.Â Â That reason is Citi Field, a park that wasn't designed for a team that could crush the ball, but one that could pitch, run and play small ball whenever possible, the antithesis of the 2008-2009 power fueled lineups that the team at least on paper sported.
It may be accidental, but it may be genius too, because we missed the obvious: These Mets are built to play the game differently than the teams of the past decade.Â Moves that seemed lateral, or even poor, like the acquisition of Jeff Francoeur, are paying dividends, and even small ball specialist Luis Castillo seems to fit this team better.
A big part of that may be driven by the new team leaders in Jason Bay and Francoeur who've added their voices to that of David Wright in refocusing the team on winning and playing hard, and who now appear to be the front men in dealing with the media.Â That's a big change from the whining that we used to hear when Carlos Delgado was the self appointed media spokesman.
In fact it's downright positive, as are many of the things that are going right for the Mets so far.Â Jose Reyes is finally back.Â Ike Davis has finally arrived to give the fans a taste of the future.Â Mike Pelfrey is evolving into the starter the team always hoped he'd be when it vehemently refused to include him in past trades.Â Jonathan Niese seems to Major League ready.Â Ollie Perez seems to be less of a headcase than he was last year (when they demoted him for most of the season) and even John Maine is coming off of three good starts.
In fact, things seem to be falling into place almost too well and all of this is before Carlos Beltran comes off the DL.Â Call it smoke and mirrors at this point, but every win still counts and Mets certainly have a history of making the improbable happen.
Of course the team has glaring weaknesses, including that lack of power which will be more and more apparent on the road.Â But so far the cracks haven't showed much and Mets fans are elated that the team is playing meaningful games at the end of April and moving into May.
It might all come crashing down, maybe even this weekend in Philadelphia.Â You only need to speak to the fans to realize they are realistic and understand that this could be little more than a house of cards.Â But in what appears to be the weakest National League in a very long time, maybe, just maybe finishing a handful of games over .500 could at least keep you in the mix the Wild Card (the Phillies are clearly the class of the NL) and a few games over .500 would be far more than most fans thought this Mets team could accomplish.