Ain’t nothing about this phony

[New York Metropolitans]
Looking at the standings with 5% of the season completed, who’s the best team in baseball? This season is the most excited I’ve been for Mets baseball since the ’99 campaign, when New York sported the best defensive infield (ever?) and ended an 11 year postseason drought.

Despite questions about personnel (Julio over Bell? Hernandez over Keppinger?) and lineup construction (couldn’t we drop LoDuca to 7?), this team will go as far as the starting pitching takes them. The offense should score runs in bunches. Beltran, Delgado, Wright, and Floyd comprise the most dangerous string of hitters in the NL, and Reyes, LoDuca, and Nady are fine complementary pieces. The bullpen is reasonably solid from back to front with Wagner, Heilman, Sanchez, and Bradford. But there are concerns at all five spots in the rotation:

  • Pedro is fragile. And without Pedro, this team is in big trouble.
  • Each of Glavine’s seasons with the Mets have been lights out one half, lit up the other. Will this be the year he puts two solid halves together?
  • Zambrano is the definition of inconsistent. Not only from game to game, but inning to inning. When he’s on, he’s as good as anyone. But there’s no way to predict when that will be.
  • Trachsel eats innings, generally effectively. But he’s coming off back surgery, and hey, it’s Steve Trachsel, not Steve Carlton.
  • Bannister was excellent in spring training and was good in his first two starts, but hitters will adjust during his second pass facing the league.
  • It would be a huge advantage if Julio or Bell developed into a reliable option in relief, so that Heilman could be moved into the rotation, if necessary, with no ill-effects on the ‘pen. However, even with these potential problems, the Mets are a serious playoff contender. The NL is quite weak outside of St. Louis, and their offense should provide enough run support to get through a rough patch here and there by the rotation.

    Before the season started, I said the Mets were the best team in the league on paper, and they’re backing it up on the field. If Cliff Floyd is right that “Ain’t nothing about this phony,” then it’s going to be a great summer.

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