Cracks Appearing In 2012 Mets’ Feel-Good Story

Regression to the mean can be a cruel thing. Maybe that’s why it’s called “mean.” The Mets seem to be running full-speed, headlong in that direction.

Since busting out 4-0 against Atlanta and Washington, Terry Collins’s crew has gone a definition-of-mediocre 18-20. Much as I hate to say it, perhaps the preseason prognosticators were right: weak starting pitching, a not-improved bullpen and a spotty offense have conspired to dim the hopes and slight bravado of the early going. No one is immune. Even the magnificent Johan Santana has fallen prey to the whimsy of .500. To quote my friend Jason Fry of Faith and Fear in Flushing, “You can’t blow a four-run lead against the Pirates.” Yes, these guys have a lot of that indescribable whatever, variously called “grit,” “heart,” “hunger,” or my personal favorite, “resilience.” They are also very, very young. In their eagerness, they are prone to young player-type mistakes. Kirk Nieuwenhuis doesn’t yell loud enough to stave off Mike Baxter and Pittsburgh’s eventual winning run is birthed. Lucas Duda only sticks a hand up and only barely avoids Nieuwenhuis barreling into him. Daniel Murphy double-clutches and gets one out instead of a crucial DP. An overamped Mike Nickeas tosses one into centerfield on a steal attempt. Ike Davis continues to swing at pitches three feet out of the strike zone.

Collins has done a better-than-expected job of keeping all the pieces mostly together, but injuries and ineffectiveness are taking their toll and of course, talent tells more often than not. Save for Santana, R.A. Dickey and the phenomenal David Wright, the Mets don’t have much of it. Some of their more promising parts – Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada — are on the shelf right now and quite frankly, one wouldn’t think their absence would have such an impact. It’s not like they’re missing Johnny Bench and Dave Concepcion. And yes, their most promising parts are ripening in the wilds of Buffalo, Binghamton and points south. I’m generally a patient man, but right now, I wish they had a hothouse to speed the process. It may be time to chalk up 2012 as a “growth year,” be happy with the strides that have been made and take our lumps for the next 120 games. I had thought this year could be 1984. I was off by a year, it seems.

I just wish they could have made it past Memorial Day before this came clear.

13 comments for “Cracks Appearing In 2012 Mets’ Feel-Good Story

  1. jerseymet
    May 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Yes it was a bad game. Other games will be better. Not all the young players will work out. So keep bringing new ones. What I don’t like is ineffective veterans taking up room. Sandy’s makeshift signings are not working out. Move them on. Play the rookies.

  2. Metsense
    May 23, 2012 at 8:17 am

    It is a transition season with the hope of being more. They are only 1 game out of the wildcard, in a division with all teams above .500, the bulk of their schedule! It is only one really bad game. Keep the faith and enjoy what you are seeing. These players are not the final pieces to the puzzle, just some are. The cracks did not just appear, they were always there especially the pitching and defense. -21 run differential should be proof of that but it is also proof that there is no sabermetric statistic for determination and spirit.

  3. BOGEYMET
    May 23, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Really ? The Mets are 3 games over .500 and Charlie’s writing the season off. Good thing this Mets team has more heart than this guy. Thank God he wasn’t around for the ’73 season. Probably wrote the Giants off after the Jets loss too. The Mets may or may not fall off, but I for one, will be rooting like the Mets actually have a chance this year….Isn’t that what its all about ?

    • BOGEYMET
      May 23, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Correction. When the Giants lost to the Eagles. DUH.

  4. JRuss
    May 23, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Remember the season is only 1/4 over!! We’ll see how it goes during the summer. The bullpen has to get better or just consistant. The NL East is at this point still a horse race. The Phillies will get better and the Nats may come back down to earth and just maybe the injury bug will hit someone else. Let’s not start the doom and gloom yet. This Mets team is very competative.

    • BOGEYMET
      May 23, 2012 at 10:24 am

      that’s all I’m saying…Let’s go Mets !

  5. jeff scott
    May 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I am not ready to write this season off. I think the Mets have a chance only three games out a quarter of the way in. I think it is time for Collins to make some decisions, send Ike down, his fielding does not make up for his dismal hitting approach, he will be back, the longer they wait the further he will slide. He waves at the outside pitch, he has no chance to hit. Send Nickeas down, no team can hide a 150 hitter. Bench Torres, he looks lost, platnoon him with Kirk. With Duda at first the spot for Bay opens up, good or bad he is going to play. I think Acosta needs to go or be sent down, he is too inconsistent. Whether Hefner or others are the answer lets try them, cannot be much worse. it was good to see Franscisco get the in order last night, hope he can build on that.

  6. Chris
    May 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    We all for sure fell in love with the April version of the team…and for a moment really believed that this could be an Orioles or National story. Well, for sure that could not be, but lets still be celebrating where we are (2 Ws in Pitt, 3-3 road trip and SD coming in for 4) 3 over 500 when every measure would have put the Mets somewhere in Padres country. If we come to June 6 over 500, can we say thats a bad place? I agonize that we could easily have a half dozen more wins, but a team this young is bound to be learning. Lets not forget how good Thole and Tejada were 3 weeks back…Ill be delighted to have that production and defense back.

    On the plus side: Capt Kirk is still good value and Mike Baxter has really done amazing stuff. Rob Johnson has done good in a huge pinch as has Ronny Cedeno. DW has made it clear that hes the real deal. And Murph may not be BP at 2B, but Ive stopped sweating on grounders to the right side. RA is doing awesome and it was 50/50 Johan would even be able to get back—but not too bad at all. The team has done a number of basics much better, like bunting. TC can win playing small ball. Everything I hear say the clubhouse atmosphere is great.

    That said, passing the quarter-pole its not possible to hide the defects. Ike is an unmitigated disaster. Its time to go back to Buffalo and figure it all back out. Watching him bail against lefty’s makes me cringe. Dud-a really needs to find the power and plate presence again. Pitching, a thing Ive been all a-muss about for some time remains the key gap here…rotation or pen. Both suck as a whole. I see no way around it. Warthen needs to be canned. The lack of power at the plate is sad too.

    I say its Ike to Buff. Duda or Bax to 1B. Kirk getting most starts in CF with Torres as back-up, Bax or Duda in RF, and Bay in LF (for the moment). Bay and Torres need to compete for a starting spot.

    With SD coming in for 4, and having jut taken 2-3 from Pitt—the Mets could be 6 or 7 north of 500 for June (which looks like BAD news), and Id be happy with that. Sandy knows just where the issues that need fixing are.

    • Metsense
      May 23, 2012 at 7:39 pm

      Great summary Chris. Only issue is that Bay has the highest OPS among the Torres, Duda and Nieuwenhuis and dare I say (the man screaming to platoon him since last winter) he deserves to play until he proves he can’t hit righties.

  7. Chris F
    May 25, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Let me reiterate…I believe Sandy better address the pitching situation.

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