After a terrific June in which the team went 18-8, the Mets followed up with a brutal July, in which they posted a dismal 9-17 record. Everyone points to the 2-9 road trip that opened up the second half of the season but the bad play started before the break, when the Mets went 2-4 in a six-game homestand. And the road trip could have been a bit more respectable save for a terrible record in one-run games. The Mets went 1-5 in one-run games on their West Coast swing.
The entire Mets’ staff had a 3.58 ERA in July and deserved a better fate than a .346 winning percentage. Johan Santana was the only pitcher with a Won-Loss record to match his stats. He went 3-0 with a 2.06 ERA in the month. And his ERA was only that high due to a meltdown versus the Cardinals in his last start in July, It appears the new Santana will give the Mets a chance to win nearly every time out, but when he’s off, he will get beat around pretty bad.
R.A. Dickey continued to pitch like an All-Star, as he posted a 1.51 ERA with a 2.67 K/BB ratio in six games covering 41.2 innings. Yet somehow he had a 1-2 record in July. Jonathon Niese fared a little better as his 2.48 ERA and 3.86 K/BB ratio translated into a 2-2 record. Niese is quietly having a terrific rookie season and in a normal year he would be one of the frontrunners for the Rookie of the Year Award.
Only one hitter had an outstanding month for the Mets and few should be surprised it was Angel Pagan. He posted a .337/.402/.594 slash line in July. He also scored 15 runs and was successful on 9 of his 10 SB attempts. Remember when Pagan was not good enough to start on Opening Day? Or how about when people thought that he should go to the bench when Carlos Beltran returned? Do you recall when some thought he should platoon with Jeff Francoeur? Hopefully all of that nonsense has been permanently put to bed.
Ike Davis had 6 HR, 18 RBIs and 13 runs. He also batted .214 with a .287 OBP and struck out a team-leading 28 times. David Wright batted .296 with 14 RBIs and 13 runs. He also had just a .797 OPS. Josh Thole had a .426 OBP and even hit a HR while choking up more than anyone since Felix Millan. Alleged to be a defensive liability, Thole now is the personal catcher for Dickey, the toughest pitcher on the staff to catch.
The Mets had a .227/.293/.353 slash line for July. Pretty much every hitter besides Pagan deserves some sort of mention in this section. Beltran got off to a slow start in his return from the DL, as he had a .204/.313/.333 mark in 15 games. At least he seems healthy enough to be on the field and has 2 doubles, a triple, a HR and 9 BB in 64 PA.
Second base was a vortex of suck for the month. Luis Catillo led the way with a .545 OPS in 46 PA. Alex Cora was even worse with a .161/.203/.250 line in 59 PA. And bringing up the rear was Ruben Tejada with a .108/.244/.108 ledger in 47 PA. But at least he can use the defense that he is only 20 years old. When Castillo was 20, he did not fare much better with a .625 OPS in 180 PA with the Marlins. Cora had a .623 OPS in the Hi-A Florida State League at the same age.
Pedro Feliciano gets his name called on a regular basis but has not been good for awhile. In July he was 0-3 with a 5.23 ERA with 7 BB in 10.1 IP. Feliciano wants to be an all-purpose reliever but he is still best utilized as a situational lefty. This year RHB have an .875 OPS against him. But against LHB, Feliciano has a .238/.307/.338 line despite a .322 BABIP.
Jeff Francoeur batted .132 with a .206 slugging mark in 73 PA. He is hitless in his last 15 at-bats and is making the club long for the return of Jason Bay, who posted a .194/.266/.250 line before being sidelined with a concussion.
Teflon Mike Pelfrey went 0-3 with a 10.02 ERA in the month but continues to get a free ride from most of the faithful. In 20.2 IP, Pelfrey allowed 13 BB and notched just 10 Ks. Last year after the All-Star break, Pelfrey had a 5.67 ERA yet remained in the rotation because he was the only one healthy. Hopefully Manuel will not hesitate to remove him in 2010 if he continues to pitch this poorly. Pat Misch is 10-4 with a 3.24 ERA at Triple-A. Realistically, Misch is not a long-term answer, but he would give the club a better chance to win games right now than Pelfrey.
Most fans were disappointed that the Mets stood still at the deadline. It has typically been the M.O. of general manager Omar Minaya to make his big moves in the offseason, so it should not be a surprise. Plus, there continue to be rumors that the Mets were unable to add payroll, further limiting the moves that Minaya might make.
The team is on the fringe of playoff contention, 6.5 games back both in the NL East and the Wild Card standings. Given their position, it would have been questionable at best to acquire a mid-rotation starter at big money for a long-shot playoff berth. The Mets will have to play the guys they have and hope that the offense can bounce back. There are still 22 games left against the Braves and Phillies, so the Mets might have a better shot at the division title than the Wild Card.