Friday, July 20, 2012

The Reason To Doubt

I have been a die-hard, loyal Mets fan since the beginning of the 2008 season. You may ask how I got to be this much of a Met fan. Well, the truth is, The Norfolk Tides used to be the Mets Triple-A Affiliate until they went to the Orioles. My Dad grew up in Norfolk for most of his childhood, so I sort of started to follow the Tides until I found out the Shocking Truth: They were not actually an MLB team. So through some crazy reason in my young mind, I started following the Mets as I did the Tides. This little seed of a fan of the Mets then started growing. In fact, it grew so much, that it has turned into the sports obsession that I have today with the Mets. I cheer, I boo, and of course I get angry sometimes at my beloved Orange and Blue. But, in the midst of their recent 6 game losing streak, which pushed them down to 3rd in the NL East and tied for 4th in the Wild Card race I finally came to the conclusion that this is just simply not our time. Sure, it’s easy to say that we are only 3 and a half games out of making the playoffs, but really, if you combine our lineup with our brutal schedule up ahead, things don’t add up.

Terry Collins came into the job with the right mentality. He had just been hired as manager of the New York Mets on a brisk, November morning in 2010. Signing a two-year contract, Collins knew what he was getting into. He had just signed up to manage a team that was not heading in the right direction. The Mets had gone from having the best record in ’06 (97 wins) to having 79 wins in ’09. Collins knew that he would have to turn the team around or he would have the same fate as Jerry Manuel, whom Collins was replacing. In 2011, Collins led a team that was predicted last by Sports Illustrated to a forecasted 77 wins, astounding even new GM Sandy Alderson who did not believe his team would hit that level of success. Even though Terry had not led the team to more wins than in ’ 09, Sandy still wanted to keep him around. He liked what he saw in Collins. Terry took advantage of this opportunity by telling the Mets that they can be contenders and that we can “prove everybody wrong”. Well, those words of motivation have helped the Mets this year as again Sports Illustrated predicted them last in the NL East. Even so, the Mets stormed out of the gates and were 46-40 heading into the break. But then, a familiar foe showed up again.

In 2007, the Mets looked like they were going to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year for only the second time in franchise history. As September approached, the Mets had an 8 and ½ game lead over the number two team, the Phillies. Most would say that the division was locked up barring and fatal collapse in the final month of the year. Then it happened. The Mets started to fall on their faces. Losing games, bad starting pitching, and even worse hitting created the perfect storm. That 8 and ½ game lead started shrinking by the day. Mets lose. Phillies win. Mets lose. Phillies win. This pattern continued until the end of September, where the Mets saw themselves looking up at the Phillies, not down. They had just had the worse September collapse of any team in the last 100 years. They ended up losing the Wild-card spot, completing the awful month. Ever since that September, the Mets have never been as close to making the playoffs. In fact, they even collapsed the next year in September, but only losing and 5 game lead this time. Over the years, the negatives of the Mets have been bigger then positives. Since 2010, they have had a winning record in the first half of the year, only to slump in the second half, losing their swagger, and looking up at more and more teams in the East. That’s exactly what it’s looked like this year. Out of the All-Star Break, the team went 0-5, fall to 7 games behind the Nationals.

The Mets are going to need a few more pieces to fall into place before they can make a serious run at the Post Season. Trust me, I can be the most optimistic Mets fan out there, but seriously, our hopes will come crashing down on us. Here are the pieces we need before we start thinking post season.

1. Bullpen Help. This is really an easy one. Our bullpen has the highest ERA in the majors, the biggest gap in ERA between starters and the bullpen. There have been at least 16 games this year where our bullpen has given up the lead in a situation where we could have won. Possible Replacements: Brandon Fuentes, LHP, St. Louis

2. A Power Right Handed Bat. Because Jason Bay is most likely on the trading block for some Bullpen Help, we are going to need another righty that can step in there (other than David Wright) and get pitchers nervous. Possible Replacements: Jonny Gomes, A’s, Josh Willingham, Twins, and Kelly Shoppach, Red Sox.

3. A 1-2-3 Pitching Punch. Matt Harvey could easily be the third piece in the punch short term, but Johan and R.A are getting old. We have young guns in the Minors (Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler) that could help, but I have a feeling that we need one more veteran in there to help Harvey out. Possible Replacements: Ryan Dempster, Cubs, Matt Garza, Cubs.

If these final puzzle pieces fall into place within the next two years, I have hope that we could make the post season in 2014 or 2015, and make a serious run in the postseason in 2016. Ya Gotta Believe!

R.I.P Gary "The Kid" Carter #8. Never Forget Jose Reyes.

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