It’s been an interesting two months or so as a Met fan blathering off into the blogosphere. Not only has the team (this weekend notwithstanding) been playing better than expected thanks to good/lucky pitching and solid defense, the Mets brass have been, well, logical.

Rewind back to Opening Day and maybe you’ll understand.

When the Mets took the field for the first official game of 2010 on April 5th, here was their lineup:

1. Alex Cora – SS
2. Luis Castillo – 2B
3. David Wright – 3B
4. Mike Jacobs – 1B
5. Jason Bay – LF
6. Gary Matthews, Jr – CF
7. Jeff Francoeur – RF
8. Rod Barajas – C
9. Johan Santana – P

Their leadoff, cleanup, six, seven, eight and nine spots were taken up by players whose OBP may not crack .300. The SS, 2B, 1B, LF, and CF positions were manned by players who were defensive liabilities. And their rotation contained John Maine and Oliver Perez, who no one expected to succeed in 2010, if ever again. To put it bluntly, it was pretty dismal. And the initial results were predictably underwhelming.

But slowly but surely, the very changes that we the internet fans were clamoring for were (most likely coincidentally) being implemented. Mike Jacobs was sent down to AAA, and rookie Ike Davis (who I must admit is doing much better than I thought) was called up. Angel Pagan became the everyday CFer in Carlos Beltran’s absence and is currently in the top 20 in National League WAR. Both Maine and Perez were “DLed” (wink, wink) and their replacements – Hisanori Takahashi and R.A. Dickey – are sporting ERAs of 3.13 and 2.82 respectively. And when Luis Castillo predictably went down with an injury, the team called up 20-yo Ruben Tejada, instead of giving the job to veteran Alex Cora, who can neither hit nor field.

Despite this, the one lingering mistake that management just refused to remedy was Jenrry Mejia. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mejia, he’s the organization’s top pitching prospect and it’s not too difficult to see how he earned that moniker. The 20-yo has a mid-high 90s fastball with very good movement, accompanied by a developing changeup and curveball. Problem is, he can’t locate and his minor league numbers backed that up.

And yet, the Mets fell for that arm during Spring Training when Mejia managed to limit his walks and rack up the Ks against mostly minor-league bound players.   NY sportswriters creamed themselves and began penning articles like “It’s Mejia Time”, and that he is NECESSARY in the Mets’ BULLPEN for the team to have a shot this year. That’s right. Bullpen. And Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel bought into it, going so far as to say things like in the pen, Mejia DOESN’T HAVE TO USE HIS SECONDARY PITCHES, meaning they don’t get any better.

So what happened in the first 3 months of the season? Manuel stressed the importance of having Mejia in the pen, and yet only brought him into mop-up situations.

To recap – best pitching prospect in the organization gets his arbitration clock started because the Mets felt that he was badly needed in the bullpen to help finish up games that were out of reach, telling him “screw the off-speed, just throw fastballs”. It was maddening.

But finally, the Mets made the right decision and optioned Mejia back to AA so he can actually learn how to pitch. Phew.

Met fans have a right to gripe about the missteps (and there were many) made by Minaya and Manuel during their respective tenures. But for the first time in a really long time, the team has a roster that the fans would find logical. That’s a big step forward for us. The team’s infield is currently constructed entirely of homegrown players and it’s been a lot of fun to watch them succeed. Moreover, the organization is seeing that it’s unnecessary to pay millions for veterans when cost-effective and capable players are right under their noses. The success of these younger players bodes very well as examples of sensible alternatives when future decisions arise.

Maybe I’ll change my tune in a couple of weeks when the trade deadline nears and the Mets find themselves with a great shot for a playoff berth. But for now, I’m pretty content with what we have based on my preseason pessimism. It’s actually kinda good to be a Met fan right now.

2 Responses to “It’s Good To Be A Met Fan Right Now (Sort of)”

  1. Seeing that picture makes me happy to not be a Mets fan…

  2. I deleted Mike’s comment.

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