Since I last said anything about them, the Mets have been playing .500 ball, gaining dominant wins over St. Louis and then Atlanta, before losing to Atlanta twice. The two losses seemed mainly to do with breakdowns of their defense and bullpen, whereas the victories seemed defined by commanding offensive performance coupled with solid starting pitching. This is, more or less, what we are lead to expect from the team: we are told that their line-up is the most powerful in the National League, and team officials see this as mitigating any shortcomings from pitching and defense. When they all hit, the Mets are fairly close to unbeatable- but all offences are prone to periods of stagnation, and over the course of 162 games, the laws of probability indicate that there will be a bunch of them where they don’t hit, or don’t hit very much- and these are games that the Mets have a perfectly decent chance of losing, at least until Mota, Sanchez, and Pedro get back.
Looking back at yesterday’s game, it seemed obvious that Willie Randolph has been reading this blog, and took to heart my thoughts on the desirability of having David Wright hit in the two-hole. With Lo Duca taking the day off, Randolph had Jose Valentin (who did miserably) batting second, and Wright, same as ever, hitting fifth. Shawn Green had better be extremely careful.
Reflecting on today’s home opener, and the six games that preceded it, it seems that the thing that Mets fans should hope for most fervently is the emergence of either John Maine or Oliver Perez as the real ace on the rotation. This is in no way a criticism of Glavine or El Duque: both of them are, and have been, great pitchers and will be both useful and essential to the team this season. The best thing that can be said for either of the youngsters is that they have shown that they might, at some point, be capable of doing what El Duque and Glavine have already done: survive in the big leagues for many years as an unquestionably dominant pitcher. At least the potential to do this has been shown by both Maine and Perez, and the chance to see how they perform over a full season is one of the most exciting things about the 2007 Mets.