When does the baseball season truly begin? When it comes to the attention of the average sports fan, the baseball season really gets underway at that point in June when the hockey and basketball playoffs have just ended. At that very moment when Sahsa Vujicic hit those free throws to finish off the Celtics, suddenly baseball became the only game in town, the one horse in the sports game.
In that spirit, I view the Mets season up until now as preamble. Yes they have been one of the hottest teams in baseball of late. They have also had some dismal lows. The most recent of which being Sunday’s 4-0 loss to the Yankees, which allowed the Pinstripers to take 2 of 3 from the Metties. Johan Santana has had a little bit of a salami issue this year, as Mark Teixeira’s bases emptying homer was Johan’s third of the year. Oh well its better than letting up a salami to a pitcher (see last year’s episode involving Felix Hernandez.)
Its been widely reported that Santana has lost some velocity this year. Whether its slower pitches, poorer location or just a penchant for challenging hitters when he should tiptoe around them, Santana’s sporadic ineffectiveness tops the list of my main worries coming into the the real start of the season, namely:
1) Johan not being so dependable.
2) Carlos Beltran coming back but not being his usual dynamic self.
3) Jeff Francoeur striking out too many times.
4) David Wright going back into his emotional shell when the chips are down.
5) Who’s playing second base?
But then I think about all the hopes I have that have been triggered by surprising high notes in the season so far…consider the list of players that have highly outperformed expectations so far this season, and how much of a positive impact this has had…
FIVE OVERACHIEVING 2010 METS:
1) Angel Pagan
2) Hisanori Takahashi
3) Mike Pelfrey
4) R.A. Dickey
5) Rod Barrajas
It swells Met fans hearts with pride to think of the unexpectedly powerful contributions of these five. Not included on the list is the remarkable poised and capable rookie Ike Davis, who, despite some occasional contributions, really seems like he is only scratching the surface of his talent thus far.
Add it all up and you gotta admit the Mets are in better shape now than they appeared to be on paper when this campaign got underway. The 5 overachievers listed above have shifted the focus of the team faster than you could say “Ollie Perez” - shifted the emphasis away from the dysfunctional underperformers that have characterized a disappointing few seasons leading up to today.
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Written by Mark Reichman