Originally posted on MetsZilla  |  Last updated 4/16/13
Baseball is a conundrum. Great hitters fail to get hits in about two-thirds of their at-bats. The best teams win two out of every three games. The worst teams lose two out of every three. The pundit class says the 2013 Mets are supposed to lose due to a lack of offense and a questionable bullpen. In reality, for the first two weeks of the campaign, the Amazins are winning due to leading the NL in runs scored, a daily dinger or two, and sporting a bullpen that has been more than respectable. They also have the most exciting young pitcher in the game. So, what exactly has been revealed in the course of 11 games? ***************************************************** THE GOOD Take My Breath Away Faster than a speeding locomotive. Able to command four pitches and expand strike zones like a wily vet. It’s smart and cocky Connecticut native—Matt Harvey, the ‘once every twenty-year’ phenom Mets fans have been awaiting with baited breath. Buckshots John Buck came to the Mets as a salary dump in the deal that sent R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays. At best, he was a placeholder for Travis d’Arnaud and then destined to be d’Arnaud’s tutor for the balance of the season. But Buck, who has been reunited with childhood friend Brandon Lyon, has found his power stroke and continues to impress with his bat, while masterly handling the pitching staff. Can it last? In spite of all the ‘over-the-hill’ speculation, the guy is only 32 and clearly not ready to throw in the towel. Murph Rakes Does anyone doubt that when this season ends, Daniel Murphy will lead the Mets in multiple-hit games and with surging power? Photo taken by Michael Baron Spinning Wheels You have to hand it to Jordany Valdespin, who in spite of being put on the pine to begin the season, has played his way into a platoon role in CF, and a leading role off what may well be an overachieving bench, which includes Justin Turner, Mike Baxter and his platoon-mate Collin Cowgill. Valdespin brings pure energy and athleticism to his endeavors and more than a modicum of serious skills and flair. And lets not forget those wheels. Great Scotts A couple of interesting middle relief pieces—Scott Atchison and Scott Rice—have really delivered the goods. Both have played hardball long enough to know that effective pitchers keep the ball just out of the strike zone and in the dirt as often as possible. On Schedule Lets face it, except for the frigid temps of Minnesota and Denver beckoning, the schedule makers have been pretty good to a team looking to start the season on an up note. Things will get more dicey starting this coming Friday. But an infusion of arm could be on the horizon from Shaun Marcum, Colin McHugh or Zach Wheeler. This is precisely why the Mets are not looking outside the organization for starting pitching. ***************************************************** THE BAD Photo taken by Michael Baron Wasted Space Wasting Ruben Tejada at the bottom of the order makes little sense. Here’s a guy who leads MLB in putting balls in play and seeing pitches. Getting him into the two-hole is imperative to bolstering the lineup. That would mean dropping Murph to the three-hole and Wright to cleanup, but so be it. Davis and Duda can split time between 5 and 7 and Buck and Byrd and do the same in the 6th and 8th holes. With Valdespin & Cowgill platooning at leadoff, there would be a very balanced and effective lineup bolstered even further by two on-base machines in Baxter and Turner. Speaking of Tejada What gives with his defense? Ruben is having some trouble moving to his left and throwing to 1B. Perhaps too much spring training. Next year, it’s OK if he reports on time instead of two weeks early. Back to Back No More The consecutive performances by Gee and Hefner in Philadelphia were as bad as it gets. Breaking them up with a southpaw or hard-thrower is a must. Laffey is pretty much a left-handed version of those two. There is probably not a rotation spot more taylor-made for Zach Wheeler than the 4th starter on the Mets. Will Alderson wait for Super-Two? Or will he make the inevitable move after Wheeler has about a dozen AAA starts under his belt? Marcum’s status doesn’t really matter, as he will slot into the 3rd or 5th slot and push Laffey to Las Vegas. ***************************************************** THE UGLY Duda’s Glove With anyone else in LF, the Mets are a decent to above average defensive club. With Lucas Duda, they are well below average. In the NL, it is impossible to hide a bad glove and nothing more than DHing Lucas against AL clubs will suffice. The best thing that can happen is that Duda has an explosive first three months at the plate and Alderson & Co. can move him to an AL club looking for a first sacker and/or DH. We Like Ike, But… This early season tribulations of Ike Davis are starting to grate on the faithful. Perhaps Ike needs to rub shoulders with his batting coach and actually listen to what Dave Hudgens suggests. We can be sure he is not suggesting the incredible dropping of Ike’s hands, nor the strange batting stances well off the plate. What it seems is that Davis may be more than a tad un-coachable. Clearly, he has got to get his hands up, move closer to the plate and stop being his own coach. ***************************************************** All the naysayers are waiting for the shoe to drop, but the truth if the matter is the Mets have a couple of stoppers at the top of the rotation and are awaiting the dual entry of Marcum and Wheeler. The infield is reasonably tight, the outfield is a work in progress and the bullpen is improved. No reason to change anything too drastically at this point. The Mets even have some injury depth at Las Vegas with Satin (absolutely tearing it up at the plate) and Lutz to backup the corner infield spots, Quintanilla, Bixler, Havens and Hicks up the middle and plenty of catchers. There is also Jeurys Familia in case LaTroy Hawkins continues to show his age. With an overabundance of arms in the system, Alderson can afford to package one or two with a some other prospects for a CarGon or Stanton, but putting both Wheeler and d’Arnaud in such a package might be a bit hasty, but not out of the question for Giancarlo. The nice thing about the current outfield is that there are two pretty interesting platoons in place with Baxter/Byrd and Valdespin/Cowgill. A power-hitting, above average (defensively) corner outfielder to replace Duda, would be a welcome and necessary roster addition. ****************************************************** “42″ In spite of the big buildup and pinpoint timing of “42,” for those of us who are baseball-centric and remember Jackie Robinson even as a retired player, the film is a bit of a dud. For youngsters and the non-baseball acclimated, it may be a far different and more fascinating story. Sure seems that the writer/director, Brian Helgeland, and the producers, could have done some snooping around for more background. Rachel Robinson and several others must have more to offer than what is being fed to the audience in this good-looking production. Jack Roosevelt Robinson was a far more complex and introspective person than the depiction in this film, where he appears to be Branch Rickey’s puppet. Rickey is a fascinating character in the annals of baseball history and he too is short-shrifted in this biopic. Robinson was haunted by the demons of his experiences as an African American in the army, as well as in the Negro Leagues and MLB. He may have been even more haunted by what seemed to him to be the exceedingly slow pace of civil rights reform in the 1950s and 60s, not to mention the lack of persons of color in management and administration of baseball, something he did not live to see. Many say, the burdens he carried led to his untimely demise. To be sure, a two-year snippet of Jackie Robinson leaves a real baseball fan a bit short and desirous of more.    
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