* A nine-game winning streak is an impressive feat, no matter who the opponents are. Yes, sweeping the Giants and the Rockies at home aren't a true measure of how good a team truly is, but it's still very encouraging because the Mets haven't shown an ability to dominate inferior teams for over a year now. Anyone would've been satisfied if the Mets had won two out of three in each series and went into the break 49-46. They went one step further in sweeping their NL West foes and deserve extra credit for doing so. The schedule will be tougher after the All-Star Break, but perhaps the newly-found confidence boost will help buoy the Mets through rougher waters.
* Fernando Tatis is having a nice run, but it doesn't mean the Mets shouldn't be pursuing a corner outfielder. Damion Easley is on a hot streak, but that doesn't mean that Luis Castillo is suddenly a forgotten man. Tatis is still a backup corner infielder and Easley is still a backup middle infielder. I hope Jerry Manuel keeps both men in the lineup until they stop producing, then immediately re-cast them in the backup roles each man is destined for.
* I have no answers about why Mike Pelfrey is suddenly pitching so well, other than to say that Rick Peterson's firing had nothing to do it. If Dan Warthen was such a genius, he wouldn't have already been fired by three other teams. As far as I can tell Pelfrey has simply excelled at keeping the ball down; I don't know if it's a mechanical adjustment or a confidence boost, but it sure doesn't seem to be any particular pitch that's doing the trick. Pelfrey still needs to develop an out pitch against lefties to have sustained success, but it's hard not to be excited by his recent success.
* Oldtimers love to wax poetic about how the game has changed since they played. Goose Gossage is one of the worst offenders in this respect; Gossage acts like he was some type of Iron Man who pitched three innings a day, every day, with the bases loaded and nobody out to start every inning. And yes, Gossage did have a lot of multi-inning saves - 125 of which went two or more innings.
Mariano Rivera is undoubtedly more specialized, but that's the fault of his managers and the foolish direction that reliever usage has gone. Tony LaRussa made a smart move to deploy Dennis Eckersley in the way that he did hen managing the late 1980s Oakland A's, to save Eckersley's arm and preserve maximum effectiveness. The rest of the league somehow missed the memo that these were specifically "Eckersley Rules," created because of a vulnerability in one individual, and decided to deploy their closer the same way. I think the current deployment of closers is the dumbest intentional misuse of a player in all of baseball.
Rivera has had only 11 saves of two or more innings in his career (not including the 12 he had in the playoffs). The game has changed, which is why Mariano doesn't pitch more innings, but for my money he is still the best reliever to ever play the game. By the way, one of my pet peeves is when fans espouse the importance of the closer by pointing to Rivera's effect on the Yankee championship teams in the late 1990s. How foolish - Mariano Rivera was merely the greatest and most dominant post-season pitcher in baseball history. No one will come along in our lifetimes that will ever compare. Unless Mariano Rivera is your closer, it is simply asinine to even deploy your best reliever in such an overly specialized role, let alone paying him $10 million a year to do so.