Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Something Tells Me I'm Into Something Good

I'm finally starting to get excited.

Watching the Mets finish off their sweep of one of the best teams in the National League in their home stadium finally stirred something inside of me today. It took a come-from-behind win on Monday, an extra innings thriller on Tuesday and finally, an easy romp on Wednesday to complete a very successful 6-2 road trip. The Mets come home from Milwaukee with a three-game lead over the Phillies and a fan base that is slowly allowing itself to shrug off the devastation of last year's collapse.

The starting pitching looks exceptional at times, and it seems like every night there's a chance to see someone spin seven innings of shutout ball. The lineup is healthy and hitting the ball well. Even the much-maligned bullpen is holding its own, although Jerry Manuel is doing far too much mixing and matching for my tastes.

The New York Mets are a dangerous team, and for the first time this season I'm starting to believe that they are a playoff team.

The Mets still aren't the best team in the National League. Chicago is the class of the Senior Circuit and my pick to make it to the World Series. The Cubs' lineup is simply devastating, and if Carlos Zambrano is healthy, their starting pitching is no joke either. A three-man grouping of Zambrano, Rich Harden and Ted Lilly is on par with Santana, Perez and Pelfrey. Don't even bother comparing bullpens - Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol are light-years beyond anything the Mets can throw at you.

The Brewers, despite playing the victims this week, competed in a three-game series without starting their best pitcher - CC Sabathia. The big lefty is the best pitcher in the National League right now and I would hate to see him three times in a seven-game series. The Cubs are in a different stratosphere, but the Mets and the Brewers are two evenly matched teams with similar flaws - specifically, an untrustworthy bullpen.

Arizona is doing everything it can to hold off the Dodgers in the NL West and they probably will. The Diamondbacks aren't a bad team - I happen to think they are better than their record indicates - and a rotation of Brandon Webb-Dan Haren-Randy Johnson can take care of anyone in a short series.

No matter. The Mets are a team to be reckoned with, and if they hold off the Phillies in the East they will be just as dangerous as anyone else when playoff time rolls around. Something tells me that this September won't bring the same heartache that the previous one did.


tim said...

I'm not ready to call the Cubs world beaters until both Zambrano and Harden (who they are pushing back a start) have a clean bill of health.

Two things. Don't you think that the rest of the league is a little worried about seeing Santana three times and Pelfrey twice in a series? They are two of the best pitchers in the majors right now. I've always thought, which is what raised my frustration to incredible heights early this season that the Mets are actually the best team in the league. When they all is said and done I'll take the lineup and rotation over anyone elses. The bullpen will remain dicey, but I have to believe that Heilman and Sanchez have a month and a half of 2006 left in their arms, and Ayala has plenty of experience closing out games if need be. If Wagner comes back healthy he could be an x factor that galvanizes the pen. I just wish Manuel would use all these extra guys, Rincon, Parnell, Reyes et al in gravy games like yesterday's to rest a guy like Sanchez. And I also hope he remembers that even though guys like Schoeneweis are being paid through next year, that doesn't mean they have to be on the playoff roster. The best/hottest arms should be in that pen come playoff time.

Judge Roughneck said...

Here's the thing. Santana won't start three games in a seven-game series. I don't believe Manuel will put him in that position, because everyone seems to think he's been treated with kid gloves for too long and so no one can ask him to man up at this point. Ayala's only closing experience has been this past month, and he's been overused AND he has a leg injury, so I am very skeptical about how much he can contribute for the rest of the season.

I agree that the playoff roster should have nothing to do with salary and everything to do with performance.

tim said...

He closed games with the Expos, did he not. You make a good point about Santana, but I don't think you'll see CC start 3 games either.

James Allen said...

CC might, as the Brewers have nothing invested in him beyond this season.

But hey, the Mets have to get to the playoffs (and play the first round) before they worry about NLCS matchups. Sorry Jack, I just ain't convinced that they won't blow it again, and nothing short of a sweep this weekend will get me really going. The only slightly saving grace seem to be that the Phils don't seem to have the same balls they had last year. We shall see.