By Ed Coleman
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MANNY ACOSTA - Acosta had a solid season for the Mets in 2010. He went 3-2 with a 2.95 ERA while striking out 42 and walking 18 over 40 innings of work. Not so much this year. His ERA has shot to 6.75. He has already given up the same amount of home runs (4) in 12 innings than he yielded all of last year. Weird thing is that Acosta has held lefties under .200 while righties have hit over .400 against him. Looks like classic on-year, off-year reliever.
JASON BAY - Looked like he was about to turn the corner. Had an 8-game hitting streak (.367). Knocked in 13 runs over a 9-game span. Blasted 2 HR on July 5 at Dodger Stadium where his season came to an end last year (concussion). But Bay finished the break on a 1-19 slide and again looked lost at the plate. Has played tremendous defense in left field and always shows great hustle. But the Mets need his bat to produce runs, and 6 HR and 28 RBI is not going to cut it.
CARLOS BELTRAN - Anyone that had Beltran spending All-Star week in Arizona please raise your hand. Manager Terry Collins spent spring training trying to figure out how he was going to get Beltran to occupy right field possibly 4 out of every 6 games. Well, Beltran leads the Mets in games played (89). He also leads the N.L. in doubles with 28. And he leads the team in HR (13) and RBI (58). And he’s also drawn a team-high 47 walks. With Wright and Davis and now Reyes out of the lineup and Bay slumping, Beltran has been the focal point of opposing pitchers and has consistently delivered. It’s even led to some “keep him or trade him” discussion. Still likely to go, Beltran has been a great example for the younger players on the team and a deserving All-Star.
PEDRO BEATO - J.P. Ricciardi might have missed with Brad Emaus, but he nailed it with his other Rule 5 selection in Beato. A very pleasant surprise. Beato is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA at the break, gets out righties and lefties equally as well, and has held the opposition to a .201 BAA. Never gives you the impression that the moment is too big for him, a good sign for a young player. Also began the year by throwing 18 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run.
TAYLOR BUCHHOLZ - Troubled by anxiety and depression issues, Buchholz remains on the D.L. with shoulder fatigue. When and whether he returns is anybody’s guess. He had his momemts, and one thing you have to like is he averages a strikeout per inning (26 K’s – 26IP).
TIM BYRDAK - Lefty specialist who has gotten better of late. Posted a 1.17 ERA during the month of June. Has 28 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched over 39 appearances. Lefty specials who are pitching well at the trade deadline are always prime candidates to go. If he does, a lot of laughs will go as well. Great sense of humor, may be the funniest guy in the clubhouse.
CHRIS CAPUANO - He’ll usually give you a solid 6 every time out. Has kept the team in most games and gives you a chance to win. Yields too many HR’s (13) but has a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (87 K – 30 BB). Has a .500 record (8-8) in 17 starts but has pitched better than that overall. Capuano was a question mark coming into spring training, but has been there every time out thus far.
D.J. CARRASCO - Maybe the second year of his two-year deal will be better. Thus far, not so good. An 0-2 record with a 5.18 ERA, Carrasco was optioned to Triple AAA Buffalo on April 24 to straighten himself out and didn’t return until June 12. He balked home the winning run four days later. The one plus – he has stranded all 13 runners he has inherited this season. But Carrasco has underachieved – he has better stuff than the numbers would indicate. Hopefully it improves or year two will be elsewhere.
MGR. TERRY COLLINS - Several N.L. managers have done terrific jobs in the first half – Clint Hurdle in Pittsburgh, Kirk Gibson in Arizona, Ron Roenicke in Milwaukee – but Collins is easily right with them. A 5-13 start, decimated by injuries, the Mets could have fallen prey to the “here we go again” mentality – but Collins would have none of it. He made his players believe in themselves, scolded them when necessary, boosted their spirits when they needed it, and forged a nightly competitive club that usually makes you earn a win. He’s also made the Mets relevant once again, and has won over a good portion of the disenfranchised fan base. Jerry Manuel used to talk about maintaining while waiting for injured players to return and bolster the team. Collins speaks about who’s here and wearing the uniform – get the job done and don’t worry about when or if the cavalry is coming to save the day. Makes a world of difference.
IKE DAVIS - The signs were positive at the break that Ike wouldn’t need surgery on his forever sprain and bone bruise, and might very well return for the final two months of the season. That would be huge for both him and the Mets. Davis was off to a great start in his sophomore season – 7 HR and 25 RBI in 36 games – and if you want to dream and project his numbers out for a full season, this is what you get – .302 BA with 31 HR and 112 RBI. I’ll take it. So will Collins, G.M. Sandy Alderson and every Met fan.
R.A. DICKEY - Slow start but has been picking up steam despite battling injuries. The knuckleballer will have to deal with plantar fasciitis (foot) probably for the rest of the season and has also suffered a glute problem lately. But Dickey realizes his importance to the rotation, and will likely respond in kind during the second half.
LUCAS DUDA - Why do I think of Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies every time the Doo-Dah man strolls to the plate? The Mets are convinced that Duda can be a big-time run producer – he just hasn’t shown it yet. The jury is still out. Where he plays if he stays is another question. The kid needs a big-time injection of confidence into his DNA if he is to survive. That may come with power – and production.
NICK EVANS - Can Evans put up numbers at this level, or is he just another 4-A player, stuck in limbo between Triple AAA and the majors? He got his first hit of the year, an RBI single, on Friday, and smashed a pinch-hit HR on Sunday. He raked at Buffalo over the last month – maybe it’s starting to turn.
DILLON GEE - As big a surprise as any in the first half. “Ain’t nuthin’ but a G thang” is fearless and knows how to pitch. The Mets were 10-0 in his first 10 starts – since then they’re 1-3. Is he merely mortal? Gee knows how to make adjustments from game-to-game and inning-by-inning, so we’ll see how it translates and how the league adapts to him in the second half.
SCOTT HAIRSTON - Has just 4 hits in 27 AB as a pinch-hitter, but 2 of them are HR, and one of them a game-winner in San Francisco. Not a starter, but when he does, he produces – 14 starts, a .294 BA and 10 RBI. Knows his role, well-liked, and provides power off the bench.
WILLIE HARRIS - A Met-killer defensively while wearing other uniforms, Harris has been average while wearing a Mets uniform. Also popular and well-liked, Harris has reached safely in 7 of his last 9 pinch-hit appearances, so things may be trending up.
JASON ISRINGHAUSEN - Izzy’s experience has been his calling card. His numbers are not bad (1-0, 3.14 ERA), but he has been more hittable of late. What he brings to the table for the youngsters in the bullpen is immeasureable. Because of his past pedigree, will undoubtedly be sought after at the trading deadline.
FERNANDO MARTINEZ - A bit contibutor in the first half, can he stay healthy is always the question that will dog him. F-Mart needs to play everyday – at whatever level – to prove to himself and others that he can live up to his press clippings.
DANIEL MURPHY - Like Richard Boone, Murphy is the baseball version of Paladin – have bat, will travel. And Murphy can hit, his offense travels well. He’s played 1st, 2nd and 3rd this year, often times well, some times not. An outfield spot probably lies in his future whether here or elsewhere. Not a cleanup hitter, he’s been asked to do so in an injury depleted lineup and has done a good job. Needs to be more consistent overall, but has hit well with RISP (.354).
MIKE NICKEAS - Backup catcher who seems offensively challenged, but who had 5 hits and 3 RBI in his short 20 AB stint earlier this season. Defensively as solid as they come.
JON NIESE - Niese finished last season with 9 wins – he’s 8-7 with a 3.88 ERA in 18 starts thus far this year. Nice progression. Sometimes forgets to incorporate all his pitches when on the mound, but has a killer curve to die for, and has solidified his place in the rotation in the years to come. More mental toughness would help, but he’s made considerable strides.
ANGEL PAGAN - After a horrific start, Pagan has been better, but not the player the Mets thought he would be. Has been erratic playing CF, sometimes brilliant, sometimes sloppy, and the next cutoff man that he hits will be his first. Wind it up and let it fly! Did a decent job filling in for Reyes in the leadoff spot, and has 18 stolen bases. But the feeling lingers that the Mets should have traded him off a breakout 2010 season.
BOBBY PARNELL - The heir apparent to be the closer now that K-Rod is gone? Parnell is an anomaly – a guy who throws 100 MPH who’s hittable. He has 30 strikeouts and 9 walks in 25 innings pitched, but has also given up 24 hits. Parnell has been better recently – a 1.37 ERA spanning 17 games. But is he mentally tough enough to handle those final 3 outs? TBD – to be determined. The Mets may choose to ease him into the role with Izzy still aboard.
RONNY PAULINO - Nice job thus far. Has always crushed lefties, and is hitting .345 against them this year, and .320 overall. Not bad. Mike Pelfrey’s personal catcher and, for a guy that had some questions defensively coming in, has been a steady presence behind the dish.
MIKE PELFREY - As I said in spring training, asking Pelfrey to go from a 3 to a 2 last year, and then a 2 to a 1 this year was expecting way too much. The home/road splits are atrocious, and Pelfrey has to rectify that somewhat moving forward. He’s 3-0 with an ERA under 3 at CitiField – 2-8 with an ERA approaching 6 on the road. The last two starts on the road have been better – a win and a loss with an ERA of 1.50. Focus and mental toughness are keys for Pelfrey in the second half.
JASON PRIDIE - His production and playing time have both steadily decreased of late. Just 4 for his last 25 (.160) at the plate. Great defense – collect that unexpected service time, kid.
JOSE REYES - Present hamstring problems aside, Reyes has put together a phenomenal first half. A .354 BA – 22 doubles – 15 triples – 30 stolen bases – a .398 OBP. He singlehandedly has swayed public sentiment back in favor of the Mets. Now all they have to do is figure out how to keep him here next year and beyond. Not easy – but has to be done. Difference makers are in a different cagtegory – and Reyes more than qualifies.
FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ - Oops. Already in the past tense before the second half begins. I thought I heard Sandy Alderson humming Van Halen’s (Sammy Hagar) “I Can’t Drive 55″ the other day. 34 games finished was as far as Frankie got. That was a must-do for the Mets budget-wise for 2012, and the fact that it was done quickly and quietly is a good sign moving forward.
RUBEN TEJADA - Very polished player for his age. Can handle either middle-infield position more than adequately. Gives you a very professional AB for someone his age. Hitting just under .300 with RISP this season and just over .300 with runners on base. It will be interesting to see what the Mets do when Wright and if Davis return to the team in the coming weeks.
JOSH THOLE - Might not have come along as quickly as some had thought, but still a lot to like. Good contact hitter who uses all fields and has some pull power. A lot to assimilate as a catcher early on in the major leagues, and Thole is adjusting, albeit slowly.
JUSTIN TURNER - An afterthought in spring training, Turner has proved invaluable to the Mets this year. Leads the team in hitting with RISP (.373), which is also the 5th best average in the N.L. Has played both 2nd and 3rd, and his 35 RBI rank third on the club behind Beltran and Murphy. A tough out, a “dirt-dog”, a feisty player whom Collins has utilized to the max for his and the team’s benefit.
DAVID WRIGHT - Should be back soon, and to have the left side of the infield intact and healthy for the second half would be a huge lift. For stability sake, Wright means an awful lot, and adding his bat to the middle of the Mets lineup should make a significant difference.
CHRIS YOUNG - Well, he was the Mets best pitcher before he went down (1-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 4 starts). It’s a shame that Young’s shoulder could not hold up. He was a great fit for this team, and it would have been nice to track his comeback. Dillon Gee has filled in admirably, but a 6’10″ veteran would have been nice to watch.
C U in the second half
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