The Mets have talked often about a quick start to the season, a fast getaway out of the gate to help erase fan apathy and make everyone forget about payroll reductions and lowered expectations for the 2012 season. Well, the start better not mirror the first-half results thus far this spring.
The Mets are off Monday and they need a break. They have lost 9 games in a row. They hit the half-way point of spring training with the worst record in all of baseball at 3-11-1. Even after Ronny Cedeno and Rob Johnson both went deep in a 9-5 loss to Houston on Sunday, the Mets still have hit the fewest home runs (5) in the majors. They are last as well in slugging percentage. And in a category they took great pride in improving on last year – OBP – they sit 27th out of 30 clubs.
In his third start on Sunday, Mike Pelfrey continued his usual spring training pattern. It was ugly. Pelfrey was asked to crank up the velocity and his command, which hadn’t been good to begin with, disappeared. He notched his first 4 strikeouts of the spring. That was the good news. He also gave up 8 runs on 8 hits and walked 4 in just 2 2/3 innings. Pelfrey – who gave up 21 homers last season – surrendered a 3-run bomb to the Astros’ Carlos Lee, the 4th he’s yielded this spring, almost as many as the Mets have hit themselves. All told, Pelfrey has given up 20 hits, 6 walks and 4 HR in just 9 2/3 innings, and his ERA has inflated to 14.90. Ouch.
The combined ERA of the three relievers brought aboard this off-season to stabilize the Mets’ bullpen thus far sits at 9.20. Frank Francisco is at 7.20, Jon Rauch owns a 9.53 mark, and Ramon Ramirez tops out at 11.25. Good news in the bullpen? Well, Tim Byrdak returned to Port St. Lucie on Sunday after undergoing knee surgery this past week in New York. Byrdak thought he could be back sooner than the 6-week window which was originally outlined.
There are extenuating circumstances. David Wright has yet to play a spring game. Wright on Sunday hit off a tee and swung soft toss in the batting cage. He should be able to ramp things up starting Tuesday. And starting shortstop Ruben Tejada should be over his groin pull after the break and ready for game action. Tejada and Daniel Murphy, the starting middle-infield combination, have played a grand total of 6 innings together this spring.
The Mets made two more cuts on Sunday, sending outfielder Cesar Puello and pitcher Jeremy Hefner to the minor league complex. The Mets’ spring roster now sits at 40.
When the Mets return to action on Tuesday night in Port St. Lucie, all they have to look forward to is facing one Stephen Strasburg as the Washington Nationals come calling. Dillon Gee will go for the Mets. Let’s get it on.
C U soon