By Ed Coleman
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Well, actually 51, but who’s counting.
The Mets sit five games over .500 at 28-23 after losing the series and dropping their final game in May to the Phillies. They finished the month 15-13 after going 13-10 in April.
Everywhere you turn, people mention how surprised they are that the Mets have accomplished what they have thus far in spite of the injuries that they’ve endured. Whether manager Terry Collins is or isn’t, he says it’s always nice to be surprised.
General manager Sandy Alderson — surprised or not — candidly assessed the good traits that the team has shown for the most part in its first 50 games.
The Mets have used the disabled list 10 different times already and have had as many as four of their eight position starters all sidelined at the same time. They’ve also lost starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey for the season due to elbow surgery. Collins, who had a boatload of injuries to his stars when he managed the Angels in his past, fell into a familiar trap at that time, and vowed that it wouldn’t happen again while he is the manager of the Mets.
And boy, have they ever. One night it’s Vinny Rottino and Mike Baxter – the next night it’s Omar Quintanilla and Jeremy Hefner. Collins says it’s what the Mets are all about this season.
And Collins also believes strongly that guys knowing each other from playing together in the minors, coming up together, has played a big part in the Mets’ success.
Scott Hairston, who has six HRs, seven doubles, 21 RBIs and a .558 slugging percentage in just 95 ABs, believes that everyone on this team feels that he’s a part of something special.
The Mets’ start has certainly caught the attention of their opponents – the Mets have taken six of nine from Philadelphia this year, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel thinks it’s largely because they battle you for all 27 outs.
Alderson gives a lot of that credit to Collins, who he believes has done a terrific job setting the tone amongst all the injuries.
One thing that’s different this season from 2011 – the Mets have already used eight starters and the soon-to-appear Chris Young will make it nine. When Pelfrey went down to Tommy John surgery, things became a bit scrambled in the Mets’ rotation but overall, Collins says, the results have been pretty good.
Young hurled six scoreless innings for Triple-A Buffalo against Columbus on Thursday, giving up just two hits and walking three. His first three starts were for Single-A St. Lucie and he’ll likely make another at Buffalo before being inserted into the Mets’ rotation. Young has made an amazing recovery from anterior capsule shoulder surgery – the same as Johan Santana – that he underwent just over a year ago in May of 2011.
The Mets have done a lot of things right, like:
… They’re 16-11 at CitiField, a home park where they finished 13 games under .500 (34-47) last season.
… Score two-out runs. They have 112, the most in the majors. The Mets are hitting .271 with 2 outs, the 4th highest average in the majors, and .284 with RISP and two outs.
… They lead the N.L. and are 3rd in baseball with 181 walks. The Mets also rank 6th in the majors with a .333 OBP.
… Power pickup. The Mets still rank just 28th in baseball in hitting home runs, but they’re getting better. Lucas Duda’s two against lefties on Wednesday gave them 36 for the year – but they’ve hit at least one HR in seven of their last eight home games (12 total).
On the downside, they leave a lot of men on base, still strike out too much, and have virtually no speed. And then there’s the bullpen, which gave up eight earned runs on Wednesday night. The Mets’ pen has nine blown saves, tied for second-most in the majors. And the bullpen ERA is a major-league worst 5.45. Alderson has seen things he likes (recent Francisco, Byrdak and Parnell for the most part excluding Wednesday), but feels the pen has to be more consistent and deeper.
And help is on the way, starting Friday. Along with catcher Josh Thole returning, righty reliever Elvin Ramirez has been called up from Buffalo where he lit things up. Ramirez was Mets’ property when he was selected in the Rule 5 draft by Washington in 2011. He never pitched for the Nationals, undergoing shoulder surgery in March of 2011. The Nats returned him to the Mets in the off-season, and he began the year at Double-A Binghamton where he struck out 16 in 13 innings. Ramirez was promoted to Buffalo where he simply dominated – he did not give up a run in 14 2/3 innings of work, allowing just five hits and one walk while fanning 19.
And there’s more. Jenrry Mejia is close, yielding two runs over six innings at Buffalo in his latest start. Mejia made two starts each at St. Lucie and Binghamton, and probably has one more at Triple-A. Pedro Beato is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday – Miguel Batista on Monday. With Beato, Batista and Young, the Mets will need to clear three 40-man roster spots before activating them. But they’ll gladly do so to increase their depth at a tenuous position.
Finally, the David Wright situation has become almost comical in reading between the lines. Yes, it’s an important decision, and no, because of the landscape, it’s probably not going to be resolved anytime soon. But that’s OK. Alderson found himself clarifying his stance on the Wright contract negotiations (or lack thereof) after perceiving his remarks were misinterpreted.
No, none. Are we clear? Yes, crystal.
Enjoy the next 50.
C U soon
Will the Mets still be right in it at the trade deadline? Make your prediction in the comments below…