At my desk yesterday afternoon I got to strap on some headphones while I worked, and listen to the Mets play the Phillies. Schmuck & his Lap Dog manned the radio booth for the game, and while they were laughable at times (Russo screaming first, describing the action later; Francessa yammering back to his boothmate, Dawg, in the thickest NY accent possible) it was admittedly a neat gimmick and I wouldn't mind if they reprised it once a year or something like that. Unfortunately the game they called was a bit of a letdown. The Mets declined to step on the Phillies neck, and the sweep that coulda happened, didn't. But here's the good news:
On May 8th, I wrote that the next fifteen games would tell us everything we needed to know about tme 2006 Mets. Six games vs. Philly, and three each against the Yankees, Cardinals and Brewers. On that date, the Mets were 21-10 (nine games over .500), with a four game lead over the second place Philles.
Now, on May 26th, fifteen games later, the Mets have a 28-18 record (ten games over .500), and a four game lead over the second place Phillies.
Schedule-wise, the Mets don't have a tougher stretch for the rest of the season than the one just finished. There is a nine-game stretch at the end of June against the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees, but that's five weeks out and now is now.
And now we have to look at the state of the Mets. Honestly my biggest concern isn't the second and third place teams. My concern is still the rotation, and specifically the rotation's impact on the bullpen. The Mets bullpen might be the best in baseball, but the rotation is averaging under six innings per game, and have pitched just 263 innings so far this season (ranked 23rd out of 30). We seriously need an innings-eater or two in this rotation, or the arms of our relievers may literally fall off by August. I'm sure Omar is aware of this, but his two trades don't exactly address this. Acquiring one pitcher who's got a 7.20 ERA in 8 starts (40 innings pitched) and another who's probably older than Julio Franco and sports a 6.11 ERA means our bullpen will continue to be taxed. Maybe Soler will turn out to be a horse?
The confidence of Mets fans should be at a very high level right now. The Mets themselves should settle for nothing less than a sweep of the Marlins this weekend. It's time to start stepping on some necks.