Talk baseball all season long with SI.com's Jacob Luft in Baseball Chatter, a journal for hot topic debates, Sabermetric ramblings and reader-driven discussions.
9/29/2006 04:11:00 PM
No fear in Flushing
Does anybody remember what Carlos Beltran did the last time he was in the playoffs?
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
I'm not saying Mets fans are a confident bunch, but on my way to SI's Manhattan offices this morning I passed by a few of them already lined up for a World Series parade. The Amazin's may yet get their fill of ticker-tape. After all, as of Friday morning the Mets are still the only team to have clinched a spot in the National League playoffs. But recent events have conspired to turn the Mets' cakewalk through the NL into a veritable minefield.
The main point of adversity came with the announcement on Thursday that ace Pedro Martinez will not be available for the postseason. Pedro will be missed by the Mets and by baseball fans everywhere who love to watch him pitch -- myself included. Here are a few more obstacles they suddenly have to consider:
The Padres have emerged as a legitimate power, thanks largely to Jake Peavy's return to form the past two months. Chris Young, Clay Hensley and Woody Williams round out a deep rotation that is backed by an excellent defense and the only bullpen in the league that rivals the Mets. New York has two of the top 10 relievers in the NL this season in Billy Wagner and Aaron Heilman, but the Padres have three, including the league leader in Win Expectation above Replacement (WXRL) in Trevor Hoffman. I won't go so far as to say San Diego has assumed the title of best team in the league, but it's safe to say they are the Mets' biggest threat.
The Astros are back in the playoff picture. Thanks to the Cardinals' imminent collapse, the Mets suddenly have to worry about facing the defending NL champion Astros and their power trio of Roy Oswalt, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. What's more, the bullpen has been a force ever since Phil Garner demoted Brad Lidge from the full-time closer role and elevated Danny Wheeler. If the Astros do get into the dance, the rest of the NL playoff field will be saying, "That's not gonna be good for business."
Dominating the regular season is one thing. Once the playoffs start, however, uneasy is the head that wears the crown. The Mets have the best record in the National League and, for whatever reason, that has not been in a good thing lately. The only team this decade to win the NL pennant and have the league's best record was the 2004 Cardinals. Before that, it was the 1999 Braves, the '96 Braves and the '95 Braves. In the American League, the success rate is a little better for the postseason favorites -- five have won pennants (2005 White Sox, '03 Yankees, '99 Yankees, '98 Yankees and '95 Indians).
That's the bad news. The Mets still have a lot going for them, however. Their new No. 1 starter, Orlando Hernandez, isn't a flamethrower but he has been able to "miss bats" this season to the tune of an 8.64 K/9.0 IP ratio. No. 2 man Tom Glavine is a pro's pro who will give them a chance to win every time out. After that it gets dicey, but I think they should go with John Maine (7.29 K/9.0 IP), despite his inexperience, in the No. 3 slot over Steve Trachsel (4.32 K/9.0).
Plus, for all the talk about pitching and defense this time of year, I'd like to think offense counts for something. The only team with close to the offensive firepower of the Mets are the wild-card leading Dodgers, their likely first-round foe. But Los Angeles suddenly has to worry about the health of its ace, Brad Penny, who left Thursday's start early with a stiff back and posted an unsightly 6.83 ERA in September. Would it be asking too much of impressive rookie Hong-Chih Kuo to pick up the slack for Penny?
I'm also not worried about the Mets "flipping the switch" after a lackluster September; New York has lost seven of its past nine games. The 2000 Yankees finished the season 2-13 and bounced back to win the World Series. More to the point, look at some of the pitchers the Mets have been using lately (Oliver Perez, Dave Williams and Heath Bell) who won't see the light of day in the playoffs.
Go Stros! If we make it to the playoffs, its only logic that we will win the World Series.
2004, we beat the Braves and advance to the second round. 2005, we beat the Cards to advance to the World Series. So, logically, in 2006 (given we make it- knock on wood), we go to the World Series and win it all!
That's pretty swift. Too bad you don't have anyone who can hit the ball. Mets have 6 guys who can carry the team. Speed at the top, and power in the middle, with quality hitters in the 6-8 spots. Holy frijoles, Jose Reyes is going to go nuts in October...yous heard it here first.
Mets won´t even need pitching in october!! Reyes is gonna go nuts, he´s going to drive opposing pitchers nuts... Beltran will have another 2004 , Delgado and Wright will be clutch, Willy can throw Victor Zambrano up there in game 1 for all I care!!! Let´s go Mets!!!
No one who can hit? I guess you are not a baseball fan or you would know who Lance Berkman is? Since you don't, let me inform you that he is a lifetime .300 hitter, with great power, and a great eye. BTW, there is not anyone on the Met's in Berkman's league.
runs scored by mets: 811 runs scored by astros: 728. Mets fans know who lance berkman is, and we also know he can be pitched around. If the astros offense could be described as anything but "anemic", then they wouldn't need a cardinal collapse to get into the playoffs in the first place
The Mets have to be scared of the Padres the most. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, wants to face Jake Peavy, Chris Young and the SD bullpen right now. Plus, their offense is really clicking. And in the postseason, when most teams step it up, softball pitchers Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez are going to get eaten alive.
the most concerning game for a Stros fan like me is the last game where Smotz with his hot streak latetly will match up with Pettitte. So, I so far still see the Padres as the the 06 NL Champion with Martinez out for the Mets. But in the end, unless the Astros get into the WS, then I think the NL is set for a 3rd straight loss at the World Series.
I'm from Boston and I've been all for the Padres since the Red Sox dominated in '04. The Pads have the best rotation and bulpen in the league, which makes up for their lack of hitting. Look for the Friars to break up the Subway Series and kill the Evil Empire for the WS.
as a sox fan i offer unbiased opinions and let me just say you can stick a fork in the mets, cuz without P.D. they're done. if the dodgers do well in the next couple of days they can win it because momentum seems to be a big key to winning for the dodgers. dont count on any NL team winning the world sereis though, the fact that any of the teams in the NL are going to make it that far is just wrong.
Astros lost(I felt Nieve deserved the lost, he broke the chance for a good come back)), defitnitely NOT GOOD for a Stros fan like me.
The chances once again look slim for us to make the postseason. All the Cards have to do at THEIR stadium is to get 2 wins from there 2 top pitchers- Chris Carpenter and Jeff Suppan and CLINCH for the Cards(plus, they would have an additional chance against the Giants if they don't clinch). On the other hand, it's a question if the Stros can even win the remaining 2 because of Smotz who is red hot.
However, even against the odds, I wouldn't count the Stros out yet. They play with passion+look at today's game. The Stros even till the last inning with 2 Strikeouts wouldn't go away. If Huff had homered, then it would be 4-4 and a tie. This should show the Stros' determination to fight till the end.
I hope Atlanta knocks Houston out of the picture with a nice sweep or something. Since we aren't going to be in the playoffs for them to knock us out in the 1st round, they shouldn't go either. The Dodgers have about 5 ex-Braves, so I'm THINKing BLUE. :)
As a Mets fan I hate to admit it but we are cooked despite their gaudy record everyone in the Mets lineup not named Reyes has slumped and or been hurt at some point this year, we are relying on three guys over 38 to be our top 3 starters all of whom you never know what they will give you from start to start and two of whom (Glavine, Hernandez)have had recent injury problems.And who knows how Reyes, Delgado, Wright, LoDuca, Heilman, Maine, etal. will hold up in their first chance at the postseason? I hope I eat my words but I would be stunned if we make it past the first round unless by some miracle we play the Cardinals the only team that has more holes than we do right now or one of the other teams suffers a catasthrophic injury in the next couple of days. It has been an amazing year but let's be honest with ourselves there will be no amazing run by the amazing Mets in this post season.
Can you see the fake mets fans jumping off the bandwagon, like roaches running from the light? Us true BELIEVERS realize that experiance counts for a ton when it comes to starting pitching, and Hernandez and Glavin have the ability to step it up when it counts. We also realize that our lineup can put up runs like it was a football game. So basically what I am trying to say, is that I am a believer- and while I do think it will be difficult, we will still be playing in a subway series come october.
I know you work in New York I don't know if you live here but if you don't think Met fans are acting as if they won already you are missing something. Just listen to the sports talk on the radio and would would think that this team has won multiple chsampionships recently. Maybe this is how you act after not finishing first in your division for 18 years.
There are some myths that have to be addressed here concerning the Mets and the '06 Playoffs. Clinching the Playoffs early gave the Willy Randolph an excellent opportunity to play his bench and observe how they play in real pro-game situations. He is quoted as calling this the "A-minus" lineup. Unless the Mets has a Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes or Paul LoDuca on the bench, they would be expected to lose some games. And unless the Amazin's will start Ricky Ledee, Chris Woodward, Michael Tucker or Lastings Milledge- using this losing streak as a factor in the play-offs is completely irrelevant. Look at their starting line up during their losses and you have your answer. Also- to say that we are cooked without Pedro is another myth. Its already been mentioned in a previous post, but people still buy into this. IF the Mets winning is down when Pedro is out, there would be a legitimate argument. The truth of the matter is, the Mets have played better without him! I would only be nervous for the Mets if the numbers reflected that we need Pedro, and they just don't. Im not so overzealous that I dont notice that we dont have strong pitching, but at the same time we have a lineup that balances things out. The to the Mets success will be what has made them Amazin all year ... getting ahead in the first inning. It will be interesting to see Delgado, Wright & Reyes and we can expect big things from El Duque, Beltran and Glavine. Think Blue & Orange.
Anyone who is saying the Mets won't need pitching in the playoffs is crazy. The playoffs bring tight, 4-1, 3-2 types of games and pitching takes center stage. Also look at the ballparks they'll be playing their road games in- Petco and Dodger stadium are tough places to hit. The mets are done, probly not in the NLDS but certainly in the NLCS
Its very simple, it is the last weekend of the regular season and only ONE TEAM stands alone in the NL. It will be the same team that stands alone with a World Championship trophey -- 2006 WORLD CHAMPIONS -- NEW YORK METS!!!!
Just anothe reason for the rest of the country to be jealous they are not from NEW YORK!!! LETS GO METS!! Any other team in the NL want to join us???
Who cares about the Mets and the NL for that matter. Everybody knows the better teams are in the AL and The city of Detroit will be rocking when the Tigers win the world Series! Verlander+Zumaya=DOmination! Go TIgers!
It's not like the AL is really kicking butt right now. No team with more than 98 wins going into the postseason, no monster seasons from hitters (Pujols and Howard anyone?), fans who don't know how to spell...If the NL is AAAA, as you say, then the AL is like the NFC.
If there is to be a fair comparison between AL and NL teams this or any year, maybe it is time to get rid of the 40 year old trick that the AL so desperately needed to generate runs called the DH. It's not just about the extra runs driven in, but also the defense and the extra wear and tear on NL pitchers. How's Big Papi looking at first base lately? And what about a Met line-up this year that would've included Piazza at DH?
The Mets will win because they are the only team that needs just 4 good innings out of any of their starters... and because they look like they are having more fun than anyone else.
Losing Pedro is huge for the Mets. When you lose your ace for a post-season series it does not just effect his starts. Everyone else has to bump up a spot in the rotation. So instead of it being 1 vs 1, 2 vs 2 and 3 vs 3 it is not 2 vs 1, 3 vs 2 and 4 vs 3. You give up the pitching advantage each time out.
Mets offense might make up for it in the NL but the AL will eat their lunch anyway in the Series.
Sorry Mets fans, but POWER PITCHING wins in the Playoffs. The Mets don't have it, they won't win. Even if the Mets make it to the WS, it will just be a repeat of 2000. It's funny how some people get so arrogant after one good season of baseball.
Secondly, I live in Minnesota, but have watched or listened to no fewer than 115 Mets games this year. They have a fantastic lineup offensively. The past couple of weeks aside (since they were playing their B team), they have totally dominated all year. I mean, Jose Valentine is your #8 hitter!!! Yes, their pitching is iffy, but we (the viewers) will have to see what El Duque and Glavine do when it comes to the real show. After that, I think Maine has looked pretty impressive. I've never been a Trachsel fan and don't get why he is so highly regarded. I don't care if he has 25 wins, his 5.00 ERA is nothing short of gaudy. Posters on here have an extremely short memory. The games in April count too, and the Mets won 96 or 97 of them for a reason. anyone who thinks these other horrendously mediocre barely-over-.500 teams, aka Dodgers, Pads, Cardinals, are going to win the pennant are welcome to just send their money to me.
Arrogant? You must be a Yankee fan! You guys invented the word. Those of you who are listening to talk radio and print media - and don't have a mind of your own - and who say we are crushed because we don't have Pedro - don't know the Mets team. We crushed the NL during the regular season without Pedro being around very much - we'll do fine without him for the playoffs. It's a media thing to say we are in trouble. (It sells papers and creates phone calls to radio shows) - but us Mets fans know better. Dodgers - Cardinals - San Diego - give me a break - you are lucky you even made in in to the playoffs. Mets will be in the World Series while your guys will go on vacation. Sorry - but The NL banner will be at Shea when November rolls comes around. And another thing - some of these blog comments from Astro, Dodger, Cardinal fans sound sad. Look at your record this season. Can you say Bye Bye? Practice.
Whoever thinks the Padres/Cardinals/Dodgers/Astros are going to the WS needs a labatomy. I could start Game 1 of the NLDS and the Mets would still blowout whoever they play. The National League is a joke! When was the last time a team was in the WS and didn't win 90 games. It's gonna be another Subway Series... too bad though, because I'm an A's Fan!
Point one: Losing Pedro is not huge for the Mets. His biggest contribution this year has been in the dugout and in the clubhouse. Anyone following the team knows this. It is sad for Pedro, but not for Mets fans.
Point two: Steve Trachsel is a big-game pitcher. He comes up very big when truly needed and has three one hitters in the last two seasons. When he 'pitches', he dominates. He's a lock for game the three starts.
"It's funny how some people get so arrogant after one good season of baseball." The hypocrisy is sickening. I've yet to meet a Yankees fan that knew a damn thing about baseball. Just a bunch of mindless idiots who don't even watch the games. The only reason fans even know who's on the team is because of the overwhelming press coverage. You go out to one game and think you're an expert. Then, you go off and boo your best players when they have a few bad games and practically fellate the guy when he wins. Yankees fans are the most vile scum on earth.
End of rant.
As for the Mets, they're a strong team no matter who pitches. Hernandez has really picked up the pieces after a rocky first half. Glavine's been a little inconsistent, but still a solid number two. Maine's been fantastic over his last few starts. Trachsel's a bit of a worry, but I doubt he'll even have a turn in the division series. They've got proven winners with tons of experience that can lead the team over any obstacle. They can hit you early, they can hit you late, they've got weapons off the bench, and they've got a bullpen that can keep them close against anyone.
I can't say the Mets will win the WS, but honestly, would you bet against them?
Oh I remember all of the Yankee fire arms back in the late '90's. I mean didn't Cone, Wells, and Pettite blow everyone away? They had firearms in the pen though (Wagner and Heilman). Come on, please know what you are talking about before insulting everyone here.
Arrogant? Why don't you go over to the Bronx and talk to some of the fans over there?
Don't mistake excitement for arrogance.
And to address the Pedro situation: haven't the Mets been playing great ball--almost DESPITE Pedro--all year? People are putting too much emphasis on this for the playoffs--I respect Pedro and think he's gotten the Mets back to a first-class ballclub, but the Mets have been winning games without him all year.
Let the naysayers downplay the team's success as much as they want - it will only make the Mets more determined to win it all.
This is to the idiot that says the rest of the country wishes it was from New York. A great southerner once sang "just send me to hell or New York City, it would be about the same to me." Now I'm hoping for a Mets-Padres first round so the Mets will go down.
I simply can't see any other NL team knocking off the mets. they've worked too hard all year to fall flat on their face. Even with pedro's bad rotator cuff, they simply field a better team than their NL competition because they hit, field, and pitch better than other national league teams.
Pedro was out for a short time this year and the Mets still found a way to win.....Beltran was out for a few weeks this year and they STILL found ways to win...this is an explosive team who relies on their big bats and their bullpen. If the starters can give 5-6 quality innings, the bullpen should be able to hold it down. Providing Wagner doesn't blow saves as he did earlier in the season, and he becomes lights out like everyone knows he can be, this is a team that everyone should give serious consideration to when talking about world series contenders. No one is a lock this year, but this is one team that shows promise. May the best team out there win and good luck to all baseball fans and their teams.
to the idiot who said who the mets don't have an AL lineup because julio fraco would be the dh you are REALLY DUMB they would simply go out and get one and for everyone knocking the mets wow where have you been for lets see the whole summer as a mets fan i admit the NL is crap and that is why the mets put it on cruise control in mid august the padres cardinals and dodgers best prepare for sweeps if they come to shea, the only team that stands a chance is the stros but then again the mets proved all season that they dont care who the pitcher is theyll hit him. plus don't knock the yanks you have to respect what theyve done its awesome i predict a subway series and if the mets dont win it sucks but o well anyone ever heard of philip humber and mike pelfrey, how about carlos gomez. And lastly for the idiot with the berkman thing shut up the mets have three BETTER players in their line u pi guess you have never heard of reyes wright and some guy that played for the stros in 04 whats his name?
Oooh, a Subway Series would be SO exciting! NOTHING would be more fun than watching the two best teams MONEY can buy. And then we could all switch the channel to see how the Giants and the Jets are playing! Go Eli! After that, we could engage in lengthy discussions on the future of the Knicks and the NHL's Rangers! Because nothing, and I mean NOTHING, in the sports world exists outside New York. And then we could zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....sorry, I fell asleep from boredom there for a second. Who thought tedium could be SOOOO exciting...
As a Braves fan, I find the confidence of the Mets fans laughable. The same jealous Mets fans that have been harping on the Braves only winning one WS for years are now saying Glavine is a solid postseason pitcher. Hate to tell ya Mets fans, but Glavine was a BIG part of those Braves teams that you say choked so many times...and now he's several years older.
The bottom line is that the Mets are here and anything can happen. Best bullpen better lineup than 2000 and the ability to now have lower expectations. The bottom line is to draw power pitching from around the league and add some payroll for pitching, and not over the hill Unit, and the worst in Pavano. When Zito and company join the group, dominacne from year