As blogs and message boards have become more prevalent, and journalists and sports personalities on SNY and WFAN have become even more desperate to make a name for themselves by being more outlandish and ultra-reactionary, I've simply started analyzing baseball by myself. It's really pretty simple. The team that wins has more runs than the other at the end of the game. When a team has lots of injuries, it hinders their chances. When that team is missing multiple key players from the starting lineup, bullpen and starting rotation, those chances suffer more. When the two aforementioned malady's are compounded by the fact that the Manager of that team doesn't think before he makes in-game decisions, well then you've got a pretty big problem.
I don't need to read the Daily News (even though Adam Rubin is the most level-headed beat writer around) or listen to Mike Francesa or watch SNY to know what's going on with the Mets. I don't need the opinion of people who don't follow the Mets as religiously as I do. While I don't doubt their intellect or their credentials, I do doubt the reasoning behind their statements and wonder if they really believe what they're bellowing. I don't need to be told that the Mets are in big trouble if their injured players don't get better. I don't need to be told that the Mets "lack heart" when they've shown more of it over the first 2 and a half months of this season then they did in all of 2007 or 2008. Most of all, I won't read articles or listen to people who suggest breaking up "the core" of this ballclub.
The only thing I care about is the current state of the Mets, and what's on the horizon. Yes, the Mets are only a game over .500 at 34-33. Yes, they've dropped 4 series in a row. Yes, they're dealing with a brutal schedule. However, as I see it, barring any more crippling injuries, the Mets are in great shape. Who do they owe that to? None other than the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies lost Brad Lidge a few weeks ago (he was pitching terribly anyway) and Raul Ibanez a few days ago. They've been a lot healthier than the Mets, but they've done nothing to separate themselves.
Because of the Phillies' refusal to be even close to respectable over the last few weeks, the Mets are only two games out of first. Now, realize that the Mets have played this season with the following injury problems:
Billy Wagner - Out since the season began, on target for an August return.
JJ Putz - Pitched hurt, and is now out until at least August.
Oliver Perez - On the DL for the last 2 months with a bruised ego and injured knee. His return seems imminent.
John Maine - Pitched hurt, and has now missed the last few weeks with shoulder stiffness. His return seems imminent.
Carlos Delgado - Out since May after undergoing hip surgery. On target for an August return.
Jose Reyes - Out since May 20th with a torn tendon in his hammy. Like Walter from the movie "The Burbs," no one knows where the hell he is...
Ryan Church - Missed a month with a hamstring injury.
Carlos Beltran - Has been playing with a bone bruise behind his knee.
Gary Sheffield - Like Beltran, has been playing with an injured knee.
....Now, that injury list isn't an excuse, but I think it's safe to say that this team will fare better once that list slowly starts to become shorter.
If the Mets can get through the next 3 weeks, where they play stiff competition non-stop, while getting guys back along the way, then we can fairly start to judge this team. If someone told you at the beginning of the season that on June 22nd, the Mets would be without their setup man, two fifths of their starting rotation, their leadoff hitter and their cleanup hitter, but be two games out of first, would you have believed them? If the Mets can get healthy, there is a National League East Title out there for the taking. Be patient...