This week's Sports Illustrated has an 'Inside Baseball' article on the Mets. (In case you skipped it, I don't blame you - it's nestled between the 'Track and Field' and 'Swimming' sections of 'Inside Sports'.)
(Another aside - I'm not here to review the issue - that, of course, is Justin's domain.)
What I am here to do is to counter SI's argument that the Mets are headed for a wild card battle.
I guess, an entire page considered, me having a problem with just one idea presented by Joe Sheehan isn't so bad...but it's pretty major:
Even with the return of Beltran, it's hard to see this team holding off the surging Phillies in the second half.
I realize the track record supports Sheehan's point of view, but have you seen anything that indicates a 'second half surge by the Phillies'??? At least write, "an expected surge by the Phillies in the second half"....which I would even take issue with.
Now, I suppose I have the benefit of knowing that Chase Utley will miss at least two months after surgery, which came after SI went to press...but even before that news, these Phillies are kind of a mess. To throw the Mets and Braves together into a wild card chase and handing the division to the Phillies is irresponsible.
(I'll admit - I've felt this way in two out of three previous Septembers, and had my lunch handed to me...but it can't possibly happen again. Right? Right?)
Otherwise the article talks about the R.A. Dickey/Hisanori Takahashi versus Oliver Perez/John Maine split I wrote about on Sunday, and how the Mets statistically are playing above their heads offensively. (After watching Thursday night's game featuring a starting lineup of Chris Carter, Ruben Tejada, Alex Cora, Jesus Feliciano, and Henry Blanco, I believe it.)
The other point is one that I need to start writing about - the return of Carlos Beltran. He'll help the lineup and the outfield defense...and we'll see if he's spurring a wild card run as the Phillies make a surge, as Sheehan writes...or if he's helping lead the team to a division title.
*An interesting nugget connected to the Mets in the Ubaldo Jimenez article as well. A year before the Rockies signed Jimenez, the Mets offered him a contract, but his mom said he shouldn't sign so he could finish high school. The Rockies came back a year later with the contract and a promise Jimenez could finish his studies. So kudos to the Mets' scouts, back around 2000, for recognizing that talent. It's also somewhat comforting to know that he probably would have been traded for an ineffective veteran somewhere along the line, and he would not be putting up these numbers for the 2010 Mets. So thank you, Mother Jimenez, for preventing me from going through that heartache.