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April Scorecard

by Jim McNierney

Here we are at the beginning of the second month of the season and the report card for this NY Mets team is spotty at best.

Offense:

Overall, the Mets currently rank third in batting average and hits in the NL behind the Cardinals and Dodgers. However, they rank 15th in HR and doubles, 7th in Runs scored, 5th in walks. This coupled with the fact that they rank 1st in Triples is extremely telling in assessing the effect of playing in new Citi Field.

Individually, there are some obvious high points. Good marks have to be given to the Mets all-star centerfielder, Carlos Beltran. Beltran has emerged as the premier centerfielder in the National League. He currently leads the league in batting average with a 13 game hitting streak. His on-base percentage is .490. This has been done while the Mets manager, Jerry Manual has continued to tweak his lineup causing Beltran to lose his “usual” third spot in the lineup and has hit mostly from the fifth position.

Daniel Murphy has been another high spot in the offense of the Mets. Hitting at .315 so far, he has been very consistent at the plate. Murphy’s difficulties has been his defensive play in the outfield. It has been painful at times to watch his struggles in left field but, thus far this season, he has not let the defensive mistakes affect his approach at the plate.

Defense:

The Mets currently rank 13th in the NL in fielding percentage. This is very surprising given the current talent that they are putting on the field (with two incumbent Golden Glove recipients) and the emphasis on the fundamentals of the game that Manual featured in spring training. Some of this could be attributed to playing in a new ball park. Some of the most prominent gaffs in the early portion of this season have taken place in the outfield with Daniel Murphy and Gary Sheffield being the perpetrators in some key losses in this young season.

Pitching:

The Mets pitching staff currently ranks 10th in the league in ERA and tied for 8th in Strikeouts, with only one shutout to their record. The bulk of the problem seems to be an very inconsistent performance from the bulk of their starting pitching. With the very notable exception of Johan Santana, the balance of the starting rotation has been rocky for the most part.

Current Grade - B:

The team has played inconsistently in almost all facets of the game. The blame for their current lackluster play could be spread throughout the ranks (with only a few obvious exceptions). While they have consistently scored early in games, they have not been able to get key hits in crucial situations. They have left way too many runners on base throughout their first month of play. Many fans have to begin to wonder whether they have the competitive instincts to raise their level of play when they have the opportunity to put away an opponent.

Thus far, they have not displayed this key characteristic of a championship contender. Given this team and organization has fallen short in their goals the last three seasons, the fear is that there is some basic elements missing from this current iteration of our beloved “Metsies”. I continue to see a lack of leadership within the “on the field” ranks that could provide a spark in those few crucial points in a game that could lift the team to the next level leading to the success that this organization has lacked for years.

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