There’s been no June swoon for the Mets this month as they are undoubtedly playing their best baseball of the season. Their record stands at 11-2 this month and they are winning games that they need to be winning as the road gets a little tougher with the Yankees and the Twins looming in the not too distant horizon.
Many have noted a shift in the club’s attitude. They actually look like they are enjoying winning. Imagine that? And as Met fans, it’d be safe to say that we are enjoying it too—for a change. This is a far cry from the lackadaisical and complacent Met teams that have been running out on the field the past couple of seasons, going through the motions, taking their at-bats with as much enthusiasm as watching grass grow.
No doubt, the addition (and subtraction) of different clubhouse personalities have infused the team with an approach that is refreshing to see. Rookies, like Ike Davis, Jenrry Mejia and Hisanori Takahashi know nothing of past seasons. They only know the here and now and they are helping players that have been around for multiple seasons turn the page on some ugly, ugly memories.
But more than the infusion of rookie blood, there is much more to the successful June than that. I believe the biggest moves that the Mets have made the past couple of weeks have not been what’s happening on the field but rather some of the dead weight the Mets have lifted from their roster. Don’t they just seem leaner, meaner…less heavy? They certainly have done some necessary trimming of excess “fat” and it’s all for the better.
I believe it’s no coincidence that since the Mets designated Gary Matthews Jr. (and have since released him), put Luis Castillo on the DL and done whatever you want to call what they have done with Oliver Perez, that this team has thrived. And as much I root for a successful return of John Maine, he was doing the team no favors by rolling himself out there every fifth day with only 50% velocity and not enough command to get through 5 innings much less 5 pitches.
The problem with some of the transactions they have made though is that they are not permanent. Matthews’ departure thankfully is a sure thing, but Castillo will eventually come off the DL as well as Perez. Omar Minaya has done is best to move Castillo, but with a year and a half and roughly $9.0 million left on his contact, who wants a singles hitter with bad legs for that price?
And then there’s Ollie. Ollie who is technically on the 15-day DL with knee tendonitis. Conspiracy theorist can debate the legitimacy of the move but the most important part is that he is not with the team. But eventually, the Mets will give him another shot. They need to get some return value on the $36.0 million they have wasted on him. But for now, it’s a good thing that he stays away as his innings pitched were infecting the team like a disease and the Mets seem much “healthier” and better off without him. And don’t we all sleep a little better at night too?
The Mets will continue to maneuver through June with the tougher schedule ahead. They have been playing solid baseball, but who could blame the dedicated Met fan for watching the games with eyes covered, peeking through the slits of their fingers and breathing a heavy sigh of relief after every recorded out? Isn’t it normal to flinch when kicked to the ground so many times? The good news is that management seems to be recognizing some of the issues (players?) that were holding them back and they are finally acting on these issues.
Going forward, Met fans may hold back on their enthusiasm for this team with rightful skepticism. Can we really keep giving all of our heart and soul into rooting for a team that may potentially crush our hopes yet again? Like Lucy and Charlie Brown with the football, can the Mets really tease us once more and move the football as it’s about to be kicked and we go falling to the ground? It takes a lot to be a Met fan. It takes vulnerability, dedication and yes, perhaps a little bit of masochistic pleasure.
But for now let’s take a moment and enjoy the solid baseball we have seen over the past couple of weeks. This Mets team has been a much better team to watch and a much more fun team to root for. And perhaps most importantly…they are a likable team again.