Over the past few weeks Tremont has trumpeted the cause of the New York Mets mediocrity. I had been planning a big retort against his many salvos, but I have to admit, after the Philly series I had my doubts as to the the direction this team was heading. I wasn't about to bury the team, but there not a lot of positive signs after multiple bullpen meltdowns, sloppy play, poor hitting, and bad breaks. Well after doing their best General Sherman impression in Atlanta and taking the first two at the stadium Chris Sabo built, the Mets certainly silenced doubters much better than I could have. A few points though:
1) Jose Reyes has not taken a step backward. Even though he is mired in a slump, Reyes has improved his plate discipline from last season (.354 v. .367 OBP). His slugging percentage is down, but that decrease is offset by increased stolen base totals (at a rate above the 75% break even point). Defensively he has played at a gold glove caliber level and has not had the concentration lapses that plagued him from time to time last season. Furthermore according to Baseball Prospectus, Reyes has a WARP1 of 8.2 this year as opposed to a 5.6 in 2006. A 2.6 increase is a step forward in my book.
2) Carlos Beltran is not having an average season. After tonight's game Beltran has an OPS+ of around 136, which means he his hitting at the same level as he did in the 2005 season when he emerged as the hottest free agent commodity in baseball. If Beltran stays on this pace, he will have given the Mets one season below expectations, one season above expectations, and one season matching expectations. He is also currently posting the third best WARP1 and second highest WARP3 of his career (with last season being his best in both metrics). In my book that is a good signing. Thomas, the ball is in your court on Beltran.
3) The rotation is the best in the NL. While it's not as top heavy as San Diego or even the Braves, the Mets from 1-5 have the best rotation in the NL and perhaps the best in the MLB now that Pedro is back.
4) Pedro. After his first two fastballs topped out at 81 and 82 mph respectively, I thought we were about the witness the Latino Brian Lawrence, but Petey soon loosened up and let it air out into the upper 80's, which will be good enough to keep hitters honest as he attempts to channel his inner El Duque. Though his numbers weren't eye popping, Martinez was an Alou outfield misplay away from not allowing an earned run. What was especially encouraging was that he was effective against lineup loaded with lefty power hitters in park where a jet stream out to right field takes an infield pop up all the way to Cleveland.
So there are some good vibrations coming out of the Mets locker room. As the past week has shown, all of this positive momentum can go right down the tubes if they drop 2 out of 3 against Houston or come up with another futile effort against the Phils, but the Mets certainly look like the best team in the NL.