Let’s not get too excited

Clearly Mets fans are excited. But let’s not get carried away.

The Mets are the best team in the National League East. The Mets are the best team in the National League. The Mets are the best team in New York. The Mets are the second-best team in the eastern time zone, unless Josh Beckett shows up in Florida next month with a boulder-sized blister on his pinky-winky.

The Mets might be the best team in the NL East. They’re one of the top teams in the NL, along with Arizona, Los Angeles, San Diego, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Milwaukee, Colorado, and Atlanta could all be pretty decent too. The Mets are the second best team in New York. I realize I’m a Yankee fan and am biased, but it’s not really close. The Yankees have a better rotation, better bullpen, better lineup. If you had said the Mets will win the most games out of any team in New York… well then you could possibly be right. But the Yankees would probably win 115 games in the NL.

And the Mets are not better than the Red Sox, even if the Red Sox were without Josh Beckett. The Red Sox have pitching depth. If someone gets hurt, they insert top prospect Clay Bucholz.

I was bullish on the Mets’ chances before they grabbed Johan for 55 cents on the dollar. Now, I’m double-bullish, with butterscotch and a cherry on top. There’s not a team in baseball that can match the Santana/Pedro/Oliver Perez/John Maine quartet atop the rotation.

Really? After reading this I had to double check to make sure I wasn’t reading an Onion article. Not a team in baseball? Well in the NL, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Arizona all have vastly superior rotations. In the AL, Los Angeles (Anaheim), Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto, New York, and Boston are also clearly better. If Pedro was still 2001 Pedro, you could say that the Mets have a top 5 rotation. But who knows if Pedro even makes 20 starts.

It’s rare that a trade this late in the offseason truly tips a league’s balance of power. This one clearly does, vaulting the Mets past the Diamondbacks, Cubs and the rest of the unwashed masses.

Well, let’s think this one through. The Diamondbacks were better than the Mets last year. The Mets added Santana. The Diamondbacks, Dan Haren. How many wins is Santana worth over Haren? One maybe? Seems to me, there is nothing clear about the “balance of power.”

Just book my ticket for any town where Santana leads off a three-game series.

* Game 1: Johan and his swagger.
* Game 2: Pedro and his eight pitches and love for all things mango.
* Game 3: Ollie Perez, one of the few guys in the game as likely to throw a no-hitter as to brain somebody in the on-deck circle with an errant heater.

I guess your game 3 prediction is true in a way, since “Ollie” Perez has never done either of those things (though he has been much closer to the second). But, most players aren’t likely to do either of those things so I wouldn’t call him one of the few. And you would have been just as accurate to say “one of the few guys in the game who is just as likely to sacrifice live chickens in the dugout as he is to throw 30 consecutive perfect games.”

The pressure on the Mets to win NOW, not tomorrow or the day after that or even next Tuesday, has been vastly overstated. Assuming the Mets get Santana’s signature on an extension — if this doesn’t happen, Queens will burn — the Mets have the following core under command for the next bunch o’ seasons: Reyes (24 on opening day), David Wright (25), Carlos Beltran (30), John Maine (26) and Santana (29). Their farm system may be somewhat gutted, but they somehow avoided parting with either their best positional prospect (Fernando Martinez) or their best pitching prospect (Mike Pelfrey) to get Santana. Assuming no catastrophic injuries, the question isn’t whether the Mets will snare a title. It’s when.

First off, Maine might be nothing more than a #4 starter. And sure, that’s 5 players 30 or under. But the “old” Yankees have a lot of young guys too: Joba Chamberlain (22), Phil Hughes (21), Ian Kennedy (22), Melky Cabrera (23), Robinson Cano (24), Chien-Ming Wang (25) are all 25 or under. And the Yankees farm system is close to pumping out quite a few more players. And the Yankees aren’t the youngest team around, I’m just using them to show that the Mets are not incredibly young as an organization.

The Mets acquired a great pitcher, but let’s not get carried away. I know because of Beckett’s performance in the postseason, having the one “ace” is now all the rage. But fact remains: Santana was only about a win better than Wang last year. He doesn’t guarantee a World Series title for anyone.

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2 responses to “Let’s not get too excited

  1. “The Mets might be the best team in the AL East. They’re one of the top teams in the NL, along with Arizona, Los Angeles, San Diego, Philadelphia, and Chicago.”

    I think you mean “NL East,” right?

    Ah, let the Mets have their fun. They got a very good pitcher for almost nothing. We’ll see how his arm holds up. If the Twins don’t suspect he might be injured, why wouldn’t they have just waited until July, when teams are desperate and Santana is 10-2 with a 2.85 ERA? The offers for him certainly wouldn’t be worse than what they settled for from the Mets.

  2. Oops, yeah AL East is a typo.

    Interesting speculation about his health. Just another reason why the Yankees and Red Sox weren’t excited to give him that 7 year deal.

    And don’t get me wrong: the move was great for the Mets. They had to do it. But I’m not ready to pronounce them champions just yet. And the idea that they now have the best rotation in baseball is crazy.

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