Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hiatuses, and Stop Killing Beltran

So tonight the Mets return from their day off, and I return from a somewhat longer absence.

As y0u are no doubt aware, our beloved team has been plummeting like a sack of 25 highly-paid rocks off the Whitestone Bridge, winning two (2) of their last eleven (11) games.

As much as it hurts to watch the Mets shrink in the Nationals' rear view mirror, my confidence in their ability to rebound remains intact.

This optimism, for which objective grounds are becoming admittedly scarce, has a lot to do with my skepticism towards any division rival's chances of running away.

But I also think the team will be better in the 2nd half, given even as few as 10 starts from Pedro (who really can't be expected to throw all the innings he's on pace for).

For one thing, I think the lineup is better than this. By "this" I mean the 15th ranked offense in the NL by OPS (733, ahead of only the Astros, whose 691 is just ghastly). It shouldn't continue.

During my vacation I listened to quite a bit of Mike and the Mad Dog, who were just crucifying Beltran for his perfomance this year.

There's no denying that his performance of .268/.323/.427, with one steal in three tries and some shaky D in center, has been dead weight at best.

He's still been a good deal better than Reyes, and our first baseman, but the media has given those two miles of slack.

As disappointing as Beltran's been in these 239 AB, I just can't take Russo seriously when he says, in that super-definitive tone those two have perfected, "Beltran's not a great player. A good player, but not up there with [list of elite players including A-Rod, Tejada etc.]"

If Carlos Beltran were healthy, and we've been told he's getting there, he would not have struggled this much. When he's fully healed, I expect the mediocrity to stop. There's just no reason to think it will continue.

Over the last three years, he's hit .281/.366/.523, in about 8 times the number of at-bats. He was a "Great" player as recently as last fall and I expect some version of that player to return as soon as his health does.

Time will not heal all the Mets' wounds, of course ( though cutting DeJean can't hurt), and they have spotted the rest of the division at least 2.5 games, but I'm not losing hope quite yet.

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