Mets' midseason report card
Despite Bay's sub-par season and road woes, Amazin's are still in contention
Here are reasons for optimism:
The Mets get five-time All-Star Carlos Beltran back on Thursday.
They're within four games of first place after salvaging Sunday's series finale against the Atlanta Braves.
They're within striking distance despite getting only six home runs from Jason Bay in the first half -- paltry long-ball production that surely can't persist for a full season.
Amazin' First Half
As the Mets emerge from the All-Star break, we look back at the team's most memorable moments of 2010. Photo gallery
And the Mets have yet to play a game this season against National League doormats Pittsburgh (30-58), Arizona (34-55) and Houston (36-53). Meanwhile, division-leading Atlanta has played a combined 16 games against those opponents.
Still, the Mets have their issues, including an 18-24 road record (12-24 outside of Baltimore and Cleveland's boundaries). And they open up the second half with a three-city trip to San Francisco, Arizona and Los Angeles.
"The first half could have been better. But, on the flip side of that, it could have been worse," third baseman David Wright said. "We, as a team, had high expectations coming into this year. And I don't think we've quite lived up to the expectations we've had for ourselves so far.
"We're sitting in a position where we're going to be able to make a move in the second half and we're within striking distance. At the same time, I've felt like we gave some games away. There were times, especially on the road, where we didn't play the kind of baseball we were capable of. I think that needs to change in the second half."
Mets' player-by-player report card
Angel Pagan, Outfielder
The Mets were so concerned about Pagan's ability to stay healthy, they acquired Gary Matthews Jr. from the Los Angeles Angels in January to ensure they had a center fielder with Carlos Beltran out. Now? Pagan has played so well, he's likely to remain in the lineup most days even with Beltran returning, at the expense of Jeff Francoeur's playing time.
David Wright, Third baseman
After homering only 10 times last season, Wright already has exceeded that total by four in 2010. He also is the National League leader in RBIs with 65. The five-time All-Star is emerging as a team leader, too, as most recently evidenced by his summoning the training staff to the field to check on teammate Jose Reyes on Saturday in the middle of an inning.
R.A. Dickey, Right-handed pitcher
The knuckleballer showed he's not a one-hit wonder, even if he's a one-trick pony. Dickey raced to a 6-0 start to his Mets career after earning a promotion from Triple-A Buffalo with Oliver Perez and John Maine out of the rotation. Now, there's little thought of Dickey's rotation spot being in jeopardy.
Pedro Feliciano, Left-handed reliever
Where would the Mets be without Feliciano in recent years? The lone consistently dependable lefty-on-lefty reliever with the club, Feliciano has been a workhorse. He set consecutive franchise records for appearances in 2008 and '09 with 86 and 88, respectively. This year, he leads the league with 49 and is on pace for 90.
Jon Niese, Left-handed pitcher
The rookie left-hander, who suffered a gruesome hamstring tendon tear last season, has returned with a vengeance, despite a brief scare with another DL trip involving the same area. Niese has developed a cut fastball as another weapon to join his curveball and is off to a 6-3 start this season.
Mike Pelfrey, Right-handed pitcher
Pelfrey put his 2009 issues with runners on base behind him and raced to a 9-1 record this season. However, he was knocked out in the fifth inning in his final three first-half appearances. Pelfrey is 1-3 with a 7.52 ERA and .400 opponent batting average in his past five starts.
Ike Davis, First baseman
The Mets dabbled with a platoon of Mike Jacobs and Fernando Tatis at first base for the opening weeks of the season until Davis was summoned for his April 19 major league debut. Davis already has 11 homers, tied with Benny Agbayani for the second-most first-half total by a Mets rookie, trailing only Ron Swoboda's 15 in 1965. Advertised as a slick fielder, Davis also has flipped over the railing in foul territory three times this season to record highlight-reel catches.
Francisco Rodriguez, Closer
K-Rod produced 21 saves in 25 chances, which isn't too shabby. He also made headlines with his spat with bullpen coach Randy Niemann in view of spectators at Citi Field. Bottom line: Finding someone to get the ball to K-Rod has been far more of a challenge for Jerry Manuel than the closer's performance.
Johan Santana, Left-handed pitcher
During the first half's final homestand, Santana demonstrated that he's a potential ace any time he takes the mound. The southpaw blanked the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves for a combined 16 innings. He had a 0.39 ERA in three July starts. Still, Santana also had a stretch where he allowed four or more runs in four straight starts for only the second time in his career.
Rod Barajas, Catcher
Signed with spring training already underway, Barajas looked like a steal when he had nine homers by May 7. The 34-year-old catcher looked far more mortal as the first half closed. Barajas hit .167 (11-for-66) and was homerless with two RBIs in his final 23 games (19 starts).
Henry Blanco, Catcher
Blanco came out of the gates quickly. When he stole a base on April 24 -- his first swipe in nine years -- opponents still had yet to steal a base against him on the season. Despite throwing out seven of 15 would-be stealers in the first half, a banged-up Blanco has started only two games since June 24.
Jose Reyes, Shortstop
The importance of having Reyes in the lineup cannot be overstated. The Mets are 30-9 when he scores a run this season. Of course, keeping Reyes on the field has been a chore. Reyes -- who had an ill-fated experiment as a No. 3 hitter -- opened the season on the disabled list while returning from a thyroid scare during spring training. More recently, he's dealt with a right oblique issue.
Hisanori Takahashi, Left-handed pitcher
Takahashi stepped into the rotation and has done a passable job, although the performances have been erratic. Among his nine starts, three were scoreless efforts. In another three, he allowed six runs apiece.
Ruben Tejada, Infielder
The 20-year-old rookie has done a solid job defensively at both middle-infield spots -- at second base for injured Luis Castillo, and at shortstop with Reyes sidelined. Tejada's time in the majors may be waning, though. Jerry Manuel has suggested Castillo should return by the end of the Mets' three-city trip that will open the second half.
Alex Cora, Infielder
Cora's clubhouse presence is an important part of the Mets' dynamic. And he's likely to stick around for 2011 as well, since a vesting option for next season kicks in with 80 games played and he's already at 51.
Jeff Francoeur, Right fielder
Francoeur figures to be the biggest loser with Carlos Beltran's activation from the disabled list. Considering how well Pagan has played, Francoeur is tentatively scheduled to start only three times in the first seven games of the second half, according to Jerry Manuel's script. Francoeur has eight outfield assists this season.
Fernando Nieve, Right-handed reliever
Nieve started off so well in the bullpen after Niese was tabbed the No. 5 starter, manager Jerry Manuel started summoning the right-hander nearly every day for relief work. Nieve appeared in 20 of the Mets' first 31 games. Perhaps partly attributable to overuse, Nieve's performance has nosedived. Now, he's the last person Manuel calls to get up.
Jason Bay, Left fielder
Team officials knew Bay's power numbers would decline from his Boston Red Sox totals in 2009 merely by relocating from Fenway Park to Citi Field. They did not foresee six long balls by the All-Star break. On a positive note, Bay's outfield play has been better than advertised. Then again, the Mets aren't paying him $66 million over four years for his outfield play.
Luis Castillo, Second baseman
The Mets face a major issue with Castillo -- namely, Tejada may be a better option. Castillo, who has been out since June 1, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment in the minors. Castillo is only in the third season of a four-year, $25 million deal.
Ryota Igarashi, Right-handed reliever
Igarashi actually is spending the All-Star break at Class A St. Lucie, having been demoted last weekend when the Mets added Nick Evans as a right-handed bat for the bench. That's a big fall for a reliever who was signed from Japan and handed a two-year, $3 million deal. Igarashi had been projected to vie with Kelvim Escobar as the primary set-up man for K-Rod. At least Igarashi has thrown 19 1/3 innings as a Met -- 19 1/3 more than Escobar.
John Maine, Right-handed pitcher
The last image of Maine is him angrily being pulled at Nationals Park on May 20 after only five pitches, and pitching Warthen calling the right-hander a "habitual liar" with respect to his shoulder issue. Maine is due to face batters this week in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Oliver Perez, Left-handed pitcher
So much was made of Perez's dedication to physical conditioning when he spent the winter training in Arizona. That failed to translate into production. Perez had a 6.28 ERA in 11 appearances (seven starts) when he landed on the DL with right knee issues, ultimately avoiding a demotion to the minors.
Jerry Manuel, Manager
Manuel appeared on the ropes when chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon flew down to Atlanta for a May 17 visit, but it now appears the skipper will at least survive the season as the Mets remain in postseason contention. The Mets do play hard, despite 10 painful walk-off losses during the first half.
Omar Minaya, GM
If you get credit for Dickey and Takahashi, you've got to also accept responsibility for Matthews Jr., Mike Jacobs, Frank Catalanotto, Kelvim Escobar, Ryota Igarashi and the offseason logic that Perez and Maine were just as good as what was available on the free-agent market.
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