Only the most wildly optimistic fans expected the New York Mets to keep playing at the 9-3 pace they started the month of July. Watching the Mets drop two out of three to the San Diego Padres last weekend wasn’t very enjoyable , but a 3-3 record at this stage of the post- All-Star Game road trip isn’t bad.
It’s fun to talk about the possibility of Jacob de Grom as the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year, or watch as Bartolo Colon makes a bid to become the oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game. (Sure, Robinson Cano had to go and spoil the unbelievable story — but retiring 20 batters in a row is still pretty impressive.)
Even though the offense has been going AWOL a little too much for my liking, I still feel like the Mets have a chance to win most games. That 90-victory target that Sandy Alderson keeps distancing himself from was always a pipe dream, and the 2014 Mets can’t overcome the math that says they dug themselves too big of a hole in the first half to get back in the pennant race.
But I look at this team, and I see no reason why they can’t put together a winning record in the second half. And if they can do a bit better — 34-27 from here out — the Mets could have their first “winning” season since they moved to Citi Field.
And in 2015, who knows? The starting rotation and bullpen should both be team strengths. The four infielders have been fairly solid this year. (I certainly owe Ruben Tejada an apology – he has been much more productive than Stephen Drew.) Travis d’Arnaud is beginning to establish himself as a major league hitter, and the outfield hasn’t been as bad as we feared.
To move to the next level, Alderson is going to have to upgrade a few lineup spots – left field and shortstop are the obvious spots, but first base and center field are also possibilities. And it certainly would help to have a manager who makes better in-game strategy decisions than Terry Collins.
But for the first time in several years, I feel optimism about where the Mets could be headed. More importantly, they have been fun to watch this month.