First of all, Kate arrived safely in Cairo. We spoke with her yesterday and she sounds thrilled and delighted to be there. For those at all interested, she’s posting her exploits here.
Secondly, as August winds down and the talk of the baseball post-season heats up, I thought I’d share some views on my guys, the Mets.
Fortunately, they had a terrific April, which propelled them to the forefront of the NL East. This allowed them to withstand being swept by the Boston Red Sox and other bumps in the road without panic setting in.
The other fortunate thing the Mets have done is let GM Omar Minaya do his thing, which is to bring aboard players who can help with the team’s immediate needs. In the past, previous GMs would bring on players past their prime (Eddie Murray, Mo Vaughn) and overpay, usually by depleting the farm system.
This time, when necessary to go outside the farm for help, he brings to the team guys who can genuinely help now and hopefully later. Roberto Hernandez and Ricky Ledee are starting points but the arrival today of Shawn Green is a solid step forward. (Although I note Green’s arrival heralds Ledee’s departure.) Had Duaner Sanchez not gotten hurt in the taxi accident, Minaya would not have been forced to part with Xavier Nady. If he still had Nady today, the need for Green would have been non-existent. But, since he needed to shore up the bullpen, he got Hernandez who he knew would be a good immediate fit but he also got Oliver Perez, who might finally live up to his potential. His last few starts at AAA Norfolk have certainly shown his talent.
Not giving away the farm, after the debacle that was the Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir trade two years ago, has been as smart as signing veterans like Julio Franco. When needed, the Mets were able to bring up Brian Bannister, John Maine, and Alay Soler to fill gaps. Maine has been a revelation, and I look forward to watching him progress.
The commanding lead the Mets had by the All-Star break meant they didn’t have to panic when they got hammered here and there. It meant they didn’t have to make rushed, hasty or ill-conceived deals at the trading deadline. It means they can coast into September, allowing rookies to come up as rosters expand and provide rest for the regulars so they’re ready for the post-season.
Unless they flop worse than Philly did in 1964, the Mets are seeing the post-season. The preview this week, with the Cardinals series, shows it won’t be a cakewalk. Both the Cards and Reds play the Mets hard and presumably the Dodgers who are no pushovers either will represent the NL West.
I still suspect, in a severely weakened NL, the Mets will prevail and make it to the Fall Classic. My prediction: they’ll face Detroit.
While I’d love to see another Subway Series, Detroit seems to be this season’s team of destiny with a balanced mix of rookie and veteran and a rejuvenated skipper in Jim Leyland. Should be a lot of fun.