Despite Dismal End To Season, Mets Future Remains Bright….If

Published on: 13th September, 2012


Matt Harvey 2nd Start
Despite Dismal End To Season, Mets Future Remains Bright….If   | read this item

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New York – No matter how this Mets season ends, it’s already become a grave disappointment to their faithful fans because of how the 2012 campaign started out. And for that, the Mets have only to turn to their shocking first half of the season, when they were squarely in the race for both the division championship or the wild card to gain entry into the National League playoffs.

In the totality of this season, the Mets have provided their fans with an emotional roller-coaster, at best. Beginning the year with little or no expectations of success because of all the usual reasons – not enough proven pitching talent and not enough proven hitting talent were the two reasons most cited – many baseball pundits predicted the Mets taking residence in the cellar of the N.L.’s East Division, where the powerhouse Phillies, vastly improving Nationals, and the always contending Braves make their home. Add to the equation, the Jose Reyes-led Miami Marlins and experts uniformly predicted no more than 60 wins this entire season for the Mets, meaning season loss totals would, in their estimation, exceed 100 games. In the parlance of the sport, that’s known as bad baseball and it would have been absolutely reminiscent of the laughable but still lovable 1962 Mets for futility.

However, the pundits were wrong. Terry Collins’ youngsters got off to a terrific start, shocking teams with surprisingly good pitching and solid hitting in those early stages. Their lone hitting star, David Wright was acting like an MVP candidate from the get-go. Their once-ace, Johann Santana, returning from Tommy John surgery and a year of rehabilitation, had turned into a crafty artist on the mound whose fastball didn’t quite get to 91mph but whose control was pinpoint.

The first half of the season found the Mets shockingly in the playoff race, playing crisply and getting clutch, two-out hits to win games in the late innings. Their fans were revved and the league was taking notice. But, observers kept waiting for the clock to strike midnight for the Mets in their Cinderella-like half-season. At the All-Star break in July, they were six games over the .500 mark, not spectacular by most contenders’ expectations but way beyond spectacular for the 2012 Mets. To say they were overachieving would be speaking the obvious. They had no business being in a pennant hunt. Not with this squad.

Then, the world caved in and reality, once again, took shape.

The Mets went into the break 46-40, optimistic the rest of the season would bring big victories and huge crowds to their home stadium, Citi Field. But injuries to Santana, starter Dillon Gee and closer Frank Francisco and an offense that stalled had New York fading fast. The Mets lost 12 of their first 13 games starting the second half of the season and, as the saying goes, that was that for the 2012 season.

“It’s frustrating for all 35 guys in that clubhouse, the players, the coaches, and the front office,” said Collins.” For us not to play well at home and not be scoring runs. We set the bar pretty high in the early season and I’m proud of that. It’s great that there are expectations. Right now, we can’t seem to re-create what happened earlier in the year.“

But, this collapse into oblivion doesn’t mean the future isn’t bright, here in Metsville.

Tonight, 23-year old rookie pitcher, Matt Harvey gave a glimpse of what fans can look forward to. The kid, drafted with the seventh pick in the first round of the 2010 draft from the University of North Carolina, pitched against the team with the best record on baseball. All he did in his five-inning stint (107 pitches) was to strike out 10 batters. It was the second time Harvey had struck out double figures in his short career, which began just seven starts ago with a career-high 11 strikeouts in his debut on July 26th against Arizona. The righthander now has 63 strikeouts in 52.1 innings but that’s no surprise. He throws the ball 98mph, consistently, and with control.

“This guy has taken the game to a new level since he got up here,” said Collins tonight after another Mets 2-0 loss to the Nationals. “I’m standing next to Wally (Backman, Harvey’s minor league manager) in the dugout during the game. Wally say’s, “I never saw that stuff.” It tells you how Harvey has raised his game for major league hitters.”

Even after a loss, Collins could still wax positive thoughts because of what the future holds for this kid.

“He’s been so impressive,” said the manager. “We’ve got something special. We’ve got something really special. “

But, Harvey is far from the only kid pitcher on the Mets horizon that makes the future look more palatable, if not bright. Collins sees it.

If you’re going to build a winner, you’ve got to start on the mound,” he said. “Our pitching is going to be very, very dynamic in a couple of years.”

He’s right. The Mets have a unique collection of very young, very powerful arms that look very close to being major league-ready. And, the league knows it.

It excites the Mets organization.

“ We know what Matt is going to bring to the table,” Collins said. “We’ve got Jon Niese, we’ve got (Zack) Wheeler coming. Power arms in the bullpen. R.A. Dickey’s got pitching in him left. Dillon Gee will be back. Robert Carson, and Josh Edgin and Elvin Ramirez and Jeurys Familia are all young power arms. Those guys will be fighting for jobs next year.”

Collins is right about pitching being the key to everything in baseball. Having five good starters heading out to the mound keeps teams in games, whether or not the team is an offensive juggernaut. With top pitching comes the need for players who can catch the ball in the field in support of those young arms. The Mets will need this off-season to improve their defense, as well as their anemic offense.

Clearly, this team is a long way from being a competent, contending ballclub.

But, with a starting core of players in Wright, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, and Ruben Tejada to go along with kids projected to be upper-echelon pitchers, the Mets may not be as far away from moving up the National League standings as the pundits have predicted.

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