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Off-Day Blues

It is a little disconcerting around here, in Metland. Sure, the team just won an incredible game against the Dodgers, taking three of four against some of the NL's steepest competition, but something just doesn't feel right.

Sure, they put a little distance on the Braves and Phillies in the process, but something just doesn't feel right. Some of the most moribund components of the Mets' offensive attack were revived, call it the HoJo Effect, but something just isn't right about this team.

Maybe it's the fact that Chip Ambres, Sandy Alomar, Jr. and Anderson Hernandez are on this team with a week and change until the trading deadline and no hope on the horizon. Maybe it's that the Mets are likely going to rely on an increasingly out-of-gas Glavine, a noble but still injured Sosa, an injury-prone Duque, and youngsters Maine and Perez to shepherd this starting rotation through the season. The rotation is (allegedly) a key strength.

It could be the bullpen's struggles, which have resumed to haunt it after an incredible stretch prior to this road trip. Willie has two relievers who are to be counted upon in close games, and they're both lefties. Joe Smith isn't showing any of that magic we grew to love earlier this season, Aaron Heilman is liable to blow the game at any turn, Guillermo Mota still has a 5.53 ERA, and Aaron Sele, while not exactly disappointing, has made us lust for the 2006 Darren Oliver.

Thankfully, the Mets are outperforming their Pythagorean record by three games. Coincidentally, perhaps, the Mets narrowly retain a lead of three and a half against Atlanta, inexplicably swept by Cincinnati earlier this week, despite almost identical Pythagorean records.

I can't help but worry about this team, whether or not Pythagoras intended for that. You can still look at the lineup and find non-contributors in Shawn Green and whoever is slumping with him. Recently, we have seen Jose Reyes in near-freefall, Paul Lo Duca redefining useless, and the now-injured Jose Valentin showing nothing near last year's performance.

This all makes us wonder: how on earth did this year's club, with ostensibly similar roster construction, manage to underperform so much compared to the magic of 2006? Was it really the departure of Chad Bradford? Was it Cliff Floyd? Eli Marerro? X-Man? Sancho?

It's hard to say, but the Mets this week will attempt to embark on a new phase of the season. Moises Alou has parted the Atlantic and returned to action, as he is slated to join the Mets tomorrow. It's reasonable to assume there shall be platoons abounding in the corner outfield positions, with Firstings supplanting Green and Marlon Anderson spelling the fragile Moises.

When Damion Easley, who receives the deepest condolences from this space, returns sometime this week or next, he, Anderson, and Ruben Gotay will form a triumverate at second base with Jose Valentin absent for the forseeable future.

The pitching staff will remain relatively unchanged this week, but the Mets are undoubtedly looking to acquire relief pitching at the deadline, and the farm system is quite deep. Perhaps the Mets will pick up the righty setup man of their dreams. And speaking of righty setup men, Duaner Sanchez is a candidate to make an appearance sometime next month, according to his agent, Bean Stringfellow, seemingly a Monty Python character. Have we forgotten Pedro, too, the key rotation cog from last year's club who has been nothing more than an urban legend in 2007?

Relish the future for the Mets. The adversity is slowing, but with seven at home prior to the deadline against the Pirates and Nationals, is a clean sweep too much to ask for? I think not.


A few quick notes:
  • I'm not sure if I have expounded on ESPN's organized takedown of the National Hockey League in this space, but others certainly have. I think that blog has someone reading my mind.

    Anyhow, isn't it odd that ESPN's golden boy, David Beckham, who received hours upon hours of his own programming on the Worldwide Leader despite minimal playing time in his first contest, referred in his inaugural press conference to "the three big sports in America?"

    Perhaps you should consider sharing some of your time with hockey while savoring the fixing of games by an NBA ref, the seizure of a hallowed record by a misanthropic felon drug abuser in baseball, and the ritualistic electrocution of dogs raised to fight by an NFL superstar.
  • I am slightly ashamed to admit that various Harry Potter 7-related experiences kept me from posting this weekend (read: consuming the entire book in a day, and then suffering the requisite headaches), but I would love the opportunity to discuss my displeasure with the series' ending, which I will not reveal in this space. As always, I can be reached by email or in the comments section.
  • If the weather would deign itself to cooperate, I will be attending Thursday's Mets-Pirates contest. I will be the one unendingly whooping and cheering for Xavier Nady. Regrettably, it seems like there are few fan clubs I can join to channel this adoration of the X-Man. Oh, well.

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