The Mets' dream season ends in a nightmare finish
OK. Let's look at the positives. 97 regular season wins. Division title. Slayed the dragon better known as the Atlanta Braves. And more recently, possibly solidified two spots in their 2007 starting rotation with young arms from both sides.
Now for the negatives. The Mets should not have lost to an 83-win team that was reeling at the end of the season. The St. Louis Cardinals are not a slouch team, by any means. But the Mets were a better team and should have found a way to win the National League Championship Series.
Going in to the playoffs, the biggest concern in the Mets dugout was the starting pitching. With Pedro Martinez and Orlando 'El Duque' Hernandez both out, unproven arms such as John Maine and Oliver Perez were needed. The two things that were taken for granted were the Mets' explosive offense and deep bullpen. As this unpredictable post-season has taught us, what seemed like a lock was anything but.
In the NLCS, the Mets' bats were silent in six of the seven games. Only in Game 4 did the Mets show the type of offense that they did during the summer. The Cardinals' starters did a great job against the big bats, and Jeff Suppan threw two gems, which earned him NLCS MVP honors. The old saying that good pitching stops good hitting rang true this time around. Jeff Weaver and Chris Carpenter also were effective as starters, and their bullpen (with the exception of Game 4) was strong. The Mets young guns, Jose Reyes and David Wright, had some troubles in the playoffs. Wright had a tougher time that his infield neighbor, but hopefully this experience will help them out in the future.
The Mets' bullpen played a Jekyll and Hyde game during the NLCS. Guillermo Mota, Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner were spotty. The pen did have its big moments. But two of the games were given up by the late-inning guys.
The starters for the Mets were basically put together with spit and band-aids. Tom Glavine basically did his job. Maine came up short in Game 2 and huge in Game 6. Oliver Perez had a decent start in Game 4, but had a lot of support. On three days rest, Perez came back to pitch extremely well in game 7.
What do you take out of this as far as next season's starting rotation goes? If the Mets bring back Glavine, he can be the veteran leader of a staff that may be a lot younger than Mets fans are used to. Did Maine and Perez give themselves a spot each heading into Spring Training? Or have they built up their value where one or both can be packaged for a Dontrelle Willis? It gives the Mets some options. They still have Mike Pelfrey, Phillip Humber and Brian Bannister in the mix.
And what about Aaron Heilman? The former starter has maintained his stance that he wants to return to the rotation, and with Duaner Sanchez coming back from shoulder surgery and the emergence of Mota, the Mets' seventh and eighth inning men are covered.
What appears bleak on one hand looks brighter with the other. Older starters that are injury prone are still part of this team. Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez can still help, but cannot be counted on. This staff needs to get younger, and the disappointing post-season will look brighter when the wounds start to heal with time.