Monday, July 04, 2005

D.C. Follies

What a place for the Mets to spend Independence Day...Washington DC. The Mets are the first team to be in the nation's capital on the nation's birthday since the return of the nation's pastime.

It's also interesting that the Mets are in D.C. during the day that's generally regarded as the first milestone to see where your team is at in the standings. The Nationals? Well they're in first place by five and a half games at the season's first watermark. The Mets? They're in last place, ten games back.

Happy holiday, indeed.

I wasn't around for the beginning of the season, so I could easily say that I picked the Nationals to be in first place on July 4th, just as I could also say that I'm dating Salma Hayek and who are you to doubt me?

Well, for the record, I picked the Nationals to finish in last place, just like everybody else. But am I surprised that the Nats are doing this well? Truthfully, not really. Don't forget that this is basically the same cast of characters that won 83 games just two seasons ago. The two biggest differences personnel-wise are Jose Guillen instead of Vlad Guerrero (a downgrade), and Chad Cordero instead of Rocky Biddle (an upgrade). But the biggest difference is being able to play 81 home games in the same place, and not have to fly from Puerto Rico to Seattle. They're also able to make trades and call up players, which they were not able to do in 2003. They also have fans...FANS! Imagine that! As the Expos, they averaged 9,356 fans per home game during the 2004 season. They're first season in D.C.? They've averaged a turnstile count of almost 30,000 per home game. Don't think that it's only a peripheral consideration. Fans make a huge difference. This team, with pretty much the same players, is in a much better position now than they were in 2003.

Can they keep it up? As much as I'm sure people are expecting them to collapse, and their lead is not insurmountable, this team can hold on. Sure, they've given up more runs than they've allowed. Sure, outside of Livan Hernandez their starting pitching is suspect. Sure, statistically they don't hit a ton. But if only the Mets got the timely hits like the Nationals get. If only the Mets won the close contests like the Nationals do (I believe they're 22-7 now in one run contests). You bet the Nationals can keep it up. Their biggest stumbling blocks are going to be the teams chasing them...the Braves are the Braves, and if they come back and overtake the Nats it will be because the Braves will get better, not the Nationals falling apart. I also fully expect the Marlins to have something to say before it's over. The Mets? Let's face it...they need a sweep. They need to win four games in a place where the Nationals are 29-10 this season. They need to sweep or else the Mets will start thinking strictly about either the wild card, or maybe becoming sellers in the trade market if it gets really ugly.

And who do the Mets trot out to start this light brigade charge?

Kaz Ishii.

Who better to start on a holiday known for fireworks.

Now if you'll all excuse me, Salma's about to throw some burgers on the grill. Happy fourth of July everyone!

Monday: Kaz Ishii (2-7, 5.68 ERA) vs. John Patterson (3-2, 3.17 ERA)
Tuesday: Pedro Martinez (9-2, 2.74 ERA) vs. Esteban Loiaza (4-5, 3.81 ERA)
Wednesday: Tom Glavine (5-7, 4.95 ERA) vs. Livan Hernandez (12-2, 3.32 ERA)
Thursday: Kris Benson (6-3, 3.75 ERA) vs. Tony Armas (4-4, 5.27 ERA)


Richard B. Wade said...

With regard to your poll: The biggest injustice is that the Brian Giles, who leads all NL Outfieldersin WARP1 (Wins Above Replacement Player), did not make the team.

Metstradamus said...

Point taken. There were a lot of N.L. outfielders that were shafted since the position is strong. Giles' 9 HR's hurt him as the players who voted look more at power numbers than anything, but the Padres being in first and only having one representative is a little strange. I think if anyone on the Padres got snubbed it was Ramon Hernandez, although LoDuca was a good choice.

Having seen Floyd almost every game I can tell you that not only are his power numbers there, but he's gotten probably the most timely hits throughout the lineup...and his defense has been outstanding for a guy who's injury prone and generally regarded as a liability in the field. If not for a slump in late May/early June, he would have been a lock.