When the Mets made the very un-Met-like move of acquiring Johan Santana for what many thought was less than market value, admit it ... you wanted to strip down to your underwear and run down the highway, right?
Well I lived that dream, my friend! (Which explains that week in late February that I wasn't blogging ... community service!)
But once the euphoria (and the drugs) wore off, I thought for a second. I mean, sure ... the Mets swung themselves an upgrade at the top of the rotation, one they so desperately needed. So one would think that that would make up the one game that the Mets lost the division by and then some, right? One would hope.
As you probably have figured out, I've got the Mets and the Phillies battling for the N.L. East in a two horse race (hell, the Braves are already in last place.) While the Mets seem to have the upper hand by a good margin, remember:
- Pedro Martinez still has to show that he can stay healthy again for a full season, which he really hasn't done since '05.
- Jose Reyes has to bounce back and become the Jose Reyes we all know and sing for.
- Ryan Church is a disaster waiting to happen.
The Phillies have no such problems with their lineup, as Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Pat Burrell, Geoff Jenkins, and maybe even Pedro Feliz and Carlos Ruiz are going to be murder on opposing pitching staffs ... especially in their Shoebox of a stadium.
But with Santana, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Martinez, and now Mike Pelfrey, the Mets potentially have a starting pitching staff that can be murder on opposing lineups ... and Santana is just the guy to neutralize big lefties like Howard and Utley. And dare I say it, their bullpen looked good in spring training (I know, spring training doesn't count, but the Mets did lead all teams in spring training ERA.) More importantly, Johan will supply the bullpen with some extra rest every fifth day, as he's sure to go seven innings in at least half his starts ... a foreign concept last season.
While the Mets' upgrade involves more of a sure thing, the Phillies' upgrade involves trading for closer Brad Lidge. Lidge is high risk, high reward. If he's healthy, and if he remains relatively implosion-free, the Phillies will be in good shape. But not only are those big ifs ... but if Lidge is a disaster, the Phillies will wind up depending on Flash Gordon to close. It's a scenario any Mets fan would find most appealing.
So as you can see, the Mets are in good shape. But considering the Mets haven't beaten the Phillies since World War II, the East is going to be a struggle. The Mets may be in a bad position in September, say ... seven games out with seventeen to play. But then ...
But it solves nothing, as the Mets and the Phillies will meet in the 2008 NLCS (but I'm not ready to handicap that yet.)