Get a hold of yourselves. Deep breath. The Mets will hit again. These Mets. I know that’s hard to believe, given the stinking, putrid way they’re approaching marginal opposing pitchers.
But the Mets’ offense is not impotent. The Mets’ offense will rise again. This happens to a lot of teams, every once in a while.
To convince myself of that, I plugged each Mets regular’s rest-of-season ZiPS projecting into David Pinto’s handy lineup analysis tool. Pure nerdery, I know. Ike Davis didn’t have a projection, so I used his current season line.
With the current regulars batting in the current order, the Mets should score — according to the tool — 4.69 runs a game. That’d be good for fourth in the National League as it currently stands. With Josh Thole subbed in for Rod Barajas, it jumps to 4.78.
That’s a lot, and it’s a lot more than the 1.88 runs per game they’ve scored since the All-Star Break or the 2.78 they’ve mustered in the month of July. I have no idea what’s happening, but I am certain that the Mets have too many good hitters for it to happen for much longer.
They took a step toward upgrading their pitching last night by finally cutting bait on Fernando Nieve. Now they risk losing him on waivers — the horror — but marginally improve their bullpen with Manny Acosta. At the least, if Jerry Manuel is confident enough in Acosta to pitch him more than once a week, it should mean more frequent rest for Bobby Parnell and Pedro Feliciano.
Talk looms that the Mets will try to upgrade their rotation via trade, but by all accounts they are not willing to give up the necessary prospects to give up a front-line starter like Roy Oswalt and Dan Haren. That’s smart; mortgaging too much of the future in a season when they’re on the fringes of the playoff race reeks of 2004.
But then the second tier of supposedly available starting pitchers — Ted Lilly, Jake Westbrook and the like — don’t appear to be a massive upgrade over the fellows the team already has in house. Certainly if one is available on a straight salary dump, the Mets should jump on it — all teams need pitching depth.
And every time it looks like the wheels are coming off Hisanori Takahashi’s wagon, it turns out he’s just caulking the thing to cross some raging rapids, or something. Takahashi has not been great, but he hasn’t been much worse than Jake Westbrook, either. Westbrook could improve the team by bumping Takahashi into a bullpen role, but the upgrade is probably not worth a prospect of even minor repute.
Remember that as good as Takahashi was as a reliever, it was across a reasonably small sample during a time most of the league had never seen him. I don’t think it’s safe to just plug him back into that role and assume he’ll be as good as he was in April and May.
A guy who might help the team without costing anything is a dude I mentioned yesterday, Triple-A righty Dillon Gee. Gee has a deceptively high 4.52 ERA at Buffalo, but has shown excellent control and strikes out nearly a batter an inning. Gee is prone to the gopherball — a problem that would be at least somewhat alleviated by pitching in Citi Field — and has likely been victimized by a defense that often features Mike Jacobs and Val Pascucci on the field at the same time.
Promoting Gee into a bullpen job could serve a dual purpose: Adding to the big-league club a pitcher who can reliably get the ball over the plate and allowing the Mets to judge if and how Gee’s not overpowering but apparently effective stuff looks against Major League competition. If he succeeds, Gee could slot into the rotation if and when Takahashi proves ineffective for more than a 1-2 start stretch.
Gee is not on the Mets’ 40-man roster, but I believe the rule states that when a player without options (like Nieve) is put through waivers, he is removed from the 40-man. Pretty sure that’s the case, but either way, Eddie Kunz and Omir Santos are currently on the 40-man as well, so there’s probably some room for flexibility.
Of course, there’s the issue of space on the 25-man roster. Any number of current relievers might prove ineffective in short order, but obviously the odd man out should be the bearded rich guy with the WHIP around 2. But then that’s apparently not going to happen. Nevermind.