Taking a deep breath

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.

10 thoughts on “Taking a deep breath

  1. Your first line in here spurs a classic chicken or the egg type scenario.

    ARe they not hitting because the approach is bad, or does the approach look bad because they aren’t hitting?

    Much the same as when people argue about ‘chemistry’. Do they win because if chemistry, or does good chemistry develope b/c the team is winning.

  2. Nice post. It’s hard not to overreact to this kind of slump. But you’re right, the Mets are better than they’ve played this month (and worse than they played last month).

  3. How old is Gee? Shouldn’t he be in the minors (a la Mejia) to get his reps in and develop as a starter? Will he be waisted in the pen by Jerry’s over-reliance on the hot hand of late? I don’t see how they’d ever bring him up as a reliever to possibly become a starter.

    • Good question and good points. But Gee is 24 and not considered a top-flight prospect, so his situation is pretty different from Mejia’s. He has 160 Triple-A innings under his belt so it’s not like he’s lacking for experience. And he’s thrown 111 2/3 innings this year and had some shoulder trouble last year, so it might be reasonable to limit his innings a bit with a move to the bullpen.

  4. Gee turned 24 in April…how his success will translate in the big leagues in questionable imo, but each case is really relative. Mejia is much younger than Gee & has a lot less experience in professional ball in general. The ceiling is much higher for a guy like Mejia, so yes he needs consistent work and reps at the minor league level to gain the experience he SHOULD have had prior to join the Mets. Gee is coming off an injury which shortened his season in Triple-A last year, but seeing how he has responded this year, I guess it’s worth giving him a shot this year.

  5. Gee seems like the type of guy that big league hitters will pulverize. He is a right handed soft tossing location pitcher. I think Jae Seo is good comp for Mets fans.

  6. Here’s the sad thing about being statistically oriented:

    I’m almost happy to see them lose, or, more accurately, to see Barajas and Francouer absolutely fall off a cliff, to see Pelfrey come back to earth, to see K-Rod blow saves, because THIS IS THE WORLD I KNOW. I always root for the Mets, but somehow I appreciate that in these loses, the Mets are proving us all right.

    • I cannot be even remotely happy watching the Mets lose. The worst part about the Mets losing as a fan is knowing that the bad results will not lead to positive change. As long as the Wilpons are signing the checks, we can expect the organization to be loaded with the Minayas and Manuels of the world and we will continue to be stuck watching players like Francouer, Barajas and Cora.

      Being right about players like Barajas and Frenchy is easy. Watching the Mets lose just sucks.

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