Louie De Palma, the dispatcher from Taxi, once explained the difference between a schlemiel and a schlamozzle. A schlemiel, he stated, is someone who spills his soup. A schlamozzle is the guy he spills it on. Well, so far the 2011 New York Mets are a schlemiel, and Met fans who have had to witness their nightmarish April are the schlamozzles.
While pundits and experts predicted a last-place finish for the Mets, Terry Collins and his players felt confident the outcome of their season would be much different than those dire prognostications. And a hardy group of Met fans felt if many things broke right for this edition of the Amazin's, they could be the surprise team of the National League. Not only have many things not gone right for the Mets, though, almost everything has gone wrong. Even their crapshoot reclamation-project starting pitcher, who much to everyone's pleasant surprise turned out to be the best hurler on the staff, is now on the disabled list. Is the sky falling? Well, the sky doesn't really ever actually fall, so it's more like the Mets' basement is flooding. Ok, my basement flooded. Not only did I watch the majority of the seven-hour dirge-like double dip on Saturday, but I spent seven hours mopping up my basement to go with it. There must be some kind of message from God in there somewhere. Someday I'll figure out what it was I was supposed to be learning.
But I'm not here to pile on the Mets, and join the bandwagon of finger-pointers. Instead I'm here to look for positive signs for this year's Met team. I'll be like the guy in the old Who song "The Seeker": "I've looked under chairs/I've looked under tables/I've tried to find the key/To 50 million fables/They call me the seeker/I've been searching low and high/I won't get to get what I'm after/Till the day I die." So here we go.
The team's bullpen has been a disaster so far, but if you look closely, there are a handful of guys who have quietly been getting the job done. In nine innings of work, Pedro Beato has an ERA of 0.00 with a 0.78 WHIP. Sure, he made that one bad throw last week, but Ryota Igarashi also has a 0.00 ERA. Jason Isringhausen's only blemish has been one solo home run. And Taylor Buchholz has a 2.25 ERA.
Jose Reyes only has an OBP of .351, which at this point in his career is about what you're going to get. He's just not going to work out a lot of base on balls. That ship has sailed. But he's had a hit in every game except two, is batting .315 and his OPS of .844 would be the highest of his career if he kept up that pace. He's swiped six bases without getting caught. Nine of his 23 hits have been for extra bases, and he's led off almost every game by getting on base.
Who is getting on base at a high rate, though? Ike Davis. Even though he just broke out of a slump on Sunday, his OBP stands at .394. Though he only has one home run, he's driven in 12 runs in 16 games. Josh Thole looks right at home in the second spot in the lineup. Despite his lack of speed, he could work well hitting behind Reyes. Willie Harris has been the sparkplug off the bench the team was hoping for, with a .273/.360/.432 line. He may not be off to a great start, but Carlos Beltran has appeared in 15 of the Mets' 16 games. That in and of itself is a success. Physically, he's looked better than anticipated. And Jason Bay is scheduled to return on Thursday.
There have been plenty of disappointments in the starting rotation, but Chris Young is not one of them. Of course, he's already on the DL, but that's life for the Mets. Dillon Gee impressed in his first outing on Sunday. And maybe R.A. Dickey's relief appearance will get him back on last year's track.
The team came into 2011 with low expectations, and Sandy Alderson has viewed this season as a transition year. But all hope is not lost. Will Angel Pagan have a .169 batting average in September? Will David Wright's OBP be all the way down to .314 at the end of the season? Will the Mets have three starting pitchers with ERAs over six five months from now? Will second base be a black hole all season? Well, that one negative may stay constant. But the real question is: The Mets can't be as bad as they were during their seven-game losing streak, can they? They have plenty of room for improvement, and if you look closely, there are signs that they may just be turning a corner. Though it is supposed to rain again this week, so my basement may go right back into its losing streak. Will the Mets find themselves under water once again, too? There have been positive drips and drabs lately, so maybe they're safe for now.