Overview: With all that went on this past offseason, was this season supposed to be an easy one for the New York Mets? Absolutely not. Was it supposed to be a one that was drama free? Definitely not. After 40 games, the Mets are 19-21 and they've been as up and down as can be expected with the pieces in place and with the assortment of injuries that have struck them. Looking more closely, though, one realizes that even after the Mets' abysmal seven-game losing streak in mid-April, New York has won 14 of its past 22 games. An interesting statistic: The Mets are 14-6 with Jason Bay in the lineup, despite him hitting just .216 with two home runs and six RBI on the year.
Besides this, the Mets would certainly be better off if their pitching was steadier. Currently, their starters have posted a 4.74 ERA, third-worst in the entire major leagues. We all knew that the rotation would be the weak spot this season, but I don't think people thought it would be this bad. Obviously, they're sorely lacking a big-time ace: Mike Pelfrey started off terribly and has been average ever since; Jon Niese has been better lately (minus his last start) and is young, so inconsistency should be expected; Chris Young was good in his limited time;Chris Capuano started out in a funk but hasn't allowed more than two runs in three straight outings and Dillon Gee continues to be a pleasant surprise and give the Mets quality innings.
Why are the Mets close to .500 with such a weak pitching line? For one, their relievers rank ninth in the majors in ERA, fifth in the National League. They are sixth in runs scored in the NL, ninth in batting average and seventh in homeruns. A middle-of-the-pack offense, a poor rotation but a plus relief core will make you a near-.500 team, which the Mets are.
Biggest Bust: Before we get to discussing individual players, let it be known that even on a .500 team, there are seemingly way too many players giving fans headaches at this juncture. For the offseason, bargain-bin moves as a whole, let's give them a C. Brad Emaus was supposed to be "that guy" at second base, but the team cut ties with him early on. Luckily Justin Turner, who was in Triple-A, has filled the void along with Daniel Murphy. Young was excellent in the 24 innings the threw, but that's all he'll amass in a Mets uniform. Willie Harris has been plain awful this season, and he has a .216/.318/.338 slash line to boot -- yet Scott Hairston has been worse: .205/.300/.295. Mets pitchers also probably hit better than Chin-lung Hu, with just one hit in 19 at bats.
D.J. Carrasco, signed to a two-year deal, was sent to the minors, so that should tell you how he was pitching this season, while the late-offseason move of bringing in Jason Isringhausen lessens the blow of the Carrasco signing, to this point at least. (Don't get me wrong, there were other savvy moves: Capuano has been decent, Pedro Beato a pleasant surprise in the bullpen and Ronnie Paulino has been solid since he's been in the lineup. Further, none of these guys cost all that much.)
On the hitting side, the biggest bust so far has to be David Wright. He has six home runs and 18 RBI, though a .226/.337/.404 line from your three hitter just doesn't cut it. Add in the fact he has 45 strikeouts and he's missing pitches he used to crush way too often. Am I worried? Not really, but I will be mid-way through the year if Wright still has these type of numbers.
Pitching-wise, you couldn't have started out the season worse than Pelfrey. His ERA is 5.74 and his WHIP is 1.61 and he has just 23 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings. If the Mets want to stay in the hunt, he has to be better, which he has been for the most part lately.
Biggest Surprise: This is a pretty easy one, and I'll make it short. Carlos Beltran hardly played at all -- nine at-bats -- during Spring Training because of his recovery from knee surgery. He also switched from center field to right field. He started the year getting a day off here and there to stay fresh. Now, he's an everyday player, making the transition to right field look easier than anyone thought, and his bat is resembling the Beltran of old. He has a .294/.384/.587 line this season with eight home runs and 24 RBI. While he doesn't have the stolen-base prowess anymore, he certainly has the same hitting ability he had pre-injury woes and it's really fun to watch. As long as he's healthy, he still looks like a force out there.
Outlook: It may not be at the half-way mark -- as it may come earlier or slightly after, but the Mets will not look the same as they do now in three months at the end of July. Unless they seriously make a run over the next few months, nearly everyone on the team is on the trading block. Reyes has been the most discussed player because he'd net the best return and his contract is expiring, but Beltran, maybe Francisco Rodriguez, maybe Bay, and maybe even Wright could be gone. Nobody knows right now, but Sandy Alderson has said that nobody is untouchable.
Beyond all this, when the guys that are here now are in the lineup, the Mets will hit, but the success of their starting pitching will determine their fate.