As autumn approaches and the dog days of August wind down, the Mets turn the bend with a 14-length lead in the NL East and the Fall Classic well within their sights. Only a collapse of gargantuan proportions and a Bobby Thomson-esque like comeback by the Phillies can stop the Metropolitans.
So what shall the month of September mean for our frisky friends from Flushing? Well for one thing it will mean preparing for the playoffs. Here are four ways Willie Randolph and his crew can tune-up the Mets as they come down the stretch. And one way that the fans can help.
Pray For What You Want, But Prepare For What You Need!
The biggest concern the Mets have lies in the stability and abilty of their starting rotation. While
Mets’ brass cross their fingers and pray for the health of Tommy Glavine,
they must prepare for an October without him. If Glavine is unable to
return, the Mets will roll the dice and hope that one of the
triumvirate in Norfolk (AAA), Oliver Perez, Brian Bannister or Mike Pelfrey will
be able to come to the rescue. Oliver Perez will most likely be given
the first shot at replacing Glavine. Besides having the most previous
success on the major league level, Perez would replace Glavine as the
lone lefty in the starting rotation. In his last two starts at Norfolk
Perez has been lights out and has seemingly regained control of his
explosive but erratic fastball. Against Columbus on August 14th, Perez
went 6 IP with 7 K’s while allowing 5 H, 1 ER and most importantly only
1 BB. In his last outing versus Charlotte on August 19th he was even
better- 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB and 11 K’s.
Bannister could be the most poised pitcher of the three. His EXTREMELY strained hammy finally seems to have returned to health and with it
so has his pitching acumen. In his last two starts for the Tides
Bannister has tossed 14 IP with 12 K’s while allowing 9 H, 1 BB, and
only 1 ER. Though currently option # 2, if Brian has truly returned to
April form, he could be the Mets’ best option to anchor the aging Mets’
Should both Perez and/or Bannister fail, we cannot completely
discount further contribution from future ace Mike Pelfrey. He
certainly has the nastiest stuff of the three and showed true grit on
the mound in his earlier stint with the Mets. Unfortunately, Pelfrey is
recovering from a strain lat muscle and probably won’t be an option
for a couple of more weeks.
In the meantime, while we prepare Tommy G’s replacement, Mets’ fans
will have to get on their knees and pray Mr. Glavine’s cold finger is
nothing more than a flare-up of a life-long circulation problem
Another way for Randolph to apply some playoff polish is to play Carlos Delgado
against every lefty the Mets face. Yes, Carlos may only be hitting .221
against southpaws, but that’s even more reason to play him against
them. When the postseason hits Willie will not have the luxery of
sitting his clean-up hitter against lefties, so why not get him as much
practice as possible now.
No need to rush Pedro Martinez, but you also don’t want his
arm to atrophy. Give the guy four more starts and he’ll be ready. So,
massage that calf, do accupuncture, give him heat treatments galore,
just make sure that in three weeks Pedro is ready to go.
Show Shawn The Green
Michael Tucker is a nice guy and a true pro, but he’s not really very
good anymore. Cliff Floyd’s achilles tendon is thinner than a thread of
sewing string, and Endy Chavez can only play one position at a time.
That leaves the Mets with a game, but mostly overmatched Lastings
Milledge in rightfield. Shawn Green
has finally consented to waive his no-trade clause. All that stands in
the way of Shawn showing up at Shea is the type of green they print in
the nation’s capital. I say, agree to pick up at least two-thirds of
Green’s $9.5 million option next year and the D’Backs will not only
bite, they might root for us come the World Series. A Green/Milledge
platoon would help the Mets offense gain back some of the punch they
lost when they traded Xavier Nady.
This last suggestion to ready our Metroplitans for playoff battle is
for the Shea faithful. Their are 21 home games remaining. Pack the
stadium everytime out, and don’t just wait for the 7th-inning to root
root root for the home team, sing it every at bat, every pitch if
necessary. Let’s make ourselves the 10th man on the field and bring our
babies to the finish line just as we did in 1986.