First there are the new stallions brought on board to help get the team headed in the right direction. Michael Cuddyer has been the professional hitter they envisioned when they signed him. Not only has he stayed healthy (knock on wood) but he’s also been a good influence on the other players letting them know how the game should be played. To date he’s hitting .333 and is third on the team in RBIs behind Travis d’Arnaud and Lucas Duda.
John Mayberry hasn’t gotten a lot of ABs in his role as a right handed hitting specialist brought in to mash southpaws, but all spring he did just that. He’s a career .270 hitter against lefties, with a slugging percentage in All-Star range, so his time will come as the plethora of righties gives way.
The biggest stallion to return, of course, is a healthy (cold and flu notwithstanding) Matt Harvey who is currently sporting a stat line as the fourth best pitcher in the rotation but still commendable at 3.50. He trails Jacob de Grom, Jon Niese (as of Monday) and Bartolo Colon. Only Dillon Gee is performing at a sub-par level.
In the bullpen Jeurys Familia has taken on the closer’s role without missing a beat when Jenrry Mejia went down with both injury and suspension. Jerry Blevins was perfect until he decided to field a line drive with his pitching forearm instead of his glove arm. The rest of the bullpen has had its ups and downs but when you’re 7 games over .500 only 13 games into the season, it’s been far more good than bad.
The only offensive players not doing much are the walking man, Curtis Granderson, the lame duck second baseman who missed most of spring training, Daniel Murphy, and until his two homers got him a seat on the bench on Sunday, Wilmer Flores.
The challenge to Terry Collins is to keep it going. He started the season without Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin, but he already had 6+ starters so that first one was easy to absorb and Trader Sandy Alderson brought in two lefties – Blevins and Alex Torres – to join Sean Gilmartin in the bullpen. Then came the Jenrry Mejia situation which was a bit more taxing with Vic Black and Bobby Parnell still rehabbing, but Erik Goeddel was summoned to provide another right handed arm in the pen and Familia has taken to his role like a duck to water.
The whole Mets fanbase held its collective breath when the David Wright hamstring injury happened but Eric Campbell was summoned from Las Vegas and has already driven in three runs in his first five games.
Next came that fateful Sunday when the Mets lost two players to fractures in the same game, isolated incidents, but still eerily reminiscent of the loss of both Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran after their horrific collision.
So with Hansel Robles promoted to replace the lefty Blevins and top catching prospect Kevin Plawecki donning the tools of ignorance in Travis d’Arnaud’s absence. What’s fascinating is that there is no sense of panic. With all of the players already on the DL, the Mets have shown some depth capable of weathering the storm. It’s amazing what a little winning does for attendance, confidence and attitude.
So as the team enters its next stretch against the Braves, Yankees and Marlins, can Terry Collins motivate them to continue to perform at a high level? Everyone knows a .769 winning percentage is unsustainable as they’re not going to win 124 games this year. However, the solid starting pitching is keeping them in games even though there has been little contribution thus far from David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores. That’s half your offense not producing yet the team is winning.
Could it be that the manager has something to do with the results in the standings? If so, a tip of the cap to Terry Collins, but I’m not ready to exercise his 2016 option just yet. After all, a hot week or so doesn’t erase four years of losing. Still, give kudos to the man for an unexpectedly solid start against all odds and without many of his key contributors available or playing up to par. If they start awarding a manager of the month, Terry Collins deserves it for what he’s already accomplished in April.