Saturday, November 7, 2009

Joey's Soapbox: Mets Must Take Baby Steps First

Do you see the picture of me to the left? I'm taking baby steps in order to get across the bridge without falling over. (Thanks to my fellow blogger and hopefully soon-to-be Studious Metsimus correspondent, the super sweet Coop for her assistance.) If I tried to run across, I'd fall flat on my face and the people behind me would trample me.

That's what the Mets avoid doing in 2010. This past season, they took the failures of the previous two seasons and tried to do too much. They fell flat on their faces, injured them, went on the DL for months because of it and watched as the Phillies, Braves and Marlins trampled them in the standings.

If the Mets learned anything from their failures in 2009, it's that they must not try to do more than they're capable of doing.

For example, Oliver Perez signed a huge contract to stay with the Mets. Like any other player in his situation would do, he tried to justify his exorbitant contract by throwing a perfect game every time he went out to the mound. Once he would lose his perfect game during the Star-Spangled Banner, he'd press to retire that first batter and he'd turn into Charlie Brown on the mound.

When you try to do too much, you set yourself up for failure. Even David Wright was not immune to this. When Shea Stadium was dismantled, so was Wright's powerful bat. Too many of his fly balls became long outs or doubles, especially balls hit to the opposite field that might have been home runs at Shea Stadium. Not coincidentally, his strikeouts also went way up this year.

Despite the fact that Wright played in a career-low 144 games, he finished with a career-high 140 strikeouts. He pressed too much at the plate and the team suffered for it, no matter how hard he tried to be the David Wright of old.

Other players such as Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran and Frankie Rodriguez had excellent starts but when the team needed them to supply more due to the overwhelming amount of injuries, they both bypassed the baby steps and went into full "running across the bridge" mode. Johan and Carlos got hurt and Frankie got trampled by opposing hitters.

The 2009 Mets finished 70-92. There were no meaningful games in September to lose as in the previous two seasons. They did all their losing well before September began. Had the Mets not tried to do too much, perhaps they might have performed better on the field. At the very least, perhaps they could have STAYED on the field.

In 2010, the Mets must remember to take the baby steps before running across the bridge. They can't compete for a division title without getting back to .500 first. They should make that their first goal. Should they surpass that goal, then (and only then) should they go for the gold. If they try to go for it all too soon, Club Mets might continue to party like it's 2009.

Take it from a blogging bear. Falling flat on your face hurts. I know that all too well. So does Fernando Martinez (see photo, right). The Mets already did a face plant once (a.k.a. the 2009 season). The fans aren't going to accept it from them again.

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