The year began with Johan Santana supposedly being out until August, but it was never specified in what year he would make that late-summer return. Mike Pelfrey was supposed to fill in for Santana as the Mets' ace. He pitched more like Ace Ventura. Jason Bay was supposed to prove that 2010 was a fluke. Mission not accomplished.
On the bright side, Oliver Perez didn't get to throw ball four for the Mets in 2011 and Luis Castillo didn't get to hobble his way around Citi Field in search of a glove that didn't drop crucial Subway Series pop-ups.
The year was happy. The year was crappy. But how happy and crappy was the 2011 season for the Mets? That's what this post is all about. Let's start with what went right.
Terry Collins was not the fans' first choice to be Mets' manager in 2011. Fans who wanted to see Wally Backman as the skipper of the Mets got their wish, sort of, as the former spark plug was promoted from Brooklyn to manage the AA-Binghamton Mets. Collins did not get off to a fast start, to say the least, as the Mets lost 13 of their first 18 games. However, he quickly got his players back on track and by late July, the Mets were four games over .500 and had fans thinking about meaningful games in September. The ride didn't last for the full 162-game journey, but it showed that Collins could handle this team and gave fans hope for better things to come.
It was expected that the Mets were going to trade Carlos Beltran at some point during the 2011 season. But Beltran had not played an injury-free season since the Mets said sayonara to Shea. The odds of getting anything of value in return for Beltran did not appear to be great as the season got underway. But something funny happened on the way to the trade deadline. Beltran played. And played. And played. Not only did he play, he played well, hitting around .300 for most of the season and leading the team in home runs and RBI. The highlight of Beltran's season came on May 12, when he hit three home runs in a game against the Rockies at Coors Field. That caught the eye of the offensively-challenged San Francisco Giants, who parted with their top pitching prospect in July to acquire Beltran. Carlos Beltran was not going to be a Met in 2012, but Zack Wheeler might make an appearance at Citi Field within the next year or two. Who would have thought the Mets could acquire such a top prospect for a player who was one injury away from not being worth a bag of baseballs and a used jock strap?
Like Beltran, Jose Reyes had also spent more time checking himself into the DL Hotel than on the field prior to 2011. Reyes still made two trips to the disabled list in 2011, but when he was on the field, he was brilliant. For most of the season, Reyes was leading the league in multi-hit games, triples, runs scored and one other category. It was a category that no Met had ever led after Game No. 162 prior to this season. Notice my use of past tense in the previous sentence. By collecting a hit in his final at-bat, Reyes finished the season with a .337 batting average, becoming the first Met to win a batting title. And I can't think of a better segueway into the crappy part of our season recap.
"Now batting for the Miami Marlins, number 7, Jose Reyes." Admit it. You never thought Reyes would ever play for a team other than the Mets, let alone a division rival - a division rival that Reyes watched from the Shea Stadium dugout as they eliminated his former team from postseason contention in consecutive seasons. The departure of Reyes marked the biggest free agent defection of a homegrown player since Darryl Strawberry switched coasts following the 1990 season. Back then, the Mets responded to the Straw Man's departure by finishing with a losing record for the next six seasons. That doesn't bode well for the 2012 Mets.
The injury recovery time prognosticator at Citi Field failed again in 2011. David Wright was only supposed to miss a few weeks with his injured back. He ended up taking a two-and-a-half month paid vacation. Ike Davis was day-to-day when David Wright danced the forbidden dance with him near the Coors Field pitching mound. We're still waiting for Ike's return. Johan Santana? Apparently, his injury is causing major league baseball to consider changing the 15-day-DL to the 15-month-DL. Ever since moving into Citi Field, no one has been immune to the injury bug. Expect Mr. Met to go on the DL in 2012.
Hey, buddy. Can you spare a dime? How about a couple hundred million dimes? That's what the Wilpons are probably asking right now, as the Mets' financial woes continue to get worse and worse. As a result, Sandy Alderson hasn't been able to pursue big ticket free agents, while his division rivals have not hesitated to add star power. The Phillies signed closer Jonathan Papelbon. The Nationals traded for starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez. The Marlins got whoever they wanted not named Pujols. Season ticket holders get special perks. Potential minority owners will get their own set of perks. The only perks fans really want are spelled with a W, an I and an N, and the Wilpons seem more interested in spelling "NO SALE" than a much shorter word like "WIN".
Well, there you you have it, my friends. It was another year full of happy moments as well as crappy moments. There were times to cheer, times to boo and times to complain about there not being more chicken nacho stands at Citi Field (although that might have been more Joey doing the complaining than me).
As always, we'd like to thank you, our faithful readers, for making it a blast to write about our favorite team, whether they make us smile or make us hide our heads under paper bags. Your continued support, as always, is very much appreciated.
We'd also like to thank our fellow bloggers, from Greg Prince and Jason Fry at Faith and Fear In Flushing, to Joe D at Mets Merized Online and the ever-wise John Coppinger (a.k.a. Metstradamus), your sites have inspired us at Studious Metsimus to be better bloggers. We can't thank you enough for your contributions to the Mets blogosphere, but we sure can try!
Other blogs worth reading include Remembering Shea, Kiner's Korner, The Real Dirty Mets, Mets 360, On The Black, MetsBlog, Random Mets Thoughts, Kranepool Society and The Daily Stache, to name a few. (But there are many other outstanding Mets blogs out there!)
Oh, yeah. There's one more blog I forgot to mention. Perhaps you've heard of A Gal For All Seasons (and if not, shame on you - but if you click on the link above, all will be forgiven). The author of that site inspires the Studious Metsimus crew more than any other blogger in the Mets blogosphere, and I'm not just saying that because she's my wife. Really. I'm not kidding. Ya Gotta Believe (me). Let's just say that she's the reason the Studious Metsimus team will always have happy recaps, even if one of us asks for a $106 million box of chocolates.
From all of us to you and yours, we hope you have a happy and healthy New Year. Then again, as long as we remain fans of the Mets and not players on the Mets, we shouldn't have a problem with health issues. Let's Go Mets!
Photo by Jason Bornstein (Remembering Shea). He brings out the blue and orange in all of us.