It’s the middle of August and the New York Mets still haven’t won a series on the road against a National League opponent. In fact their only two road series wins came in consecutive June sweeps of the Orioles and Indians, two teams that can’t get out of their own way. And after their most recent debacle through Atlanta and Philadelphia even the most optimistic Met fan can safely say the season is over. So where do we go from here?
On Saturday, the Mets released 34-year-old Alex Cora and replaced him on the roster with 20-year-old Ruben Tejada. They also sent down 31-year-old Jesus Feliciano and replaced him with former prized prospect, the 21-year-old Fernando Martinez. People seem to forget how young Martinez is because we’ve been hearing about him since he was 16 years old, but all of the talent that had scouts raving about him as a youngster remains. And he certainly has much more upside than the career minor leaguer Feliciano.
So maybe they finally get it. You won’t hear these words cross the lips of Omar Minaya, but the Mets are rebuilding. Strange that it took until the middle of August for management to finally realize what the fanbase seemingly knew all along, that the Mets simply weren’t very good.
By his own account, Omar has stated that Ruben Tejada and Fernando Martinez will be nothing more than role players on this team. But if you look closely at the numbers, the Mets have a much better record with Tejada in the lineup as opposed to the increasingly useless Luis Castillo. When the Mets were playing well in the month of June, Tejada was an everyday player, and since his call-up has already impacted games with his amazing defense. He hasn’t faired well in the batter’s box, but the intangibles he brings to the table show me that the kid is a winning ballplayer. Martinez hasn’t faired well as a major leaguer in limited at bats thus far in his career either. But as a fan I’m hoping he will be able to inject some of that same youthful enthusiasm we saw from the Mets earlier in the year because the team looks completely deflated as they battle through the dog days of August.
Of course every Met fan wishes that the team could’ve given us a few more weeks of good baseball, at least until football started. But unfortunately it’s the middle of August and we’re already looking towards 2011. The fanbase is growing restless. And the Mets need to appease their fans if they don’t want another attendance drop next year. When Mets Owner Fred Wilpon was asked last week if he’d be retaining GM Omar Minaya’s services Wilpon responded “Will the sun come up tomorrow?” As a Met fan, that has to make you cringe a little. But let’s hope that the two minor moves made over the weekend are a sign of good things to come. After all… ya gotta believe.
Hawk Drobnis is a co-host of Gotham Baseball LIVE, and a contributor to gothambaseball.com
You can reach him at TheHawkisWatching@yahoo.com