What are the biggest bugbears that have plagued the Mets this season?
(This is not a wound-licking thread, as all this has happened amidst a lot of good stuff also.)
(1) Low OBP, particularly from alleged table setters Jose Reyes and Kaz Matsui.
(2) Pedestrian Beltran, over-agressive and under-productive, and where are the stolen bases?
(3) Low production at first. This should be the easiest position to get production out of, because just about everybody is qualified to play it.
(4) Trachsel out. This has been a hidden problem. Even if he doesn't do well, he's unlikely to have been worse than Ishii and Jason Phillips would be here to hopefully have offset the slow starts of Ramon Castro and Doug Mientkiewicz.
(5) Wild pitchers. Reigning in Victor Zambrano and Kaz Ishii has been an ongoing problem for Rick Peterson. Zambrano has been solid for most of the season, but his wildness has led to short outings and an overtax on the bullpen.
(5) Insonsistent bullpen. Overblown, and despite recent failures, I still think it's working itself out fine. Danny Graves may have been a pointless gambit, but they've already -- despite the criticism that they cling to vets at the expense of youth -- had the nads to cut free Mike Matthews, Manny Aybar, and Mike DeJean this season.
(6) Spotty defense. This has been mostly a strong point, even from Cliff Floyd. But:
(a) It remains to be seen whether David Wright will grow into a strong defender or a Hubie Brooks/Howard Johnson type -- a talented athlete who will come up with big plays, but never be consistent enough to be above average. The good news is that his biggest gaffs coming at the worst... possible.. time... suggests that the problem is mental, and that the real talent is still there if he can get his head out of the way (though some guys never get their heads out of the way).
(b) Kaz Matsui certainly has the athleticism, but doesn't yet have the mechanics down for second, and the booing only makes it worse. Do we really need two guys thinking too much out there. Stop booing, you jerks. And, yeah, Miguel Cairo hasn't really been demonstrably better.
(c) Piazza's throws, never good, have been occassionally comically bad. Often you see that the pitcher's failure to hold the runner is a big part of it, but when that's so, you'd like a smart veteran catcher to know his limitations and eat the ball, rather than bounce it off of the mound.
(7) Tom Glavine ope'd the season as the assigned second starter and has since slipped behind Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano into the number four slot. He's done just well enough to make you hope there's more there, always turning in his best starts just as the corner man has lifted the towel to throw it in. He's a mystery, but could be trade bait.
(8) I forget what (8) was for.
(9) Willie Randolph's been frustratingly married to Reyes at the top of the lineup and Wright at the bottom, despite results that have oftentimes begged for a reversal.
(10) Tie (a) Piazza's offense. Really not so bad, compared to what you might have feared, just still frustrating to see pitchers get 92-mph fastballs on the inside of the plate past him with a 3-1 count.
(b) Cameron's injury. It cost him a month, but, really, we knew it would so it's hard to say it hurt the plan, and his absence allowed Diaz a chance to prove he's a big league hitter. If Cameron doesn't get hurt, maybe Diaz gets buried in Norfolk. On the other hand, maybe he plays some first down there and gets promoted with the tag of a more versatile player. Cameron's injury also triggered the onset of Crimp 10-C, the non-starterness of opening-day rightfielder Eric Valent.
(c) Who thought Eric Valent would disappear? What's more surprising -- him coming out of nowhere in 2004 or returning there in 2005?