Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Game 20 - Mets

Houston Astros 6, Mets 2
Record: 8-12

This could be a long, painful stretch of the season. Over the next nine days, the Mets face the Astros, Diamondbacks, and Cardinals, all teams clearly better than the Mets, even if their records aren't exactly brilliant at the moment. Last night was a return to the weak-hitting version of your New York Mets. David Cone left early with a hip injury. Jeromy Burnitz got hit in the hand by a pitch, broke a bone, and is out 4-6 weeks. And the result was another loss.

Meanwhile, every other NL East team won last night. On that note, I am starting to have a little more respect for this division than in seasons past. It used to be the Braves plus four rosters of crap, but if you take the time to look at these clubs, you can see that they're far better than, say, the dregs of the AL East. While this division has no Yankees or Red Sox, it also has no Orioles or Devil Rays, either. The Marlins and Expos garner no respect because they are low revenue, low payroll franchises with a number of no-names on the roster. But they each have strong, young pitching (the O's and Rays would kill for Beckett/Burnett/Penny or Armas/Vazquez/Ohka) and a handful of talented hitters (I-Rod/Castillo/Lowell and Vidro/Guerrero/Cabrera). Frankly, these are the types of clubs baseball fans should love, but nobody in Miami or Montreal really cares. At the same time, the Phils are markedly improved with the addition of Jim Thome alone, but add in Kevin Millwood, David Bell, a healthier Mike Leiberthal and a more patient Jimmy Rollins, and you have a division contender. As for the Braves . . . as much as I would love to be able to write them off after the idiotic personnel moves and tough injuries, there's no chance. This team has righted itself and is back to winning 7 out of every 10 games. Annoying as hell, but fact. Clearly, the National League East is no cakewalk.

Especially for a sloppy, aging team like the Mets. The previous paragraph depresses me when I compare those teams to mine own. The Mets are the outright doormat of the division, and it's looking like last season was no fluke. Every true would-be star on this team is past his prime, with a few solid guys thrown in to supplement. Then there are the obviously overmatched guys that take the heat off the underachieving leaders. And I quote:

"The fans booed Cedeno every time he batted and cheered when he was replaced in the eighth inning by Shinjo. Cedeno went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .177." [Ed. Note: At least the Burnitz injury assures him of more time in the outfield. Sweet.]

I am starting to think predicting 83 wins was an act of purest optimism. Oh, well, I'll be in New Orleans until Monday drowning these woes in Abitas, Bloodys, Hurricanes, & Hand Grenades. Until then . . .

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