Thursday, August 31, 2006
Are the Mets vulnerable?
After I gloated that, as of yesterday's games, the Mets possessed the best record in baseball, Barry sent me a series of emails. He said it was OK to post them. Barry began by explaining that the article I quoted, "Pieces in Place for Subway Series" (between the Yankees and Mets), written by Mike Bauman and published in yesterday's New York Times, actually appeared at MLB.com on Monday.
"Mike's our columnist," Barry explained. "Good writer and a great guy. I don't happen to agree with him. I think any of three teams in the NL West can beat the Mets in the first round because their starting pitching can match the Mets or do better.
"Giants: Schmidt, Morris and Cain or Lowry
Padres: Peavy, Chris Young and Williams
Dodgers: Penny, Maddux and Lowe
"I'm worried about an over-the-hill Pedro, a shaky Glavine and Trachsel being the stalwart. For that reason, the Mets are vulnerable. Plus all the NL West teams will be battling to the final weekend for either the division title or wild-card berth.
"The Mets would be better served if the Reds won the wild card because I think that's their easiest first-round match up. Otherwise, if the Phillies or Marlins win the wild card, they'd play either the Cardinals or the NL West winner (probably the Dodgers), whichever team finishes with the lesser record. The Cards would also be a good match for them because the Cards' front-line pitching is in shambles (Mulder's out for the season). If the wild card comes out of the NL West (Padres or Giants), the Mets would get that team in first round. Regardless, the Mets will be up against it versus one of these Western teams, whether its in the first or second round.
"Remember 1988? The Mets were 10-1 against the Dodgers during the regular season and lost to them in the NLCS in seven games.
"The Mets also better hope that the Astros don't make it. Oswalt, Clemens, Pettite. And that team is well-managed and battle-tested by the last two postseasons.
"Also, I don't have much faith in the Yankees' pitching to get them to the World Series. As we've seen over the last two weeks, the five-game sweep at Fenway was as much about the Yankees playing well as it was about the Red Sox's collapse."
I haven't seen the Dodgers much, so I can't really comment about their prospects. But in 1988, they beat the Mets in the playoffs behind an incredible pitching run by Orel Hershiser and hitting heroics by the injured Kurt Gibson." Are Brad Penny, Greg Maddux or Derrick Lowe Hershiser? I don't think so. But, yes, the Mets do have major question marks in the rotation and won't know the answers until Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine start pitching again. If either one are out for the playoffs, that would be a major blow to the Mets' postseason chances. And yes, due to the Mets' overwelming lead in the NL East, they won't be truly tested until the playoffs. But I still contend that the Mets will go to the World Series this season. Whether they'll play the Yankees, Tigers, White Sox or Twins is really the question people should be asking.
PHOTO OF BARRY BLOOM WITH BRIAN McCRAE & HEADSHOT COURTESY OF MLB.COM
B-i-l-l-y-W-a-g-n-e-r: 4.2 career postseason innings; 9.64 era; 2 HRs allowed; Zero Saves.