I don't think it's a stretch to say the New York Mets are the most disappointing team in the majors in 2008. After the devastation of the way last season ended for them, it was imperative that the Mets get off to a good start in 2008.
It just hasn't gone that way.
Where to begin? The Mets look like an old, lethargic team. They are currently the oldest team in the majors, and some players seem to be playing like old men. Carlos Delgado has absolutely no range at first, and Luis Castillo (who was just signed to a four-year deal last winter) has clearly lost a step playing on a bum knee. Jose Reyes has made too many errors at short, and too often plays like is head isn't in the game.
The Mets made another mistake last winter by bringing back Moises Alou, who can't stay healthy, and is going back on the DL. In his place, the Mets have gotten almost no production out of the left field slot. Ryan Church was a very pleasant surprise, but his two concussions have put him on the DL and the Mets have no idea when he'll be back.
The Mets were counting on their starting pitching to bring them back to the playoffs but it has been too inconsistent. Johan Santana has been everything he was advertised to be, but the bullpen has blown it for him too often (and the loss yesterday was criminal). Pedro Martinez went down with a hamstring injury in his first start, and missing two months really hurt the team. Oliver Perez has been maddeningly inconsistent. When things go a little wrong, he collapses and they go wildly wrong. John Maine has been so-so, and Mike Pelfrey belongs back at AAA, as he just isn't ready.
The bullpen has been mostly a nightmare. Billy Wagner was nearly unhittable the first two months, but has slumped badly and blown his last three save opportunities. Scott Schoeneweis has done better than last year, but like Aaron Heilman, has been too hit or miss lately.
There are no easy answers for the Mets. They were picked by most pundits to either win the division or Wild Card. Willie Randolph has taken plenty of heat this season, some of it deserved and some not. But I believe most of the blame for the mess the Mets are should be placed at the feet of Omar Minaya, the GM. He put this lackluster product on the field, and he's made some really lousy decisions in the last few years (signing Alou and Castillo, trading Brian Bannister, for example). He's made some good moves (Ryan Church trade, John Maine trade, signing Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran), but the Mets have way too many holes that can't be fixed quickly. They don't have a lot in the farm system, especially at AAA. (They traded away some of their better prospects in the Santana deal also.)
Too often this season, the Mets look like a team that is 20 games behind in September playing out the year. They look old and rotten, and the collapse of last season seems to be hovering over this team like a black cloud. It is now 65 games into the season, and they are 31-34, and 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Phillies. The season is 40% gone, and if they just stand around waiting for something to right this ship, they maybe in for a long wait.
I can't say I know what will make the Mets a better team. I'm not going to be one of those sports-radio yahoos who call radio stations and suggest trades, because that is just stupid. I fear that Randolph will fall on the sword for this underachieving bunch, and that would be a shame. I've met him on a few occasions and I think he's a good baseball man. But like the old baseball adage goes about managers: "You're hired to be fired."
It will take a herculean effort for the Mets to get back in the race and save Willie Randolph's job. They may want to start by giving this club a heart transplant. They could sure use a new one.