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July 09, 2008

Up to mediocrity

As I've told you before, I'm an eternal pessimist when it comes to my team, the Mets. Last fall, when the Mets collapsed, I saw it coming. It wasn't a collapse, after all; it was a return to where the Mets should have been all year long: at mediocrity.

You would think that signing Johan Santana in the off-season would have changed things, but you would have failed to take into account the general aging of the otherwise already aged squad.

With this weekend's 3 wins out of 4 against the first-place Phillies and last night's shutout of the Giants, some people are starting to get excited. The Mets are only 1-1/2 games out of first.

Wake up! The Mets are also only two games over .500, at 46-44. That's called mediocrity. You don't strive for mediocrity; you want to be good, if not great.

I still remember the Mets' 11-game winning streak in June 1969. It was the first time they went over .500 that late in the season. Ever. But Tom Seaver, then in his third year in the majors, said that being .500 is nothing to celebrate. The goal was to win. (I recently searched the NY Times for June 1969 and couldn't find anything resembling this quotation, but I distinctly remember it. Maybe it was reported by the Mets' announcers on TV.)

So the goal is for the Mets to win. If they can't do that, and I suspect they're a few position players and a few starters short (to say nothing of the bullpen), it's time for them to recognize as much and build their farm system. Santana was an excellent acquisition, but if it takes two or three years to develop some players in the minors, that'll have to happen. New York is a win-now kind of environment, but the Mets have been trying to win now for years, with only a rare visit to the playoffs. The time to build is coming soon, and maybe it's already here.

UPDATE (7/13): I think I'm going to have to take credit for the fact that the Mets have won four more in a row since I wrote this (at 8 in a row now). I guess I provoked them, or else they wanted to make me look like a whining jerk.