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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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All's Wright With the World

How many duck-and-cover games have the Mets played in Soilmaster Stadium, anyway? And how many of those ended with some fleet, scrappity Marlin hitting a ball just past the first baseman’s glove, or just through the drawn-in infield, or just hugging the third-base line, or just catastrophic enough in some unanticipated way to spell doom for the Mets?

It didn’t escape me that Emilio Bonifacio was perfectly cast as the latest in that long line of spoilers, but for some reason I figured we had this one, despite Mike Pelfrey pitching like Mike Pelfrey and the Marlins clawing back more often than a movie serial killer. Maybe I was just in a good mood. Or maybe it was that the Mets, for once, had added a presumably capable player to the lineup instead of being deprived of one.

Yes, David Wright was back, and looking every bit as thrilled to be back as you figured David Wright would look. And he played pretty well too — his pair of opposite-field RBI doubles were very welcome, even if some ducks were left paddling serenely on the pond in between those at-bats. Plus it was pretty funny watching him succumb to peer pressure and display the Claw or the Spotlight or whatever that hand gesture is.

But Wright wasn’t the only source of positive vibes. Tonight I realized that at some point in the past couple of weeks I stopped thinking of Daniel Murphy as an enigmatic player on a hot streak and started thinking of him as what he actually might be: a pure hitter who’s good enough with the bat that his average (at best) defense is more than aceptable. And I found myself nodding my head at Terry Collins’ postgame discussion of how Bobby Parnell’s learned to use his fastball to make his slider an effective weapon even when he’s not perfect with it. (Witness the one he used to erase Bonifacio — the location wasn’t great, but the change in speeds and the surprise were enough to freeze Emilio.) Parnell seems like he’s gaining confidence by the day, and could take over the closer duties after a little more mentoring (and five saves) from Jason Isringhausen.

Which is where I began floating off into a reverie. Suppose the Mets re-sign Jose Reyes — as I loyally/stubbornly/crazily think they will. To Jose, add a healthy Wright and Ike Davis, the decent-enough Angel Pagan, whatever we can get out of Jason Bay and another year of bringing Josh Thole along in tandem with a veteran at catcher. Plug Murphy in at second, with late-inning help from Ruben Tejada. Right field comes from a prospect who replaces Carlos Beltran, or perhaps Lucas Duda emerges, or if all else fails something can be made up out of hopefuls and platoons and spare parts. That’s not a bad lineup. (Oh, and here’s betting they eliminate the Mo Zone with Wright’s sanity in mind.)

On the pitching side, you’ve got Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana and a fifth starter. (I don’t want to talk about Pelfrey, because he’s horrible and I can barely stand to look at him any more. If you’re in a more rational frame of mind, there’s a great discussion of Pelf and his future here.) Parnell closes and the middle relief is the same crapshoot everybody deals with.┬áThat’s not a terrible staff.

Would that team make the Phillies quake in their boots? No — but it would be a pretty good squad with mileage left on the odometer, several Omarpalooza contracts off the books, and the chance to take a next step forward and be truly formidable even as the Phillies find themselves spending too much money on players who aren’t aging well. (On Opening Day 2013 Ryan Howard will have the range of an old car up on blocks and five years left on his mega-contract. Good luck with that one.)

Watching your team lose a baseball game can make you think nothing will ever go right again, so I should be careful about even daring to think positive about this team, with its uncertain finances and horrific luck staying healthy. But I can’t help myself, and right now I don’t want to be talked out of it.

8 comments to All’s Wright With the World

  • Dave Goldberg

    How many times have I looked at a mediocre or bad team during my 50 seasons as a Mets fan and used the same optimistic lookahead, most often after a happy recap. Jason hits it, even forgetting to mention Beato, who I think is a steal reflecting Baltimore’s continuing misjudgement of talent (yes, there are teams who are worse at that than the Mets.)

    One caveat. Pelfrey stinks. I know it from watching him. I know it from his ERA and walks and hits allowed and primarily from his demeanor on the mound _ if I can tell from a television screen that he’s afraid to let go of a pitch in a tight situation, so can a hitter. I don’t need to know it from WAR and BABIT and the rest of the gibberish that some people use to back up what the reasonably bright fan can see with his own eyes. Like that stuff? Just remember that Billy Beane, who hit .202 or something in his cup of coffee with the Mets, probably never would have signed Jose Reyes.

    • Yeah, Pelfrey stinks. What I took away from the very good AA piece was he doesn’t really stink if you think of him as a fifth starter. Which I thought the author did a good job backing up, though I’d still rather not think of Pelfrey at all.

      • open the gates

        I don’t think anyone thinks of Pelfrey as the ace anymore, with the possible exception of Pelfrey himself. And as for a fifth starter for next year, I like Capuano better for that role. He’s a veteran, performed better than expected after a rough start, eats innings, and won’t break the bank. I’m sure we can get some other team to think of Pelf as a reclamation project. (Of course, the Mets being the Mets, said other team will probably turn him into the next Mike Scott. Oy.)

    • Andee

      I’d question whether Beane would have passed on Reyes had he known about him. I have yet to finish Moneyball (I’m about halfway in), so I don’t know exactly what the A’s Latin American scouting looked like in the late ’90s (or even whether the book mentions it).

      But Reyes actually did fit the Beane model, at least in some ways, in that Beane looked for players who were not of the Mike Pelfrey body type that scouts all fall in love with, the big tall buffed-out powerful-looking dude who looks like a Wheaties-box model even in college. Reyes was a relatively short and quite skinny 16-year-old who grew up poor, the kind of kid many scouts would have overlooked because of his build. Maybe Beane would have undervalued him because of his free-swinging tendencies, but I don’t think Beane much cares how players get on base, as long as they actually do it consistently at a .350-plus clip.

  • Joe D.

    I think any other organization with a decent cash flow (like the Mets easily once had) and an immensely improving team would be trying to re-sign Beltran, not get rid of him. Without him, there will be two holes in the lineup with neither of the corner outfield positions earning their keep.

    I doubt whoever replaces Beltran in right can replace his bat, clutch hitting and glove as long as a reduced payroll is more imperative in the minds of ownership for such a player will not be found in the bargain basement that Sandy Alderson shops around at. 2012 will not be a re-building year as 2011 is but neither will it be a big leap forward

    • I doubt Beltran would return to us, but even if he was willing, I suspect he’ll be looking for a three- or four-year deal to take him to retirement, which doesn’t seem like a good idea given his knee issues and the lack of a DH as a fallback in the NL. If he’d take a one-year deal with a (non-Omarpalooza) performance-based vest, sure — but why would he do that?

      • Joe D.

        Hi Jason,

        We both agree Beltran might just not want to stay with the Mets due to the treatment by the ownership which you touched upon yesterday.

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