Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Searching for Happiness in the Lost Cause Mets

While the Phillies continue to roll (how good is Jayson Werth?) and the Mets continue to slide (can I give Fernando Tatis a ride back to the Dominican Republic?), it's difficult to find joy in the 2009 Mets season. We are being forced to watch B-list players start on what was supposed to be a title contending team.

The last week has found me barely watching an inning of every game because I already know the outcome. John Lannan is pitching? 4 hit shutout. We're playing the Braves in Atlanta? Lose 3 out of 4. It's pitiful, but the optimist in me has to find something to root for.

It's been difficult to find, but there are a few glimmers of hope that I'll be watching as we head into the dog days of summer until NFL training camp starts. Here they are:

Angel Pagan: I really want to see if this guy can perform at a high level for the next few months. When he's healthy, Pagan looks like a high quality everyday outfielder. He's got speed. He can hit with some pop and he's got a solid glove. The question mark is his health and how he can handle extended playing time. With Reyes out, Pagan is our next best leadoff hitter and I really think he adds a spark. Or will too much playing time cause him to break down?

Jeff Francoeur's arm: I've always known Frenchie had a good arm, but until you see him every day you don't get a true sense of just how good it is. Last night he threw a ball to third in the air from deep right field that was on a rope. If David Wright didn't have his glove up, the ball would have hit him square in the chest. Obviously, Francoeur's bat will be the real question mark, but his arm is something to behold out there in right.

Daniel Murphy's development: Did you know Daniel Murphy was our opening day left fielder? Yup, hard to believe. But now Murphy is looking more and more comfortable at first base. The kid is making veteran plays over there and he seems to mentally be at ease over there. His bat is questionable, but I wonder if the nerves and expectations of playing left field made him lose focus at the plate or try to overcompensate for his lack of fielding by making big plays at the plate. In my mind, Murphy can be a solid defensive first baseman in a few years, but that's not ideally what you're looking for from that position. You either want some power (like Adam Dunn) or a guy who can hit for average (like Olerud or Hernandez). If Murphy can start hitting, we will have an interesting bargaining chip for offseason trades if not a guy the Mets want to hold onto.

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