The main story surrounding the Mets these days seems to be the ticking clock over Carlos Beltran’s time with the team. With the trade deadline looming and the Mets hanging on by a thread in the wild card race, Beltran could be dealt any day. Yet today the headline is not about Carlos, or anyone else leaving the team- it’s about someone returning. The face of the franchise David Wright is finally back with the team, and should be batting cleanup in the opener of the Mets 3-game series against the Marlins Friday night.
Wright has been out of action since May 15 with a stress fracture in his lower back. It was only the 2nd time DW has ever been on the disabled list, and this was by far his longest absence. David was having his worst season statistically before he got shelved, hitting just .226 with 6 homeruns and 18 RBI in 146 at-bats. His strikeout numbers were once again high, as he quickly racked up 43 punch outs. But it is very likely that the fractured back had a lot to do with those numbers. Wright is a career .300 hitter, and hopefully the time he took off to heal will allow him to perform at his best. If his rehab numbers are any indication (and I don’t necessarily think they are), he should be just fine. Wright hit nearly .500 with Port St. Lucie, going 10-21. And he picked a good team to come back against too. Wright’s 76 RBI against Florida are more than he has against any other team. He also has a .326 career average with 19 homeruns against the Fish.
In addition to Wright, the Mets will have Jason Bay back as well, who was out of Thursday’s lineup with a tight hamstring. Not that having Bay and his whopping .232 average back will help at all, but at least the Mets will be close to having their optimal team on the field. Now, if we could just get Ike Davis back……
As for the Marlins, we will be seeing quite a bit of them in the final 64 games of the season, as they face the Mets 13 more times this year. So far the Mets are just 2-3 against Florida, including a 4-1 loss this past Monday in a make up game. But the good news is this series will be played at Sun Life Stadium in southern Florida, not at Citi Field in Queens. The Mets have one of the best road records in baseball, while the Marlins are just 21-29 at home, where they routinely play in front of less than 15,000 apathetic fans.
7/22/11- Mike Pelfrey (5-9, 4.67 ERA) vs. Chris Volstad (5-8, 5.59 ERA)
7/23/11- Chris Capuano (8-9, 4.16 ERA) vs. Clay Hensley (1-2, 2.70 ERA)
7/24/11- Dillon Gee (9-3, 3.67 ERA) vs. Anibal Sanchez (6-3, 3.52 ERA)
Marlins Player to Watch: Mike Stanton
Hanley Ramirez may be the most popular slugger on the Marlins, and Gaby Sanchez might be the most consistent, but no one on Florida scares me like Mike Stanton does. His power is reminiscent of the 90′s steroid-era, and he can go yard in any at-bat, on any pitch, against any pitcher. He leads the Marlins with 20 homeruns, and every time he steps to the plate against the Mets I just close my eyes and pray that he doesn’t hit one 500 feet. I would gladly sign up for only one Stanton homerun this series. Let’s hope Pelf, Gee, Cappy, and the pen can keep this monster in check.
Mets Player to Watch: David Wright
Yeah, this was a no-brainer. The DW haters have been increasing the past year or so, but I will always love him (not in a creepy way. Actually, kind of in a creepy way. But I am married, so I would never act on my feelings. Although if I actually met him and he expressed interest….) It just wasn’t the same without number 5, and now he is finally BACK (pun intended). He may be rusty the first week or so, but I expect Wright to get his average up near .300 before long. The strikeouts may be a permanent thing, and that does bother me, but it’s hard to imagine that a broken back didn’t hamper David’s production a good amount. Either way, it’s nice to have the face of the franchise back in uniform.
It will be bittersweet watching this road trip, as it could be the last time we ever see the “New Mets” core of Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran all together on the field. I honestly thought in 2005 when Omar Minaya built this team up that the Mets would be a top 3 team in the NL for at least 5 years. As we all know by now it did not work that way, but I will always have fond memories of the three key players to make up that core. Beltran looks like he is headed for greener pastures and a pennant race before hitting his last big pay day, but I will soak it all in before he goes.
Carlos gets treated very unfairly by a majority of Mets fans, who blame him for the 2006 NLCS loss, and subsequent failures the following years. I’d like to see how many major leaguers would have hit that curve ball from Adam Wainwright. The 2006 NLCS blame goes to about 8 or 9 other people before it goes to Beltran. Fans say Carlos is soft. He doesn’t try hard. He isn’t a leader. That is all a farce, as people take his soft-spoken personality as a weakness.
The bottom line is Beltran is one of the best hitters, and one of the best fielders this franchise has ever had. He is in the top 10 in the following categories on the Mets career leaderboard: On base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, runs scored, doubles, homeruns, total bases, RBI, walks, and extra base hits. He also collected 3 gold gloves with the Metsies, and patrolled center field as smooth as silk for nearly 6 seasons. He cannot run on the bases or in the outfield the way he could before his knees betrayed him, but Beltran can still hit like an All-Star. Wherever he goes next, I bet he produces clutch hits and drives in runs in bunches. Some ignorant Mets fans may celebrate when he leaves; I will certainly not be one of them. It has been a pleasure watching him play for the past 7 years, and if these are his last days as a Met, let’s make them count. Let’s play well, take the first 2 games of the series, and take a shot at a 3 game sweep. LET’S GO METS!