In his most recent post at ESPN.com, Peter Gammons lists 5 reasons why the 2008 Mets are different then the 7/17 2007 Mets.
3.) Jose back to being Jose again.
4.) Mike Pelfrey becoming a #2 starter.
5.) Murphy, Evans and the "unheralded kids."
Let's briefly discuss each one.
1.) Johan: Gammon speculates that the Twins could have still had Santana as their top starter, putting them into the lead in the division, then let him go at the end of the season in exchange for 2 top draft picks (instead of the deal they received from the Mets.) Hindsight is always 20-20, of course, and at the start of the season, everyone was expecting Carlos Gomez to step up in a big way and provide the offense and spark that the boys from Minnesota lost when Torii Hunter chose to head west. While he still displays great potential, potential is what it remains, while the three pitchers they received (Mulvey, Humber and Guerra) all encountered statistical setbacks in their quest to make it to the bigs. All Santana has done is provide us with the most quality starts in the game, and his record should be 19-4 instead of 13-7 (they blew 6 save situations where Johan left the game while winning.) Santana has indeed been the biggest difference in this team, as he has truly been the stopper that we hoped for while sweating out where the Twins were going to send the lefty superstar. Bottom line- Omar made a great trade, Santana will top our rotation for at least the next 5 years and will open Citi Field in style! I'm fortunate enough to be going to this Friday's game in Shea, which will be my second to last game (live) this season, and my first in Shea this year, just as I travelled to Florida to see Johan's first game in uniform more than 5 months ago. I have the same feeling now as I did then when watching Johan take the hill; the same feeling that I used to have when Seaver or Gooden took the mound- that something great was liable to happen, and if not, his "very good" would still be pretty great! And that, in a nutshell, is the difference that Johan makes for this team!
2.) Delgado: Aaron wrote everything you need to know about Delgado in his earlier post from today- no need to repeat it except to say "MVP!!!"
3.) Reyes: Jo-Se, Jo-Se Jo-Se Jo-Se!!! He's back to his '06 form, posting numbers a la Honus Wagner once again. However, September seems to be his kryptonite, so let's hope he starts turning it up another notch again because he hasn't started the month too well...
4.) Pelfrey: If Delgado's return to form is the biggest surprise of the season, Pelfrey's rising to meet his potential certainly would be the second biggest surprise of the season. Pelf's rise to the number two spot in the rotation has off-set Maine's disappointing and injury-racked season and is gratifying to Omar Minaya especially, being that he was Omar's first #1 pick in office! Being around a gamer like Santana has to help challenge him, and big Pelf's maturity happened before our eyes, rather than in the minors, as most of us (including this site) called for. Nice to be wrong...especially regarding Pelfrey, who has been the one pitcher since Tim Leary all those years ago of whom I dared to dream would be our next franchise pitcher. Keep it up, Mike!!!
5.) Murphy, Evans and the "unheralded kids.": Yes, we've long believed that the Mets possessed far more talent in their minors then most of the daily journalists did. Yes, we've long thought that it would be great to see the trio of Evans/Murphy/Carp promoted through the minors together, to reach the bigs in late '09...who knew? Murphy has played his way into a starting role next year; they will be searching for a full-time position for Evans in '09 as well. Carp remains in the minors, and his not being called-up certainly would make one think his days in the organization are limited. Delgado's turn-around certainly makes him less valuable, but second baseman Castillo's troubles this season has opened up a place for Argenis Reyes, at least in a platoon role, just as Wagner's injury has opened the bullpen up for Parnell and Maine's has for Niese. So, it would seem, the Mets do, indeed, have more "weapons" in their minor league arsenal then most gave them credit for...should make Spring Training that much more interesting in '09!!
Now we need a few wins over the Nats and Braves, and for the Phils to hit a roadblock in Milwaukee, and September won't continue to be a scary month for Mets' fans anymore...but just in case, my toes and fingers will remain crossed all month long!