The kindest words spoken for the New York Mets coming into this season were ones of pity. They made virtually no moves in the off season, their ace had shoulder surgery in September and wasn't expected back until mid-season, they were going to face an adjustment period with a new general manager and head coach, and the roster was essentially the same one that produced a fourth-place finish last year. Oh--and the team's primary owner, the Wilpon family, lost a bundle in the Madoff fraud case and was being sued regarding the affair, effectively closing the purse strings for the franchise, indefinitely. If they came out of the gate stinking, there wouldn't be help coming, thanks to the financial situation.
Then, the one major piece the Mets did acquire in the off-season, right-handed fastball pitcher Chris Young, went on the disabled list after only four starts and was lost for the rest of 2011 to shoulder surgery.
A month later, the Mets saw one of their superstars--third baseman David Wright--go on the DL with a fracture in his back. For many observers and fans, the season was considered lost.
No ace, no money, no hope.
But forced to dig into their farm system to fill some holes, the Mets produced some surprises. Justin Turner arrived in Queens with a hot bat and a good glove at second and third base. He has cooled off a bit, hitting just .190 in the last week, but the red-haired 26-year-old may be the Mets future at second base.
Ike Davis electrified fans with solid play and a .925 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) before going on the DL with an injured left ankle.
Ruben Tejada settled in with a .321 batting average, solid glove and good speed, suggesting that if the Metropolitans do lose Jose Reyes through free agency, an internal candidate for shortstop exists.
And most important, Dillon Gee came up from Triple-A Buffalo and has posted a 7-0 record with the Mets, and left the team in a good enough position to win in his other two starts, which ended in no decisions for him. Gee, a 6' 1 right-hander from Texas, has a 1.10 WHIP, a 3.05 ERA, and has struck out 44 while walking 20 this season. Doubters have pointed out that six of Gee's wins have come against the Pirates, Cubs, Nationals, Astros and Dodgers, but his WHIP speaks for itself.
The Mets will get back to .500 if they beat the Pirates tonight, which is not an amazing improvement over last season's .488 winning percentage. But it's a lot better than anyone expected from this downtrodden team.