I'm not too upset about this Pedro Martinez* situation (see why I put asterisks up? See?). Honest to goodness, I don't think he's the difference-maker everyone makes him out to be. I got a little riled up last week when Dave in Brighton brought up the prospect of Steve Trachsel pitching instead of Pedro*, but that's because he brought Trachsel into the equation. I honestly feel better about Orlando Hernandez in Game 1 of the playoffs than Pedro*. Pedro* hasn't been effective for the Mets since May. They've done great this entire season without him. I know the post-season is about pitching more than hitting - but the Mets' might not need to worry about that until they face the pitchers in the American League in the World Series (namely, the Twins). I think the Mets' bats are better than the National League's playoff pitching. I know they've struggled against lefties (see below), but that won't be too big a problem through the National League playoffs.
One other thing - I don't think it's a stretch to say the whole Pedro* thing may have been weighing on the team's mind. The recent funk they've been in has coincided with Pedro*'s return, and poor outings. Once it came out that Pedro* is done for the year, the bats woke up, and the Mets started winning again. Maybe it's a good thing.
One last item on Pedro* - as much as I wasn't crazy about his signing when the Mets did it, I will defend it forever. 3 years, 4 years, whatever - if the Mets hadn't signed Pedro*, they wouldn't have attracted the players they did that built this team into what it is right now. That was exactly Omar Minaya's plan, and that's exactly what has happened. Pedro* was the bait, and he was well worth it, even if the Mets only got one full good year out of him on the mound (and with a full off-season to recover from this calf injury, I think he'll be OK next year).
A THEORY: So somehow the Mets have stopped hitting against left-handed pitchers. Notable here is David Wright, who was eating up lefties in the first half of the season and isn't anymore. This doesn't seem to be a huge problem as the Mets enter the playoffs because the Phillies had the most daunting lefties in the NL, and they're going to miss out on the post-season. But it still could be a problem. And I have a thought on why they don't hit lefties.
I think they change the way they play when a lefty is on the mound, and it starts with Jose Reyes. Reyes doesn't run as much against a left-hander as he does against a righty (only 19 versus lefties, 45 against righties). In the second half of the season Reyes has just 25 SB's, and I'm sure only a couple, if any, have come against lefties. He just doesn't run against lefties. And a lot of the Mets' success comes when Reyes is on base, upsetting a pitcher's rhythm, and that's not happening a lot when there is a lefty on the mound. So the hitters change their game, and it's not 2006 Mets baseball. That's what I think.
SEPARATED AT BIRTH?: With all due respect to my good friend Naturalbl0g, I must post this look-alike picture. The Wife and I are watching the Mets the other night, and the cameras show John Maine on the bench. I look at him, then look at The Wife, and say, "Doesn't Maine look a lot like Joe Randa?" And The Wife started nodding before I even said Randa's name. That was enough for me to believe that they REALLY look alike. So here's a look at Maine and former Met-killer Randa:
P.S. Kudos to naturalbl0g for doing these quite often - these are the best pictures of these two I could find, and it doesn't even show how much they really look alike. It must be hard work to do this more than just twice in your lifetime:
MAINE: One more thing, since I've just brought up Kris Benson and John Maine. How huge did that Benson trade turn out to be? You've got Benson for Jorge Julio and John Maine. Benson finished the year making 30 starts, going 11-12, with a 4.82 ERA. Julio turned into Orlando Hernandez when the Mets made the trade with Arizona, and now Hernandez and Maine will be two of the Mets' starters in the post-season. I think that worked out pretty well for the Mets.
BOOF: Also of note, I stopped updating Boof Bonser's starts in Minnesota, but he has pitched pretty well since I've last written of him. Bonser finished the season with 18 starts, going 7-6 with a 4.22 ERA. Not bad - he had a rocky couple of starts mixed in there when I was still updating his games.
PLAYOFF PICTURE: I've written a couple of times about how awful a first place team the St. Louis Cardinals are. They are living up to that title even more now with a huge collapse, but I still think they'll make the playoffs. And as much as I'd like to see them finish the collapse, I don't want Roger Clemens to make the playoffs, so I guess I'll take St. Louis. It's looking like a Mets-Dodgers or Padres first round matchup, with the winner of the West playing St. Louis (depending on the Dodgers-Padres division winner/wild card winner finish).
I'm still not sure how Playoff updates will happen - but I will be posting on the playoff games (perhaps the next day, perhaps the night of, if I'm up with The Baby). Speaking of which, no baby yet - still waiting....................