Time again to give you my thoughts on the good and bad from the Mets, as well as around baseball:
MOST IMPRESSIVE: This current stretch, where the Mets have won 11 out of 13, has saved their season. Again, I'm mad that the Mets are only showing signs of life this late in the season, but better late than never, I guess. Huge series beginning Tuesday night at Shea against Philadelphia, which the Mets could come out of in sole possession of first place (and watch out for Florida, surprisingly still just a half-game back). The Phillies are on the ropes, waiting to be knocked out.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: The Mets need a corner outfielder, no doubt. But what Fernando Tatis has done in the meantime has been huge. He's the type of player you see on winning teams - stepping in when called upon and producing. He single-handedly got the Mets two of those wins on their winning streak. Unfortunately, you can't count on him the rest of the way to do this consistently. That's why he's a "surprise".
LEAST IMPRESSIVE: I wrote last week about how Jose Reyes needed to have a huge second half for the Mets. He came out of the All Star break going 1-for-13 in his first three games. He popped a lot of balls up, a sign he's either tired or trying to do too much. That's just what the Mets didn't need. The Mets went 1-2 over that stretch...but this story has a happy ending - in the win on Sunday, Reyes was 4-for-6, scoring three times.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Billy Wagner did to the National League this year what Trevor Hoffman did to the NL (and what I then thought would be the Mets' chances in the World Series) in 2006. He blew the All Star Game, which eventually gave home-field advantage in the World Series to the American League, and in the process continued to show why Mets fans can't have 100% confidence in him come October.
MOST IMPRESSIVE: I don't know how much good it will do, but I like the fact that the Brewers are going for it. The CC Sabathia acquisition was a great one, we'll see what adding Ray Durham brings. (Ned Yost says Rickie Weeks will still be the primary second baseman.) But it certainly sends a message that the Brewers are knocking on the Cubs' door - pounding, actually. And even though the Cubs did all right for themselves with their trades, I'm not totally buying into them yet.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: I'm classifying it as a surprise that after slogging through the worst stretch of their season (2-8 over their last ten games), the Tampa Bay Rays still have a one-and-a-half game lead in the AL East. I know a lot of people think they'll fade, and I'm not a 100% believer in them, but I'm starting to think they'll be sticking around. And the big key is they gave the Red Sox fits when they weren't good...now that they are good, they can beat the Sox..they've already shown that this year. The AL East race might be one of the better races to watch down the stretch.
LEAST IMPRESSIVE: Until they get a team up over the .500 mark, the National League West continues to qualify itself as a disgrace. I'm pretty sure someone will start running away with that division, and be above .500, but when you have the Colorado Rockies 14 games below .500 and only six games out of first, that's a problem.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: You have to be disappointed if you're a fan of the Atlanta Braves. They're basically what the Mets were three weeks ago - underachieving, looking up at the Marlins, realizing they could be right in that mix, but aren't. I thought Atlanta would be very good this year...but they've never really put it together. The problem certainly isn't at home, where Atlanta is 31-20 and Chipper Jones is hitting well above .400. It's the 15-32 road record that's done them in.