Entering this weekend's pivotal midseason series against first-place Philadelphia, the Mets find themselves at a respectable 46-45 mark despite having their best three hitters on the disabled list.
Here’s a positional breakdown of how the roster has fared at the season’s midpoint.
Right fielder Carlos Beltran successfully bounced back from two injury-marred seasons with an All-Star first half. However, his fellow outfielders, Angel Pagan and Jason Bay, have struggled at the plate. The Mets will need more production from these two outfield spots in order to stay above .500.
Corner infield: C
The strength of last year’s lineup, third baseman David Wright and first baseman Ike Davis, have combined for just 75 games this season. Prior to injury, Davis had shown improvement over his promising rookie campaign, but Wright was posting career lows in average and slugging percentage. Their replacements have been serviceable at best.
Middle infield: B+
Enjoying his best season yet, shortstop Jose Reyes has shattered expectations with an MVP-worthy first half. Fans are holding their collective breath in hopes that his recent hamstring injury is short-lived. The Mets haven’t found such stability at second base; after Rule 5 pick Brad Emaus didn’t pan out, the combination of Ruben Tejada and Justin Turner has been enough to scrape by but leaves more to be desired.
On the plus side, platoon-mates Josh Thole and Ronnie Paulino have gotten on base at a reasonable clip. On the minus side, the tandem has combined for just two home runs and has thrown out less than 21 percent of would-be base stealers, leaving the Mets too vulnerable on the base paths.
Perhaps the biggest reason why the Mets remain competitive despite key injuries is starting pitching, which has exceeded expectations. R.A. Dickey has been slightly more hittable in 2011 but still sports a solid 3.61 ERA. Jonathon Niese and Chris Capuano both overcame slow starts and have displayed sharper command of late. The biggest disappointment has been Mike Pelfrey, whose 3.66 ERA from last season now looks fortuitous. Rookie Dillon Gee (8-3) has held his own as an injury fill-in, which is reassuring to Mets fans in the event Johan Santana’s return is delayed.
Tuesday’s trade of Francisco Rodriguez will result in save opportunities for Bobby Parnell, who has looked dominant since being recalled from Triple-A. Jason Isringhausen has been a pleasant surprise in his return to Flushing, while Pedro Beato, Taylor Buchholz and Tim Byrdak have all been welcome additions to the bullpen.
Amidst the team’s financial woes, unsupportive ownership and injuries, Terry Collins deserves credit for keeping the clubhouse together and producing a winning team. His in-game decision-making has included some head-scratching lineups and an overuse of sacrifice bunts, but the first-year skipper is a significant improvement over his predecessor, Jerry Manuel.