Mets are hopefully done losing now

Thanks to the Penn State football team being in dire straights, my attention has wavered a bit from the Mets, who are in admittedly less dire straights. Don’t tell the Mets fans, though. Sure, a 47-51 record after 98 games would be considered acceptable back in April, but it’s the way they’ve come to that record that hurts, isn’t it?

Hey at least the Mets are swooning before the trade deadline instead of after. This way, the front office is less likely to make a pointless trade. Last season, the San Francisco Giants were so jazzed up about defending their league title that they traded away stud pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. That was really, really good for the Mets, if you don’t recall.

Of course, people are still upset that general manager Sandy Alderson is actually sticking to the rebuilding plan instead of amusing fans with minor acquisitions like Brandon Lyon and Brett Myers (combined Fangraphs WAR this season = 0.4). It’s amazing how one magical first half can make so many people forget that we’re in the middle of a multi-year process.

Anyway, the Mets lost again today to the Nationals to fall to 1-11 since the All-Star break. Jeremy Hefner was pretty good, but Stephen Strasburg was predictably better. Now that the Nationals can hit the ball (back in April and May their offense was dubious at best), they appear poised for a shot at the title, even with that Strasburg innings limit hanging over their heads. Washington won 5-2 and Ike Davis hit his 16th home run of the season.

As expected, the Mets bullpen isn’t as terrible as their historically bad ERA would make it out to be. They’ve had bad luck and worse timing, but unfortunately there isn’t a ton of upside there. Parnell, despite struggling lately, has made great strides this season. Josh Edgin looks good so far and is also on the younger side of things. That’s about it. Frank Francisco is under contract for next season, so he’ll probably be back, and if Pedro Beato can turn into something decent, then he’ll be in the mix as well.

Robert Carson and Jenrry Mejia are both on the 40-man roster and would be considered future bullpen assets, but they both kind of stunk in the minors this season. There will be plenty of free agents available to improve the pen for next season, but don’t expect a Papelbon-type deal handed out. Those days are over.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that 1) The Mets bullpen isn’t as miserable as it’s perceived to be and 2) It’s probably going to be pieced together with young affordable guys and mid-level free agents next year as well. Bullpen performance is very volatile, and there’s no surefire way to build a good relief staff.

Thursday is a big day because 2010 first round pick Matt Harvey is making his major league debut in Phoenix. Here’s Terry Collins:

“‘Pitch,'” he told the youngster. “‘Do what you’ve been doing. It’s the same thing, the same game. You have to make pitches. If you don’t make pitches, you’re going to get hit hard.’ There’s not much more to say. This guy’s got the makeup. He doesn’t want to be just a guy, he wants to be the guy. He has a good approach.”

Go get ’em. I don’t expect Harvey to be great right away, but watching him pitch will be fun because he’s such an important part of New York’s future.

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