The Mets traded their mediocre closer! Panic! Good god! This is a sinking ship. Turn off your SNY. Turn in your tickets. Jump ship. Become Pirates fans. They are the future. OK, I'm done channeling the New York Post. But seriously, you might be thinking of bailing on the Mets a bit in the second half. Think again! Here are ten reasons to watch the Mets in the second half:
1. Jose Reyes
He is...electric. Perhaps literally. More than anything else, Jose is the reason to watch this team. Had the season just ended, he'd have earned himself the NL MVP. I've repeatedly attempted to find a comparison to what Jose Reyes is doing, and I'm having trouble. It's almost Bondisan. Or Pedro-esque. That's not to say that even at his best, Jose Reyes is anywhere as good as Barry Bonds or Pedro Martinez were, but that, when watching, you are totally aware for every moment that this is something truly special.
2. An Outside Chance of Making the Playoffs
I don't think the Mets are going to make the playoffs, but stranger things have happened than a team surging in the second half. With all the past blather about "meaningful games" in September, there could be some this year. They'll probably be early in September, but after '09 and '10, this is something. Sidebar: It's a testament to how good Jose Reyes is that he ranks even above the chance of making a playoff run.
3. Jon Nieses: Star?
To me, this has been the quiet subplot of of the 2011 season for the Mets so far, Niese's emergence as the team's best pitcher, and a possible future star. I think it'll be fascinating to see whether Niese can keep this up, or whether he'll fade at the end of the year like he did in 2010.
4. The Last Hurrah of Carlos Beltran
How many farewell tours go this well? I would imagine it is all but assured Carlos plays elsewhere next season -- though you never know, I guess -- and talk about going out with a bang. This won't contain the emotion of the Mike Piazza farewell tour for most fans, but we should be gobbling up every minute of Beltran awesomeness while we can. You'll probably never see another Met make it look so easy.
Walks aren't really entertaining per se, but they lead to good pitches to hit, and that leads to hits, and hits are good. And besides, it's been so long since the Mets didn't play a bunch of guys who refuse to take pitches, that boring 10-pitch at bats are actually refreshing. This trend will only grow for the Mets as proven Base-on-Balls-enthusiasts David Wright and Ike Davis return. Jeff Franceour, Alex Cora and Mike Jacobs all think this is a terrible way to try to win baseball games.
6. Bobby Parnell
Be honest, you've always wanted a Mets closer who could throw 100mph, even if he's a little wild. Hell, I'm still bitter the Mets traded Matt Lindstrom, even though I'm well aware he sucks. Well, now's our chance. Anyone who throws that hard is automatically entertaining, and Parnell seems like he'll probably earn the right to stick long term. Just as interesting could be to see if the Mets use this opportunity -- not having one definitive closer on their roster -- to move away from the closer/saves model and on to a slightly less stupid philosophy for managing relief pitchers.
7. The Return of Future Hall of Famer Ike Davis
Like Niese, Ike looked to be emerging as a star, but a bigger, more hall-of-fame bound one. The numbers were impressive, and if you head over to the Wins Above Replacement leaders on Fangraphs, you'll see that Ike's 1.4 WAR in 36 games is more than guys like Ryan Howard, Carlos Pena, Brett Wallace and Freddie Freeman have put up all year. So, yea, Ike was playing pretty well. Gaby Sanchez's All Star spot would've belonged to a healthy Davis.
8. Young Guys, Young Guys and More Young Guys
Everyone always claims they want a young, homegrown team. Well, we're probably going to get our chance. The Mets are already depending on an inordinate amount of inexperienced players for a team with such a high payroll -- Ike, Niese, Dillon Gee, Josh Thole, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner, Bobby Parnell, Ruben Tejada. Even given the potential returns of David Wright, Ike Davis and Johan Santana, that number could grow if Carlos Beltran (or Chris Capuano) is traded.
9. Jason Bay, Resurrected...Hopefully...A Little
If Jason Bay can pull a Carlos Delgado, dusting himself off and hitting a bunch of homers, it'll go a long way toward accomplishing No. 2: contention. At the very least, there's some hope now thanks to a decent stretch before the All Star break. I'm cautiously optimistic that Jason could hit something like 10-12 home runs in these last 71 games. Crazy, I know.
10. A Mets Lineup at Full Strength
It'd be really cool to see a Mets lineup with a healthy Reyes, Pagan, Beltran, Wright, Davis, Bay, Murphy/Turner, Thole/Paulino. We've yet to really see those guys together, and there's a good chance that would be the best offense in the National League.