(With the All-Star Break just around the corner, it's time to look at the fortunes—and misfortunes—of the Mets and Yankees at the midway mark of the season.)
After two straight years of September disappointment, Mets fans thought they had a winner for 2009. But at 40-45 and 6.5 games out of the National League East, the Mets have been a huge disappointment. They have had more than their share of injuries. Carlos Delgado (hip), Jose Reyes (hamstring), Oliver Perez ("knees") and Carlos Beltran (knees) have all missed time. So has J.J. Putz (elbow), the team's big offseason acquisition to retool the bullpen that stunk so much in 2008.
The only thing close to overshadowing the injuries has been the team's fundamental mistakes. The just-departed Ryan Church missed third base in extra innings in Los Angeles. Luis Castillo dropped what should have been a game-ending popup against the Yankees. The team has resembled its 1962 ancestors all too often.
Omar Minaya has built a top-heavy roster, and most of the top part has fallen off to the disabled list. The parts that are left — Livan Hernandez and Fernando Nieve, to name two — are not Major League-caliber options. Minaya deserves more blame for the failures of 2007 and 2008, but this season's problems have been largely beyond his control. He could have predicted the injuries to Delgado and Putz, but asking him to account for injuries to the All-Stars Reyes and Wright would have been asking too much.
The good news? The National League stinks. If the team can get healthy — and thereby stop relying on Nick Evans and Alex Cora, they can make up ground in the National League East. Philadelphia, despite being the world champions, has some of the worst pitching in the league. If the Mets get players back and go on a run, their season can be salvaged. Otherwise, it could get even uglier.