You'd never know it from the way many people write about them, but the Mets have had a few bright spots this season. R.A. Dickey is one of the most amazing stories in years on the Mets or any other team. ESPN's Mark Simon even invented a new "metric," STAR (Story Above Replacement), to pay tribute to the Mets' knuckleballer.
Sometimes I wonder if good news on the Mets is so hard to come by because there is a fear of admitting that Omar Minaya ever did anything right. Such an admission could help upper management rationalize that Minaya is not doing such a bad job after all, so he deserves to remain as GM.
So I am inventing my own new metric, GMAR (General Manager Above Replacement), and making sure that, even with credit for Dickey, Omar's GMAR is too low for him to keep his job.
But while Omar needs to go, it's important to give him credit where credit is due. New management should build on what the Mets already have, not blow it all up and start over. Which brings us to Carlos Beltran, whose performance this weekend in Philadelphia suggests that it's time to rethink wondering how much salary the Mets would have to eat to get him off the team.
In Sunday's game, Beltran hit two homers, one from each side of the plate, and made a sensational diving catch to help assure that the Phillies would not clinch the division in front of the Mets. But Beltran's most important contribution may have come Saturday, when he slid in hard at second base, trying to take out Chase Utley in retaliation for Utley's hard slide Friday night.
Perhaps it's a sign of the negativity surrounding the Mets that on Sunday's pregame, Kevin Burkhardt compared Beltran to Shawn Estes, who infamously threw behind Roger Clemens rather than hitting him in retaliation for Clemens' broken bat insanity in the 2000 World Series. Burkhardt was not the only person to note that Beltran missed both Utley and shortstop Wilson Valdez, meaning that once again the Mets' response failed to match the original offense.
But unlike Estes, Beltran did all he could to "hit somebody," as Beltran later said he wanted to do. Utley's ability to jump out of the way should not detract from Beltran's effort, especially considering that Beltran went in with two bad knees.
Beltran might be one of the last players most fans would expect to be the one to step up and defend his teammate. Unfortunately, except for the injured Johan Santana, I'm not sure which player I would most expect to step up.
As Met announcers frequently noted, Utley's slide wasn't really dirty, but indicative of how hard the Phillies always play. Why don't the Mets always play that way? Which brings us to Jerry Manuel's MAR (Manager Above Replacement) which has certainly marred the Mets.
The Mets need some new players along with new management, but at least some of the current players are offering reason to hope* that next year will be better.
*(I was thinking about a Hope Above Replacement metric, but I didn't want Squawker Lisa to point out that the acronym would be HAR.)