You can argue that George Steinbrenner has ruined baseball in different ways. You can blame him for starting the free spending craze that has pushed the free agent market to ridiculous highs, and has broadened the gap between the big market teams and the small market teams. But I’m here to blame him for something else; because of George Steinbrenner it is all of a sudden a problem in New York, if your lineup doesn’t have 9 all stars in it day in and day out.
The Mets defiantly have their problems with their team, but it’s starting to get ridiculous how many “holes” they have in their lineup. A few years ago George decided his lineup wasn’t good enough because he didn’t have all stars all over the field. Eventually he fielded a team that had a guy who was batting over .300 batting 9th! Somehow that team, which didn’t win the World Series, has become the standard through not just New York but all of baseball. This whole off-season I’ve heard a lot about how the Mets lineup has holes and the team isn’t addressing these issues. It’s true the Mets don’t have 9 all stars in their every day lineup, but their lineup isn’t flawed either; the standard is now being set too high.
The Mets issues this off-season was their bullpen, not their lineup. They addressed the issue that was their bullpen but now all of a sudden everything thinks their lineup is too weak to compete with the Phillies. Where are these weaknesses coming from? The Mets lineup is relatively the same as last years, but so is the Phillies, shouldn’t that make their lineup stronger then the Phillies? The Mets blew around 30 saves last year. Had games ended after 6 innings the Mets would have won the division by almost 16 games! Had games ended after the 8th inning the Mets still would have won the division by more then 5 games. Last year the Phillies pulled off something remarkable and rare, every time they had a lead after 8 innings they won the game; meaning their closer came into the game and did what he was supposed to do, close out the game. The Phillies had a 65-9 record when leading after 7 innings last year, and their first loss in that category came in late August against the Mets.
The point here is, the Phillies won the division by a mere 3 games. New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana won 16 games last year. What is crazier is that 9 times last year he left the game with a lead and watched the bullpen give it up. Had the Mets held onto just 4 of those games, still blowing 5 saves, Santana would have won 20 games and the Mets would have taken the division by a game. This just emphasizes how the Mets lost the division last year because they couldn’t pitch late in games, the Phillies were able to finish the job and close out the games. The thing is, in order to give up a late inning lead; you have to have a late inning lead. The Mets lineup got them far more late inning leads then the Phillies did, it was simply the pitching that couldn’t hold onto it. The bottom line there was games that the Mets lost, and there were games that the bullpen blew. The Phillies only had games that they lost, every game that they gave a lead off to their bullpen ended up being a win for them.
Both teams are brining back relatively the same lineups as last year. The core of the Mets lineup last year, Reyes, Wright, Beltran, and Delgado were the only people who really played the entire year last season. The team had multiple catchers, multiple second basemen, and multiple corner outfielders all year and still put the team in position to win far more games then the Phillies did. The non all stars that helped them do this, like Fernando Tatis, Daniel Murphy, and Ryan Church are now being called “holes” in the teams lineup. In truth the only hole the Mets have in their lineup is the dead carcass that is 2nd baseman Luis Castillo.
Last year this lineup was mostly unknowns filling in for injured players, this season we know what the Mets lineup is going to look like, and it’s the same lineup that put them into a great position to win the division. The problem that was needed was a bullpen overhaul, and that’s the problem that was addressed. The Mets didn’t address their lineup because they didn’t need to; their lineup is just as strong, if not better then the Phillies.