My answer was puffed out to 1,000,000,000 words when all I needed were seven: any team can have everything go right. Get players who can perform at a superstar level, like Johan Santana, David Wright, and Jose Reyes, and hope everything goes right around them.
Simple! Just improbable. And now as the Giants are having a typical major league season, it really highlights how ridiculous last season was. Every team goes through the things the Giants are going through right now. Top players get injured, free agents disappoint, and hitters go into extended slump spirals of career-threatening doom.
The Mets are kind of like the Ghost of Christmas Alternate Dimension. They've had some serious talent for a while, but it's never coalesced into an extended playoff run. A core of Wright/Santana/Reyes is every bit as intimidating as Lincecum/Cain/Posey when they're all working, all the Mets were waiting for were the little things, like the pitching prospect who comes up and has an above-average start, the waiver claim who goes on a hot streak, and the free-agent veteran who unexpectedly turns in his best season.
That's the problem, though: the Mets haven't been able to combine things like that with good health. When they stumble into something, like Angel Pagan, who is Andres Torres East, it will come at the same time Santana is hurt, or Carlos Beltran's health starts a precipitous decline. When Beltran comes back as a productive hitter, Pagan goes on the shelf. That's how it's gone for the Mets.
No team reminds me of how unique and special the Giants' 2010 was more than the Mets. Well, that's not true. The following teams remind me more of how unique and special the Giants' 2010 was:
- the 2011 Giants
- the Padres
- the Braves
- the Phillies
- the Rangers
- the 2011 Giants
- the Padres
After those teams, the Mets are right up there. It's like the Giants were the ant, socking away all of their Aubrey Huffs for the winter, while the Mets were the grasshopper, consuming things like Carlos Beltran's best seasons when they didn't need to. Maybe there are teams that are better examples, but I can't shake the Mets as the archetypal team with a core that wasn't able to get the right pieces around that core.
Also, they've somehow found themselves in a spot where they've committed to giving starts to Chris Capuano, so it's not as if they're a perfectly formed team that just hasn't caught the breaks. Also of note: Chris Capuano is in line for his first complete-game shutout since 2006. Good for him!
Hitter to watch
If you're tired of the Jose Reyes rumors, just wait. Storm's-a-brewin'. Zack Wheeler just might want to scope out some apartments in Savannah and St Lucie just to get a head start. It's almost a perfect match -- a team that wants to get prospects for a soon-to-be free agent, and a team that has an unthinkable void at the position in question. The problem is that a) the Mets probably haven't given up on signing Reyes to a long-term deal, and b) the Giants really don't have the greatest depth with which to barter.
It's not going to stop the deluge of rumors, though. Duct tape the doors. Get some canned food. Storm's-a-brewin'.
Pitcher to watch
R. A. Dickey is a knuckleballer, which is automatically cool, but he also names his bats things like "Orcrist the Goblin Cleaver." He shows up to the clubhouse with a voice-modulating Darth Vader costume because he can. He is you, nerd, except he can throw a knuckleball. He's a personality with a lot of different sides -- about 12 of them, to be exact. He's the odd-duck personality that Barry Zito was supposed to be, and he's pretty danged good.
Fly outs to the warning track. Fly outs to the warning track. Fly outs to the warning track.