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Monday, April 14, 2008

Aggressiveness and Finding the Balance

This team still feels like it's trying to find that right balance between aggressive and sloppy. The problem seems to be, and this was probably the case last year too, is that when they're unsure they're leaning towards aggressive, which leads to sloppy mistakes like forgetting to check a runner back to third, or breaking for the plate like Clark did on the double play Sunday. It translates into hitting too. This is why I don't believe, and never did, that the team was ever 'flat' or 'uninterested'.

They played hard last September, and they are playing hard now. Maybe too hard. Think about how often Reyes was thrown out last September. He wasn't doing it just for stats, or selfishness, he was playing aggressively, trying to make things happen, just like _everyone_ says he should do/does. So what happened this year? He seems to be trying to tone down the aggressiveness a little bit, be smarter, but so far it's not working. Just like it didn't work when they tried to change how he ran. Reyes, like the rest of the team, needs to find that balance of aggressiveness and smart baseball, and when they do the difference is going to be remarkable.

The difference this year is that last year they succeeded with the aggressiveness early, and maybe they stubbornly stuck to it when it turned bad. This year it's failing for them early, and they'll be able to adjust to it and turn it around. It's not Willie's fault either. He can only teach, he can't execute. If they players can't execute on what they're being taught, it doesn't really matter who or what they're being coached to do. However, this team is too good, and wants it too much, to not be able to execute all season. I thought as much before this season, but so far it doesn't look like Atlanta or Philadelphia is capable of running away with the division to a point where the Mets can't catch up; In fact, neither team is ahead of the Mets in the standings.

The biggest concern I have is still the bullpen. Even if Sanchez is as good as he was two years ago, he's going to almost definitely replace either Muniz or Smith on the roster, and both of those guys have been good. It's Heilman, who you hope will turn it around like he always does, Schoeneweis and Sosa who have been the biggest culprits, and they won't be replaced. As the weather gets warmer and the pitchers get more comfortable, I have to believe both Maine, Santana, and hopefully Perez and maybe even Pelfrey will be able to go a little deeper into games more consistency, and allow Willie to more regularly use only the top three or so guys in the bullpen who are doing well, instead of routinely having to trot out the 5th and 6th best relief options they have.

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