by philview & Philly Phanatic

PHLUSHING, NY – With more than a third of the season in the books, it’s pretty safe to say that the pretenders like the Marlins, Mariners and Royals have been exposed and the real races are starting to take shape. We all know that three games can be made up in a week, especially when the Mets are involved. That’s why this week’s games against the Phils and Yankees are so important to the Amazins.

After going back and forth for most of the season, the Mets have opened up a 3-game lead on the Braves for the NL East Wildcard. They need a good showing this week to maintain their wildcard lead.”

The Braves made some interesting moves last week to bolster their case for the playoffs this season but this column will focus on the current leader, the New York Metropolitans. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Mets and let’s start at the top, of the rotation that is.

Despite his Billy Wagner-like post season failures, Johan Santana has been the most dominant pitcher in major league baseball’s post-Yankee Eraso you would have to think that any rotation with Santana at the top is immune to one of those patented September collapses. Oh wait, he WAS on the team last year. Scratch that one.

What I meant to say that any team with F-Rod, K-Rod, F-Bomb or whatever his name is as the closer will successfully shorten games to 8 innings. And with Putz, a former dominant closer as the 8th inning guy, any lead after 7 innings is essentially over. Wait… Excuse me, I must have missed this story; Putz is having elbow surgery today! Didn’t Wagner have that too? Wow! What a coincidence!

Injuries will not be a problem with this squad. These guys are built Ford Tough like that commercial says. Oh, that’s a pretty bad analogy, isn’t it? Yes, these Met players ARE collapsing faster than the auto industry. Check out the DL. Delgado, Reyes, Pagan, Martinez , Perez and the Edsel.

Well, at least they have a nucleus of talented young players, Beltran, Wright and Reyes. Take that Jose Reyes for example. Over the first six years of his career, he has 919 hits, 533 runs scored, 155 2B, 71 3B, 61 HR and 310 RBIs. Those numbers are simply amazing and look eerily similar to another former great Met leadoff hitter who amassed these stats his first six seasons: 872 hits, 491 runs, 173 2B, 70 3B and 91 HRs with 393 RBIs. Hopefully, “this is the year he figures it out” will not be the refrain of Reyes fans like it was for Juan Samuel twenty years ago. By the way, Samuel and Reyes both wore #7.

Phinish up with your TRIVIA GAME ANSWERS. Deadline is midnight tonight. We’ll be phinishing up as the World Champions pheast on Johan.

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