The Mets have won 9 out of 10 and except for the inconsistent bullpen and some mild worries about John Maine's shoulder, all is well in Metsland. The lineup has been gelling and the lack of energy that surrounded the Mets early in the year hardly even seems like the same season anymore.
Now the Mets are close to welcoming back two players who were regulars early in the year. Ryan Church was easily the Mets MVP through their first 50 games making monkeys out of the monkeys who complained about the Lastings Milledge trade. He also provided a toughness that was particularly needed after last year's collapse. However, there is no guarantee that the Mets will be getting back the same Ryan Church. And the guy he's replacing, Fernando Tatis, has been arguably the best clutch hitter during the Mets resurgence. Now things could work out and Church could pick up where he left off after shaking off some rust and the extra rest could keep Tatis fresh for the home stretch. Just no guarantees.
Luis Castillo is a different story. Although he did get on base at a reasonable clip (.361), his lack of range and reluctance to dive for balls really hurt the Mets in the field. Damion Easley doesn't provide great range either, but he's a pro's pro who has gotten a lot of key hits for the Mets the past few seasons. Argenis Reyes is a much better defensive player than either of them and has hit pretty well although without much power. The Mets left Luis Castillo in the minors for the maximum period of time that they could. They let him take a week to handle a personal issue encouraging him to take as long as he needs. If the flight from Binghamton to NY had been overbooked, Omar Minaya probably would have encouraged Castillo to take the $300 voucher and catch the later flight. Now they want to watch him workout (a little piece of them perhaps hoping his hip or knees act up under the strain) before activating him. Again, Argenis Reyes is probably hitting a little better than his ability and Easley is heading into 2006 Jose Valentin territory of too many AB's for a 35 + player so maybe Castillo can be of some value after all. Still, chemistry is a delicate science. And the Mets are hoping to get into Advanced Placement .. namely October baseball.