If I may, before the last two spots on the Ike-Davis-for-MVP bandwagon fill up and the thing takes off for October without having its brakes checked, I'd like to drizzle a little bit of caution on top of this suddenly red-hot Mets April.
Hey, I'm as surprised as anybody else is to find the Mets in first place at any point in a 2010 season that seemed to offer no realistic hope at its outset. And I think it's pretty neat that the promotion of Davis from the Minors, along with the surprisingly effective pitching of young starters Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese, seems to have propelled the recent surge. And if the fans want to be giddy and unrealistic about it, that's perfectly fine. That's what fans do.
But the danger here, if the Mets keep playing this well for another week or so, is that the front office will fall in love with the team. That'd be a major no-no, because as good as things look right now, there are still major and obvious holes that will keep this Mets team from being a contender all year long.
The people running the Mets should see this surprising start as an opportunity, not affirmation. A 12-9 record in the final days of April doesn't mean the team has turned out to be better than its critics (this one included) thought it was. It doesn't give the front office justification for puffing out its chest and saying, "See? Pelfrey, Niese, Maine, yada, yada, yada ..."
What it does mean is that the Mets aren't buried right away, far from it, and the disappointments of the offseason can still be alleviated. Being an early contender in the National League means there's hope, because there just aren't very many good teams in the National League. You don't have to be that good to hang around and contend all year, and you don't even have to be that good to make the playoffs.
So right now, when they're feeling good about themselves, is the time for the Mets to poke around on the market. Find out if there's another catcher available. Maybe the Giants are about to call up Buster Posey and you can get Bengie Molina in a trade. Maybe the Rockies are so down on Chris Ianetta, who got sent to the Minors on Tuesday, that they'd deal him and his potential-laden bat to Queens. Maybe there's a veteran late-inning reliever to be had, or even a starting pitcher. This is the time for the Mets to be aggressive in addressing needs -- before they all become obvious again.
And they will. As hot as Pelfrey and Niese have been, they're still young pitchers, and the only thing we know for sure to expect from young pitchers is inconsistency. They will struggle. Oliver Perez already is. John Maine never, ever looks healthy, even when he's at his best. This rotation isn't built for six months, and it needs reinforcements, both in the rotation and in the bullpen to support it.
The lineup, if Davis can really hit like this, looks all right. Assuming David Wright and Jose Reyes get rolling, they'll be a much better than average NL lineup. And if Carlos Beltran ever were to come back ... well, let's not get too crazy here.
Point is, by starting hot, the Mets have shown that there might be something to be made of this season. The way the front office makes sure to take advantage of that is not by sitting back and convincing themselves they were good enough all along, but rather by moving aggressively to build on what they've done so far. Otherwise, the problems will arise, and it's going to look as if they took everybody by surprise when they really should not have.