The Mets finished the first month of 2002 at 18-10. They won eight games at The Yard and ten of fourteen road games. They Swept the Bulldogs in Brooklyn and only lost the series in Toledo. The pitching staff was the early season strength, finishing the month with a team ERA of 3.46. Pitching coach Jimmy Key smiled, “Overall we are very pleased, but always looking to improve. I think Trachsel surprised some guys with 36 strikeouts and only 9 base on balls, that 4:1 ratio is superb! Our goal is anything over 2:1 and we did that as a team, but a few walks came at really bad times, like they usually do. We gave up 24 home runs with Zito allowing 6. Can you guess who was the only one on the staff that did not allow a big fly? Nope, even Wickman gave up one. It was Chuck McElroy who did great on the road. Bob did save eight games and had 10 K to 1 BB so another great ratio that will be hard to maintain for the year. My greatest concern is the health of Mike Magnante. He tried to pitch all month with a sore shoulder and will be rested for May because we need him down the stretch. If our pitching can continue doing all the right stuff we should be in good shape.”
Hitting coach Eddie Kranepool will have his work cut out for him since the team only batted .254 overall and .235 at home. Ed was kind of perplexed, “What are we going to do with our catchers and second basemen? Randy (Velarde) was supposed to be our sparkplug at lead off but he had only one hit at home. Would you ever guess that Jose Vizciano would be at the top of our stat sheet batting .375? We expected Segui, Batista and Albert to hit over .300, but the rest of the team needs work.
Infield/3B coach Billy Ripken and outfield/1B coach Mookie Wilson were trying to figure out how to improve the team’s defense. Mookie said, “Albert will make some errors since he moves all over the field, but the rest of the outfielders have been solid.” Billy was more concerned, “I knew that when we lost Vizquel as a free agent our defense would suffer, but I did not anticipate the team would make 22 errors in the first month. We have allowed 15 unearned runs already so that has hurt our pitchers. They have not complained much since we are winning.” Mookie also missed Omar, as well as Lawton and Klesko who stole a lot of bases for the Mets over the years. Jax (Damian Jackson) has three, but you can not steal first base and batting .203 does not get the job done.” (The team has six SB in seven attempts.)
Bench coach Mike Stanley is the right hand man for manager Clark this year since Harrelson moved back to Brooklyn. He had some insight for next month, “ in May we are going to bring up Kerry Robinson to play left field and bat leadoff against right handed pitchers with Velarde moving down in the order to get him to take some pressure off himself. Albert will play third vs. right-handers so we can give Cal some rest. Dante Bichette started hot, but cooled down especially against right-handers, but tore up the lefties. Eric Karros had a great series vs. La Cross, but was cold as ice the rest of the month.
Even though Glen Allen has started off the year on the right foot, the Mets coaches have some concerns. We will see how they survive the challenge of May rivals from the A.L. Central.