Floyd Will Help, But Can He Pitch?

Considering the Mets will face in succession Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens starting Friday, the return of Cliff Floyd is most opportune. Though the Mets offense has perked up some, they need all the help they can get to salvage a road trip that has the potential to be a season killer.

At 15-19, having lost a chance to pad its record by losing to two journeyman pitchers on a last place team, the Mets now face the daunting task of having to beat a bunch of All-Stars to stay within striking distance of respectability.

Floyd, the Mets sweet swinging left fielder, will certainly inject some life in a lineup that will need it against Houston's trio of untouchables this weekend. Before his quadriceps popped in Puerto Rico, he was hitting a nifty .350. With Floyd in the 3-spot, Piazza had gotten off to a hot start and the Mets offense looked good even without Jose Reyes helping Kaz Matsui set the table. But a hustling Floyd's attempt at an infield single failed in more ways than one. When he landed late to the bag, he landed too on the DL.

It was effort like that endeared Cliff Floyd to Mets fans and prompted an unscripted ovation the day before he shut it down last year to have surgery. He projected at just under .300 with 30 home runs and close to 100 RBIs should he have done what he's done just twice in his career – play a full season. Nevertheless, the optiMets fully expected Floyd to stick around in 2004. They are certainly hoping this is this year's last stop on the DL.

Floyd brings more presence to the Mets lineup. Piazza, though no longer feared, is still a dangerous hitter. Opposing pitchers cannot ignore Karim Garcia, perhaps the Mets early MVP. Together, the three give the Mets a relatively formidable heart of the order. Without Cliff Floyd, the lineup is stretched too thin and would rely too heavily on players like Eric Valent and Shane Spencer to continue playing over their heads.

Unfortunately for the Mets, the offense's recent resurgence and Floyd's impending arrival coincides with a pitching staff suddenly in shambles. Rick Peterson, the Mets new age pitching coach, had the starters pitching flawlessly, their ERA among the league leaders. The old Tom Glavine is back, as evidenced by Wednesday's victorious duel over Randy Johnson. Al Leiter was dominating hitters. Steve Trachsel was baffling opponents with a mixed bag of well placed baseballs. Jae Seo and Tyler Yates were effectively holding down the back end of the rotation.

But now Yates is back at Triple AAA and Seo split a fingernail again and the Mets are, incredibly, searching for more than one person to start games for them. For all the raves the Mets have recently received about their farm system, the fact that they don't have anyone they can call up without serious question marks makes those declarations dubious.

Once again, the Mets needed everything to fall right for them to compete. But reality will always rear its sometimes ugly head. As expected Cliff Floyd has spent time on the DL, Jose Reyes' historically bad hamstrings were bad, and three pitchers do not make a rotation. Floyd is thankfully returning this weekend. He will be a welcome sight in the Mets lineup against an imposing Astros staff. But is it already too late?

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