To state the obvious (and slightly positive) at the onset, this year’s Mets are a superior defensive team to last year’s by a considerable margin. Then again, so are most Division 1 college squads. Kaz Matsui and Mike Piazza’s dificulties in the field have been documented, and yesterday’s miscues by David Wright and Jose Reyes likely cost the Mets their chance to take two of three from an equally flawed Yankees.

Mike DeJean continues to perform like a righty version of the aging John Franco ; 20 hits and 14 walks allowed in 16 innings pitched, opponents are hitting .313 against the reliever. I can understand why Willie Randolph doesn’t want Mr. Koo pitching to a right-hander, just as keeping Pedro to some semblance of a pitch count makes sense. But I’m baffled as to why there aren’t any alternatives to DeJean. Chuck Meehan has already warned of Roberto Hernandez hitting the wall, and here’s hoping said edifice isn’t on the horizon by mid-June.

Back to reality though, the Mets are 17-3 after leading through 7 innings, a record that compares pretty well to other clubs we’d consider to be contenders (hello, Keith Foulke and Danny Kolb). That 2 of those 3 late inning collapses cost Pedro Martinez a win and came in games with high visibility (opening day against Cincy, rubber match of the Subway Series) makes things seem a little worse than they actually are.

Last night’s “Centerstage” interview of George Steinbrenner by Michael Kay was as dull and smoochy as promised, though the clip of the Boss reducing Phil Hartman to a straight man on SNL was classic.