NL East Preview: New York Mets
NEW YORK METS
Meet the Mess, meet the Mess
Step right up and greet the Mess
A year separated from winning 89 games, the Mets won a meager 70 games last season. Only three players logged 400 or more plate appearances and only three starters toed the rubber at least 20 times. Five Mets crossed into double-digits in home runs with Daniel Murphy’s 12 leading the pack. Ryan Howard, by himself, out-homered the top-four Mets sluggers, 45 to 42. Third baseman David Wright’s SLG dropped from a previous career low of .523 to .447. John Maine, with a 4.43 ERA, was the second-best starter on the squad and he made just 15 starts.
It was a nightmarish season as most experts, including 14 of 21 polled at ESPN, expected the Mets to win the division over the defending World Series champion Phillies. The injuries piled up early and often. By season’s end, $55 million of their nearly $150 million payroll (37%) had been spent on players on the disabled list, according to Jeff Zimmerman at Beyond the Box Score. The only way the season could have gotten worse for Mets fans is if both of their rivals made it to the World Series.
Fans who lived through the 1995-2000 era in Phillies history know exactly how Mets fans are feeling right now. But I wanted to see exactly how confident they are going into 2010, so I caught up with Steve Keane of Kranepool Society and had him answer a few questions.
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1. The black cloud that hung over the Mets in 2009 seems to have lingered going into 2010. Do the absences of Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes have you concerned, or can the Mets overcome another bout with bad luck?
Very concerned. Not only do Reyes and Beltran play the two most important defensive positions, they occupy the two critical spots in the line up, Reyes leading off and Beltran in the 3 hole. At least when Beltran does come back, his understudy Angel Pagan is a very good backup so Beltran can get a day off to rest his knees, with Reyes it may be his Thyroid condition limits his games played and his backup Ruben Tejada is too green and Alex Cora is, well Alex Cora.
2. David Wright had quite a power outage last year. As his splits will show, it wasn’t due to the new ballpark. Was it just a fluke, or is there a reasonable explanation for the power outage? Do you expect Wright to get back on the horse this year?
I think it was part fluke, part trying to carry the offense single-handedly with no protection in the lineup. To start the season Wright will bat 3rd but when Beltran comes back he’ll drop the 5th where I feel he will thrive.
3. Ike Davis: A great prospect, or the greatest prospect?
So far this spring a great prospect and the first baseman of the future. Greatest prospect? To be determined.
4. Aside from Johan Santana, what can we expect from the Mets starting rotation?
Your guess is as good as mine. Will Mike Pelfrey make the jump to reliable starter? Which Oliver Perez will show up every fifth day, Bad Ollie or Good Ollie? Does John Maine have the stamina to log 180-200 innings pitched? Like I say, it’s a guessing game.
5. What’s up with all the catchers? Barajas and Coste and Blanco and Santos and Thole… and no Bengie Molina!
One of the few moves the Mets front office got right. I wanted Rod Barajas from the get go and Henry Blanco brings a solid defender and game caller behind the plate. Coste goes to Buffalo to tutor Josh Thole and Omir Santos becomes a very valuable trade chip. It also shows that Omar Minaya does not have full autonomy over the baseball ops as in his heyday he’d have given Bengie Molina a 5yr deal.
MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie/Manager of the Year winners
MVP: Chase Utley ( I feel dirty typing that by the way)
Cy Young: Brandon Webb
Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward
Manager of the Year Bobby Cox (a going away present)
Mets regular season win total
Place in NL East
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Check out Steve Keane at Kranepool Society for more on the Mets as we head into the regular season. Whether he believes it or not, I do hope the Mets find a bit of good fortune, as it’s great for baseball when both they and the Phillies are competitive simultaneously. The rivalry was really starting to heat up but the Mets angered the wrong gods or broke a thousand mirrors or something like that. Let’s hope that 2009 is the last time the Mets are the butt of a Sporcle joke for the wrong reasons.
Get well soon, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran!