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Full Length New York Mets Preview
Adam Agata
| March 18, 2008
2comments
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OFFSEASON 1. Acquiring Johan Santana from the Twins for Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, Deolis Guerra, and Philip Humber *When you have the chance to acquire the best pitcher in baseball, you do it. The Mets did just that, and barely gave up anything for him. Gomez is the most athletic player in the Mets system (faster than even Jose Reyes), but he canít translate those tools on the field. If he does, watch out, but chances are he will become the next Alex Escobar. Mulvey could be a decent number 3 starter, and Humber, if healthy, could be a good number 4. Guerra was the gem of the deal, but he is extremely young, and more often than not, young pitchers will not develop. Worse comes to worse, it was well worth the risk 2. Trading Lastings Milledge to Nationals for Brian Schneider and Ryan Church. *Initially, this trade seems horrible for the Mets. Looking back, when you can acquire two players in your starting lineup for an unproven player who has shown can be a distraction off the field, it is not such a bad move. 5 years from now, the Mets may look bad. Today though, the Mets are built to win, and these two players will be major contributors. 3. Re-signing Luis Castillo Castillo signed a heft 4-year deal. In four years, this signing may not look good, but like with the trade above, the Mets are built to win now, and Castillo is expected to help drive for a World Series title. 4. Trading for Angel Pagan from the Cubs for someone no one cares about *What barely made any headlines has turned out to be huge. Pagan will get a chance to start and will be a major factor off the bench, especially with the health of Carlos Beltran and Moises Alou. 5. Not resigning Tom Glavine *There was no way the Mets would resign Glavine after his last performance. Its unfortunate, but Glavine just never felt comfortable with the Mets. He will be decent next year for the Braves, but donít say ìwhat ifÖî because his numbers would be a lot worse if he stuck with the Mets. LINEUP 1. Jose Reyes- SS *I know people are hating on Reyes after his second half collapse, but give the kid a break. He is still one of the best players around and is by far the most exciting player on the Mets. Reyes will turn 25 this June, but I think the 2006 Silver Slugger recipient will put it together and have a phenomenal year. It is still a learning process. He was rushed to the majors, and he has really struggled to develop patience at the plate. Last year he tried too hard to be patient, and he lost a lot of the drive in his bat. This year he should not be disappointing. 2. Luis Castillo- 2B *Castillo is not the same guy who will steal you 40 bases like he has done in the past, but the Mets are expecting a lot from him. Yes, a 4-year deal was too long, but when a team is ready to win now, a player like Castillo from the two-hole is a great fit. He is guaranteed to hit the ball (only 45 strikeouts last season), and with Reyes on the base paths, this skill will be an important weapon towards Mets success. Oh yeah, he also has a .368 career OBP. 3. Carlos Beltran- CF *When the Mets signed Beltran to that hefty contract, a lot was expected. Has he met the expectations? Probably not. I think with the money that he is earning, only a few players can exceed expectations. This still does not mean that Beltran has not been good. In fact, he has been among the best players in the game. Last year was a ìdownî year with 33 homeruns, 112 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases. The only thing that I am worried about Beltran is if he can hit at Shea. Over his time with the Mets, he has a .258/.353/.450 line at home, while hitting .285/.359/.559 on the road. 4. David Wright -3B *David Wright is awesome. What else can you say about this kid? Last year, he was the leading candidate for National League MVP before the Mets collapse. He will only be 25 next season. He has increased his OPS every season since being called up and again will serve as leader and poster child of the New York Mets. 5. Carlos Delgado-1B *If there was ever a question mark in the Mets lineup, Carlos Delgado would get the title. Delgadoís health remains iffy, and his career lows in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage cause more reason of concern. The Mets are hoping Delgado can hit .260/.350/.520 (equivalent to about 30-35 homeruns), but realistically, what can be expected? Hopefully his spring training statistics are not a predictor of the future: a .174 average while striking out 8 times in 23 at bats. 6. Ryan Church- RF *Church is a very good fit in the Mets lineup and outfield. I think it is very possible to get 25 homeruns and 80 RBIs, but I think what Ryan Church really needs is comfort that he will be playing everyday. The Mets seem set on letting Church play everyday (at least until Moises Alou returns), so Church will have plenty of time to prove himself. What Church really needs to learn is how to hit lefties. Last season, Church hit only .229 and slugged .339 off lefties, so if this continues, the Mets may need to figure out a platoon. 7. Angel Pagan- LF *The returning Met was acquired over the off-season to compete for the fifth outfield spot on the Mets. Moises Alou (who is ancient) got injured and Pagan has hit .351 this spring to earn him a lot of playing time. Pagan will not hit a lot of homeruns, but he is a career .280 minor league hitter. The one stat that worries me though is his 60 career strikeouts compared to only 25 walks. I see no reason why Alou should not reclaim leftfield when her returns, but Pagan (platooning with Endy Chavez) should be decent backups. 8. Brian Schneider- C *Schneider will not hit, period. The Mets acquired him because of his defensive abilities and his ability to call a game. I honestly do not know how to value these skills, but the Mets are very fortunate to have one of the best hitting back-up catchers in the game: Ramon Castro. I would not be surprised if Castro gets at least 50% of the playing time by seasonís end. Rotation 1. Johann Santana *Johann has everything lined up for a Cy Young award season. He has a decent hitting lineup, very weak offensive National League opponents, and a chance to pitch at the pitcherís haven, Shea Stadium. Now with these in mind, we will see how Johann adjusts to pitching and playing National League style, and most importantly, how will he adjust to New York City and its fans. If you were wondering, Johann is a career .258 hitter with a double and a triple in 31at bats. 2. Pedro Martinez *What Carlos Delgado is to the lineup, Pedro is to the pitching rotation. Pedro has the stuff to be as dominant as anybody, but pitching seven innings may be a struggle. If Pedro can throw 150 innings this season, I think the Mets would be happy, but would the fans be? 3. John Maine *This is the Maine attraction..har har. Maine really has to step up his game with the uncertainty in the Mets rotation. Maine did not even average six innings per start, but this year, he really has to average 6.5 to 7. Letís see which John Maine is the real John Maine: the dominating one at the beginning of last season, or the inconsistent one towards the end? In a year and a half with the Mets, he has a sub-4 ERA, so I should not expect anything less this season. Maine will be 27 this season, so he should shine while entering his prime. 4. Oliver Perez *Perez is still trying to find his 2004 form, and he made great progress towards it last season. Perez is another guy who has to step it up and try to work further into the ball game. Like Maine, when Perez is on, he is unhittable. This should be a trend this season, but do expects hiccups here and there that will deflate his numbers. If Perez can pitch 200 innings, there is not reason not to believe he wonít be among the top five in the NL in strikeouts. 5. Orlando Hernandez *Hernandez was the most consistent starter for the Mets. You knew one of two things: he will give you a very strong 6 or he will be injured. No one knows his exact age, but we do know he is very old, and Mike Pelfrey will most likely have this spot at the end of the season. I think Hernandez would be more valuable out of the bullpen as a guy who could throw 2 great innings, saving wear and tear on his arm. He has proven the last 3 years to stay healthy come September/October, so having him healthy during the stretch run would really benefit the Mets. BENCH *The Mets have a pretty decent bench. Ruben Gotay and Damian Easley provide versatility in the infield for the Mets. Ramon Castro is one of the best hitters on the team, and Olmedo Saenz could be useful at first and third. Endy Chavez makes an excellent fourth outfield. I think all the Mets need is a backup for Delgado who could be a starter on other teams. BULLPEN *Billy Wagner scares me as their closer. He is very good at getting the job done, but I see a little Armando Benitez in him. He always makes every game suspenseful. I have never been a fan of Aaron Heilman, and hopefully Duanar Sanchez will return to take the righty eighth inning role. Will Feliciano be as dominant as he was last year? If the Mets try to find success in September/October, a part or two is a dire need for this bullpen. PREDICTION I do not see why the Mets can not win the division, but a third place finish is also a possibility. After last seasonís collapse, the Mets will be determined not just to win, but to dominate, and earn a trip to the playoffs and the World Series. I have faith Willie will raise an NL pennant banner next season at Citi Field.
Share Your Thoughts
Adam from WVBR | March 19, 2008, 12:51am
I forgot to mention another HUGE aspect of the Mets: health and depth. Unfortunately for the Mets, their big bats and big game pitchers have all been injurred recently. You can never account for injuries, but if 3 guys are lost for a significant amount of time, the Mets will have a lot of trouble. Also, the Mets rank #29 on Baseball Americas minor league system, so the people that will come up and contribute are limited.

bhe3@cornell.edu from WVBR | March 18, 2008, 10:01pm
While everyone always talks about Jose Reyes / DWright / Johan / Pedro, I truly believe the Mets' bullpen is particularly underrated. Scott Schoenewies probably will never be the reliever they paid him to be, his rebound would really seal a dominant pen. Duaner Sanchez really is the wild card, as you said. I didn't particularly love Sanchez when he was with the dodgers in 2005, but he showed flashes of brilliance in 2006 until the car accident. Even if he can't get back to that form, Aaron Heilman is a serviceable setup man and I believe Pedro Feliciano is fantastic. (I've also watched Feliciano take batting practice and he's awesome!) The Mets have alot of question marks in the rotation (Olly Perez, Maine, Duque) and the lineup (Alou, Beltran, Church, Schneider, Delgado) but every NL team has alot of problems. They should definitely be the favorites in the NL.
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