After an offseason clouded by financial issues, injuries and the debate over whether to release Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, the New York Mets are finally ready for baseball this season.
Expectations aren’t exactly high, especially since the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves appear ready to duke it out for bragging rights in the N.L. East. However, if a few things fall perfectly into place, the Mets can be a surprise team in the National League this season.
It’s been 25 years since the ball trickled through Bill Buckner’s legs, which eventually led to the Mets’ 1986 World Championship. Though that span may increase at this year’s end, the Mets will be out to prove that they are back on the right track after a few poor seasons.
The Amazin’s brought in Sandy Alderson to be their new general manager. Alderson is a baseball guy, who operates on the “Moneyball” theory. He looks for the intrinsic value of players like their ability to draw walks which leads to higher on-base percentages and, in turn, chances to score runs.
Omar Minaya left this franchise with many holes that Alderson is responsible for filling. Sandy has done a decent job with the limited resources the Mets had to work with.
Alderson’s first responsibility was filling the void of manager. After two and half seasons, the Mets’ patience ran out with the laid-back Jerry Manuel. Granted, Manuel was forced to deal with a rash of injuries throughout his Mets’ tenure, but the team still underperformed.
The team hired the fiery Terry Collins, who had managed the Anaheim Angels and Houston Astros. He served as a minor league instructor for the Mets last season, so he gained a familiarity with some of the Mets’ talented prospects.
Collins brings experience and attitude to the Mets dugout, where he will not be afraid to light a fire under his players.
After securing Collins, Alderson brought in a few veterans—albeit some injury risks—to sure up the roster. The Mets will have a new look pitching staff heading into the season.
Mets’ ace Johan Santana will be sidelines until at least the All-Star break, so the starting staff will have to perform well to make up Santana’s production. Mike Pelfrey, who pitched well last season except for one brief stretch, will get the nod on Opening Day. He appears ready to take the next step in his career.
R.A. Dickey is out to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke. If he gets his knuckleball working, he can have another big season. Young lefty Jon Niese is also geared for a big performance.
Chris Young and Chris Capuano will round out the Mets rotation. Both have been plagued by injuries the last few seasons, but they have rediscovered themselves this spring. These two can provide a shot in the arm for the other pitchers, similar to what Dickey did last year.
In the bullpen, the Mets added D.J. Carrasco, Tim Byrdak, Jason Isringhausen and Taylor Buchholz to provide some consistency late in games. Francisco Rodriguez has thrown the ball very well this spring. Coming off his incident last year, K-Rod appears to have put his demons behind him and will be prepared to be a dominant force for the Mets late in games. The Mets are likely to be involved in many close games this year, so having a shutdown closer will be key.
Once again, injury issues surround Carlos Beltran. While he’s trying hard to be ready for Opening Day, the Mets would rather he takes his time to recover so he’s healthy for the long haul.
If the lineup can remain consistent and capitalize on their opportunities, the Mets have the potential to score a good deal of runs. Jose Reyes is in a contract year, so he will be out to prove that he is healthy and worthy of a multi-year deal. Reyes is the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the game when focused on baseball.
Angel Pagan and David Wright are coming off big seasons in 2010 and will look to stabilize the top of the Mets’ order. The real question marks will like with Beltran and Jason Bay in the middle.
Bay signed a four-year deal with a fifth-year vesting option last winter, and he completely flopped in his first season. He had trouble adjusting to Citi Field and saw his power stroke disappear. In late July, he suffered a concussion that shut him down for the rest of the season. Bay has hit well this spring and will need to stay hot heading into the season.
Ike Davis will be another cog in the Mets’ success. He hit 19 home runs as a rookie last year and appears ready for a breakout season.
Josh Thole and Brad Emaus should round out the batting order.
Consistent play from their pitchers and hitters will allow the Mets to play good baseball this season. They’ve been written off early, but the new leadership will show that this team is heading in the right direction.
Projected Finish: 84-78, Third Place N.L. East
About the Author
Written by Jim Mancari
James (Jim) Mancari hails from Massapequa, NY. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA with degrees in History and Kinesiology. Jim currently is pursuing a Master's degree in Journalism at Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY). He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets' fans, Jim has plenty of hope. Jim also writes for the NJ Nets on this site. He can be contacted at email@example.com. He appreciates and respects additional opinions.