30 Teams in 30 Days: New York Mets Preview

Mets

Last Season: 70-92 (-23)
Over/Under: 81 (-130/even)

Notable Gains

  • Jason Bay
  • Kelvim Escobar
  • Gary Mathews Jr.
  • Mike Jacobs

Notable Losses

  • Angel Berroa
  • Lance Broadway
  • Carlos Delgado
  • J.J. Putz
  • Jeremy Reed
  • Argenis Reyes
  • Brian Schneider
  • Gary Sheffield
  • Cory Sullivan
  • Brian Stokes

Three Things To Love

1) PECOTA has this Mets team ranked pretty low. Totally a fair ranking. Of course, they had roughly this same team ranked to win the division and get to the World Series last season… so grain of salt and all that. I made a similar point in the roundtable, but I’m sure last season, PECOTA had the combination of John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, and Oliver Perez penciled in for 45ish wins. This year, they’re budgeted for less than 20. Neither are fair predictions. Taken just from that perspective, the Mets should be about 12 to 15 wins better then PECOTA says. Not EVERYTHING is going to break wrong for the team two years in a row.

2) The General Manager. Yeah, that guy everyone can’t stand. He’s the guy who went out and got the best available free agent this offseason and who rebuilt the bullpen from scratch last year. He’s also the guy who refused to throw money at bad or middling players in a transparent attempt to save his job. He’s the guy who got a productive year out of Ryan Church for Lastings Milledge, then flipped Church, who probably won’t be on a Major League Roster this year, for Jeff Francoeur. In case I’m not making my point, he’s also the guy who ignored calls to take $10M “flyers” on guys like Ben Sheets by the same people who had the stones to say the Mets’ rotation was full of too many question marks. Omar’s not a bad general manager, folks. He’s just disliked by the papers. If the Mets’ fold to public pressure and fire Minaya this year, it will be a travesty.

3) The entire left side of the field. David Wright is absolutely due for a bounceback season after a year getting his feet under him in the new ballpark. Jose Reyes has taken an awful lot of flack for an injured season after four consecutive seasons with 700+ plate appearances. Somehow, his early career struggles, four years of 155+ games, followed by a poorly diagnosed leg injury, has led to a consensus that he’s injury prone. Really? Also, the addition of Jason Bay in left field was a great pick-up by the Mets. Avoiding the Matt Holliday contract was the best move of the offseason. Because I like Tierney, I don’t want to say it’s the new Vernon Wells contract. But it kind of is.

Three Things To Hate

1) The first base situation is abysmal. The management really wants to let Murphy start because of the support they threw behind him last spring. They want to give him another chance to prove them right. His back-up/platoon partner is going to be Fernando Tatis. One knock on Minaya, if any, is that once he finds an older utility player he really likes, he sticks with him until the bitter end. The light at the end of this tunnel is prospect Ike Davis’ spring.

2) Jerry Manuel’s suggestion that he’s going to bat Jose Reyes in the 3-hole until such time as Beltran returns. I really hope this was just an off-the-cuff idea and not something being seriously considered. I love Reyes, he’s a great player, but I have no interest in watching 130 balls caught on the warning track. There’s no reason to alter what Jose Reyes’ role has been for the previous three years. Get on the bases, make the pitcher jumpy, and let Wright knock him in. This idea to make him swing for the fences for two months and then expect him to go back to Willie Mays Hayes in June is really, really bad. Reyes doesn’t adapt well to change. Let’s not make him.

3) Carlos Beltran’s injury. Here’s the thing, there have been some rumors that Beltran is upset with the way the team handled his injury last year. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but if there’s a grain of truth in it, I really hope they don’t fold to Scott Boras’ not-quite-public demand for a contract extension. Look, if the Mets decline to give Beltran an extension now (which they should, since there’s rumors he might be a couple years from microfracture surgery) he will absolutely play his heart out for the remaining four months. And he’s a Boras client. 2011 is his walk year. He’ll make 500 at-bats in 2011 on a gurney.

Three Things That Will Be Fun To Watch

1) The Mets have two position prospects who make me happy for the future. Josh Thole came up last season and caddied for Brian Schneider. His defense is still pretty terrible but he’s great at slapping the ball around the field. If they can get his defense in order, and teach him some Spanish, he’ll be ready to catch for the Mets. Secondly, Ike Davis has been tearing up Spring Training so far. Davis was an early round draft pick a few seasons ago and is shredding the cover off the ball so far. It’s likely he’ll stay in the minors this season since he hasn’t even a had a full season at Triple A, but, should anything happen to Murphy or Tatis, I suspect the clock will start on him sooner rather than later.

2) Johan Santana. I know it’s kind of an obvious one, but for the first time in his career, Santana has real competition in his division. Roy Halliday vs. Johan Santana is a marquee match-up in the division (and maybe in any division) and will be for the next four years.

3) As a fan, this overall team should be fun to watch. Last year was just miserable. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. It was just a miserable three months to close the season. Other than the injuries, the only thing I remember was Omir Santos’ home run off Jonathan Papelbon to beat the Red Sox in Fenway. That was in May or June. It was just a bad season.

Summary: The Mets are going to be much better than projections this year. For those who are interested, I have a player-by-player preview on my blog.

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