What a terrific title. No BS this time. Let me get right to it…
1. David Wright is still a really good player. He fell out of the “SportsCenter” highlights during that 10-homer season in 2009, but hit 29 last season. If he gets his OBP back in the .390 range, he’s one of baseball’s best third baseman, a step below the Ryan Zimmerman/Evan Longoria duo.
- The strikeout totals concern me. 161 last year was too much. Already this year he has 7 in his first 5 games. Even so, Wright is absolutely one of the elite third basemen in baseball and I think the Mets can bank on him being right around his 162 game average of 27 HR and 107 RBI. He’s the franchise.
2. Jose Reyes in a contract year. All the skills are still there. He still has the speed and the rocket arm. He doesn’t turn 28 until June. I feel a big year, back among the NL runs leaders … and a big contract in the offseason.
- Does he have the potential to have a big year? Sure. Does he also have the potential to miss half the season? Yep. If he is playing well and the Mets are out of the race in July he might be on his way out with the right deal. If the Mets are in it and he’s playing well, he may be on his way to an extension. I really don’t know. I lean towards the latter as opposed to the former. I think the Mets organization still wants to try and win something big with the left side of the infield intact.
3. Angel Pagan is for real. He’s a solid center fielder, a switch-hitter with speed and just enough extra-base power to be dangerous. You can win a division title with Pagan out there. For example, is Shane Victorino really any better than Pagan?
- What I don’t get is how winning a division title affects the player comparison. You can win a division title with Jamie Moyer in your rotation. So what? It really has little to do with who is better. That said, Victorino has 3 gold gloves and some great post season success. I love Pagan and I loathe Victorino. In other words, I’d take either on my team.
4. Depth in the lineup. As Baseball Prospectus pointed out in its annual, the Mets gave 40 percent of their plate appearances to hitters worse than league average. Among the culprits with at least 100 plate appearances: Luis Castillo, Rod Barajas, Alex Cora, Henry Blanco and somebody named Jesus Feliciano. This year, the Mets go eight deep in the lineup, with catcher Jose Thole hitting eighth. And Thole isn’t that bad. Not much power, but a decent .357 OBP as a rookie in 2010.
- Right. The lineup was never going to be the problem, especially once Bay returns. Reyes-Pagan-Wright-Beltran-Bay-Davis is a dangerous 1-6, especially with pesky hitters in the 7 and 8 holes. The problem is instead when your rotation is loaded with #3 and #4 starters that end up matching up against another team’s ace or #2 starter every 5th day. Without Santana the Mets have no ace, and I’m not sure they have a #2 either.
5. Brad Emaus. My colleague Eric Karabell loves Emaus. Hey, he’s gotta be better than Luis Castillo. Of course, my couch is better than Luis Castillo.
- Luis Castillo brings new definition to the word “suck”
6. The bench. Lucas Duda has some good minor league hitting numbers, Scott Hairston can hit lefties, Daniel Murphy is back after being injured last season and he’s a nice utility guy.
- How could I not be convinced by “some good minor league hitting numbers” and “nice utility guy?” Still wondering what the plan is for Murph…
7. Potential in the rotation. I am worried about Mike Pelfrey after two bad starts, but the rotation could be solid with R.A. Dickey, a step forward from Jonathon Niese, a comeback from Chris Young and Chris Capuano. Yes, they lack an ace unless Johan Santana returns healthy, but all these guys could at least be decent. And if you have five decent starters, you have a chance.
- I just don’t see how the Mets rotation gets them to the playoffs without Santana leading the way. There’s no #1 and there’s no #2 until proven otherwise. There are solid #3′s (Niese, Young, Pelfrey, Dickey), and a shaky #5 (Capuano) but Santana’s return is key. The Mets have to find a way to stay in the picture until then. If Santana is any good, it will improve the entire staff because guys will be able to slot down one spot in the rotation a piece.
8. The bullpen is sneaky good. Hard-throwing Bobby Parnell is ready to emerge in the setup role, D.J. Carrasco is a ground ball specialist with a rubber arm who won’t give up many homers,Taylor Bucholz was really good with the Rockies before getting injured. I’m no fan of K-Rod, but he’s better than a lot of closers. (But can we dump the nickname please? He really hasn’t been K-Rod since about 2007.)
- I have a wait and see mentality about this. I hope Mr. Schoenfield is right. I also hope K-Rod can figure out how to get through an inning without allowing two base runners. I hope his “I have to strike out every batter and be so perfect that I thus torment my manager with walks” mentality fixes itself too. Hope…
9. Terry Collins. Let’s put it this way: BP reminded me of the incident last season when Jerry Manuel had Castillo bunt in extra innings against Cardinals outfielder Joe Mather. Collins is worth a win or two from a strategic/lineup viewpoint. Or maybe three or four.
- So far I love what I see with Collins. The Mets are playing aggressive and smart for the most part. The guys seem to like him. But, let’s see if his style wears thin as it has in his past gigs.
10. Carlos Beltran’s knees. I’ve avoided mentioning them until now. The Mets are due a little luck in the health department, right?
- If he can figure out how to hit again like he did in ’06 that’d be fantastic. Don’t count on it.
Add it all up and the Mets could win 86-87 games, and in the National League that could make them wild-card contenders.
- I picked the Mets to finish 4th in the East and I’m not about ready to change that 5 games into the season. Many things have to go right for them to be in contention for the division or for the wild card. Let’s see them play good ball for an extended period of time and if they do I’ll willingly eat crow.
- Here is the full article if you so desire…