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The Mets Expectation For 2006...


Plax 4 Prez
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New York Mets: On paper, this team has improved a great deal, mainly at closer and cleanup/first base. Mets fans still have nightmares from what Braden Looper and Doug Mientkiewicz did. Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado should be a lot better, and safer. Sometimes that's all the difference. If you ask me who the best team in the division is, I'd have to say it's the Mets. Pedro Martinez might be the first NL pitcher to be drafted. David Wright is a popular late first-round pick. Carlos Beltran probably has another 30-30 season in him and should be somewhere in between his last two seasons, making him a second-round pick as well, the third Met who belongs there. If Jose Reyes ever took walks, he might be the next Vince Coleman. And Bret Boone.… ah, don't ask.

 

Fantasy questions:

-What is David Wright's ceiling? Really, fantasy leaguers can't go wrong taking this fella in the top 15 of a draft. Consider he went 27-102-17 in his first full season, at age 22, and everyone agrees he can be more consistent and keep improving. Scott Rolen was doing this in his best seasons until putting it all together in 2004, at age 29. Wright is already there. The Mets should hit him third and let him go 35-120 -- which, considering where he hit in the lineup last year, wouldn't be a stretch. To sum up, the ceiling is high, and Wright is a fantastic keeper.

 

-Should we worry about Pedro's health? Martinez made 31 starts last season and won 15 of them, which is about all we can ask for on both fronts. But consider that no starting pitcher in the majors made more of an impact for WHIP -- not even Johan Santana -- and Pedro added 208 strikeouts. I'd bet against a 20-win season, no matter the run support, because he'd have to be fortunate to win two of every three starts. And it's unlikely he'll match his innings-per-start rate this season with an improved bullpen. Between the injured toe and his participation in the World Baseball Classic, set the over-under in season starts at 30, but that's a very good 30.

 

-Does anyone emerge in right field or second base? It's possible Bret Boone could help the Mets and hit a few home runs, but based on how bad he was last season, you can't count on him as anything but a late, late selection. Kazuo Matsui actually would be safer for fantasy. At least he doesn't hurt the team. In right field, Xavier Nady has proven he can hit lefties, but nobody else. Why not let Victor Diaz get 500 at-bats in right field? He seems streaky, sure, and has worse plate discipline than Jeff Francoeur, but he's still only 24. With proper playing time, he'd hit 20-25 home runs.

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