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New York Mets Preview


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New York Mets preview

By Ryan Fagan - SportingNews

 

The Mets want—no, need—to figure out a way to get back to the postseason. They have to atone for two consecutive September collapses, as well as the lasting image of Carlos Beltran taking a knee-buckling curveball from Adam Wainwright in an NLCS loss that ended their run toward the 2006 World Series.

 

THREE QUESTIONS

 

1. Should there be concern about the corner outfield spots?

When a team has established stars such as Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Delgado in the lineup, it’s natural to wonder about guys such as Daniel Murphy, Ryan Church and Fernando Tatis manning important positions. Especially when there were more proven run producers available at those positions on the free agent market for bargain prices (outfielder Bobby Abreu for $5 million, for example).

 

The Mets feel comfortable with Murphy and Tatis as their left-field duo, and with Church as their starter in right. Murphy, a 13th-round pick in 2006, has hit .313 in 131 at-bats for the Mets. Tatis, who entered the 2008 season with only 56 at-bats in the majors since 2004, hit .297 with 11 homers last season. Church battled concussion problems most of last season but says he is healthy.

 

2. How important are the additions of relievers Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz?

Heading into the offseason, the most glaring weakness in all of baseball was the Mets’ bullpen. The team blew 29 save opportunities in 2008 (including 12 in August/September), and with Billy Wagner out for the season following Tommy John surgery, they had no viable in-house options for the late innings. General manager Omar Minaya delivered the most emphatic 1-2 punch of the offseason by signing K-Rod to a three-year deal and completing a three-team trade to land Putz as his setup man.

 

Both have had extended stretches of dominance as a closer, and having both available for the late innings should do wonders for the team’s overall confidence. After back-to-back September collapses, that confidence should be huge.

 

3. Can the Mets avoid another late-season swoon?

These Mets will be fun to watch throughout the 2009 campaign. They’ll feature the speedy Reyes, the powerful Wright, the five-tool Beltran, the record-setting Rodriguez and the ace lefty Johan Santana. They’ll win a bunch of games and spend the first five months in/near first place in the N.L. East. But none of that really will matter. The Mets have been very good for the first five months of the past two seasons, but they’ve watched the postseason from home each time.

 

What matters is the final month of the regular season. The last regular season game is at home against Houston on Oct. 4. Will there be champagne flowing, or heads hanging in defeat (as there have been the past two seasons)? There’s no reason to expect another failed final month this year, but there were no reason to expect those types of slumps the past two seasons, either.

 

PROJECTED LINEUP

1. SS Jose Reyes. Jerry Manuel wouldn’t really drop him from the leadoff spot, right?

2. 2B Luis Castillo. Coming off his worst season in a decade.

3. 3B David Wright. The best third baseman in the National League.

4. 1B Carlos Delgado. Hit .303 with 21 homers after the All-Star break.

5. CF Carlos Beltran. Had another stellar all-around season.

6. RF Ryan Church. Was batting .309 before a concussion derailed his momentum in May.

7. LF Danny Murphy. Spark plug will share time with Tatis.

8. C Brian Schneider. Decent bat, solid defender.

 

PROJECTED ROTATION

1. LHP Johan Santana. He was stellar (7-0, 1.87 ERA) in August and September.

2. RHP Mike Pelfrey. Former first-round pick found his stride in 2008.

3. LHP Oliver Perez. Dominated rival Phillies last season (0.35 ERA in four starts).

4. RHP John Maine. Expects surgically-repaired shoulder to be healthy.

5. RHP Tim Redding. Must hold off oft-injured righthander Freddy Garcia for the job.

 

PROJECTED CLOSER

RHP Francisco Rodriguez. Record-setting closer (62 saves in 2008) part of revamped bullpen.

 

GRADES

 

Offense. A. Three of their stars—Beltran, Reyes, Wright—are fixtures in the annual MVP conversations. And Delgado showed he still is a capable slugger after a slow start. There are a couple of questions, but this is a carbon copy of the unit that finished tied for second (with Philly) in the N.L. in runs scored.

 

Pitching. A. With a bit more run support, Santana could have won 20 or more games. If Maine is healthy and the Mets get some production out of the No. 5 slot, the rotation will be a strength. Only two relievers who made more than 25 appearances with the team in 2008 are back; that’s wonderful news for Mets fans.

 

Bench. B. There is some defensive versatility. Tatis and Nick Evans both can play infield and outfield, Jeremy Reed can play all three outfield positions and Alex Cora can fill either middle-infield spot. That’s fine defensively, but there is almost no power off the bench.

 

Manager. C. Manuel did a fine job rousing the Mets from the lumbering state they slipped into with Willie Randolph at the helm at the start of last year. Come September, though, he couldn’t avoid another disaster. He is talking about shaking the team up—moving Reyes out of the leadoff spot—but is that a good thing?

 

Sporting News prediction: The Mets solved their biggest problem by revamping their bullpen, but their chief rival now has the confidence of a World Series championship under its belt. The Mets will make the playoffs but will have to settle for the wild card.

 

Yahoo!

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I'm still interested to see what Angel Pagan can do, at least off the bench. Or if Tatis/Murphy don't pan out in LF. Saw some positive signs from him last year before he was injured.

I totally forgot we still had Pagan. lol. Yeah, I liked him too. I forget though, was he a utility player or was he at a set position?

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6. RF Ryan Church. Was batting .309 before a concussion derailed his momentum in May.

7. LF Danny Murphy. Spark plug will share time with Tatis.

8. C Brian Schneider

 

:TD:

 

Our 6-7-8 guys are gonna be the easiest late game outs in the league.

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:TD:

 

Our 6-7-8 guys are gonna be the easiest late game outs in the league.

Why do u say that? Church was basically our team MVP untill his first concussion last year, and now he's 100% healthy, Murphy was the highlight of the team towards the end of last season hitting over .300, and Schneider... ... ... well, Church and Murphy are good. lol. Schneider was decent at best.

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Why do u say that? Church was basically our team MVP untill his first concussion last year, and now he's 100% healthy, Murphy was the highlight of the team towards the end of last season hitting over .300, and Schneider... ... ... well, Church and Murphy are good. lol. Schneider was decent at best.

 

 

If you look at Schneider's numbers compared to other catchers in MLB his production is slightly better than average. There aren't too many Russell Martin's or Geovany Soto's out there.

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Why do u say that? Church was basically our team MVP untill his first concussion last year, and now he's 100% healthy, Murphy was the highlight of the team towards the end of last season hitting over .300, and Schneider... ... ... well, Church and Murphy are good. lol. Schneider was decent at best.

Because all a team has to do is bring a left handed pitcher late in the game and our last 3 guys are all lefties.

 

 

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I still believe those guys can hit.

 

 

We'll see. Murphy has the look of a guy that can hit lefties as good as righties. I imagine in such cases in late games we might see some pinch hitting by Tatis and defensive replacements like Reed out there. Manuel doesn't have to succumb to bad matchups late in the game if he doesn't want to.

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We'll see. Murphy has the look of a guy that can hit lefties as good as righties. I imagine in such cases in late games we might see some pinch hitting by Tatis and defensive replacements like Reed out there. Manuel doesn't have to succumb to bad matchups late in the game if he doesn't want to.

I must say though, yesterday was a great day for the guys who reside in the basement. Castillo and Church :clap:

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