On Oct. 4, 2009 the Mets will end the regular season at home against the Houston Astros. In all likelihood, this could be the end of their season all together.
Before I continue, I would just like to say that I am no sell-out or a pessimist. I am a Mets fan, but at the same time I am realist.
I, like many others amongst the Mets community, want to see the Mets win it all, but at the same time I am skeptical about this upcoming season.
Let's face it just how different is this year's club (barring any additional acquisitions) any different from the previous two years' ball clubs?
Before I get ahead of myself let's look at the changes Mets GM, Omar Minaya, has made to the club since the last time the Mets took the field.
To kick off the offseason, Omar made a rather large splash and acquired the best closer on the market, and arguably the best closer in baseball in Francisco Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is a superb closer and is coming off a season in which he shattered the single-season saves record by notching 62 saves. However, how much better is he than his predecessor, Billy Wagner?
In order to answer this question let's look at the numbers each pitcher posted last season. In 47 innings last year, Billy Wagner had a 0-1 record along with a 2.30 ERA and 52 strike outs. He converted 27 saves in 34 opportunities.
In comparison, Rodriguez, who pitched a total of 68.1 innings, had a record of 2-3 with a 2.24 ERA and 77 strike outs. He also had 62 saves to go along with it.
On the surface it appears that Rodriguez is a definite upgrade over Wagner. This is true, but not by much. While comparing the two you must take into consideration that Wagner missed a great deal of time last season with and elbow injury, which I'm sure, plagued him all year. Like Wagner, K-Rod, likewise, had his share of blown saves too.
A few days following the acquisition of Rodriguez, Omar went out and made another splash; this time acquiring relievers, J.J. Putz and Sean Green, as well as outfielder Jeremy Reed.
In exchange for these players the Mets shipped out fan favorite, Endy Chavez, Aaron Heilman and Joe Smith.
This move was a clear steal for the Mets, as they were able to acquire a pitcher, who could provide some stability during the latter innings of the game in exchange for a reasonable amount of talent.
However, keep in mind that the Mets have lost a source of stellar defense off the bench in Endy Chavez.
In addition to that they will be relying on Green, who posted a horrendous 8.65 ERA following the All-Star break, to get ground outs; rather than being able to turn to Joe Smith.
The Mets also traded away left-handed reliever, Scott Schoeneweis, to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for a minor league relief pitcher. The departure of Schoeneweis leaves the Mets with just one left-handed reliever (Pedro Feliciano).
This makes them vulnerable to teams with a predominantly left-handed hitting lineup, such as the Philadelphia Phillies.
Lest we forget that in order to have a successful season, the Mets are relying on the health of many of their starters.
The most important question mark is their ace, Johan Santana, who underwent minor knee surgery in the offseason. While the surgery was minor it does, like any other surgery; carry the risk of hindering the performance of the Mets ace. Chances are though, Santana will be fine and his performance will not suffer.
The biggest question mark in the Mets rotation falls on John Maine. Acquired in 2006, Maine has been a mainstay in the starting rotation ever since, however in the middle of last season he began to suffer from shoulder problems.
This eventually led to Maine going under the knife to repair the injury. The question is will Maine be the same pitcher before the surgery? Look at Pedro Martinez, for example. In 2005, Martinez was still putting up All-Star caliber numbers; yet following his injury he struggled to fill the back end of the Mets rotation.
Lastly, there is Ryan Church, whose post-concussion syndrome plagued him the entire season. If Ryan's woes continue, who are the Mets going to use to fill his place? They are already committing two players to the spot in left field.
That leaves Jeremy Reed as the most likely candidate, and clearly his offensive production is nowhere near what the Mets need out to be successful.
The Mets will also be banking on the success of Mike Pelfrey to carry over into 2009.
Last year, Big Pelf was stellar, pitching over 200 innings while posting a sub 4 ERA. Let's not forget though that this is the same Mike Pelfrey that went 3-8 with an ERA well over five the year prior.
Can he repeat his strong performance from the following season? I think the answer lies within whether or not he has the same amount of self confidence from last year.
Regardless one thing is for certain, we will be in for an interesting season ahead.
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