There is definitely some upgrades to the New York Mets entering the 2009 season. Most of those advancements, including all the important ones were made in the pitching department.
Pitching was obviously the biggest problem with the team last year so the moves were some of the best they could have made. However, we are here to talk about the offense, which received no upgrade whatsoever, other than a seemingly healthy Ryan Church.
Many will tell you the hitting was also a huge problem with this team which is why the Mets should have pursued Manny Ramirez this offseason. While Ramirez would be a tremendous help in any lineup, I am here to say to Met fans everywhere that it is going to be okay. Because the offensive output the team had in 2008 was more than enough to win the NL East, and will be enough this year as well.
If the bullpen for New York would have saved just a third of the games they blew, the Mets would have won the division by at least three games. The Mets scored 799 runs in 2008, second in the NL, tied with the world champion Phillies, and only trailing the Cubs. The offensive output was there, even with lowly Luis Castillo in the lineup at times. This year, the lineup will be about the same, and so the run totals should be there. With better pitching now, it should be a recipe for success.
The lineup on opening day is probably going to end up like this:
This lineup has the potential to be one of the best in baseball, and definitely could be the most productive in the National League.
As always, the keys are going to be Jose Reyes, who is the sparkplug for this team, and David Wright. Because of Reyes, and whoever the No. 2 hitter was, Wright got up a lot of times with two out, nobody on in the first inning. David hit .313 in those situations last year. Bottom line is the Mets need to get their OBP up.
Reyes cannot go through dry spells of 2 for 21 like he has done at times in his career. Wright will get his .300 and his 100 RBIs but last year he could have had 150 RBI instead of 124. Believe it or not, a huge key to this team is also going to be Luis Castillo. He has been a rally killer ever since coming to New York. He needs to prove that he can extend the rally, and maybe even steal some bases. He needs not be so selective at the plate and look for walks but should poke and slice singles into the outfield, which is what he’s made his living doing.
Murphy should hit second , and Castillo eighth in my opinion but I do not see it happening here. Jerry Manuel believes in everyone on his clubs’ offensive ability, including Castillo. Other than Castillo, Ryan Church is another guy to be concerned with. He needs to come out and prove he can be the hitter he was in the beginning of 2008 before all the concussions that sidelined him for most of the season. Nobody really knows what it will take for him to be out again, so it leaves Met fans nervous, even skeptical of their right fielder at this point. It is up to Church to put that notion down. According to him, he is ready and feeling good for spring training.
Changing our subject, there is not a lot of power in this lineup for 2009. We can’t really expect Carlos Delgado to duplicate what he did in the second half of 2008 can we? But besides Delgado, Beltran and Wright we know, Reyes occasionally, and Murphy in a flash as well. Other than that, this needs to be a gritty team that grinds out wins with steals and smart base running. In the big spots this year, the Mets are going to want David Wright and Carlos Beltran at the plate. Beltran? Yes, Carlos Beltran struggled in the big spot all of last year and now he will be back as one of the best switch hitters of this generation, if not the best.
As for Wright, he is New York’s golden boy, homegrown superstar, and best player. He will do his part to take this team on his back into the postseason. High-pressure situations are what Wright looks for in a baseball game. He also struggled in big spots in 2008, so we will see how those two, the three and five hitters fare at the plate when the Mets need a big hit.
When push comes to shove this is the biggest overall concern for the Mets in 2009. This lineup, as said before, has all the goods to be an absolute terror for any National League Pitcher. The problem is that we do not know what will happen because it was the same situation last year and there were way too many spots where the big hit did not come. We will see, but my final opinion here is that the Mets will really be fine and will put out the offense they are capable of. The Mets should be very successful in 2009, on the road to winning the NL East.