30 Teams in 30 Days: New York Mets' Season Preview
Last Year’s Record: 89-73 (second in NL East)
Playoff Fate: Fell short of making the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, for the second time in two years. The Mets finished three games behind the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies, and finished one game behind the wild card winner, the Milwaukee Brewers.
Performance Last Year: The Mets got out to a decent start, going 51-44 before the All-Star break. The highlights of the season were consistent power numbers coming from 1B Carlos Delgado, and a surprisingly good year from LF Fernando Tatis. What was the bad from the Mets’ season? Any Met fan will tell you it was their bullpen.
Aaron Heilman, the goat of the Mets’ bullpen posted a 5.21 ERA in 2008, and soon enough was out of New York. The Mets ended the season poorly, winning 10 of their last 20 games, ultimately forfeiting a playoff spot to the Phillies and Brewers.
Although not a horrendous percentage of games to win, the Mets had a good shot at making the playoffs, but collapsed at the end of the season for the second year in a row. The news got worse for the Mets oward the end of the year, as they found out that their closer, Billy Wagner would likely miss all of 2009.
Key Additions: RP Francisco Rodriguez, RP J.J. Putz
Key Losses: Billy Wagner (Injury), Endy Chavez (Seattle Mariners), Aaron Heilman (Chicago Cubs)
Expectations for Upcoming Season: I definitely like the Mets’ chances this year. With the addition of K-Rod and J.J. Putz, the Mets will have a strengthened eighth and ninth inning relief effort, in addition to an above-average backup closer in J.J. Putz. The one thing the Mets have to be banking on is Jose Reyes.
If Reyes, a five-tool player, can post good numbers on a pretty consistent basis, look for the Mets’ offense to be electric. It would also be in the Mets’ best interest if 1B Carlos Delgado, who tore the cover off the ball last year, puts up big numbers again this year.
If the core players on this Mets ballclub can step up, look for the hard work and good play to be contagious throughout the clubhouse.
Chances of Winning Division: 6/10
There are a lot of promising things about the Mets, and a lot of concerning things about them. If Delgado, Reyes, and all of the other stars on the Mets produce, then you will see a stellar
New York Mets lineup. As for pitching, the bullpen has to get their act in gear. Even with Aaron Heilman gone, the Mets still have players like Duaner Sanchez and Pedro Feliciano on their bullpen from last year.
You can’t blame the bad pitching on the pitching coach, as former Mets’ pitching coach Rick Peterson was fired mid-season, but it didn’t help the bullpen immensely.
When Duaner Sanchez returns to pre-injury form, and when the Mets’ bullpen pitchers start pitching 1-2-3 innings, then Ii think this bullpen can be effective. There is still some work to be done.
With an offense that looks to produce runs frequently, and a pitching staff that is a bit “iffy”, how will the Mets fare in the NL East? The Braves have improved their Starting Pitching, while the Philadelphia Phillies are the defending World Champions.
I predict that the Braves will be contenders in the division, and the Phils will give the Mets a run for their money. Don’t count out the Mets, because with some improvement to their pitching this spring, they could end upon top of the NL East.
Chances of Winning World Series: 3/10
Even though the Mets will have a good offense and spectacular 8th and 9th inning pitching, they are a very inconsistent ballclub. If Jose Reyes falls apart in the Mets lineup, it becomes contagious, and the Mets start under-performing.
The bullpen is probably the most inconsistent group of baseball players in the MLB. When the cornerstones of your team are incoinsistent, it can lead to slumping at the wrong time, and the Mets know it best (two late-season collapses in two years).
With much improved AL teams, such as the Yankees and Rays, the Mets will need to reallybe on their game at the right time to win it all. Expect an improvement from the Metropolitans, but don’t expect too much out of this club.
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