Approaching Opening Day: Are the Mets Ready?
After a long and eventful off-season and spring training, the Mets are finally trimming their roster and are prepared to officially start the 2009 season in their new Citi Field surroundings, after a couple of short trips to Cincinnati and Miami.
The Mets have upgraded their bullpen enormously with the additions of JJ Putz and K-Rod, but no other aspect of their roster has drastically changed, and this has some people concerned about the fate of this team after the past two seasons.
Luis Castillo and Marlon Anderson have both lost a lot of weight (approximately 20 pounds each) and appear to be in great form, possibly hoping to earn some lost respect back from the Shea faithful. If performance does not up to par at the mid-season trading deadline, they most likely will be dealt to another team or released.
Ryan Church expects to play the full season in right field after two concussions left him unavailable during much of the 2008 season.
The core of the team is still intact, and with all four position players, namely Beltran, Delgado, Reyes, and Wright all participating in the WBC, they will be watched closely to see if there are any negative affects that linger from the change of routine for the three weeks of the tournament.
Wright was injured during the WBC with a cracked big toenail, this was accompanied by a bruise on his toe, and a knee to the head (a la Ryan Church) over a four day period. Neither of these occurrences are considered by Wright or the Mets to be serious, thankfully, but the concern will obviously be there until he shows himself to be 100% healthy. As this type of toenail crack and bruise may take several weeks to heal, there is a fear of aggravating the injury on foul tips or sudden movement from side to side.
The exciting part of Wright's WBC experience was being instrumental in sending Team USA into the semi finals. Wright produced a very clutch 9th inning hit with the bases loaded that drove in two runs, including the game winner. This was very good for his confidence and should help to question the doubters and those who consider him "unclutch". Time will tell if this experience has helped to prepare him for late game clutch situations.
Oliver Perez has his contract and will be monitored to see if his performance lives up to the hype and drama involved in contract negotiations. John Maine is rehabbing from shoulder surgery and appears to be on track to start the season feeling strong. Mike Pelfrey has had a few rocky outings but is expected to be just fine once the season starts.
Johan Santana, our ace, will be the anchor of the starting rotation, and should have a very successful season with the upgraded bullpen, who hopefully will not surrender 30 blown saves. The key will be run production, which was lacking in 2008, but the bullpen was by far the larger culprit.
Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans, no longer rookies, have both performed very well in Spring Training and will are both expected to be on the Opening Day Roster. Murphy is slotted to be the every day left fielder and Evans well be both a reserve outfielder and back up first baseman.
Ready or not, Mets fans, here we go. Citi Field is a blank canvas waiting for memories, hopefully more good than bad, and 2009 will be the Mets year to finally prove that they are the "Team to Beat" to the Phillies and the rest of the National League.
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