The Marlins have been a major nemesis to the Mets the last two Septembers, so the meetings between the two teams are always intense.
The Mets returned to New York last night from their Port St. Lucie Spring Training facility and are anxious to start the season in their brand new home, Citi Field.
When they returned home last night, they were brought into Citi Field and walked around in amazement and awe that this is their new home, as many had not seen the stadium since last September.
During the last week of the 2008 season, David Wright, Nick Evans and Daniel Murphy were brought into Citi Field to test the dimensions and to see how the ball carried throughout the field.
All three players were successful in hitting at least one home run during this session, but Citi Field has shown itself to be a pitcher friendly park.
This will be good for our pitchers, but our hitters will have this weekend to start testing out the wind conditions and overall flow of how the stadium should work to the Mets advantage.
Luis Castillo and Marlon Anderson have both been working very hard at getting themselves into playing shape and have both done well this spring.
They will be watched closely and if their performance suffers early in the season, it is likely they will be either released or traded by the mid season deadline.
In 2009, much will be expected from this team that has collapsed two consecutive Septembers, but the Mets are confident that with the changes in personnel and a clean slate in a new stadium, this will be their year to be the team to beat in the NL East.
Jerry Manuel is looking to his core players of Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana, and Carlos Delgado to lead their teammates both on and off the field. They all bring different leadership strengths to the table and work well together to be good examples of sportsmanship and game knowledge to the rest of their teammates.
The off season acquisitions of relief pitchers JJ Putz and Francisco Rodriguez should prove to be the most valuable offseason transactions.
As part of the deal that brought JJ Putz to New Yorkis the trade of Aaron Heilman, who many blame for the Mets misfortunes. Also gone are Endy Chavez, Scott Schoenweiss, Joe Smith, Pedro Martinez and Moises Alou.
With the exceptions of Heilman and Schoenweiss, the departed players will be missed enormously and we do wish them well.
The Mets sent 16 players to participate in the World Baseball Classic in March, the most of any club. How these players adapt to the intensity level of regular season after exhibition and tournament games will prove to be a big part of the April schedule.
The Mets are confident that the experience that their core players had in the WBC will only help them as individuals and as a team. During the tournament, they all were in big pressure situations and that should do much for their intensity level during the season.
The Phillies are determined to repeat as NL East Champions, but the Mets have come a long way in making the necessary changes and adjustments and like the last two years, it should come down to the wire.