Offseason Preview: The New York Mets
It's that simple. If you want to describe the Mets' season in less than three letters, that would definitely be the way to do it. In fact, it's really the only way to do it. Plain and simple, the Mets were plagued by the injury bug for the entire season. One player after another went either on the disabled list of was simply lost for the season. I would go through the entire list of names, but I will just go through the important ones:
And the list goes on and on and on... (sorry fellow Mets fans)
The worst part of it all is that the Mets moved into a brand new ballpark this year, in Citi Field. The beautiful new ballpark was based on multiple parks from the early age of baseball, including the Polo Grounds. Sadly, with all of the Mets' thunder being taken out of the lineup and the majority of the starting rotation being on the DL, the Mets did not get the opportunity to put on the show they could have in their new ballpark.
The biggest strength that the Mets showed this year was with the bats. I know, I know, they had a terrible slugging percentage as a team this year, but read this: The Mets had the 5th highest batting average in the major leagues. Now, remember those names that I posted earlier...No Delgado, no Beltran, no Reyes, and they still put up the 5th highest batting average in the league. Since the Mets could not rely on hitting homers in 2009, they had to "manufacture" runs, and they did that fairly well. A .269 batting average and a .336 OBP were very good numbers as a team. It's too bad that the Mets played in Citi Field, because if they hadn't, they could have scored many more runs.
Though I included Wright on the injury list, he really was a bright spot for the Mets this season. He once again had a wonderful offensive season, improving both his career batting average and on base percentage by batting .318 and getting on base at a .405 clip. His slugging percentage went down (for obvious reasons), but he still had an OPS+ of 127, which is really good. Along with that, he stole 24 bases in 33 attempts, giving him the 2nd most in his career. Wright is one of the most well-rounded players in all of baseball. He his able to hit for average, hit for power, play defense, steal bases, and has a great throwing arm. I'm surprised that people don't refer to him as one of the better 5-tool players in baseball. it's actually surprising that Wright's numbers went up from last year, yet his OPS+ went down significantly (one of those cases where maybe OPS+ is a little off). The point is that Wright is a beast, plain and simple.
Yeah, everyone knows that he dropped a pop-up in Yankee Stadium to lose the Mets a game by allowing a guy to score from first. We get it. Let's actually look at what Castillo brought to the Mets this year: a .313 BA, a .401 OBP, and a .362 slugging percentage while playing for the Mets in Citi Field. That's pretty dang good if you ask me. He stole 15 bases in 21 attempts and gave the Mets a runner on base when they needed one the most. Nobody ever talked about him this season, because of the enormous overcast shadowed over him by the Mets' injuries, but the guy deserves all of the recognition he can get. Je played in 121 games (to today) which is the 3rd highest total for anyone on the roster for the Mets. Believe it or not, that helped the Mets in so many ways that it isn't even funny.
You've probably heard this story before: Johan Santana had another great season. I know, right? The guy is a dominant force in major league baseball. Santana, who is now hurt, pitched 166.2 innings in 2009 and posted an ERA of 3.13. This great ERA came along with a 1.212 WHIP and a SO/BB ratio of 3.17 which is extremely good. He lead the team in innings pitched, even though he made the 2nd most starts of any pitcher on the team. He was another one of the Mets' great single player performances in 2009.
As a part of one of the most over-paid free agent classes of all time, K-Rod came into New York giving Mets fans hope that the bullpen wouldn't falter and they wouldn't lose a lead late in the season. unfortunately for the Mets, they don't have a lead to lose, but the more important thing is that they have a bullpen that they can trust. K-Rod posted a 3.08 ERA in 61.1 innings pitched as the closer, and only "lost" four games the entire season, which was huge for a Mets pen that was a game-blowing artist the past few seasons. Though they traded Billy Wagner, the Mets will definitely have a great bullpen set up for 2010.
81. That's a magic number. 23 is another magic number. Can you guess why? The first number is the total number of home runs the Mets hit. The second is the number of homers that the Mets were behind the team with the 2nd fewest homers. Basically, the Mets couldn't hit the long ball, and it killed the offense. They got them on and got them over, but couldn't get them in. A slugging percentage of .392 as a team was absolutely terrible, and the team leader in homers was Gary Sheffield...with TEN. 10. The integer just above 9 and just below 11. Ryan Theriot has hit seven this year, and he would be tied for fourth on the Mets roster. Some teams live by the long ball and get burned by it, but at least they have the option of hitting homers. There was no "instant offense" for the Mets this year, and they got burned by it severely.
Where to Improve:
This is going to be a very special version of the off season preview special. I'm not going to go through possible free agent acquisitions or a minor-league watch in this, because I do not feel that the Mets need to worry about either of them. What the Mets need to do is get out of their slings, casts, and rehab programs and get their star players back out on the field. You want to know who the Mets should sign? A new strength and conditioning coach. This can't be bad luck. It is a reoccurring theme that keeps burning the Mets time after time. If it is bad luck, I want to meet the person who put the hex on the Mets, because he is one heck of a sorcerer. Point blank: the Mets need to get healthy. If they stay healthy next year, they will be perfectly fine next season.
Outlook for 2010:
I predict the Mets to win the NL East in 2010. It's that simple. From top to bottom, they have the best team in the NL East (when healthy). They have a solid lineup, good starting rotation, good bullpen, and decent team defense, which will likely lead to them grabbing the division crown in 2010. If you expect a team to make a huge jump from 2009 to 2010, make that team the Mets. I don't understand why Minaya and Manuel might lose their jobs. They've put together a winning team that will succeed when everyone is actually playing on the field. Your 2010 NL East champs: New York Mets. Book it.
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