The 2009 Mets Season Report Cards: Position Players

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The 2009 Mets Season Report Cards: Position Players
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Now that the smoke has cleared from this 2009 baseball season and all games are now in the books, it's a good time to objectively reflect on the regular season.

This is especially true for Mets fans, since once again, there will be no October baseball played in Queens.

Despite sweeping the final series of the season against the Houston Astros at Citi Field, even the most optimistic Mets fans would be hard pressed to call this season anything short of a disaster.

Whether it was injuries, uninspired play, or a lack of offense, the Mets went from preseason contender (remember Sports Illustrated picked them to go to the World Series), to a team that finished with only 11 more wins than the lowly Washington Nationals with a record of 70-92.

There were very few, if any, bright spots for the Amazin's this season. But to be fair, each part of the team should be objectively analyzed. With that said, here are the final grades for the major players of the 2009 New York Mets.

 

CATCHERS

Brian Schneider: D

2009 stats: .218 AVG, 11 R, 11 2B, 3 HR, 24 RBI, .292 OBP, .335 SLG

Brian Schneider went from being the Mets' opening day starting catcher, to being injured, to being in Jerry Manuel's dog house, and ultimately playing out the final month of the season fully knowing he would not be in the team's plans for 2010.

Known as a solid defensive catcher, Schneider has struggled defensively during his time in Queens, and while he's never going to be confused with Mike Piazza at the plate, Schneider went from being an average offensive catcher, to batting under the mendoza line until the final month of the season.

The only thing that saves Schneider from an F-grade, is how he totally embraced the mentoring role with Mets catching prospect Josh Thole, even with full knowledge that he would not be returning next season. It was a class move by Schneider, and the Mets could use more team players like that.

Omir Santos: B-

2009 stats: .260 AVG, 28 R, 14 2B, 7 HR, 40 RBI, .296 OBP, .391 SLG

Omir Santos was one of the few pleasant surprises for the Mets in 2009. In just his second season in the Major Leagues at 27, Santos became a favorite of manager Jerry Manuel so much so, that the club felt comfortable trading away Ramon Castro during the season.

Santos was solid behind the dish, making only three errors in 96 games played, while throwing out a respectable 30 percent of all would-be base stealers. While his offensive numbers were not mind blowing, Santos did drive in 40 runs in 96 games while showing a niche for getting a hit in a big spot, something the Mets were really lacking in 2009.

Santos' solid performance in 2009 should earn him at least a platoon role for the Mets in 2010.

Josh Thole: Incomplete

20089stats: .321 AVG, 2 R, 2 2B, 0 HR, 9 RBI, .356 OBP, .396 SLG

Josh Thole was a September call-up, and while he only saw action in 17 games down the stretch, he did show many signs of promise (something many Mets prospects did not do in 2009), enough so that he may get a platoon spot on the big club in 2010.

Thole gets an incomplete simply because 17 games is not enough for a fair assessment.

INFIELDERS

Daniel Murphy: C-

2009 stats: .266 AVG, 60 R, 38 2B, 12 HR, 63 RBI, .313 OBP, .427 SLG

Daniel Murphy started the season as a terrible left fielder, and finished the season as a below average first baseman. There is a huge debate between Mets fans over whether or not Murphy is the answer for the Mets at first base in 2010. So here are a few pros and cons.

PROS: Murphy started very slow, in the field and at the plate, but did improve at both as the season progressed. He's no Gold Glove winner at first, but has showed signs of being able to be a solid defensive first basemen the more he plays the position. Murphy's gap-to-gap swing also seemed to fit Citi Field, as he did club 38 doubles. Finally, in a season where almost no Mets player could stay healthy, Murphy proved durable, playing in 155 games in 2009, more than any other Met.

CONS: Can a team that plans on being a title contender really be competitive with an average fielding first baseman who hits .266, with 12 home runs and 63 RBI? Also, teams should always be weary of a player who performs when the games don't matter, which is what Murphy did in 2009, posting his best numbers in August and September, when the Mets had nothing to play for.

In the end, Murphy's numbers aren't terrible, but anyone who watched Mets games the entire season, knows he was pretty much awful until August. While he is one of the few Mets to finish strong in 2009, it's hard to ignore the first four months of the season. He gets a grade that is slightly below average.

Carlos Delgado: Incomplete

2009 stats: .298 AVG, 15 R, 7 2B, 4 HR, 23 RBI, .393 OBP, .521 SLG

Carlos Delgado was only able to play in 26 games in 2009 due to injury. He seemed to pick up in 2009, where he left off in 2008, driving in 23 runs in those 26 games, but was unable to return from an injury that sidelined him in May.

His injury may be the single most damaging to the Mets offense in 2009, and if he's healthy, he may get a chance to return in 2010.

Luis Castillo: B+

2009 stats: .302 AVG, 77 R, 12 2B, 20 SB, 40 RBI, .387 OBP, .346 SLG

No player who didn't pitch in relief was more reviled by Mets fans in 2008, and with good reason, as Luis Castillo looked old, slow, and overpaid as the Mets collapsed for a second straight season.

Second base was a spot of concern going into 2009, so it seems ironic that Castillo actually proved to be the most consistent Mets player all season. He would once again top the .300 plateau, and his 40 RBI and 20 steals were his highest totals since 2006.

Second base seems to be in good hands for 2010, and if not for that huge dropped pop-up against the Yankees (can we please use two hands), Castillo would get an A.

Fernando Tatis: D+

2009 stats: .282 AVG, 42 R, 21 2B, 8 HR, 48 RBI, .339 OBP, .438 SLG

Originally thought to be a platoon guy with Daniel Murphy in left field, while spotting Carlos Delgado at first base, Fernando Tatis basically played himself out of the starting line-up early in the Mets season.

After coming on strong and providing some much needed clutch hitting for the Mets down the stretch in 2008, Tatis played in only 10 games in April, before struggling mightily at the plate. While his numbers may seem decent, Tatis, much like Daniel Murphy, was terrible while the Mets were still contending and on fire when the Mets had nothing left to play for. From the beginning of the season to the trade deadline, Tatis batted .243 (48-for-197) with six home runs and 25 RBI, from August 1 on, Tatis hit .335 with two home runs and 23 RBI.

Tatis does get credit for finishing strong when many Mets gave up, even if the games were meaningless, and he did play a total of six different positions in 2009 (1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, RF) mostly filling in for injured teammates, but just like with Murphy, it's hard to ignore three months of absolutely terrible baseball.

Jose Reyes: Incomplete

2009 stats: .279 AVG, 18 R, 7 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 11 SB, .355 OBP

Jose Reyes was off to an average start, when what was originally diagnosed as a calf injury sidelined him after playing just 36 games. The injury was originally thought to only keep Reyes out a few games, then a few weeks, then until after the All Star break, and ultimately until 2010.

One of the things that may have hurt the Mets, is never knowing when, or if, Reyes was going to return. He didn't, and hopefully it won't affect him in 2010.

David Wright: C+

2009 stats: .307 AVG, 88 R, 39 2B, 10 HR, 72 RBI, .390 OBP, .447 SLG

There have been two major stories about David Wright in 2009, the beaning in his head by Matt Cain, and his sudden lack of power.

Sure he posted a career low in homers, and had the fewest RBI in his career since he was a late season call-up in 2004, but that doesn't tell the entire story of Wright's season.

His batting average was well over .300, and among the league leaders for most of the season, even after there was no reason for teams to pitch to him with Delgado, Beltran, and Reyes all out with injuries. While it's true Wright's home runs were down, he did still hit 39 doubles in 144 games (compared to 42 in 160 games in 2008).

Still, David Wright is the best hitter in the Mets line-up, and a contending team cannot get 10 home runs and 72 RBIs from their number three hitter if they wish to be successful. Maybe Citi Field's dimensions got in his head, or he saw few pitches to hit because he had very little protection in the line-up, or both, but Wright's season was just slightly above average. That may be good for some, but the Mets need much more from their third baseman.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Carlos Beltran: C

2009 stats: .325 AVG, 50 R, 22 2B, 10 HR, 48 RBI, 11 SB, .415 OBP, .500 SLG

Carlos Beltran was off to a very good season in 2009, before a knee injury limited him for much of the season.

Beltran played the equivalent of half-a-season, or 81 games. His projected numbers would have been impressive, 20 home runs, 44 doubles, 96 RBI, 100 runs scored, 22 steals, and 200 hits, but unfortunately, "projected numbers" don't count.

Beltran does get points for rushing back to the field, even after the Mets were out of contention, something that Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes were unable to accomplish. Still, in the end, a player cannot help his team if he's not on the field, and Beltran just didn't play enough to earn anything more than an average grade.

Gary Sheffield: C-

2009 stats: .276 AVG, 44 R, 13 2B, 10 HR, 43 RBI, .372 OBP, .451 SLG

Sheffield was signed for the veteran's minimum salary just prior to the start of the season, with the idea that he would provide pop off the bench and veteran leadership in the clubhouse. By the All Star break, however, Sheffield had become the Mets' everyday clean-up hitter. When a 40 year-old player you pick up off of the scrap heap becomes your everyday number four hitter, your team is probably in trouble.

Sheff played his heart out, playing solid defense in the outfield, and putting up solid numbers at the plate, in fact, he finished tied for second on the team in homers with 10, but before Mets fans knew it, Sheff was up to his old antics again.

Upset that he was not receiving an extension, and was pretty much told that he wasn't in the team's plans for 2010, Sheffield pouted, and pretty much packed it in, barely playing in the second half of the season, and not homering since June. When you hit .300, with 40 home runs and 120 RBI, you can get away with being a malcontent, but not when you're a 40 year-old player who has trouble staying healthy and has one foot out of the game.

Sheffield should get a grade of B+ for being a pleasant surprise in the first half of the season, and an F for sulking and giving up in the second. The final grade is in the middle, at a C-.

Angel Pagan: A

2009 stats: .306 AVG, 54 R, 22 2B, 11 3B, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 14 SB, .350 OBP

No player overcame more to get where he is at now than Angel Pagan.

Pagan went from being a starter last opening day, to being injured and forgotten, to filling in for not one, but two Mets' injured superstars, when he played center field for Carlos Beltran while batting lead-off for Jose Reyes.

Pagan did both very well. While he was no Beltran on defense, he was above average, using his speed to cover Citi Field's cavernous outfield. On offense, Pagan batted over .300, and his 11 triples were good for fourth in the NL, and he did it in only 88 games played. Pagan impressed Mets management so much, that there has been talk of leaving him in the lead-off spot even after Jose Reyes returns in 2010.

Pagan is one of the few Mets who undoubtedly deserves a starting job in 2010.

Fernando Martinez: F

2009 stats: .176 AVG, 11 R, 6 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, .242 OBP, .275 SLG

He's still only 21, so it may not be time to panic, and F-Mart was probably rushed to the bigs too soon because of the injury situation the Mets were in, and sure he did play in only 29 games before getting injured for the season, but Fernando Martinez gave Mets fans visions of Alex Ochoa, Alex Escobar, and Gregg Jefferies all rolled into one. For that, he gets an F.

Just looking at those numbers, and it's easy to see that Martinez was not ready for the big show. If you watched the games, then you definitely know Martinez was totally over-matched and overpowered by the game at the Major League level. A very disappointing showing.

Jeff Francouer: A

2009 stats (with NY): .311 AVG, 40 R, 20 2B, 10 HR, 41 RBI, .338 OBP, .498 SLG

Jeff Francouer was on his way to another disappointing season in Atlanta when he was traded to the Mets for Ryan Church. The change of scenery did him good, as Francouer would rapidly become a force in the Mets line-up.

Francouer went from batting .250 with Atlanta to batting over .300 in Queens, even playing his home games at Citi Field. His 10 home runs as a met were not only tied for second on the team, but were only two fewer than Daniel Murphy hit in more than half the number of games. He showed a knack for getting hits in big spots, something the Mets have sorely lacked for a few seasons.

Francouer played solid defense, although he did have a few lapses. Playing a full season in Citi Field's quirky dimensions will benefit him in 2010.

Francouer proved to not only be a huge bright spot for the Mets in 2009, but the move may have been what ultimately saved GM Omar Minaya's job. Frenchy gets an A.

There are the grades for the Mets offensive players. Coming up next, the pitching staff.

Oliver Perez beware.

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