NL East Capsule: The Mets

Onan CocaContributor IFebruary 14, 2010

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23:  Daniel Murphy #28 of the New York Mets walks to the dugout after striking out against the Atlanta Braves during the game on September 23, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Today we are completing our quick tour of the NL East with our favorite team: the New York Metropolitans!  2009 was a tough year for the Mets as they were beset by a plague of injuries and ended up finishing fourth in the NL East ahead of only the lowly Nationals.

Their DL-related "plague" knocked out starters Oliver Perez, John Maine, Jon Niese, Fernando Nieve, and Johan Santana for huge portions of the year.  Injuries also hit Joese Reyes, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Biran Schneider, Fernando Martinez, Ryan Church, Angel Pagan, Alex Cora, Ramon Martinez, David Wright, and others. 

In fact, their was a week or two in the "dog days" of the season when the only Opening Day starter on the field was Luis Castillo, David, Wright, and Daniel Murphy.

2010 promises to be a brighter year than 2009, if the team can stay healthy.  But many fans are wary of the Mets' current make-up.

GM Omar Minaya and the Wilpon family have taken a lot of criticism for the moves (or lack thereof) made this offseason.  Here's how the Mets look to start the season -

Projected Lineup and Reserves

SS: Jose Reyes
2B: Luis Castillo
CF: Carlos Beltran
LF: Jason Bay
3B: David Wright
1B: Daniel Murphy/Fernando Tatis
RF: Jeff Francouer
C: Omir Santos
Bench: IF/OF Tatis, OF Angel Pagan, OF Gary Matthews Jr., IF Alex Cora, C Henry Blanco


Projected Rotation and Bullpen

SP: Johan Santana
SP: Mike Pelfrey
SP: Oliver Perez
SP: John Maine
SP: Fernando Nieve
CP: Francisco Rodriguez
RP: Kelvim Escobar, Ryoda Igarashi, Pedro Feliciano, Bobby Parnell, Sean Green, Nelson Figueroa

Many felt the Mets' most glaring weakness going into the offseason was in the starting rotation.  Well, nothing was done to fix that.  The Mets hope that a healthy rotation full of plenty of upside will bounce back from an abysmal 2009 that was riddled with injury and inconsistency.

Today the No. 5 spot in the rotation looks like it belongs to Fernando Nieve who was a revelation in 2009 before falling victim to the injury plague.  Fan-favorite Nelson Figueroa and young-gun Jon Niese will also be competing for the No. 5 spot. 

But the most important man in the rotation will be New York's ace: Johan Santana.  Will he be 100 percent healthy from the get-go?  Will he be able to shoulder the load of all the fans' expectations?

The Mets solidified one of their strengths in the bullpen by adding Kelvim Escobar and Ryoda Igarashi.  Escobar can be extremely valuable (if healthy) and could be a dominant bullpen presence.  Igarashi was exceptional in the Japanese league and the Mets hope his power stuff translates well as a late innings reliever in 2010.

The rest of the bullpen is solid and reliable, and I expect the Mets bullpen to be one of the league's best in '10.

The offense "should" be good to very good.  It has guys who have speed, guys who can hit for average, and guys who can hit for power.  The lineup, if not for the collapse of 2009, would no doubt have higher expectations.

It is fairly balanced left-to-right and features some of the games best hitters.  There is some worry that their 2009 power-outage might continue into 2010.  But I think that those worries are highly overrated.  I expect the Mets offense to be among the top 3 in the National League in 2010.

While there are reasons to worry (most glaringly the rotation), on balance, I think the positives outweigh the negatives for the Mets. With a full and healthy season from this offense, and a bounce-back year from the rotation, I expect the Mets to finish second in the NL East and challenge the Phillies for most of the season.

I also expect the Mets to make the playoffs in 2010 as the National League's Wild Card team.  So save up for those playoff tickets Mets fans!