Heading into 2011, few Mets fans, myself included, are expecting much from the team.
Financial restrictions have kept the Mets' focus on low-risk/high-reward players, which have been able to find.
While there are certainly teams that can call their offseason a disappointment (our neighbors in the Bronx come to mind), the Mets are not one of them.
It's becoming trendy to pick on the Mets.
How far the Mets have fallen; the Nationals will pass the Mets in the standings next season; management isn't showing the fans anything: these are all themes of articles surrounding the Mets.
But let's be realistic here. Only the most delusional of Mets fans thought they would be players in the Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford sweepstakes.
That said, the Mets' offseason has been far from a disappointment.
They first added backup catcher Ronny Paulino and relief pitcher D.J. Carrasco.
Paulino will serve as a backup to Josh Thole, who became the No.1 catcher after Rod Barajas was traded. Last season, Thole hit .277 with three homers and 17 RBI in 202 at bats. Defensively, he posted a .992 fielding percentage in 61 games played.
He also threw out 44 percent of wouldbe base stealers. Give Thole 500 at bats, and he could raise some eyebrows.
Paulino was fairly solid last season. He hit .259 with four home runs and 37 RBI last season. He threw out 31.2 percent of base stealers while posting a .991 fielding percentage.
Paulino is simply a right-handed option to play at catcher in place of the lefty-hitting Thole, who hit just .143 against lefties last season.
With the loss of Hisanori Takahashi and Pedro Feliciano, the Mets needed to improve their bullpen, perhaps even more so than the starting rotation.
Carrasco was one of the better relief pitchers in both the Pittsburgh and Arizona bullpen, respectively (Carrasco was acquired by Arizona on Aug. 1 from Pittsburgh). The majority of his work came with the Pirates, where he posted a 2.05 K/BB ratio.
He's going to put guys on base (1.30 WHIP and 7.8 H/9IP last season), but his ERA (3.68) was on par with several Mets relievers in 2010 and he also collected 65 strikeouts in 78.1 IP (his 65 Ks would have led all Mets relievers last season except for Francisco Rodriguez).
The Mets' offseason mentality has been to acquire as many low-risk/high reward players as possible. They continued that trend with the acquisitions of former 18-game winner Chris Capuano and reliever Taylor Buchholz.
Despite the fact that Capuano has had two Tommy John surgeries in his career (2002 and 2008), the Mets have almost nothing to lose here.
The deal is reportedly for one-year, $1.5 million. Capuano's best season came in 2005, when he went 18-12 with a 3.99 ERA for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Last season, Capuano went 4-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 66 IP. His 7.36 K/9IP mark last season was better than Mike Pelfrey, Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey, granted, in a much smaller sample size.
The Mets were looking for a low-risk fifth starter, and they have one in Capuano. Who knows, maybe he's the next R.A. Dickey.
Buchholz missed all of 2009 and most of 2010 due to Tommy John surgery. His best season came in 2008 with Colorado, when he posted a 2.17 ERA in 66.1 IP. The brightest spot on Buchholz's resume is that he is an overwhelmingly fly ball pitcher, something which should be a huge advantage in Citi Field.
Buchholz threw only 12 innings last season, so he needs to show he can handle a regular workload, but if he can, he could be an excellent pick up for the Mets.
Again, every single offseason acquisition made by the Mets so far has fallen under the low-risk/high-reward category, which is all the Mets are capable of. Tommy John surgery has been the greatest advancement in sports medicine, and the list of pitchers who have come back from it to have successful careers is a mile long.
The Mets are taking pitchers coming off the procedure and putting them in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball. Fly balls don't go for home runs like in some ball parks (I'm looking at you, Citizen's Bank Park).
So far, the Mets have added a possible fifth starter and two solid bullpen pieces, not to mention their two Rule 5 picks (Brad Emaus and Pedro Beato).
They're also still hot on the trail of another pitcher looking to come back from injury: Chris Young.
All things considered, Mets fans don't have anything to be disappointed about this offseason. They don't have the money to sign big name guys, so they've had to get creative. The new managerial staff of Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi and Terry Collins have done a good job so far.
Can the Mets compete in 2011? I'm starting to think maybe... just maybe.
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