New York Mets: Can They Be Legitimate Contenders In 2011?

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New York Mets: Can They Be Legitimate Contenders In 2011?
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There is a lot of potential in the 2011 New York Mets.  The Mets have recently been one of the most talented teams in the MLB, but they haven't been able to put that talent to use and win.

Coming into 2011, many people don't see the Mets as a threat.  I believe that this might actually help the Mets in 2011.

The Mets were expected to do great in 2007, 2008, and 2009.  In each of those years they failed to make the playoffs.  The Mets showed that you play the games for a reason.  No matter how good any team looks on paper, they still have to play all 162 games in the season.

It is true that the Mets weren't expected to do much last year and they didn't.  They finished with a 79-83 record and failed to reach the playoffs for the fourth straight season.  However, 2011 is very different than 2010.

The Mets now have a new general manager and manager.  Sandy Alderson was named the Mets new general manager early in the offseason, and he has put together a decent offseason for the Mets.

The Mets haven't made any blockbuster moves but with their financial restrictions it was impossible for them to make runs at top free agents like Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford. 

Despite not being able to sign big name free agents like they have in the past, the Mets were forced to make many minor signings.

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Chris Capuano

D.J. Carrasco, Ronny Paulino, Taylor Bucholz, Chris Capuano and Willy Harris are some of the players that the Mets have signed this offseason.  It is no secret that those players aren't major signings, but all of them are low risk high reward players.

Every single one of those players has a great contract and a lot of potential.  Sandy Alderson has had an impressive offseason and he's doing as much as he can.  These moves are good moves for the team, and there's buzz that the Mets will soon sign former Padres pitcher, Chris Young.

If the Mets sign Chris Young, then that will make him the big signing this winter.  Young has a mass amount of potential and he's a fly ball pitcher.  His game will fit perfectly in the spacious Citi Field.

In 2006, Young went 11-5 with a 3.46 ERA. In the next two years after that, Young had ERA's in the three's.  He also made the All-Star team in 2007.  Young looked like he was the emerging ace of the Padres pitching staff but his career fell apart in 2009.

Injuries screwed up Young's career and he is trying to get it back on track with the New York Mets.  It seems like it's only a matter of time before the Mets and Young agree to terms on a contract.  That could be a huge signing for the Mets.  Young has a lot of potential, and he will most likely be signed to a one year deal worth around $2 million. 

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The offseason is coming to a close, and Spring Training is right around the corner. 

I can honestly say that this is the most I've been looking forward to Spring Training in my life.  It might be because a new era of Mets baseball is about to begin, I'm also looking forward to see new manager Terry Collins work with the players.

When the Mets named Terry Collins their new manager, the team got mixed reactions from the fans.  I liked the signing and I believe that Terry Collins can lead this team to the playoffs.  He is a no-nonsense guy who concentrates on fundamentals and recognizes the task at hand.  Collins recently said that this is how he visions the Mets' lineup come Opening Day:

1. Jose Reyes

2. Angel Pagan

3. David Wright

4. Carlos Beltran

5. Jason Bay

6. Ike Davis

The seven and eight spots will be the second basemen and catcher, but Collins has yet to decide on who will start at those positions.

As for the rest of the lineup, I think that it can be great.  There are plenty of "ifs" in this lineup, but if they work out, then it could be fantastic.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

If Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran stay healthy, Pagan and Wright build off their great season last year, Jason Bay has a bounce back season, and Ike Davis avoids a sophomore slump, then this team can be in business.

Those are plenty of ifs but we've seen crazier things happen.  The main key to success would be their health and pitching.

The Mets have recently had many injury-riddled seasons, but if they can get back to their healthy ways, then they will compete without a doubt.

The pitching rotation currently looks like this.

1. Mike Pelfrey

2. Jon Niese

3. R.A. Dickey

4. Chris Capuano or Dillon Gee

5.

If the Mets sign Chris Young, then he will most likely be the number four starter and Gee and Capuano will compete for the number five spot.  With Johan Santana out for the first half of the season, the Mets will need a pitcher to step up.

The team is currently lacking a true ace, but I think that Mike Pelfrey can fill that void.  Pelfrey was stellar in the first half of the year last season.  He had a little bit of a rough going in the early second half, but got back on track and finished off the season strong.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Pelfrey has a lot of potential and if he can consistently perform like he did in the first half of last season then he will establish himself as the team's ace in Santana's absence.

Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey both had breakthrough years last season.  Although Niese is a young prospect and Dickey is a 36-year-old knuckleballer, both of them can have the same affect on the rotation. 

It seems as if Dickey revived his career last season with his knuckleball.  He finished the season with a 2.84 ERA, that was among the best in the MLB.  If Dickey is nearly as good as he was last year then that will greatly improve the teams playoff chances.

Jon Niese is 24 years old and he turned in some stellar performances last year.  Niese has a devastating array of pitches and if he continues to mature and get better then he will establish himself as a longtime top of the rotation starter for the Mets.

If the Mets sign Chris Young then I would assume that he would start the season off in the four slot.  If Young performs up to his potential then he would be one of the best number four starters in the league.

The number five spot is a toss up between Capuano and Gee.  It all depends on which player impresses the most in spring training.  The player that impresses Terry Collins the most will win the job.  Both of those players have enormous potential but they have been inconsistent in their careers.  If they play at the top of their game then they will be great.

Do you think that the Mets can compete in 2011?

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As for the bullpen and bench, they are still being pieced together and I expect nothing more than for them to be above average, but that might be all the team needs. 

It all comes down to this, the New York Mets success is going to reflect their health in 2011.  If the Mets can stay healthy in 2011 then they will compete.  I believe that the new culture around this team will positively affect every aspect of the team.

The Mets desperately needed a change, and they got one.  I'm looking forward to a great 2011 season for the New York Mets.  This team has too much potential to not be realized by their fans.  The games are played for a reason, and the Mets will do their best to prove that in this upcoming season.

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