2011 is going to be an interesting year for the New York Mets.
They definitely have talent in the lineup and potential on the mound, but who knows what's going to happen with this team. They seem to build us up every year only to let us down. But, unlike a lot of people that I'm seeing on this site, I'm going to keep having faith in this team.
The grades in this article are not based on the players' 2010 seasons, but on the players themselves looking forward to 2011. Here's a look at the 2011 roster.
If everyone is healthy, hitting will probably be the Mets' strength in 2011. They have a lot of pop in the lineup and are very talented 1 through 6.
Again, though, the question as always for the Mets is: will everyone be able to stay healthy?
2010 stats: 133 games, .282 avg, .321 OBP, 11 HRs, 54 RBIs, 83 runs scored, 30 SBs
Mets haters can say what they want, but when Jose Reyes goes, the Mets go. The Mets were 42-22 in 2010 when Reyes scored a run. When Reyes is healthy, he's one of the best shortstops in the league, offensively and defensively. After four straight full seasons, Reyes experienced a couple injuries the past two years, including a freak one in 2010 spring training, although that was more of an illness than an injury.
Bottom Line: If Reyes can stay healthy, he should produce at a high level once again.
2010 stats: 151 games, .290 avg, .340 OBP, 11 HRs, 69 RBIs, 80 runs scored, 37 SBs
Angel Pagan is a very capable hitter for the two-spot in the order. He has great speed, puts the ball in play a lot and can find the gaps (31 2Bs, 7 3Bs in 2010). He has decent numbers at the plate and I would probably go with a B in that area, but I think his defense pushes him up to a B+.
He still has a few lapses in the outfield every year, but overall, his great speed gives him great range, and he has a strong arm. Pagan actually led all CFs in major league baseball in range factor last year. The only reason I have Pagan in RF and not CF is because I feel he is a better fit for RF than Beltran would be and I have a feeling that the Mets are gonna end up thinking the same.
2010 stats: 157 games, .283 avg, .354 OBP, .856 OPS, 29 HRs, 103 RBIs, 87 runs, 19 SBs
With the exception of a strange 2009 season for David, Wright has been the most consistent Met over the past six years. With the exception of the 2009 season, Wright hasn't hit less than 26 homers or driven in fewer than 102 runs over the course of a full year. David should be productive as usual in 2011 and if the Mets are able to have a good year, he will be one of the main reasons behind it.
2010 stats: 64 games, .255 avg, .341 OBP, .768 OPS, 7 HRs, 27 RBIs, 21 runs scored
Beltran is another Met that has been greatly effected by injuries over the past couple years. However, like Reyes, when Beltran is healthy, he is one of the top CFs in all of baseball. When he's 100 percent, you can pretty much bet that from the cleanup spot, he'll be good for 25+ homers and 100 RBIs.
Although his age and injuries have taken away a little bit of his speed on the base paths, causing him to not attempt as many steals as he used to, he still has great range in center. It looks like Beltran never runs that hard, but that's because of how fluid his strides are. He covers a ridiculous amount of ground and has a cannon in center. Those are a couple of the reasons I think Beltran will come out of Spring Training in center and not right.
Bottom Line: If Beltran is healthy and produces like he has his whole career when he has been healthy, his grade probably goes from a B to an A.
2010 stats: 95 games, .259 avg, .347 OBP, 6 HRs, 47 RBIs, 48 runs scored, 10 SBs
Jason Bay was another first year casualty of the spacious confines of Citi Field. I'm not saying that Bay will be as productive as David Wright this year, but I do think that getting adjusted to Citi Field had a big impact on Bay's very poor power numbers in 2010.
A lot of people will then ask why his road numbers aren't better, but just like Wright's 2009 season, I think Citi Field got in his head and he was focused on it so much that he even got out of his comfortable zone on the road.
Wright bounced back in 2010 and I think Bay will do the same in 2011. Before last year, Bay had never hit less than 20 homers and I see him being able to get back to that this year. He was never a terrific hitter for average, but he was always decent. I think hitting .275 with 25 homers and 90 RBIs is very possible for Bay this year and that would garner about a B+ grade, but with it being unknown how he'll perform after last year and his average defense, I have him at a B- right now.
2010 stats: 147 games, .264 avg, .351 OBP, .791 OPS, 19 HRs, 71 RBIs, 73 runs scored
One of the few bright spots for the Mets in 2010, Ike Davis had a very good rookie year. He showed great pop, making spacious Citi Field look like a Little League field with some of his home runs. Davis was known for not just hitting home runs, but absolutely crushing the ball when he did. If Davis can get a little more consistent and bring up his average a little bit, he will be a great No. 6 hitter for the Mets.
Davis also showed last year that he is a very good defensive first baseman. He's very consistent defensively and is pretty good at scooping up low throws. Ike looks like he could be a cornerstone for the Mets for a long time.
2010 stats (Thole): 73 games, .277 avg, .357 OBP, 3 HRs, 17 RBIs, 17 runs scored
2010 stats (Paulino): 91 games, .259 avg, .311 OBP, 4 HRs, 37 RBIs, 31 runs scored
When the season starts, Paulino will have eight games left on his 50 game suspension from last year, but after that, the catcher position will mostly likely be a platoon job in 2011. Thole will most likely get the majority of starts against right-handed pitchers, with Paulino starting against lefties.
Thole doesn't have a lot of pop in his bat, but he has shown the ability to hit for average and is a sufficient defensive catcher. The pitchers like how he calls the game and handles himself well behind the plate. Thole is only 24 years old, so he can still grow and, while he probably won't hit double digit HRs in a season, he could develop into a catcher that hits .300 and has some gap power.
Platooning with Thole works out pretty well for Paulino because he has always hit lefties pretty well. This is probably the main reason the Mets signed him. In his young career, Because the majority of his starts will come against lefties, there is a chance that Paulino can hit anywhere from .280-.300 this year. I'm not saying it's likely, but if 90 percent of his ABs come against lefties, it's possible for Paulino, who has hit .308 against lefties in the past three years.
2010 stats (Double-A and Triple-A): 125 games, .290 avg, .397 OBP, .874 OPS, 15 HRs, 75 RBIs, 79 runs scored, 13 SBs
In the Mets most talked about position battle, I think that Emaus comes away with the starting role. The Mets acquired Emaus from the Blue Jays through the Rule 5 draft, so in order for the Mets to keep him, they have to keep him on the 25-man roster for the entire year.
The Mets like this kid, so even if he doesn't start, chances are he will be kept on the 25-man roster and be a main player off the bench. I have to give him a C- for now because it's not sure what he can do at the major league level. If he is able to produce like he did in the minors, he could finish the season with a grade of B- or even a B, but we'll have to wait and see on that one.
Prospective Players: Luis Castillo, Daniel Murphy, Nick Evans, Scott Hairston, Luis Hernandez
Not much you can really say about the Mets bench. Hairston has been solid, Daniel Murphy has shown some promise and Nick Evans played well in very limited time last year. Luis Castillo is getting old and might not be on the Mets the whole year (although I have a hard time thinking of a team that would pick up his salary) and there's no way of knowing what you're gonna get from Hernandez.
The Mets bench also lacks a power threat that can pinch-hit in that ninth inning situation where you're looking from a home run. Unless the Mets make a couple small moves to acquire a couple decent bench players, it's not looking like it'll be the best year for the Mets bench.
The Mets had a couple pleasant surprises in the rotation in 2010 and we'll have to wait to see if they can repeat themselves. With Johan Santana probably being out until at least the All-Star break, the Mets rotation will need to do its best to try to keep the Mets in ballgames and in the hunt until Santana gets back.
2010 stats: 33 games started, 15-9, 204 IP, 3.66 ERA, 113 Strikeouts, 1.377 WHIP
Pelfrey was one of those pleasant surprises in 2010. He finally came into his own and showed what he was really capable of. In 2010, Pelfrey set career bests in wins, ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched. Pelfrey proved to be a valuable stopper last year, going 10-4 after Mets losses. Pelfrey will need to step up and hold down the ace role until Santana comes back. The Mets just hope that Pelfrey doesn't start after a loss as many times as last year.
2010 stats: 30 games started, 9-10, 173.2 IP, 4.20 ERA, 148 strikeouts, 1.463 WHIP
Niese had an up-and-down year in 2010. In his first full year, he posted very respectable numbers and should only be getting better. He has one of the better curveballs in the league and if he can find a way to be a little more consistent, he should be able to improve on his ERA, WHIP and strikeouts. If the offense can find ways to score for Niese this year, he should also improve upon his nine wins.
In one of the better pitching performances of anyone in the league last year, Niese was a 3rd inning leadoff double away from throwing the first perfect game in Mets history. I was actually at that game, and you could tell right from the start the Niese was gonna have one of those days. He had pin-point control and his stuff was filthy. If he can find a way to harness that ability and do it on a more consistent basis, he could develop into a very capable No. 2 pitcher.
2010 stats: 26 games started, 11-9, 174.1 IP, 2.84 ERA, 104 strikeouts, 1.187 WHIP
In probably the most feel good story for the Mets in 2010, R.A. Dickey burst onto the scene as a 35-year-old knuckleballer. Dickey started off very strong, and people kept wondering when the league was gonna catch up and he was going to start getting hit, but it never happened.
Dickey's 2.84 ERA was good for 7th best in the NL and he showed very good control for a knuckleballer, only walking a little over two batters per nine innings. If Dickey can repeat his 2010 success, he will be an extremely valuable No. 3 starter for the Mets.
2010 stats: 4 games started, 2-0, 20 IP, 0.90 ERA, 15 strikeouts, 1.050 WHIP
The Mets signed Chris Young, hoping that he'd bounce back from injuries to once again become a very good starter. When he was healthy he had a few very good years for San Diego, leading the league in hits per nine innings in '06 and '07.
He gets a C for now because it's unsure whether he'll be able to stay healthy and what he'll do if he does, but if he can stay healthy and produce like he did with San Diego when he was, he can be a big part of the Mets season. He could finish the year as an F or as an A, so we'll have to see if he can overcome his injuries.
2010 stats: 5 games started, 2-2, 33 IP, 2.18 ERA, 17 strikeouts, 1.212 WHIP
Another person who's grade can rise a lot in the 2011, I see Gee landing the No. 5 starter role. Gee showed a lot of potential at the end of the 2010 season, starting five games and notching a quality start in all five.
It's not sure what the Mets will get this year from Gee, but he'll only be 25 this year so there is room to grow. If he can stretch what he did at the end of last year over a full season, the Mets will love what they are able to get from him.
Prospective Pitchers: Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta, D.J Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, Taylor Tankersley, Pat Misch
The Bullpen grade would probably be a D+ if it weren't for Francisco Rodriguez. Besides K-Rod, no one in the bullpen has really been consistent and can be relied on every time out. I'm really still not sure why the Mets let Pedro Feliciano go, seeing as he was one of the best lefty specialists in the majors. There's a good chance that that role will be played by Tankersley in 2011, a major downgrade.
K-Rod will be steady as the closer, but the Mets will have to hope that Parnell and Acosta can find consistency and repeat their good 2010 seasons. They will also need at least one other pitcher to step up and be able to be counted on consistently.