Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Biggest question marks: Mets

Yeah I know, the Mets have a LOT of question marks. However instead of this being a sixteen page post, let’s keep it to the largest ones, shall we?

I’m going to limit this to five (with a bonus one!). I’ll do the Yankees next.

1. Can this team win with this starting rotation?
Well… yeah. It can. Is it likely? I guess that is a harder question. Listen, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Oliver Perez have ALL had good seasons in the last few years. If the Mets get the 2008 Pelfrey and the 2007 Perez and Maine then the Mets starting rotation suddenly looks pretty strong. However the odds of all three doing that aren’t the best. The one I have the most faith in is Pelfrey. I think he is a very legit starting pitcher and can rise to the top and be a solid #2… but the defense needs to improve behind him and he needs to have his head on a little straighter. Perez is an enigma. He’s been almost lights out against teams like the Braves, Phillies and Yankees for most of his Mets career and fairly terrible against the Pirates, Marlins, Nationals of the world. The guy makes no sense. Odds are, without an addition to the rotation via trade at some point in the season, the team’s starting pitching will be a weakness.

2. Will the offense be ok without Beltran for the first month of the season?
If we’re only talking a month into the season then I think the offense is ok, that is if everyone else is healthy. If we’re talking longer (like two to three months or more) then, no… the offense will need a more solid link in the chain than an Angel Pagan/Gary Matthews Jr. platoon. Listen, Pagan can hit. He’s not going to give you power, but the guy CAN get on base and create some extra base opportunities out there. A month of him would be ok (with the occasional Matthews afront I suppose) as long as the other players are pulling their weight. However, Pagan is a very solid and useful #4 outfielder overall at this point in his career. From what we have seen of him, he’s not going to be able to be a full time centerfielder for a full season. Too much time out there will expose him. In other words, Mets fans need to pray that Beltran is back in May.

3. Is Reyes healthy enough to become the force he needs to be?
Everything I have seen and read leads to to belive that YES, Reys will return and be REYES. This offense is dependant on Reyes being the MAN. He needs to get on base and cause total havoc on the basepaths. He can only do this if he is 100% healthy. I know many naysayers point to his early career injury history as a reason to feel he won’t get through the season healthy, but before last year’s debacle, Reyes had a number of healthy seasons in a row. He should be fine and with him the offense will greatly improve.

4. Who’s going to catch?
Well, from what it looks like it’s going to be a platoon of Omir Santos and Henry Blanco. Neither one will strike fear into opposing pitchers, with Santos being the better hitter of the two. Both are decent defensively, with Blanco being the better of the two. I myself would like to see them offer free agent Rod Barajas a one year $2 million dollar deal. The guy plays decent defense and has some real pop. However, suddenly it seems the Mets are done spending. Count on the Santos/Blanco platoon being it for the year making the position neither a plus or minus… just being about average.

5. Will Omar and Jerry make it through the season?
My first thought is to say no to both… but then upon reflection it really comes down to this: Will the Mets contend? If this teams starts off 13-25 then yeah I think both are gone and rather quickly. However, if the team fights to a record around 17-17, 18-16 or even a 16-18 start with Beltran on the way back and positive signs like close games and no little mistakes that drove us all crazy last year (not stepping on third base anyone?) then they’ll get to the all-star break. If the team is within five games of a playoff spot, then they’re likely ok for the year unless they fall completely apart in late July (like losing 13 out of 15). All in all, if the team contends it will be hard to dismiss the GM and manager. I do believe that short of a playoff spot they’re both likely gone at the end of the season however. The fear here is that the NL has a shaky year and the Mets manage to blunder their way into a wild card spot and both Omar and Jerry get three year extentions.

BONUS QUESTION: So, will they contend or what?
Questionable starting rotation spots #2-5, your best player on the DL for at least a month to start the season, a lot of important players returning from injury, your GM and manager on the hot seat before the season even starts, an organization seemingly in chaos… how in God’s name CAN this team contend? Well… believe it or not. They can. Consider this: They have one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, a top five player at three positions (that would be Wright, Reyes and Beltran… with a top ten player at a 4th positon in Bay), a pretty decent offense and a top notch closer. Plus, the Mets often seem to traditionally do better when they are NOT favorites. This team is NOT as good as the Phillies. They don’t pitch as well as the Braves. They don’t seem as brash or confident as the Marlins. But you know… who in the NL outside of the Phillies is really a powerhouse? The Cardinals? The Dodgers? Nope. There is going to be a lot of scrambling for that wildcard spot, mark my words. A playoff spot is not out of the question for the Mets, abeit it’s not likely either… but this is a team that should be able to fight to about 83 wins and a few bounces their way that 83 could be 86 or 87. With a trade for someone like Broson Arroyo that number might be close enough to put the wild card in their sights. Hey, you never know.

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