Saturday, March 26, 2011

MLB 30 in 30: New York Mets

It's been 4 years since the Mets won the NL East and were 1 game away from the World Series, but it feels much longer than that for Mets fans (including me). A disastrous 2 year stretch has brought plenty of new faces and sweeping changes, but does that mean the Mets will compete in 2011?

What they Have: Despite all that you might have heard, the Mets still have good players. 3B David Wright and SS Jose Reyes are still the cornerstones of the team, despite their age increases. They can still bring offense to a lineup that will drastically need it. 1B Ike Davis burst onto the scene last year, as has proven to be a steady starter at that position. And Angel Pagan played well in the outfield last season for the Mets, and with the injuries to Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay, he may end up starting in the outfield anyway. Pitching wise, since Johan Santana is on the shelf until July at the earliest, guys like Mike Pelfrey and Jonathon Niese will have to step up. They each had decent 2010 campaigns but the big shocker was in R.A Dickey. If he can keep the knuckleball going, he'll hold down the third spot in the rotation.

What they Don't Have: A lot. 2B is still undecided, although it looks more and more likely that Brad Emaus will end up the opening day starter. He's never taken a MLB at-bat, but he has impressed in spring training. The outfield is very questionable, with Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay still having many injury issues. The C position will go to Josh Thole by default due to the troubles with Ronny Paulino, and he can hit, but he's a defensive liability. The bullpen itself is a question mark, with K-Rod coming back from his tumultuous last season, and the rest of the pen featuring guys that have either pitched badly, or are unproven. The same goes with the rotation.

Any Help Coming? The Mets aren't loaded in the farm system either, but there are a few bright spots. RHP Matt Harvey was the 1st round pick last season, and has a good combo of power curve and fastball. OF Fernando Martinez has seen MLB action, but has done little to nothing. He's still a great hitting prospect, but needs time for seasoning. SS Wilmer Flores is a good natural hitter, and likely will change to a corner infield position at some point.

Outlook: Mets fans will tell you 2011 is just a formality, and there are no reasons why you shouldn't agree. This is a rebuild, and this will be the tough year. GM Sandy Alderson knows what he's doing, and new manager Terry Collins will have to hold down the ship. Next year, loads of salary come off the books, so next year will be the big year for the new look Mets. The ownership issues aside, this will be a tough year in Queens.

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