Baseball Preview: New York Mets
Last year’s record and finish are in parenthesis with projected improvement/decline indicated by plus or minus.
New York MetsÂ (97-65,Â 1st inÂ NL East)Â -7 games
Get Crunked: How’s this to start — it’s an American League lineup in the NL.Â That work?Â No?Â OK, it’s an AL East lineup in the NL.Â There you go.Â Their lineup and power is so ridiculous it’s not fair.Â Start things off with Jose Reyes who has tremendous power for a leadoff man, astounding speed, and has learned to lay off bad pitches, making him an MVP candidate.Â Carlos Beltran hits as well as he plays defense and runs the bases, which is to say awesome.Â Carlos Delgado is a slugger at first base.Â David Wright is a good all-around hitter and defender at third base.Â Moises Alou can still crush the ball in left field.Â And Billy Wagner is one of the better closers in baseball.
Party Foul: The rotation is garbage — for a first place team.Â I guess it’s befitting of a New York team and seems to be the common trend in the Big Apple.Â The big reason is because Pedro’s hurt, and they unexpectedly lost out on free agent Barry Zito.Â Losing Guillermo Mota to the suspension and Duaner Sanchez to injury severely hamper the bullpen as well.Â If you look at the pitching staff as a whole, it’s safe to say thatÂ it’s only average.
What’d my GM do:Â He failed to bring in a front line starter which will hurt the team come playoff time.Â He traded Brian Bannister to the Royals for Ambiorix Burgos, which will probably benefit the Mets more than KC.Â Acquiring Burgos was especially key now that Sanchez has gone down with the broken shoulder.Â Minaya also brought in Moises Alou on a one-year deal.Â I don’t care how old Moises is, even if he’s 50, just roll him into the batters box and he’ll crush a double.Â In all, it was a quiet off-season in Flushing.
Lay it on me Straight: The hitting is so head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the NL, it will automatically win the Mets 90 games.Â The pitching staff, both starters and bullpen, leave a lot to be desired.Â But the hitting is so good, the Mets are guaranteed to make the playoffs.
So where my boys gonna finish right now: They’ll be in first place, and it’s a credit to Minaya for spending his money wisely on Delgado, Beltran, and Alou, and theÂ development of Wright and Reyes.Â Just don’t expect the division to be wrapped up in August like it was last year.
Can we be better than that: I think 93-94 wins is the ceiling for this year’s team since they don’t have Pedro, and the pen’s a little worse off.Â It’ll be another successful year for the Mets, justÂ not a repeat of ’06.