New York Mets 2010 preview

What was the best moment of the Mets’ 2009 campaign? Probably the last moment — the final out of a season in which so many things went wrong that it would have been comical if it weren’t so sad. But that is over, and the Mets have reason for optimism in 2010. Jason Bay signed a four-year deal with the club, and Jose Reyes, arguably baseball’s most exciting player before he landed on the disabled list, is healthy and ready to go.

Three questions

A healthy and productive Oliver Perez is key to the Mets' postseason hopes.
A healthy and productive Oliver Perez is key to the Mets’ postseason hopes.

1. Is Bay the solution to the great power outage of 2009?
Daniel Murphy led the Mets with 12 homers last season. Every other major league team had at least two players with 12 or more homers, and 27 of the 30 teams had at least four players with 12 or more homers. There were a number of factors that contributed to the Mets’ MLB-worst 95 homers: the new ballpark, injuries to Reyes and Carlos Beltran and an unexplained drop in power from David Wright. The third baseman went from 33 homers in 2008 to 10 in 2009 despite playing in 144 games.

Bay certainly will help the offensive production — he clubbed 36 homers and drove in 119 runs for the Red Sox last season — but he isn’t a savior. To get back into the playoff conversation, the Mets need Reyes, Beltran and Wright to stay healthy and produce at their historical levels.

2. What should they expect from Oliver Perez?
If you don’t expect anything, you can’t be disappointed, right? That is the ideal way for Mets fans — and the front office — to approach Perez in 2010, but it isn’t realistic. Mets fans know that a healthy and productive Perez is key to any sort of playoff push. Members of the team’s front office will agree with that sentiment, and they owe Perez $24 million over the next two seasons. Therefore, the Mets have pulled out all the stops to get him back on track, including lining up tutoring sessions with the great Sandy Koufax this spring.

"(Perez is) a back-end-of-the-rotation-type starter," one NL scout said. "He was bothered nearly all season by his right knee, which required surgery. … That injury hampered his velocity and diminished his already questionable control. Perez had been able to throw strikes early in games, but the tendinitis prevented him from having the delay in his delivery, impacting the control and limiting his velocity."

3. Can they survive Beltran’s absence?
Beltran was hitting .336 with a .952 OPS when he was forced to the disabled list because of a knee injury in late June. He returned in September, long after the Mets were out of contention, and appeared to be healthy. But Beltran will miss at least the first month of the 2010 season after offseason knee surgery.

Manager Jerry Manuel likely will drop Reyes to the No. 3 spot in the batting order, and Angel Pagan and Gary Matthews Jr. will compete for the center field job. With the Phillies favored to win a third consecutive NL East title and the Braves and Marlins expected to contend for the wild card, there isn’t much margin of error for the Mets. One bad month might be too much to overcome.

Projected lineup
1. CF Angel Pagan:.306 AVG in 88 games in ’09.
2. 1B Daniel Murphy: Hit .291 after July.
3. SS Jose Reyes: Hamstring limited him to 36 games.
4. 3B David Wright: Career-low .837 OPS last season.
5. LF Jason Bay: 36 HRs, 119 RBIs were career bests.
6. RF Jeff Francoeur: .311 AVG after trade to Mets.
7. C Rod Barajas: 19 HRs, 71 RBIs for Blue Jays.
8. 2B Luis Castillo: Bounce-back season (.387 OBP) in ’09.

Projected rotation
1. LHP Johan Santana: Run support (3.89) was 9th-worst in MLB.
2. RHP Mike Pelfrey: Led team in starts (31), IP (184 1/3).
3. RHP John Maine: 4.01 career ERA with Mets (88 games).
4. LHP Oliver Perez: 6.92 ERA, 1.92 WHIP in 14 starts.
5. RHP Fernando Nieve: 3.12 ERA in seven ’09 starts.

Projected closer
RHP Francisco Rodriguez. Career-worst 3.71 ERA last season.

Grades

Offense: C. It was anemic (671 runs) last season, but the addition of Bay and the return of Reyes — and the eventual return of Beltran — will help. If Reyes and Beltran are healthy and if Wright rediscovers his power stoke, this could be an A-type group.

Pitching: C. The ever-effective Johan Santana leads a rotation that has more questions than certainties. Mike Pelfrey was the only Met to start more than 25 games last season, but the team didn’t upgrade the rotation by acquiring an established starter in the offseason. Closer Francisco Rodriguez was effective — but far from dominant — in his first season with the Mets.

Bench: B. Fernando Tatis and Mike Jacobs will provide some pop. Assuming Pagan wins the temporary center field job, Matthews will give the bench a solid defensive outfielder who can play all three spots. Alex Cora is one of the majors’ best backup middle infielders.

Manager: C. Considering all of the injuries with which his club had to deal, it is hard to accurately judge the job Manuel did in his first full season as Mets manager. And he will have his hands full early this season, juggling the lineup until Beltran returns.

Sporting News prediction: If healthy, the Mets’ offense should improve dramatically. The pitching staff has too many questions, however, to expect anything more than a third-place finish in the NL East.

Coming Friday: Nationals preview.

Ryan Fagan is a staff writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at rfagan@sportingnews.com.

What was the best moment of the Mets’ 2009 campaign? Probably the last moment — the final out of a season in which so many things went wrong that it would have been comical if it weren’t so sad. But that is over, and the Mets have reason for optimism in 2010. Jason Bay signed a four-year deal with the club, and Jose Reyes, arguably baseball’s most exciting player before he landed on the disabled list, is healthy and ready to go.

Three questions

A healthy and productive Oliver Perez is key to the Mets' postseason hopes.
A healthy and productive Oliver Perez is key to the Mets’ postseason hopes.

1. Is Bay the solution to the great power outage of 2009?
Daniel Murphy led the Mets with 12 homers last season. Every other major league team had at least two players with 12 or more homers, and 27 of the 30 teams had at least four players with 12 or more homers. There were a number of factors that contributed to the Mets’ MLB-worst 95 homers: the new ballpark, injuries to Reyes and Carlos Beltran and an unexplained drop in power from David Wright. The third baseman went from 33 homers in 2008 to 10 in 2009 despite playing in 144 games.

Bay certainly will help the offensive production — he clubbed 36 homers and drove in 119 runs for the Red Sox last season — but he isn’t a savior. To get back into the playoff conversation, the Mets need Reyes, Beltran and Wright to stay healthy and produce at their historical levels.

2. What should they expect from Oliver Perez?
If you don’t expect anything, you can’t be disappointed, right? That is the ideal way for Mets fans — and the front office — to approach Perez in 2010, but it isn’t realistic. Mets fans know that a healthy and productive Perez is key to any sort of playoff push. Members of the team’s front office will agree with that sentiment, and they owe Perez $24 million over the next two seasons. Therefore, the Mets have pulled out all the stops to get him back on track, including lining up tutoring sessions with the great Sandy Koufax this spring.

"(Perez is) a back-end-of-the-rotation-type starter," one NL scout said. "He was bothered nearly all season by his right knee, which required surgery. … That injury hampered his velocity and diminished his already questionable control. Perez had been able to throw strikes early in games, but the tendinitis prevented him from having the delay in his delivery, impacting the control and limiting his velocity."

3. Can they survive Beltran’s absence?
Beltran was hitting .336 with a .952 OPS when he was forced to the disabled list because of a knee injury in late June. He returned in September, long after the Mets were out of contention, and appeared to be healthy. But Beltran will miss at least the first month of the 2010 season after offseason knee surgery.

Manager Jerry Manuel likely will drop Reyes to the No. 3 spot in the batting order, and Angel Pagan and Gary Matthews Jr. will compete for the center field job. With the Phillies favored to win a third consecutive NL East title and the Braves and Marlins expected to contend for the wild card, there isn’t much margin of error for the Mets. One bad month might be too much to overcome.

Projected lineup
1. CF Angel Pagan:.306 AVG in 88 games in ’09.
2. 1B Daniel Murphy: Hit .291 after July.
3. SS Jose Reyes: Hamstring limited him to 36 games.
4. 3B David Wright: Career-low .837 OPS last season.
5. LF Jason Bay: 36 HRs, 119 RBIs were career bests.
6. RF Jeff Francoeur: .311 AVG after trade to Mets.
7. C Rod Barajas: 19 HRs, 71 RBIs for Blue Jays.
8. 2B Luis Castillo: Bounce-back season (.387 OBP) in ’09.

Projected rotation
1. LHP Johan Santana: Run support (3.89) was 9th-worst in MLB.
2. RHP Mike Pelfrey: Led team in starts (31), IP (184 1/3).
3. RHP John Maine: 4.01 career ERA with Mets (88 games).
4. LHP Oliver Perez: 6.92 ERA, 1.92 WHIP in 14 starts.
5. RHP Fernando Nieve: 3.12 ERA in seven ’09 starts.

Projected closer
RHP Francisco Rodriguez. Career-worst 3.71 ERA last season.

Grades

Offense: C. It was anemic (671 runs) last season, but the addition of Bay and the return of Reyes — and the eventual return of Beltran — will help. If Reyes and Beltran are healthy and if Wright rediscovers his power stoke, this could be an A-type group.

Pitching: C. The ever-effective Johan Santana leads a rotation that has more questions than certainties. Mike Pelfrey was the only Met to start more than 25 games last season, but the team didn’t upgrade the rotation by acquiring an established starter in the offseason. Closer Francisco Rodriguez was effective — but far from dominant — in his first season with the Mets.

Bench: B. Fernando Tatis and Mike Jacobs will provide some pop. Assuming Pagan wins the temporary center field job, Matthews will give the bench a solid defensive outfielder who can play all three spots. Alex Cora is one of the majors’ best backup middle infielders.

Manager: C. Considering all of the injuries with which his club had to deal, it is hard to accurately judge the job Manuel did in his first full season as Mets manager. And he will have his hands full early this season, juggling the lineup until Beltran returns.

Sporting News prediction: If healthy, the Mets’ offense should improve dramatically. The pitching staff has too many questions, however, to expect anything more than a third-place finish in the NL East.

Coming Friday: Nationals preview.

Ryan Fagan is a staff writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at rfagan@sportingnews.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*