Saturday, January 27, 2007

Can the Mets Finally Get to the World Series? New York Mets 2007 Season Preview...

In 2006, Omar Minaya with the blessing of the Wilpon family went out and built a team constructed for the World Series. The Mets were often looked at as the second team in the Big Apple, but due to their impressive season, they stirred up excitement in the city that never sleeps. However, in the NLCS, but lost out to a St. Louis team that won only 83 games. Although, the Mets have youngsters David Wright and Jose Reyes becoming stars, they are a team pretty much built to win now. With the contract extension recently given to Willie Randolph, he’s now got the security to lead the Mets corps for the near future.

Right now, the pitching situation is one that is of most concern. Ace Pedro Martinez on the shelf until summer, the Mets have two men in middle age in the rotation, and the rest of the pitching staff is unsettled. Although the pitching situation is shaky, the Mets probably have the best offense in the National League and that alone should get the team many wins. The Mets also dealt with a number of injuries last year, but hopefully this offseason gave a chance for some players to rest, relax and come back strong in ’07.

The team let quite a few players go such as pitchers Brian Bannister, Darren Oliver, Chad Bradford, Roberto Hernandez, Steve Trachsel, outfielder Cliff Floyd and infielder Chris Woodward. The offense is pretty much the same from last season, with Moises Alou taking the place of Floyd.

In light of it all, the Mets are favorites to win the NL East, although Philadelphia is also a contender, and the Braves could be a dark horse if things line for up for them.

Let’s start with the pitching rotation. In terms of pitching, 2006 was a great year for the Mets, but however had to struggle with patching together a staff throughout the season due to injuries. Tom Glavine, in his 40’s pitched well and is en route to 300 wins; Orlando Hernandez also near the watershed age of 40 was able to contribute, but got injured in the playoffs. John Maine, a former Oriole broke through and Pirate castoff Oliver Perez was a pleasant surprise in the playoffs.

However, the injury bug hit the Mets as ace Pedro Martinez started off hot, but cooled and then wound up injured and out for the rest of 2006. He’s been out with a torn labrum and will be back in the fold perhaps by summer. Brian Bannister also started out well, but ended up injured and he’s no longer with the team. Considering the events of 2006, the Mets knew they needed pitching, but however, the market was needless to say expensive. Even though the Mets have the funds to spend with anyone, they held off because of some of the questionable talent available. The Mets tried to go after Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt, but were unable to get either.

The ace of the staff right now is Tom Glavine. He was 15-7 with a 3.82 ERA and he bounced back after 2 years of struggling to a sub-par record. He may not be as good as he once was; his curveball and changeup are what get him wins. Considering his age, there’s no reason to believe he cannot duplicate the success of 2006. Although he’s got a great defense behind him along with offense, it’s critical he does well.

Orlando Hernandez will be a starter as well, and he’ll need to be consistent as well. He does not have overpowering stuff, but like Glavine, he’s got an amazing curveball and changeup and as well succeeds with deception and guile. John Maine will be another starter and he’ll need to stay at the level he was at in 2006 or perform better.

The wild cards in the pitching rotation will be Mike Pelfrey and possibly Philip Humber. Pelfrey showed flashes of brilliance in 2006 and will probably be slotted in the rotation. Humber is a youngster and will also be ready at some point to perform at next level. I’d expect these two play a role in the future of the New York Mets.

Oliver Perez may also be in the rotation, but he might end up in the bullpen or perhaps even the minors.

The bullpen for the Mets was a source of strength and helped the Mets to stay and finish up games. With a 3.25 ERA, they shout down teams and for the most part, when the Mets led they won. Led by the amazing Billy Wagner and his 100 mph-plus fastball, he saved 40 games and struck out well over a batter per inning. He’ll be expected to dominate like he did in 2006 for the upcoming season, and although he’s getting up in age, there’s no reason to believe why he still not be anything but effective for the next couple of years.

Aaron Heilman will be the setup guy, and the bullpen will consist of Duaner Sanchez who is coming back from injury, the recently signed Scott Schoenweis, Jorge Sosa, Pedro Feliciano had a sub 2 ERA in ’06, Guillermo Mota who will serve a 50 game suspension at the onset of start of the season, and possibly Dave Williams, Juan Padilla, & Jon Adkins.

Let’s move onto the starting lineup. The Mets last season had an amazing offense which I considered to the best and most formidable in the National League. It seemed every night a Met was doing something to win a game, whether it was a key hit or a home run. Carlos Beltran bounced back from a sub-par 2005 where he was constantly in the papers and tabloids over his performance, to 2006 as he showed the league his limitless potential and earned the respect of Mets fans. Beltran showed he was worth his salary as he hit 41 homers with 116 RBI along with spectacular defense.

Meanwhile, youngsters David Wright and Jose Reyes who man the left side of the infield broke through big and were a main reason for the Mets run last season. Wright in only his second year entered the superstar stratosphere with 116 RBIs along with 26 homeruns. There may possibly be no limit to his ceiling and New York Met fans can only see bigger and better things from Mr. Wright. Although he slowed down during the second half, he’s a complete 5 tool player who will no doubt be a multiple time All-Star.

The man who plays to the left of him, Jose Reyes, also broke out in 2006 and sometimes made Shea a party atmosphere. Blessed with great speed, a slick glove and superb bat, he led the league in triples, and showed power as he hit 19 home runs, along with stole many bases and over 80 runs. He’s another 5 tool guy who can only get better, and Reyes definitely makes the game fun and entertaining. As usual, he’ll be the leadoff guy.

Carlos Delgado signed with the team in 2006, and while he only hit .265, he hit 38 bombs and 114 RBI and became a feared part of the Mets arsenal. A long time Blue Jay, he was always known for his consistency and he was able to continue his body of work in New York City. Even though he’s now in his mid 30’s, he should be able to perform at the same level for at least a few more years.

The newest addition to the Mets, Moises Alou will be manning left field. Always a player blessed with great baseball instincts and with the ability to produce numbers, his injury history is always going to be a concern, and he’s sat out parts of seasons recently with various ailments. The Mets will probably give him several off days, as he’s now entering middle-age, but his track record shows that he will no doubt be productive. He’s only signed for one year, and should provide the Mets with another tool in their offensive arsenal. The Mets probably replaced one oft-injured player with another, but they should expect Alou to match or possibly exceed Floyd’s stats.

Paul LoDuca will probably be the bottom of the order. He calls a great game and is steady with the bat. Although he had issues with his marriage that ended and gambling, that didn’t affect his game and he was an important cog with the team, although he does not have a big bat like Beltran or Wright.

The wild card in the lineup is Jose Valentin. He had a surprising 2006, as he hit .271 and had some huge hits. He bounced back after a few sub-par seasons before joining the Mets. He took over second after Bret Boone was a failure and Kaz Matsui was traded. Will age catch up with him, or can he follow up with a successful 2007 campaign.

The Mets are blessed with an excellent bench, and they played a role to the Mets’ winning season. Ageless Julio Franco is defying Father Time and is a prime example that age may be nothing but a number. He’ll play sparingly, but in 2006 he came in huge in some situations, primarily with pinch hitting. Endy Chavez had one of the greatest catches I have ever seen when he robbed Scott Rolen of a homerun during the NLCS. He’s a serviceable bench guy, but at times you saw his flaws at the plate. Occupying the bench will be longtime veteran infielder Damion Easley, David Newhan, Anderson Hernandez and Ben Johnson.

Super hyped rookie Lastings Milledge may also play a role on the team, but he battled with inconsistency at the plate and some on the team has issues with him and later on the summer he got sent to the minors; therefore, it is unknown whether he’ll be on the team, in the minors of possibly traded.

Based on the outcome of 2006, the Mets and their fans expect big things in 2007 with the end result being a World Series. The Mets should be the favorites once again, although with their shortfalls, on paper they are, if not, the best team in the National League. In the end, although they have one of highest payrolls in the game and it’s assumed that they will win a lot of games, getting to the World Series is easier said than done. Omar and company will need the offense to produce as they did last season, and the starting pitching needs to hold up.

3 comments:

Metsrule4ever070707 (BANNED FROM METS BOARD...HI said...

very good IMO..good insight from an O's fan on guys like pelf and humber god job

Maryland Orioles' Fan said...

Thanks for the comment - the best of luck to your team in '07!

Anonymous said...

The Mets had the third best offense last year in their division even. Check the stats and they were beaten in virtually every category by the Braves and Phillies.

Everything else was about right. It should be a close race in the NL East.

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