New York Mets Preview

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, April 01, 2010 12:13 AM | Comments: 8

Can you imagine what it must be like to be a Mets fan these past few years? Seriously, most of us get so used to despising the team and its fans that we haven’t actually taken a second to put ourselves in their shoes.

We all know the history, so there is no need to go any further than: brutal collapse in 2007, slightly less brutal collapse in 2008, ninety-two losses in 2009.

Entering 2010, there are question marks galore for a team attempting to put three nightmare seasons behind it.

  • When he eventually returns, will we see the same Jose Reyes?
  • When will Carlos Beltran be ready?
  • Can David Wright slug higher than .109?
  • Do Jeff Francoeur and Gary Matthews Jr. remember how to play baseball?
  • Can Johan Santana go back to being superman?
  • Is Oliver Perez capable of throwing a strike every once in a while?
  • How long before the Jason Bay signing becomes completely regrettable for the Mets new GM after Omar Minaya gets fired in mid-June?

Several more questions could be posed, but let’s start with these.

1) Reyes has been sidelined with an overactive thyroid for much of the Spring and will begin the season on the Disabled List. It has been reported that he could return as soon as the fifth game of the season, but for a player who has seen setback-after-setback since early 2009, one has to wonder when he will actually return to the field.

It makes little sense to expect Reyes to return to his old self immediately upon returning; after all, he hasn’t seen a live pitch in a meaningful major league game since last May. Reyes has been the Mets igniter since arriving in New York, but if he struggles to get going we could see a situation similar to when Jimmy Rollins struggled so mightily last season.

Sure, they are different players, but the point is that unless an offense is as powerful as the Phillies’, it is very hard to sit around and wait for your table-setter to get going.

2) Carlos Beltran has not even began running since his knee surgery in January, and the Mets have made it clear that he will not be able to return before May 8. When asked about the time-table for his star centerfielder, Omar Minaya responded that it could be anywhere from mid-May to mid-June. Then he accused the reporter of lobbying for a job.

Replacing Beltran in centerfield until this time will be some combination of Angel Pagan and Gary Matthews Jr. Pagan appears to have won the starting job, as the Mets have been shopping Matthews recently.

3) An intriguing study on David Wright was recently conducted by Eric Seidman of Baseball Prospectus, who found that no other player in major league history as young as Wright, with four comparable home-run seasons, had experienced an equivalent drop-off in power.

Simply put, 2009 was a fluke season for Wright. Citi Field probably played a role in his power outage, as did the lack of lineup protection and the Mets pitiful season as a unit, but even extreme factors like those don’t fully explain how a guy can go from averaging 26 homers and a .533 slugging percentage over five and 1/2 seasons to hitting ten home runs and slugging .447.

Wright will bounce back.

4) Jeff Francouer hit relatively well with the Mets last year, but it’s time to face the facts – he is not and will never be the player everybody thought he would be. His career on-base percentage of .311 is dreadful and he doesn’t make up for it with exceptional power. Excluding his best and worst home-run years, Francoeur averages 13-14 per year.

He is still a feared fielder to run on, but his range and speed are middling. He’s pretty much a slight tick above being a league-average corner outfielder.

5) Johan Santana was in the midst of a very good season last year when he was forced to shut it down due to bone chips in his throwing elbow. It was a typical “great-player-on-a-bad-team” season for Santana, as he compiled his usual impressive peripherals. As is often the case, though, a 13-9 record turned people off and led the average baseball fan to believe Santana was just an average pitcher in 2009. Not at all the case.

Like Wright, Santana will bounce back. Unfortunately for the Mets, he is the staff’s only proven commodity.

6) Oliver Perez was given one of the worst contracts of the last ten years and the Mets will regret it every minute from now until the end of the 2011 season. He had one good season as a major leaguer (2004) before coming to the Mets in 2007. He was good in ’07 and average in 2008, leading the league with 105 walks.

After the 2008 season, when no other team was even in the running for Perez, Omar Minaya took ecstacy and signed him to a 3-year/$36M contract.

Anytime you can sign an erratic, enigmatic, consistently inconsistent headcase to a huge contract that no other team is willing to come close to, you gotta do it.

Perez walked 7.9 batters per nine innings last year, ended the season on the DL, and just completed an awful Spring. How does Minaya still have a job?

7) Baseball observers and Mets fans alike spoke ill of the Jason Bay signing when it happened, but just in case nobody remembers the argument, it was that he’s an aging (31, with pure “old-man skills,”) slow, power-hitting corner outfielder with absolutely no range.

Don’t misinterpret the intent of this criticism, Bay is a threat at the plate and will certainly add power to a lineup that needs it, but 4-years/$66 million (with a full no-trade clause) is a hefty investment to give a player with his skillset that will be 36 by the end of the pact.

In addition to the seven issues above, the Mets will now have to find a suitable replacement for first baseman Daniel Murphy, who is out two-to-six weeks with a sprained MCL in his right knee. Mike Jacobs appears to be the beneficiary of Murphy’s injury.

I sat down and tried to write an unbiased team preview of the New York Mets, but after proofreading this article, I can see how it will appear that I’m just “hating.” But, truthfully, it has nothing to do with them being the Phillies rival. It has everything to do with the fact that they are a poorly-assembled team that has thrown money around like a drunk cripple at a strip club.

Bad decisions and bad luck have led to several years of torture for the Mets. 2010 doesn’t appear to offer any consolation.

Prediction: 80-82, fourth-place in the NL East

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About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 0 Daktari

    Mets Fan
    I think your assessment was as unbiased as possible, and probably right on the money.

    I had hoped that we would be regrouping for 2011, as it will be too much of an uphill battle for the 2010 season. But Omar and Jerry are in the “save my job” mode, which will burn the house down as they leave.

    Oh well.

  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    The Mets are also disastrously mishandling their bullpen right now, likely rushing Jenrry Mejia, one of their best pitching prospects, to an ML bullpen role for no reason whatsoever, and sending Bobby Parnell and Sean Green to the minors in favor of guys they didn’t even invite to spring training.

    I can appreciate the schadenfreude, but damn it would suck to be a Mets fan.

  • Posts: 0 George

    It’s too bad Minaya and Manuel are so much on the hot seat. It’s the Wilpons who have ruined the team. From what I’ve read, it’s obvious that he’s the one with the final say on all transactions, and the reason why the Mets didn’t sign any real pitchers.

    Still, the Mets could prove more dangerous than we might think. Santana will be back, Wright will likely return to having some power, Bay is a dangerous bat, and Pelfrey and Maine both have proven in the past to be decent rotation guys. Even Perez might surprise everyone and have a season like his 2004.

    I don’t look for a lot early on because of the missing Reyes and Beltran, but when those two return, the team could be pretty good, and finish a lot better than 80-82. They probably won’t win it all, though.

  • Posts: 0 Ben

    was really hoping this would be an april fools article bashing the mets furiously. instead it is just accurate…

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Reyes will be fine… the fact that they have his situation figured out tells me that they’ll have a better time getting him healthy. The Mets haven’t said it but thyroid problems may have contributed to his nagging hamstring. Sounds crazy but muscle weakness and fatigue are both symptoms of an overactive thyroid… rehabbing while dealing with an overactive thyroid would be equivalent to running on a treadmill chasing a carrot. Wright will hit for better power but that park is not going to help him hit home runs, that’s for sure… I know that the Mets were upset with his lack of power in 2009 but considering the fact that there was no one else in that lineup worth worrying about (meaning he probably didn’t see many pitches to hit), I would say that Wright did ok. The problem that I see; they don’t have a clear identity. They’ve got a pretty potent lineup (when healthy) so it kind of seems like initially they were building around offense… then they built a ballpark that favors pitching. A few years ago, that lineup was one piece away from being complete; they needed (and still need) a bona fide run producer (someone with +125 RBI potential). Then, they built a mammoth stadium that favors speed and pitching… in anticipation, they go out and nab Santana and sign Oliver Perez. On offense, they add a couple of speedy defensive replacements (late inning guys) in but the net effect has been a team that a.) lacks the speed that it takes to play defense in that park b.) doesn’t believe it has enough pieces to stack up against the best teams in the league and c.) lacks consistency within its rotation (not enough depth to go toe to toe with the better teams in the league for 162 games).

    They have some star quality but not much else… not much leadership, either. No one has ever really given Jerry Manuel a vote of confidence; he hasn’t been blamed for their faults but he certainly hasn’t been praised, either. NY is a tough city to play in and that team has yet to prove that they’re tough enough…

  • Posts: 0 Bobby D

    Love the write up on the Oli Perez signing. You gotta do it! Priceless.

  • Posts: 0 MrMet

    Agree with the assessment for the most part. The two big “ifs” are can Pelf and Maine pitch well enough to win 30 games b/w the two (a HUGE if) and can the team stay around .500 until they get Beltran back.

    The silver lining in all of this is if the team bombs maybe we’ll get a new GM in here who is capable of running an organization.

    hopefully the mets and phills play meaningful games this year, can’t wait to see RH vs JS

  • Posts: 0 metsfan

    Yes, this was completely accurate.

    Too bad Pelf and Niese proved themselves and R.A Dickey and a reliever from Japan did as well.

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