Friday, March 11, 2005


2005 Season Preview: New York Mets

The Mets are very capable of finishing in second or third as well, but as previously mentioned this division is swamped. The Mets improved greatly in a few areas, but are very capable of becoming a more talented fourth place team. If they can build on the success of this offseason as old contracts end, then the Mets will be a dangerous team to deal with in the next few years.

Carlos Beltran, CF: The prize of the free agent class (prior to his breakout in the playoffs for the Astros in 04'), Beltran gives the Mets everything that they need in a player; power, speed, plate patience, and great defense. Oddly enough, the Mets signed Beltran to play center when they already have a great defensive centerfielder in Mike Cameron. Cameron did struggle some in Shea Stadium last year though, so maybe this switch will be for the best (except Cameron relegated to a corner outfield spot hurts his value greatly, especially after a wrist injury). Beltran is one of the five best players in baseball, and I am interested to see if he somehow follows the Bonds career path (not the insane Bonds of today, more like the mid-90's Bonds, starting in 1993). It probably won't happen, but they are the same kind of power/speed combo, so you never know. Shea Stadium will dampen his offensive numbers, so the production might be better than advertised.

Kris Benson, SP: Part of the reason I don't give the Mets heaps and heaps of credit is because they made great signings that they countered with dumb ones. Like this one. Benson is a league average pitcher at best. His best year was probably last year, and it was average. Just that. That's it. No more. Yes, Rick Peterson helped him in his time with NY. Helped him to become an average pitcher. One making $7.5 million per season for the next three years, singlehandedly raising the price tag of average pitchers everywhere. You think Eric Milton would have got that much money from the Reds if Benson had not signed for so much? How about Jaret Wright? Jon Lieber's $8 million option was turned down because it was deemed pricey before the Benson signing. Cashman regrets not picking up the option now. Omar Minaya made some real great signings in snaring Beltran and Pedro, the two jewels of the free agent market, but definitely left a bad taste in a lot of mouths with this one.

Andres Galarraga, 1B: He's listed as the backup for Doug Mientkiewicz, but I am not sure how much playing time he will actually get. Galarraga's status is always up in the air nowadays. I wish him well though.

Roberto Hernandez, RP: Signed to a minor league deal, if he can impress in spring training maybe he will make the squad.

Pedro Martinez, SP: The best pitcher on the free agent market, the Mets took him from the Red Sox with a guaranteed fourth year and a boatload of cash. Regardless of all the talk that Pedro's best days are behind him, he is still one of the best pitchers in baseball. Pedro's best days are so far above what everyone else is capable of that when he is brought down to Earth he is still among the elite. He will have to be watched at 100 pitches though, as that is the obvious place to stop him. If healthy the Mets won't regret a single penny spent. For everyone who says that Pedro is done, realize that his 3.90 ERA was the worst of his career. Kris Benson gets raves and a raise for being league average, and we complain about a 3.90 ERA! Ugh...

Scott Stewart, RP: Another pitcher who has been successful a few times making his way into the Mets pen. May chew up some of the innings Mike Stanton left behind.

Miguel Cairo, 2B: He's better than Tony Womack, yet the other New Yorkers set him free. Luckily, their neighbors realized he has his uses.

Felix Heredia, RP: Acquired for Mike Stanton, I don't like this move at all. Why would you give up Stanton, even if at this point he is Stanton Lite, for Heredia? I wouldn't trade a box of cookies for Heredia. Then again, I really like cookies.

1) Jose Reyes
2) Kazuo Matsui
3) Carlos Beltran
4) Mike Piazza
5) Cliff Floyd
6) Mike Cameron
7) David Wright
8) Doug Mientkiewicz

Reyes needs more time in the minors to figure out his plate patience and hitting again. Kazuo Matsui should improve on last year (he was starting to hit before he injured himself in the second half) and deliver on his contract, which now seems like a bargain considering Orlando Cabrera's contract. Carlos Beltran is a presence in the lineup, and Piazza should return to hitting now that the first base experiment is over. Cliff Floyd hits well when healthy, but it seems like that word is starting to disapear from his vocabulary. Mike Cameron might have lost some power due to his injured wrist, and if that is the case, along with his move to a corner outfield spot, his value may be waaaaaay less than before. David Wright should continue to improve (the Mets hope) and Mientkiewicz is better than Jason Phillips in basically all ways, even in last year's offensive black hole of a season. A real good lineup, but it doesn't stack up with the Marlins or Phillies. Probably better than the Braves until Andy Marte comes up (I'm sure everyone's tired of hearing that, but it'll happen).

1) Pedro Martinez
2) Tom Glavine
3) Steve Trachsel
4) Kris Benson
5) Victor Zambrano

You know how much more I would like a rotation that said Martinez-Glavine-Trachel-Kazmir-Zambrano?

Martinez is the man if healthy, so if that is the case they are definitely set in the ace department. Glavine continues his decline, but should be good for another season or two. Steve Trachsel is no longer as useful as he used to be, but is still a capable innings eater as of now. Kris Benson is my best friend as you may know, and Victor Zambrano is cool to laugh at. Seriously. He tied for the American League lead in walks even though he was traded before the July 31 deadline. He somehow had 96 walks allowed in a little over half a season. That is truly Peterson can fix him I'll make a shrine to him in my closet and burn the Mazzone posters I don't have.

Braden Looper anchors the bullpen, and let me just say I am really pissed I didn't get him in my fantasy league. My closer sleeper! Mike DeJean, Aaron Heilman, and Felix Heredia are a few other bullpen names. Heredia isn't a guy you want on your team really, just ask the Yankees. Of course they dumped him on the Mets for Stanton basically to say, "We're sorry we doubted your abilities Michael, will you please accept out apology for letting you go and subsequently losing all of our abilities to get out left handed hitters at important times?" Maybe someday that will cost them something important...oh wait...

A good team. Much, much better than last year in a lot of ways, but when your so far done originally its hard to get back up all at once. The Mets should finish fourth, third if someone in front of them falls apart or they play better than expected. Another year of tweaking and young talent added and maybe we'll have something to talk about.

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