The Mets: Seven Reasons to Stay Tuned in 2012

Happy New Year everyone! With the holidays now in the rear view mirror and me now settling down into my new job, it’s time to take look ahead to what 2012 might hold in store for the New York Mets.

Like most of us, I have very low expectations for the team this year. Team finances aside, the starting rotation is mediocre at best, there are several defensive liabilities in the projected starting eight, the bench is horrible, there is little speed on the current roster and they play in a tough division. Still, I will watch as many Mets games as I can this year. Now that I have a steady income again, I may even make the pilgrimage from my home in Bethlehem to Citi Field to take in a game or two. I know that there is no postseason in store for the Mets in 2012, but I can think of at least seven reasons to pay attention to the team this year:

1. The Wilpons Put the Team Up For Sale: Hopefully this is announced during Spring Training. The Mets will continue to sink until the Wilpons go. As this situation has been beaten to death everywhere else, we don’t need to rehash it here as well. However allow me to state that the “perks” they offered potential investors (discounts on Met merchandise and a private session with Mr. Met) should be all the evidence Bud Selig needs to intervene and push this embarrassment out the door. BTW, no one has taken Fred up on his generous terms. Shocking! The speculation about who may buy the team (Mark Cuban, Donald Trump) may be the most interesting storyline around the team this year.

2. The New Dimensions Help the Offense: Maybe the lowered left field walls and the shortened dimensions in center help David Wright and Jason Bay rediscover their power strokes. David played 51 games last year at Citi Field and hit five home runs. Could he stay healthy and double that output? That’s 16 home runs at home. If he holds steady with 9 on the road (he also played 51 road games in 2011) that’s 25 homers. Bay hit at about the same ratio. (Six homers in 59 games) if he can double that output while matching his 2011 road totals, that puts him at 24 dingers. Add in production from the now-hopefully healthy Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy and a full season of Lucas Duda (providing that his showing last year was no fluke) and suddenly the Mets have a we’re-never-out-of –any-game offense. Stretching just a bit further, one hopes that Ruben Tejada, Josh Thole and Andres Torres don’t regress too far, meaning Terry Collins can set up a right-left-right-left batting order one through eight that could torch some of the weaker bullpens around both leagues. It’s a lot to expect, I know, but it might make the Mets worth staying up late to watch this summer.

3. The Bullpen Isn’t So Bad: The 2011 Mets blew 24 saves last year. Ramon Ramirez, Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco are an improvement over Manny Acosta, Jason Isringhausen and Bobby Parnell, who blew 13 of those. Ramirez, part of the haul for Angel Pagan, could be a real sleeper. His 1.17 WHIP is far better than any Met pitcher who pitched more than 30 innings had in 2011, while some of his other peripherals such as his BB: K ratio and BAA are also intriguing. He probably starts with a seventh inning role but don’t be surprised if he gets into games later as the season progresses. Now, all they need is for the starters to last long enough to get the game into the pen!

4. A Good Draft Strengthens the System: OK, the last time the Mets had three of the first 50 picks in the draft, was in 1994 when they got Paul Wilson, Jay Payton and Terrence Long. They will need to do better this time. With Paul DePodesta calling the shots, there is a good chance they will. Georgia Southern pitcher Chris Beck would be a great start.

5. Alderson Gets Some Blue Chip Prospects At The Deadline: The Mets need a quantity of quality players to return to contention. With this in mind, Alderson needs to be willing (and I think he is) to deal one quality player, be it Wright, Murphy, Davis, Ramirez or Jon Niese if he can get several top prospects in return. As the Athletics-Nats Gio Gonzalez or the Padres-Reds Mat Latos deals for have shown, teams can expect a good return for some team-friendly contracted talent such as the Mets have. Google some of the players in the Colorado, Arizona, Toronto or the LA Angels systems. All of these are teams likely to be looking for help come July. Each has some intriguing pieces that would really help the Mets rebuilding process. These deals may seem improbable right now, but last New Years Day, so did Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler.

6. The Upper Level Prospects Progress: You’ve heard their names: Matt Harvey, Wheeler, Jeurys Familia, Kirk Neuwenhuis and Reese Havens. These five are the closest to the majors among the Mets top prospects. First off, they need to stay healthy. Then I’d like to see three (Familia, Neuwenhuis and Havens) make it to Queens this summer, while Harvey and Wheeler finish the year in Buffalo together. (I’d also keep Pedro Beato in the rotation upstate and install Parnell as the AAA closer). With a strong 2011 draft, another hopefully good one this year and some key trade deadline imports, the Mets may have enough talent in the farm to gain ground quickly on the Phils and Braves.

7. The Marlins and (Their New Shortstop) Miss the Playoffs Too: Look, I loved Jose Reyes too, but he has moved on. I maintain the Fish will regret the last few years of the deal they gave him. I also expect their new stadium will end up as deserted as Citi Field is when the Phils and Braves dominate the division again. I can’t wait for the 2013 fire sale in Miami with this joke of a franchise. I became very annoyed with the whole Marlins spectacle this winter, can’t you tell?

So those are my reasons and I am sticking to them? If you are planning on watching this year, why? Tell us in the comments section. And while your at it, can you please tell me why Pat Burrell breaking news always follows my posts?

A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Manager in the Bulk Materials Handling industry. He lives in Bethlehem PA with his wife and son, neither of whom fully get his obsession with the Mets.
  1. jerseymet January 2, 2012 at 12:14 am
    Good luck in your new job! This economy has been tough on alot of people. The economic situation of the Mets may be a metaphor for the whole economy. During my period of unemployment in 2011 I found some solice in the five dollar Met tickets that I picked up on STUB HUB. Lets hope 2012 is kind to all.
  2. Mike B January 2, 2012 at 1:06 am
    I am hoping Donald Trump buys the team, possibly using it as an opportunity to grow the apprentice franchise. Possibly letting people on the show managing the team and make trades.
  3. mic January 2, 2012 at 6:42 am
    I think Einhorn is a better bet to buy the Mets, hopefully with Nelson is part of his group.

    – Joe:
    Some add ons.
    1. No more Warthen
    2. Jenry comes back
    3. Ike comes back better.
    4. Capt Kirk is injury free.
    5. Duda is for real.

  4. Izzy January 2, 2012 at 10:49 am
    1. While the Wilpons are morally and financially bankrupt and unable to run a business legitiimately they are one stubborn family and for whatever reason Buddy Selig wants them around. I don’t expect the for sale sign to come out as fast as you do. But hope you are right.
    2. We always get happy over Met HRs going up but disregard the opposition numbers going up as well. The Mets are going to be a slow plodding team, one from the steroid era where you didn’t run and didn’t have to run because of the HRs. Only problem, the roids are down and the HR numbers are down, and guys like Roy Halladay don’t give up any in Philly, the new wall won’t hurt the good pitchers in Queens either.

    3.The bullpen is bette rthan the one that finished the season last year but worse than the one that started the season. K-Rod and Izzy were holding down the 8th and 9th pretty well until KROD left and Izzy just wore out.
    4. A lot of us will be dead before the draft results are fully known.

    5. Alderson dumped two big names and paid a good chunk of salary and came home with all of ONE blue chipper. Not a very rosy outlook. He also refused to trade guys like Capuano becauase he couldn’t get enough back. Whatever is enough. His 11 results aren’t nearly as good as the hopeful make them out to be.

    6. We’d all like to see the kids make it. Will show that Omar was really a good GM building the farm from a state of disaster and trying to remain competitive. too bad Sandy doesn’t care about today and tomorrow.

    7. I suspect you are very accurate about the fish. for the good of the game however, I hope you are wrong, The fish embarrass the game of baseball every night with the 500 people in attendance. With the new park and new lease they will be there for a long time. I hope they draw well.
    8. Will i watch this year. i watched since 1962. I can’t stop. I won’t be in the great park in Fushing this year. No new Jerseies, no money to fred and jeffy and Saul.
    9. Happy New year and good luck with your new job.

  5. Joe January 2, 2012 at 11:33 am
    1. Perchance to dream. See that happening later. Maybe much later.

    2. I’m worried about that given our pitching staff & the fact other teams are hitting too. I still don’t see how much of a net value that would be and given the average pitching, would rather the dimensions stay the same.

    3. The bullpen does look okay & unlike last year it isn’t a matter of one guy on the way out, one guy ready to breakdown and yet another some mental case. And, I’m not making a crude comment about Taylor B. there.

    4/6. Eh.

    5. Eh. The best that can be said on that front is some dead wood is being pushed away and we are closer to some more lead weights (Bay, unfortunately, perhaps Santana) coming off the books. And, not having more attached to the team.

    7. I sympathize

    I have been a Mets fans for some years now and like various people on the team as well as the announcers, plus appreciate that at least something was done to try to start things in a new direction. The team has enough talent to compete, particularly given various other mediocre teams, even though it will be tough going against the NL East. So, I will continue to watch.

    I have been a fan for a shorter time than many but still have seen them have bad years. So, especially with lower expectations in the short term, this one will be if anything easier to take on some level. Good luck in ’12.

  6. tom January 2, 2012 at 1:13 pm
    “OK the last time the Mets had three of the first 50 picks in the draft, was in 1994 when they got Paul Wilson, Jay Payton and Terrance Long”– what about the Davis-Havens-Holt darft in ’08?
    • dan capwell January 2, 2012 at 8:18 pm
      D’oh!!!! Good catch!
  7. Dan B January 2, 2012 at 4:26 pm
    The Wilpons don’t have to sell the whole team for Met fans to have hope. They just need to sell controlling interest. The real story is not whether they sell (they will be selling some of the team) but if they sell enough of the team to bring in money to reinvest in the team or just enough to pay down debt. And after the sale, who is controlling the team. My very uneducated guess is that the Wilpons will have to sell a large portion of the team but they will try to sell it to a variety of people so they retain the largest portion and control the team.

    As far as the Marlins, did you notice that they backloaded Reyes’ contract AND refused to give out any type of non-trade clauses to any of their free agents? That smells of a major sell off in a couple years (as they did after their last shopping spree) Is it a coincidence that Reyes starts getting paid top dollar just as Jeter’s contract ends? Hmmm……

  8. argonbunnies January 2, 2012 at 7:09 pm
    If we’re looking for positive reasons to watch, I can’t think of any Dan didn’t cover. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of compelling train wreck soap opera stuff, though.

    How about Pelfrey’s head sabotaging his conversion to the bullpen after he reaffirms he’s an inadequate starter? Hurt feelings and second-guessing galore!

    How about Parnell’s downward spiral of reduced role -> reduced confidence & focus -> worse results? I smell a trade demand!

    How about Bay having a hot month and finally gaining enough credibility to exert some influence in the clubhouse — only to cause greater awkwardness when he slumps again!

    How about the players who like Warthen’s personality vs the management who dislikes his results?

    How about anonymous players questioning the manager’s leadership in the media as both players and coaches get exasperated with losing? Maybe Terry will get caught off guard and drop some profanity on a reporter!

    Hmm. Well, I guess these aren’t actually reasons to plan to watch. They’re just things that’ll keep us around to find out what happens next, once we’re already hooked.

  9. Brainsliver January 2, 2012 at 11:02 pm
    I have to disagree that the 1994 draft was a bad one. Payton was never a super star, but he had a solid career and was in the majors for over 10 years. Wilson was a good choice who got injured. That is the problem with projecting pitchers. Even Long had a 5 or 6 year career in the majors. I am not saying this was the best pick of all time, but I don’t see it as a particularly bad one either. If we expect three all stars for the next pick, then we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and it is not fair to the people who make the choices.

    Also, I would like to hear more on why you would put Beato in the starting line-up in AAA. He did not do well in the minors until he switched to relief. I think Beato has talent and we should not just give up on him, but why might this help? I am not trying to argue here could something needs to be done, but I am not sure I understand this move.

  10. Paul Festa January 3, 2012 at 8:05 pm
    Nice post! I agree that the lineup and bullpen look OK, but the starting rotation looks miserable right now.
  11. David Cohen January 4, 2012 at 10:42 am
    Coming from Toronto where we had the most blown saves in baseball, the Mets acquisition of our two lfree agent relievers will not bring you closer to a penant, unless, last years were worse. Neither of these two guys are closers. Get work boots to protect your feet for when you feel like kicking something. That being said: Rauch at 3 mm is a better value than Francisco at close to six.