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?