Agonizing. Thatâ€™s how Iâ€™d describe the New York Mets 2009 season.
They didnâ€™t excel in many areas last season. One category the Mets dominated? Injuries.
Down goes Reyes. Down goes Beltran. Down goes Delgado. 7â€¦8â€¦9â€¦ The Metropolitans dropped harder, and more repeatedly, than someone on the receiving end of Muhammed Aliâ€™s right hand.
Fans had great expectations for a team celebrating its inaugural season in Citi Field. Unfortunately, the on-field product had as much success in 2009 as the company for which its field is named.
At least their two biggest rivals didnâ€™t square off in the World Series or anythingâ€¦
Enough about the past. The year is 2010. Time for a fresh start. A new beginning. Aâ€¦.no…it canâ€™t beâ€¦more injuries?
Carlos Beltran is out until at least May following â€śminorâ€ť knee surgery (against team doctorâ€™s orders â€“ no less).
And, just days ago, doctors diagnosed Jose Reyes with an overactive thyroid. Healing instructions include refraining from athletic activity for two to eight weeks – is swinging a bat considered an athletic activity? Reyes will surely begin the season alongside Beltran â€“ on the disabled list.
What about players on the field? Everyday Lineupâ€¦eventually:
C â€“ Rod Barajas
1B â€“ Daniel Murphy
2B â€“ Luis Castillo
3B â€“ David Wright
SS â€“ Jose Reyes
LF â€“ Jason Bay
CF â€“ Carlos Beltran
RF â€“ Jeff Francoeur
SP â€“ Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Fernando Nieve
RP â€“ Kelvim Escobar, Ryota Igarashi, Pedro Feliciano, Sean Green, Tobi Stoner
CL â€“ Francisco Rodriguez
The Mets entered the offseason with one significant hole, starting pitching. Free agent possibilities included John Lackey, Rich Harden, Randy Wolf and Joel Piniero. So who did the Mets sign? You guessed it, Josh Fogg.
But letâ€™s talk about what theyâ€™ve done right.
The Mets made one major free agent splash, signing OF Jason Bay to a high-priced contract. They will lean on his power bat to make up for other lineup shortcomings (Murphyâ€™s lack of power, Francoeurâ€™s lack of contact, etc).
Speaking of shortcomings, the Mets front office heeded their playerâ€™s advice and lowered the outfield fences. Sorry pitchers.
Since weâ€™re on the subject of pitching…
Everyone knows about Johan Santana (and if you donâ€™t, read below). The jury is still out on the likes of John Maine, Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez. Do they have talent? Sure. Are they consistent? No. All three recorded double-digit victories in 2008. Last season? 20 wins – combined. Time for a renaissance.
Enough with the jokes. No one can argue this team is devoid of talent. Add David Wright, Luis Castillo, a (rejuvenated?) Gary Matthews Jr. and K-Rod to the aforementioned list â€“ and you have the makings of a winning team.
And theyâ€™ll have to prove it â€“ immediately. The Mets face one of the toughest opening months in baseball. Four of their first eight series are against 2009 National League playoff participants â€“ three of which are on the road. In a division with the back-to-back World Series participant Philadelphia Phillies, a young and improving Florida Marlins and an always steady Atlanta Braves, the Mets will have their work cut out for them.
Can they win the division? No. But at least they’ll have a chance to get off the mat.
Team MVP: Johan Santanaâ€¦because if heâ€™s notâ€¦this team is in BIG TROUBLE. The staff ace must live up to his billing to hide other rotational deficiencies. The 2-time Cy Young Award winner recorded only 13 wins last season. Heâ€™ll need a lot more than that for this team to contend.
X-Factor: Can I pick health? Fineâ€¦Iâ€™ll take David Wright. Why choose a 2-time Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner? Wright hit only 10 home runs last season. A baffling number for someone who hadnâ€™t hit less than 26 in his previous four full seasons. He blamed his spacious home park. Was it the truth or is he the boy who cried Citi Field?
Standings: 4th in the NL Eastâ€¦76-86