A Week Later: Hopeful for the 2012 Mets
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No Met has made an error, hit a home run, or struck out looking in over a week. With a week of the offseason under my belt to let the highs and lows of emotion mellow out with time, it’s time to take a closer look at what transpired in 2011 and what hope there is for 2012.
The team played harder than was expected. They didn’t give in, whether because of a tough loss, a rough week, or a poor start to a game. They’d battle back late in games, and bounce back from a tough loss with a solid win. There were plenty of times late in the season where they did seem to be going through the motions a little bit, but they seemed to bounce back from that as well. Hopefully 2012 avoids any long periods of being out of it and prevents the team from getting complacent.
The bullpen, while successful for some stretches of times, was mostly a failure. Part of this was the trade of Francisco Rodriguez, part of it was the depression of Taylor Buchholz. Part had to do with the starters rarely giving length, as was the main problem in April. The Mets are aware of this problem, and with some good scouting and analysis, there are relievers out there that you can get for reasonable prices. I would expect at least 2-3 new faces in the pen to compliment the ones that stay. The Mets lost a lot of games late last year, and strengthening the pen will go a long way in 2012.
The starting rotation is what’s going to be the big deal in 2012. This is what’s going to make or break the team as a contender. Niese and Dickey are locks. Mike Pelfrey is also pretty much a lock, although he does become a trade candidate as well. I wouldn’t be against keeping Capuano, but I suspect he’s priced himself out of what the Mets want to pay him. Johan Santana is supposed to be ready to go as normal during Spring Training, but I’d put the certainty of that at somewhere around 75%, and that may be optimistic. Right now he’s penciled in, and it won’t be until February before we know if he’ll be able to progress normally towards an Opening Day start. Therefore the Mets need a backup plan. Adding Santana would certainly help, but it’s likely the Mets need to upgrade further. Finding another quality starter and reassigning Dillon Gee to be depth for Santana could be the way to go. However, Dillon Gee may have earned a major league job. If the Mets can get to the regular season with a healthy Santana, and everyone else, having to send Gee to the minors to start the season would be a nice problem to have. From there they could reexplore trading Mike Pelfrey. Other teams will deal with injuries, and many teams could make good use of a guy that will throw 200 innings of slightly above league average value pretty consistently.
Then there is the offense. The offense was very good last year, despite few home runs and a lot of injuries. 2012’s hinges on Reyes staying, but if he does the Mets offense again looks to be very potent. The biggest concern would be if Pagan can shake off the bad defensive year, and if Duda can take a step forward out in RF. Thole needs to improve as well, and there’s something to be said for having a veteran right-handed catcher to work with him. The Mets are discussing moving the walls in a bit in right and left, which will probably help the home run numbers, although they may shrink the gaps a little bit. It looks like the Mets should still have a top-flight offense next year, capable of dealing damage to opposing pitchers.
The Mets could be competitive next year. A lot hinges on Reyes re-signing and Johan turning up healthy. The Mets do need to revamp the bullpen, sign another starter, and address the bench, but those are all reasonable expectations. It’ll be an interesting offseason, and hopefully it will be a launching pad for a good season to come.