A Week Later: Hopeful for the 2012 Mets

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.

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Let’s Keep It Rolling Rolling Rolling..

Well that was fun wasn’t it?  After a ridiculous amount of games without a grand slam, the Mets hit two in one trip through the lineup last night.  Jose Reyes had ANOTHER 4-hit game, his second in as many days and he’s reached based nine of his last 10 appearances.  Bay had one of those grand slams, Dickey gave the team length and the Mets climbed above .500 baseball on the season.  They remain five games out of a playoff spot, but there is a lot of baseball yet to be played.  Jose Reyes has as many triples as 17 other major league clubs and still hasn’t gone two consecutive games without reaching base. 

What’s not to love about this team right now?  The Mets schedule is still tough in the immediate future, but they have a chance to put .500 behind them for good.  The way they’re playing, I believe they can do that no matter who’s in the other dugout.   Being able to add David Wright to this mix is going to be a nice bonus as well. 

Whereever this team is going, the ride sure is fun!

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Jose Reyes and the Triple Crown

Photo by Michael Baron

A player like Jose Reyes will never win a Triple Crown, he’s not a slugger and right now doesn’t bat in a part of the lineup with a lot of RBI opportunities.  We count the success of players like Reyes with runs scored and stolen bases over home runs and RBIs.

So how does Jose Reyes stack up in the Leadoff Hitters Triple Crown as of 6:00pm on Sunday when I’m writing this?  He leads the National League in average at .346.  He’s currently 2nd in runs, one off the lead held by Drew Stubbs and Ryan Braun at 48.  He’s second in stolen bases, six behind Michael Bourn of the Astros who has 26.

The season is a little over a third over, so there is still a lot of time left.  Still, Reyes certainly looks like a solid candidate for my newly created Leadoff Triple Crown.  He’s leading in hitting right now, although Joey Votto is only .007 behind him and having an unbelievable season as well.  He’s currently got a .466 OBP.  He’s on base more than 9 times out of 20.

Reyes is only one run scored off the lead, which is doubly impressive when you consider Stubbs has Votto behind him driving him in and Braun has Prince Fielder.  Reyes has had to deal with injuries to Ike Davis and David Wright, and has often had Jason Bay, who’s not hitting at all, batting cleanup.

Michael Bourn is leading Jose in stolen bases.  Bourn has been the leader in each of the last two seasons while Jose was dealing with the injury in 2009 and the lack of a Spring Training in 2010.  So far this season he’s playing decently above his career average, and perhaps will tail off in stolen bases opportunities and allow Jose to pass him.  Or maybe Jose starts stealing more.

Yes, Jose Reyes is having a monster year. He’s easily one of the most exciting players in baseball and the best shortstop in the league.  Ultimately the Mets are going to have to work out an extension with him and resign him, but in the mean time we’re getting to enjoy one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen from a Mets position player.  Getting to the tv for first pitch when the Mets are on the road is a necessity, because if you’re late you may miss Reyes doing something amazin’.

The 7 train sometimes makes local stops, but Jose Reyes is always express.

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League Leaders: Jose Reyes Watch

He’s second in hits in the league with 50. On pace for over 200.

Second in total bases behind Lance Berkman.

He leads the league in doubles. (Tied with Carlos Beltran at 12)

Has the most triples in the league with 6. (4th among active players)

Is 9th in batting average.

One off the league league for stolen bases.

Leads the league in extra base hits. 

He’s got an .855 OPS.

He’s only made two errors and is playing a great shortstop. (4th in Fielding Percentage)

Is only 27.  What team in their right mind would let someone like that get away?

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A Blogger Chat With Sandy Alderson

This evening a selection of bloggers had a second conference call with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.  The first one took place in December. There were a lot of great questions asked, and I’m sure there will be a full recap around the blogosphere.  For now, the response to my question, followed by links to the other bloggers’ write-ups that I will update as I see them.



I asked Alderson how active he would be with transactions this season, in particular with regards to the second base or bullpen candidates that “just missed” making the team.

He explained that once these final decisions are made in Spring Training, a lot of that possible depth in the bullpen goes away.  Guys may have to be offered back if they’re rule 5 picks, or they may choose to opt out of their contracts or just retire.  The depth in the bullpen would most likely be Igarashi, although the Mets are pretty deep at second base.  He stressed the importance of making sure guys are given a chance to perform and not go into every game like it could be their last.  I feel like this is a big upgrade from last year; despite the ultimate results, I didn’t think it was fair for guys like John Maine and Oliver Perez to have it constantly held over their head that they were pitching for their careers to the point that Jerry Manuel actually publicly contemplated removing Maine from the rotation without ever mentioning it to him.

This is a good philosophy to have, but I wonder if it may be a little naive.  After all, it’s not usually the manager and GM that are holding the axe over a players head, it’s the fans and sports radio.  Mike Jacobs and Frank Catalanotto only got 28 and 26 plate appearances  respectively before being cast away, and it seems like the fans were calling for their heads long before that.  Obviously the first base position took a rough turn when Murphy got hit with an injury days before the Opener, but what amounts to seven or eight games is hardly a telling sample size.  Ultimately getting Ike Davis on the Mets, particularly when Murphy experienced a setback in recovery, was a good move but that doesn’t mean Jacobs or Catalanotto got a real fair shot to contribute.

Two quick things I took note of during the call.  One is that there is still a chance Nick Evans makes this team, regardless of what happens with Beltran.  The other is it seemed like Sandy’s biggest test for Jose Reyes is his on base percentage, and that if he can raise that, he’ll be resigned.  I’m confident both will happen.

Transcript Courtesy of Michael Baron

Mets Blog

On The Black

Faith and Fear in Flushing

Mets Police

Amazin’ Avenue

The Real Dirty Mets Blog

NJ.com’s Matthew Artus

Mets Today

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