Mike: this one’s for you! After doing the summary-only posts for 10 teams or so, I have decided to do a relatively full-blown analysis for the Mets.
Season 79-83 C
The Mets (and their fans) had convinced themselves that it was bad luck (primarily injuries) that had prevented them from contending in 2009, and that they were ready to be back in the thick of things in 2010. They had signed Jason Bay to a huge contract – a player who had really only had one down year (2008) in his career. This was to be the Mets year.
Of course, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes were both missing from the opening day lineup, but optimism ran high in the Mets camp. Unfortunately the Mets lost 2 of 3 to the Marlins, then the Nats, then the Rockies and finally the Cardinals, and they were 4-8 and in last place. From there they took 3 of 4 from the Cubs, swept the Braves and the Dodgers, and this 9 of 10 run put them at 13-9 and in first place. On to Philly for a showdown with the Phillies: two losses in 3 games put them back in second (the final loss was Moyer over Santana). After splitting 6 games against the Reds and Giants, the Mets lost 2 of 3 to the Nats, again, were swept by Florida, lost 2 of 3 to Atlanta and split 2 with Washington, and were back in last place.
On May 19th the Mets started 35-year-old journeyman knuckleballer RA Dickey, more in desperation than anything. Dickey had never had a season under 5.00 ERA in his career until he posted a 4.62 in 64 innings for the Twins in 2009. This was in response to Jonathon Niese going on the 15-day DL, but the NEXT DAY John Maine was hurt, and Dickey was in the rotation to stay. The Mets fifth starter, Oliver Perez, was awful, and was sent to the minors (A-level) to try to straighten things out. Ultimately the Mets rotation was Santana, Pelfrey, Niese and Dickey plus pick-a-pitcher.
After going 14-9 in April but 12-17 in May, the Mets went 18-8 in June to climb back into the race. Like other teams, but this time in reverse, the Mets resurgence was fueled by interleague play: they split 6 with the Yankees, but swept the Orioles and Tigers, and took 2 of 3 from Detroit and Minnesota, for a 13-5 interleague record, and they ended the month in second place and only 1½ back of the surprising Braves and two up on the Phillies. Three series to the break, but the Mets lost them all; still in second (by ½) but now 4 back at 48-40.
The second half it all came apart. Coming out of the break they lost 10 of 12 and were never again closer than 7½ games. July saw them finish 9-17, and August (12-16) and September (12-15) were little better. When the dust had settled, the Mets were 79-83, in fourth place in the East, another lost season on Long Island.
Hitters 64.75-97.25 F
The Mets difficulty in scoring runs is well-documented. To have scored 7 or more runs only 25 times all year is astonishing. For some stretches of the year Jeff Francoeur (overall rating: F) was their best hitter. For much of the season Angel Pagan was their top run-producer. Jason Bay couldn’t hit home runs at all for New York, and was a $100M flop in the eyes of the team. Carlos Beltran was hurt. Jose Reyes forgot how to hit. David Wright struggled, though ultimately he hit OK. Ike Davis came up, was hailed as the future, but he also struggled. And on and on. It was an ugly year for hitters at pitcher-friendly Citi field.
This is not a particularly old team, so some rebound is to be expected. Long-time veterans Wright and Reyes were both 27. Davis was 23. Ruben Tejada got 255 PAs at 20 (of course, he didn’t hit at all). Pagan was 28. On the other hand, Beltran was 33 – who knows if he will again be the player he was. Castillo was 34 and didn’t hit at all.
Starters 92.75-69.25 B+
The starters, aided no doubt by Citi Field, were definitely better. Mike Pelfrey had a terrific season at age 26, though he faded a bit down the stretch. Johan Santana was even better – he pitched like, well, Johan Santana. RA Dickey came out of nowhere and was astonishing. Jonathan Niese was above-average, which is all you can ask of your fifth starter. Unfortunately, Ollie Perez was HORRIBLE and John Maine was marginal and then hurt. I think Maine will be good again, but Perez has asked to start and is apparently going to be given that chance. I think his time has passed, though I know Mets fans were pretty high on him, and expect him to come back. Japanese veteran Hisanori Takahashi gave the Mets some decent starts.
A rotation of Santana, Pelfrey, Niese, Maine and Dickey in 2011 seems like it would be good. Sadly, this is not where the Mets are going to be, at least not for a while. Santana is not listed at present, as he is recovering from surgery, and may not be ready on opening day. Likewise Maine, who may miss half the season or more. So the rotation listed at espn.com is Pelfrey, Niese, Dickey, Chris Young and Dillon Gee. Chris Young is a 32-year-old veteran who started 4 times for the Padres in 2010, and hasn’t pitched 150 innings since 2007. Dillon Gee is 23, made 5 starts for the Mets last year (he pitched very well in that small sample) and could be ready to go. But this thin list (Dickey has never had a season remotely like 2010, and is 36) is the reason they would consider giving Ollie Perez another shot.
Relievers 128/411 B+
K-Rod, Takahashi (before moving into the rotation), Dessens, Parnell and Acosta formed the core of a very successful Mets bullpen. Feliciano was the lefty specialist, and appeared in 91 games, though not at a success level consistent with the rest. Overall, aided by the ballpark, the Mets bullpen was one of baseball’s better units.
The 2011 bullpen will have a different makeup. K-Rod is still there, as are Parnell and Acosta. Takahashi, Dessens, Feliciano and Nieve are gone. Listed by espn are DJ Carrasco (signed for $1.2M per year for 2 years) who is a journeyman 34-year-old (career bWAR 4.6, 2010 0.5), Taylor Buchholz, a 29-year-old who pitched 12 innings for Colorado and Toronto (combined) in 2010 (0.1 bWAR) and has 0.7 career WAR. Plus, of course, Ollie Perez. It does not inspire one.
Remember Daniel Murphy? He came up in 2008 as a 23-year-old OF/1B and was terrific for 151 PAs, OPS+ 129. He was with the team the entire 2009 season, but didn’t hit (.266/.313/.427/741/96). He spent all of 2010 in the minors learning to play second base, and espn projects him as the starting second-baseman. That batting line, considered replacement level or below in 2009 as a first baseman, would be very valuable as a second-baseman, so this is an intriguing experiment. On the other hand, I have NEVER seen a successful transition that far to the left of the defensive spectrum. One of the interesting story lines of the spring.
Ike Davis didn’t hit well enough to play first base for a contender (better than Murphy, though) but he is young and it was his first taste of MLB. He hit pretty well in stretches, so if he gains consistency and improves a bit, he will be an asset there. Jose Reyes had a bad year and is in a walk year; look for him to rebound. David Wright is likely to be better, too, at third. Carlos Beltran is apparently healthy and ready-to-go, and the outfield of Bay, Beltran and Pagan should out-perform the Mets teams of recent vintage by a wide margin. Bay may never hit well at Citi, but he is likely to do better if he can get his head straight.
The Mets will apparently go with 24-year-old Josh Thole, who hit OK in a short debut last season, which was also his only year in AAA. He can (apparently) catch pretty well, and all indications are that he will be an average ML hitter, which would be a huge upgrade over recent Mets catchers.
Without boring you with the math, the offense SHOULD be much improved; almost everyone in it projects as an upgrade to the incumbent last year – interestingly, the place where you expect a decline is in center field (Beltran does NOT project as an upgrade to Pagan) but of course Pagan is going to play, and projects as a HUGE upgrade to Francoeur, even though he (Pagan) projects to decline a bunch.
The rotation, as noted above, is a question mark. Santana won’t start the season, and neither will Maine, and Dickey doesn’t figure to recapture lightning in a bottle (see: Aaron Small), so the Mets strength there has become a weakness. Dillon Gee may be the real deal, but young pitchers can break your heart.
And the revamped bullpen doesn’t figure to be as strong as last year’s group, either. The Mets got good performances from a lot of relievers, and many of them have moved on to other pastures (not necessarily greener) and the replacements are at best unproven, at worst proven to be bad.
The real Mets issue is the ownership: the Madoff sting team has asked them for ONE BILLION DOLLARS in unreasonable profit taken, claiming that they should have or did know about the scheme. Even if they pony up 1/3 of that, that is more than the Mets are worth, and close even with Citi Field thrown in. The Mets spent NO money this off-season, due to this uncertainty, and may be selling off some of their players (Jose Reyes is the rumor, and Carlos Beltran) to reduce expenses. They have a number of big contracts expiring after the season (Beltran and Reyes again, plus Ollie Perez at [gulp!] $12M) and their real maneuvering will likely start then.
Meanwhile, it is hard to project the Mets to have a winning season in 2011. Sorry Mike.
|Mike Pelfrey||33||202.2||3.68||15 – 9||18.75 – 14.25|
|Jonathon Niese||30||173.2||4.20||9 – 10||15.25 – 14.75|
|Johan Santana||29||199.0||2.98||11 – 9||20.5 – 8.5|
|R.A. Dickey||26||173.1||2.86||11 – 9||17 – 9|
|Hisanori Takahashi||12||64.2||5.01||4 – 4||6.75 – 5.25|
|John Maine||9||39.2||6.13||1 – 3||4 – 5|
|Oliver Perez||7||33.1||5.94||0 – 3||2.5 – 4.5|
|Pat Misch||6||33.2||4.28||0 – 4||2.5 – 3.5|
|Dillon Gee||5||33.0||2.18||2 – 2||4 – 1|
|Jenrry Mejia||3||11.1||7.94||0 – 2||.75 – 2.25|
|Fernando Nieve||1||2.0||22.50||0 – 1||0 – 1|
|Raul Valdes||1||5.1||1.69||0 – 0||.75 – .25|