|2007 Team Previews: The New York Mets||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on February 21, 2007
2006 regular season record: 97-65 – 1st overall in the NL
Lost in the NLCS to the Cardinals in seven games
Searching for greener pastures:
* offered a minor league contract only.
The Skinny - The Mets battered their way through the National League last season and made it to the NLCS but were humbled by superior pitching in that situation. General Manager Omar Minaya attempted to address the pitching situation by making solid offers for some of the better pitchers on the free agent market but didn’t manage to accomplish much. That being the case the Mets once again will focus on being an offensively dominant team and enter the season with a pitching staff that has some big questions.
Pitching: It’s hard to imagine that the Mets couldn’t find an upgrade to take the spot of workhorse Steve Trachsel but just who is going to pitch in the three-four-five spot in the rotation is a huge question. With Pedro Martinez unlikely to throw a pitch for the team in the 2007 season the Mets rotation will feature Tom Glavine, Orlando Herandez, John Maine and at least one reclamation project.
Chan Ho Park was on the Mets short list a number of years ago for a number of reasons. First he always pitched lights out at Shea, second Asian fans came out in droves to see him pitch in New York, and third – he was a fairly decent pitcher. After an obscene contract drew him to Texas he disintegrated and now just what he can do and what he’s able to offer to the team is highly suspect.
Reclamation project number two is lefty Oliver Perez who the Mets acquired near the trading deadline last year and has had some time to work with pitching guru Rick Peterson. Maybe they figured something out in time for last year’s NLCS as Perez threw a gem of a game to keep the Mets alive in game 7. But was it real or just a flash of brilliance from a pitcher who once seemed to have everything going in his favor? It’s a huge question.
Other pitchers in the starting rotation mix include Mike Pelfrey, Jorge Sosa, Philip Humber, Jason Vargas, Aaron Sele, Scott Schoenweiss and Alex Soler – all of whom are battling for a starting spot. It’s unlikely any of those will knock Maine out of the rotation but neither Perez or Park should assume that a job is theirs for the taking.
Another consideration is the rebuilt Mets bullpen. Last year this was one of the team’s greatest strengths which often made up for the unsteady and patched together rotation. That bullpen lost a number of key players to free agency and at least half of the pen will consist of new faces, including Guillermo Mota (who’ll miss the first 50 games of the season on a steroid suspension), Ambiorix Burgos, Jorge Sosa, and whoever loses out in the fight for the starting gigs. How good they’ll be is just conjecture at this point.
Offense: This team is arguably the strongest in the NL offensively, but its two biggest competitors for that title are both within the division. Still any lineup which features a starting six of Jose Reyes, Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, David Wright, and Moises Alou is going to score a lot of runs. Throw in a productive Shawn Green and Jose Valentin and this could be the most feared lineup in the NL. And it should get even better as Lastings Milledge develops into a Major League hitter.
Keys to success: Offense, pitching health, and Rick Peterson’s skill in reclaiming pitchers who’ve hit the rough spots will tell the tale of the New York Mets in 2007. This team could be much better than it was last year if the pitching comes together.Overview: Barring injury expect the Mets to hang onto the division title, but expect it to be much more of a challenge than last season. Improvements in the pitching of the Phillies and Braves, and the growing up of the Marlins should make this whole division a much tougher one than it was last year. That being said the Mets are the most proven commodity in the East and should be able to put the pieces together well enough to repeat as division champions.