Though the off-season isn't complete yet(The Mets still need to add 3 players to the bench and a long reliever/starter), I've been doing some musings on the Mets off-season up to now and here's what I see...
I see a team which is going to be better than many "experts" believe, but isn't anywhere near where it needs and wants to be. I like the potential for the offense from the 2nd spot to the 6th spot. Murphy-Wright-Davis-Bay-Duda could be a productive grouping. I see a potential for 15+HRS-30+2B and 70+RBI from that group. I see Wright-Davis getting 90+ and Bay somewhere between 75-90. Murphy and Duda are unproven so expecting 60 or so may be more likely. With Torres, Thole and Tejada, I'm not expecting much from in terms of run production. I'm hoping Nieuwenhuis or another CF(Crisp?) is starting Opening Day with Torres sliding to the bench. Thole has some potential offensively, but lacks power. Tejada is there for defense and if he knocks in 45 runs that may be enough to justify him playing everyday. The Mets must add to their bench which right now only has Justin Turner and Rob Johnson. I'd love to see Ryan Theriot come in as the middle infielder and Rick Ankiel be brought in if the Mets don't trade for Eric Young or sign a CF like Crisp. Adding bench depth will be important over the next few weeks and can be crucial to this offense. Overall, I think the Mets will surprise in this area.
The pitching is loaded with question marks again. So much depends on Santana's health and Niese's growth. This rotation is so different with a healthy and effective Santana and Niese healthy and pitching up to his potential. Jon did win 11 games before missing the last month plus with an injury. He could step up and be a 15 game winner and the defacto #2 pitcher(though he's more of a #3 or #4). Johan though is huge. If he can make 30 starts and be 75% of what he was, this rotation will be much improved over 2011. Dickey is a guy who will battle, but lacks the ability to get outs if his knuckler isn't working. I don't expect him to be much more than a .500 pitcher. Pelfrey shouldn't even be here. His lack of intestinal fortitude is troubling and his abandonment of his sinker is puzzling. He doesn't have the fastball, nor change-up to get strikeouts. Mike's failure to put hitters away leads to his high pitch counts and short outings. Lastly, Dillon Gee is a battler,but sadly his end of the year performance is in my opinion more indicative of who he is rather than his blazing start. I can see him being a bust in 2012 and being sent back to AAA or the pen in long relief. The one bright spot is the improved pen. The Mets still don't have a quality closer, but Ramirez, Rauch and Francisco have power arms. I can see Rauch or Ramirez spelling a slumping or ineffective Francisco. When the year ends Ramirez may be the closer if Familia or Mejia haven't been recalled. Moving Parnell down in the pen helps. He throws hard and maybe can just focus on getting outs, not trying to impress to win the closer job. That's 4 power arms back there. That's a big improvement over 2011, which was the worst pen in MLB. While hardly shutdown, it may be an effective one if Collins and Bones(the new BP coach) handle it well.
Defensively, the Mets have made some improvements, but still have some glaring weaknesses. Davis' return helps as does Torres in CF over the dreadful Pagan. Tejada is a fine SS and while lacking Reyes' arm, he also lacks Reyes' penchant for oleing balls and day-dreaming. He's less talented, but better fundamentally and he's only 21. Bay is fine in LF. Wright is fine at 3B, but needs not to overthink on throws. The problems are C, 2B and RF. Thole regressed in 2011 and cannot catch Dickey. Johnson is a fine defensive catcher and should be Dickey's caddie in 2012 if he beats out Nickeas. Murphy is dreadful @ 2B. That's why a solid 2B is needed to backup. I really like Theriot. Duda isn't Murphy bad in RF, but he's far from smooth. Again, a guy like Ankiel would be a nice defensive replacement late in games or in double-switches. Again, they could be okay here if the depth they add is quality.
I went 4 paragraphs without talking about Reyes' leaving. I was 50-50 on his returning, but more and more I was leaning against wanting him back watching him miss much of the second half with hamstring problems, then watching him half-arse it the last month. I absolutely hated how he ended his career. Bunting is one thing, but pulling yourself in the first inning when you know it could be your last game and those fans came to see you? Totally classless and bush in my everso humble opinion. Then when Florida threw 111 million over 6 years, I knew the Mets wouldn't match and hoped they didn't even consider it. I mean in 6 years this guy will be 34 and could be another Raffi Furcal in 3-4. You going to pay this guy 18.5 million a year for that period? For what? 7 HRS-44 RBI and consistent concerns about injury and his mental state? Personally, I think Sandy didn't even want him back and was relieved when Florida went crazy. I mean bringing in the fences was an omen they were moving on and focusing on power, not speed. Why would you bring him back long-term and have another long-term deal you'd regret? Letting Reyes' go was the right thing to do. The fact Jose whined about the Mets not wanting him or calling him back shows his immaturity and selfishness. He knew what the Mets were willing to offer. He refused to talk to Sandy @ the All-Star break. IMHO, he just wanted Sandy to give him an offer he knew he'd refuse so he could turn him down. Sandy refused to play that game. Good for him. Reyes got what he wanted, money. That loving NY and wanting to retire a Met was pure BS. It was about the money. Enjoy South Beach Jose.
I already talked about the pen and a bit about Ramirez and Torres, but I loved the Pagan trade. IMHO, the Mets stole Ramon Ramirez for a player they didn't want and who quite frankly didn't do much last year. I mean 10 errors in CF? The guy can't go to his right or backhand a ball. He threw to wrong bases. Offensively, he was a mess. He got hurt, then seemed never to recover. In return, the Mets get a steady reliever who can set-up or close. They also got a very steady 4th OF who can be a spark at the top of the line-up and eventually off the bench. Good job by Sandy here. If he can pull the same magic unloading Pelfrey, then maybe this year could be salvageable.
Where does that leave this team on Jan 2nd? A team which is not complete, but even when it is, will have low expectations and most will pick to finish last. Some will make ludicrous predictions like 65 wins. Some will say worse. Personally, I see this team as a 75-85 win team. If Johan doesn't pitch, the pen falters again and/or the Mets offense falls flat, it could be 75 games. If Johan pitches 30 games, the pen is solid and the offense does well, they could win as high as 85. Of course other variables like injuries, trades(dumping or adding) could come into play which could fluctuate the numbers. I'll meet in the middle and say 80-82 as of now, but that could change with additions over the next few weeks or news on Johan's shoulder.
Lastly, I think 2012 will be much more entertaining then many fans believe. The Mets should put up better power numbers and we may see young players like Nieuwenhuis, Harvey, Familia and even Valdespin be integrated into the 25 man roster. Santana, Niese and the bullpen additions should be intriguing to watch. The development of Duda, Thole and Murphy could provide interest(or aggravation) as will perhaps the resurgence of Wright and Bay. Davis playing a whole season could be the best development of all. There are some areas of interest here. Hopefully, this team will surprise and give us a nice surprise while developing their prospects for 2013 and beyond. Then we can see Wheeler, Flores, Vaughn and others as early as 2013 and by 2014 for sure. I think this team is on the right path despite the Mets horrible and cowardly owners. Perhaps in 2012, a group of 12 angry Mets fans will sit in judgment of the crooked Wilpons and force them to pay dearly for their misappropriation of Madoff's money schemes. Then they'll be forced out as owners for ones who actually like and root for the team. They can come in and add some revenue to the organization for development at both the major league and minor league level. That was be most good.
Well there are some of my thoughts Mets fans. I hope you have a Happy New Year and we'll have a happy recap in 2012. See you soon and Let's Go Mets!