As I sit here typing this on Wednesday morning(I actually have this week off) I'm very excited about the upcoming 2012 NY Mets season. This despite the terrible ownership of the Wilponzis and the media's gloom-and-doom predictions. I'm not thinking division or wild-card, but I truly believe this team is capable of a winning record. I see them as a 75-85 win team. The more Santana starts, the closer to 85 they'll be. I think there is more talent here than many are giving credit. Here's how I see it...
The rotation is better than 2011 Opening Day. How? Last year Mike Pelfrey opened the year. This year he won't pitch in the opening series. That's progress. Johan is back and looks sharp. We can't expect 20 wins, but 12-15 isn't beyond reach. He also makes everyone on the staff better just by being there and instills confidence in this staff. He's a true ace. Dickey is going to battle and give you innings. He's heart and guts personified. Niese is going to have a breakthrough year. This organization wisely re-upped him for 5 years instilling their belief in him. I see a 15-game winner here. Jordan Zimmermann gets all the hype, but Niese has nearly twice as many career wins and is the same age. I'll take him any day over Jordan. I'll grant you the backend is very troublesome. Pelfrey is the opposite of Dickey. IMHO, he's regressing to the point he'll either be taken out of the rotation mid-late summer, traded(dumped) or possibly even demoted. Gee also troubles me. I see him pitching more like seasons' end, then seasons' beginning. However, the Mets have Harvey who should be ready to step in and could have Young by August. Familia could be used as well, though I believe the Mets see him as the future closer. The Mets have some depth in the minors to use and even Mark Cahoon could be used as a backend guy if he rebounds from a poor 2011. He's a lefty with guile. There is some hope here unlike last year.
The bullpen is better as well. I know Rauch was terrible this spring and Baby Benitez(Francisco) looked horrible, but Parnell was lights out and may be more comfortable just coming in middle relief, not setting up or closing. He looks relaxed. Ramon Ramirez has been one of the more steady middle relievers over the last 4 years and could set-up or close if needed. I love his arm. I think Rauch will be fine and on occasion get a few save ops when Francisco struggles or is tired. I have to give Brydak much credit for being back so soon. Tim showed real determination getting ready and avoiding the disabled list. Last year, he was the Mets best reliever. The front-end guys are nothing but journeymen pitchers. Acosta and Batista are guys you don't want to see much of. Acosta gave up 6 HRS in middle relief last year. Collins spoke of using him to set up. I hope not. I'm not falling for his last month perfromance. I've seen him too much over his career to buy into him. He's pedestrian at best. Batista was a good pitcher but is 42. That's in Dominican years. Odds are he's closer to Jamie Moyer's age. At this point in his career, I'd rather hear him recite his poetry than watch him pitch. The pen has power arms, but no real star. The positive besides having flame throwers, is they have Edgin, Stinson and Beato(if he rebounds physically) in the minors and both Familia and Mejia could also be here late summer. Again, it's nice to have real options instead of cast-offs like in previous years.
I truly believe this offense could be potent. Murphy-Wright-Davis-Duda and Bay could all have 20 HRS-30+ 2B. I believe Wright, Davis and Duda can even hit 30 with the new dimensions. A recent study showed Wright would have had 13 more HRS with these dimensions in place last year. Think about that and the fact he missed 2 months. Torres, Thole and Tejada are far from offensive stalwarts, but aren't stiffs either. I do believe Torres is an ideal 4th OF and Kirk Nieuwenhuis or even Matt den Dekker will be patrolling CF this year. Again, this shows the organization has ready-prospects who are highly thought of, not journeymen like Pridie.
The Mets lack speed, but have good baserunners like Wright and Bay who may steal 20 bases and get thrown out a handful of times. Nieuwenhuis and possibly Valdespin could help later on. I'm not happy with the bench, but Turner and Hairston have some pop. Ideally Torres should be there sometime this year.
Defensively, this team may have some problems. Murphy, Duda and Thole are far from stalwarts. Murphy needs to be competent and avoid injury. Thole has to block balls better and be more accurate with his throws. Duda needs not to kill himself or any other players he comes in contact with(Torres or Murphy). Wright and Tejada should be fine. Bay is a good LF and Torres is far better than Pagan in CF. Davis is a very good fielder and could be a gold-glove candidate in the future, if not 2012. Hairston is ok as a corner OF, Cedeno is pedestrian and Turner and Baxter are fine. Nickeas is the lone stand-out on the bench.
The Mets coaching staff is solid except for Warthen who should have been replaced and re-assigned. He knows pitching, I just don't think the players respect him that much and he's not a great communicator. The positive is Ricky Bones is the new BP coach and he knows a lot of the younger pitchers. He could easily replace Dan if Collins and Sandy decide to make a change. Collins has done a nice job in the lockerroom and he's ok at strategy. He might need to be a little tougher this year especially with Pelfrey. There is a fine line between patience and enabling. I think he crossed it in 2011 with Mike. I like Geren as bench coach. He should be a help to Thole and he's an old hand in MLB. He could also replace Warthen if needed.
Thursday is the first time in ages, I can actually watch Opening Day from the start. I usually pick it up on the radio driving home. It's usually the 7th inning or later and I have to wade through the incessant ramblings of Howie Rose to get the score. Between his idiotic Honeymooner's references and his descriptions of plastic bags swirling on the field, it's usually 10 minutes before I get the score. Now, I can sit back and watch the best TV broadcast team in the business set the stage. Then I get to see Johan pitch. To quote Bart Scott "Can't wait!" Lets Go Mets!