Monday, March 26, 2007

Starting Pitching Preview

With Pedro out until at least August the Mets will give the opportunities to some young guys to show what they can do on the big league stage. After Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez the rotation is comprised of John Maine, Oliver Perez, and Mike Pelfrey. I expect another solid year from Glavine, who needs only 10 wins to get to 300, which should be an incredible spectacle, which we only hope will happen at Shea. El Duque is good for a few missed starts and a couple trips to the DL, but what can you expect from a guy who turns 73 in July, other than that he should impress and have a solid season when he's healthy. John Maine had a brilliant rookie year last year, putting up a 3.10 ERA and at one point throwing 26 consecutive scoreless innings. After a solid spring i see no reason for him to not grow on what he built last year. Oliver Perez is a real wild card, which Oliver Perez will we get, the guy who threw 6 innings of 1 run ball in Game 7 of the NLCS or the guy who was 3-13 last year with an ERA over 6, only time will tell, but he's got the stuff to be perfect any night he steps on the hill. Mike Pelfrey beat out a cast of veterans and young guys to earn his role as the teams fifth starter. Pelfrey was decent in his rookie debut last season, and should build on that this year, especially with the addition of his slider to his repertoire. The Mets have guys in the bullpen, Aaron Sele and Chan Ho Park, and in the minors, Jorge Sosa, Jason Vargas, and Phil Humber, who could step in and fill a spot at any time in the season. Should the Mets be lucky enough to get Pedro back in August or September look for him to contribute during the stretch run. I see the starting pitching not being as big of a problem as so many of the "experts" think it will be.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Right Field Preview

As we finish up our position player previews we get to another position that is pretty much all set. It appears as though Willie is going to start Shawn Green in Right Field over Lastings Milledge to start the season. Although Green's bat has been warming up recently Milledge has been hitting well over .300 the whole spring. If Green starts to struggle in April and May i suspect Willie will have a tough decision to make regarding sitting down his $4 million veteran for a league minimum prospect. Pecota says Green will hit .273/.343/.424 in the 7 hole for the Mets and also add 10 home runs and 45 RBI. Surprisingly Pecota has Green's numbers pretty low, what else is new. If Green plays the majority of the season for the Mets there is a good chance he will drive in a lot more runs that 45.

Pecota thinks Milledge is a better fit and would have a more productive year than Green. They have Milledge hitting .285/.356/.481 and hitting 17 Home Runs and 66 RBI. They also have him adding 18 stolen bases, and he'd absolutely be an upgrade in the field with his speed and his arm. Look for Milledge to get a realistic look if Green begins to struggle.

I am really becoming a huge Lastings Milledge fan and i hope that the Mets do not trade him. It seems as though he is really growing up and working on becoming a great ball player. He even got a haircut and thankfully stopped wearing that ridiculous cross, although it was one of the funnier things I've seen a rookie do.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Center Field Preview

It'll be hard for Carlos Beltran to have a better statistical year than he did in 2006. He also added a Gold Glove to his trophy case. Beltran needs to have a similar year to what he did this year hitting in the three spot in the lineup again this year. Beltran hit .275/.388/.594 and added 41 Home Runs and 116 RBI. If he can have a similar year offensively, the Mets will be very happy with their center fielder. Pecota sees him having a little worse of a year than last year hitting, .286/.381./.530, also hitting 30 home runs and only 90 RBI. In this lineup Beltran should be able to hit in 90 runs with his eyes closed. I'd imagine this average numbers looking about right, but his power and RBI totals should end up being a little bit higher at the end of the season.

Backing up Beltran will be the defensive gem Endy Chavez. He is one of the best bench players on the team and is a solid fill in on Beltran's off days. If he should go down for a long period of time there is a chance Milledge would fill in if he continues to hit in the minors like he is this spring. Although Milledge could be a significant downgrade defensively.

The Mets are very excited for their center fielders future and couldn't be happier they have him for 5 more years at his young age.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Left Field Preview

Now, on to the outfield. The Mets replaced the oft-injured, yet clubhouse and fan favorite, Cliff Floyd with Moises Alou. Alou, although in his early 40s, when healthy, Alou dominates left handed pitchers. Alou hit .349 against lefties last season while playing for the Giants and had 20 go ahead hits throughout the season. Alou is just a professional hitter, for his whole career he has had a great grasp on finding gaps and driving in runs. Alou can be a bit of a defensive liability at times, but his hitting, and the fact that a Gold Glove Center Fielder plays next to him will help him out tremendously. Pecota sees him hitting .287/.355/.484, which is a pretty large improvement in OBP, based on their lower average projection. They only see him hitting 14 home runs and driving in only 48 RBI, even if he plays only half the year, he'd have to drive in more, based solely on the lineup he is in. I see him with similar numbers, but about 18 homers and 80 RBI.

Chances are Alou will only play about 120-125 games even if he stays healthy, which isn't guaranteed. If he does get injured for an extended amount of time there is a good chance Lastings Milledge is called up to fill in, that is if he hasn't taken right field away from Shawn Green by then, leaving Endy Chavez on the bench, where he is strongest. Ben Johnson also has a shot at filling in for Alou on either off days or if an injury occurs. The Mets have some solid young players and prospects should something go wrong with one of their older outfielders. They are in pretty good shape if something were to go terribly wrong, although Alou's bat will be missed in any lineup. On his occasional off day look for either Chavez, Newhan, or Ben Johnson, should be make the team out of spring training, fill in for Moises Alou.

The Mets should expect some solid production out of Alou this season, and more importantly some protection in the lineup for the big guns like Beltran, Delgado and Wright.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Shortstop Preview

Like third base, the Mets couldn't be more comfortable with the other half of the left side of the infield. Jose Reyes will hold down the fort at short this season again, coming off an incredible year, doing things that haven't been done in 80 years, (at least 17 singles, doubles, triples and home runs) Reyes should only continue to grow as a player. Pecota sees Reyes having a bit of a worse year statistically than last year, going .290/.335/.445, hitting 14 Home Runs, 11 Triples, and stealing 61 bases. All down from last year, Pecota seems to be pretty conservative with their numbers for most players though, especially younger ones who aren't named Pujols.

Backing up Reyes, will likely be Damion Easley or, barring a disastrous injury, Anderson Hernandez. Easley will fill in well on the occasional day off Willie gives Reyes, cause we all know Willie can't stand having Reyes jumping around in the dugout all day.

The left side of the infield shouldn't be a concern for the Mets hopefully for the next decade, but we know atleast for the next 4 years, arguably the most exciting player in baseball will be playing short for the Mets. Hard to believe this kid is only 23 years old.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Third Base Preview

Although David Wright claims he'd move his position if Alex Rodriguez comes over after this season Mets fans and management know they have their third baseman of the future already on their team, for at least 6 more years. David Wright struggled a little bit the second half of last year and he was admittedly over matched in the playoffs. I feel as though David should have a solid year this year though. Pecota sees him hitting .306/.389/.558 with 29 home runs and 95 RBI. I like his numbers, with the exception of RBI, as long as Wright stays in that 5 spot in the lineup he should have plenty of opportunities to get RBI and with his ability to go the other way he should be able to come somewhere close to last years RBI total of 116. Wright should have another good year at the plate and should be able to develop into an even better hitter, the kid is only 23 years old, its hard to believe sometimes that he is that young.

Backing up Wright, on the rare day he allows Willie to give him a day off, will most likely be Newhan or even Julio Franco is he's feeling young that day. Wright played in 154 games last year, and will probably play a few less this year, due to him getting a little tired down the stretch last year, but in those games expect Newhan to fill in fine and take care of the bottom of the lineup on those days.

Third base is a spot the Mets should not be worried about for a very long time, this makes Mets fan very happy, knowing David Wright will be holding down the hot corner for a long time.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Second Base Preview

Second Base isn't as clear cut as the rest of positions for the Mets this season. Although Jose Valentin is the favorite to win the position, if he struggles and a guy like Anderson Hernandez or Ruben Gotay could steal the job with some solid numbers this spring. Both are superior defensively to Valentin, but at the plate is where both struggle much more than Valentin. Valentin is 37 going into the season and if he begins to slip offensively at all, the Mets could have a decision to make regarding the every day second baseman. Pecota has Valentin dropping a little bit at .249/.328/.458 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI. As long as Valentin average stays around the spot it did last year, .273, with sporadic power and the ability to drive in runs when there are runners in scoring position he should be able to keep his position the whole season, but if he begins to struggle look for Mets fans to get antsy regarding Valentin.

When Valentin needs a day off expect either Damion Easley or David Newhan to fill in for him. Both have experience at the position and would be a fine fill-in in the eight hole. Expect both Anderson Hernandez and Ruben Gotay to start the season in the minors getting regular playing time, especially since Willie likes to have veteran guys on the bench, as opposed to young guys.

The Mets shouldn't be that worried about the second base position, considering it is the only position that is lacking offensively. As long as whoever plays gets by and does their job it shouldn't be that big of an issue due to the power and talent of the other seven batters in the lineup.

Check out this video of Gotay and Hernandez flashing a little leather after Joe Smith induced another ground ball during yesterday's game: