NL East: Shaken Up – Part I: The New York Mets

There are some constants in life; death, taxes, Chase Utley’s rugged good looks, Stuart Scott’s freaky left eye, and the Braves claiming the NL East title… that is, before last year. It was always a safe bet that the Braves would win the division (14 straight titles!), the Phillies/Mets/Nationals as also-rans, and the Marlins being atrociously bad for five years before following with a very good one.

But 2006 saw some drastic changes. The New York Mets emerged as the dominant force in the National League, owning the NL East and winning the division title by a startling 12 games, all the while in cruise control for the last third of the season. In Philadelphia, the Bobby Abreu deal sparked the lineup to life, jolted by Chase Utley’s 35-game hitting streak and MVP Ryan Howard looking like Roy Hobbs (after he gets back together with Glen Close, not while with Kim Basinger).

It appears age has finally caught up with Atlanta, not only not losing their division title, but also posting a sub-.500 record (79-83). Meanwhile, the Marlins, with a payroll so small Chan Ho Park makes more per season, put up an amazing fight yet fizzled late to finish fourth in the division right on the heels of the Braves. Finally, despite having one of the most fearsome offensive juggernauts in the league (Alfonso Soriano), the Nationals finished in the basement, with a paltry 71-91. The times they are a-changin’ in the NL East, so let’s take a closer look at the contenders:

Part I: The New York Mets

What’s Good:

Last season the Mets were clearly the class of the National League. With the offensive lineup they boasted, it’s easy to see how they had the division wrapped up by mid-summer. Even with Carlos Delgado in a huge funk from April-August, something clicked inside the big Dominican and he started on a fearsome hitting tear that continued well into the postseason. Former Marlin, Paul Lo Duca, enjoyed an All-Star caliber year, proving to be a steady singles hitter in the bottom third of the lineup and ended the year at a .318 average. After an injury-hampered 2005, Carlos Beltrain turned into the franchise player Omar Minaya had hoped in 2006, ripping 41 homers, .594 slugging, and 116 RBI’s all while stealing 18 and earning a Gold Glove in center field. Shortstop extraordinaire, Jose Reyes, proved to be a huge asset both in the field and at the plate. Reyes hit .300 with 81 RBI’s, while leading the league in stolen bases (64) and awesome handshakes. Rounding out the left side of the infield is 23-year old stud David Wright, whose knack for clutch hits and big numbers (.311, 116 RBI’s, 26 HR’s) have Mets fans downright giddy.

What’s Bad:

You can sum up the “bad” for the Mets in one word: pitching. With the lineup as potent as they had, even average pitching should have gotten them to the World Series against an inferior Cardinals team. 2007 doesn’t appear to be any more promising. Orlando Hernandez, Pedro Martinez, and Tom Glavine are a nasty top three…if it were 1998. Promising young starter Brian Bannister was dealt to the Royals for Amiorix Burgos, John Thompson decided he didn’t want to look at Paul Lo Duca anymore, Billy Wagner thought it’d be more fun to give up homeruns in the postseason, and Guillermo Mota took some steroids and will miss the first 50 games of next year.

The Bottom Line:

Omar Minaya has built a team with serious firepower and the ability to blow away teams. But this team reminds me of the Indianapolis Colts of 2003-2005; can stomp the crap out of opponents, but when it gets down to the nitty-gritty can they perform? Until they get some legit pitching, I say no.

Predicted finish: 2nd, 90-72

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13 Responses

  1. I predicted the Mets to come in second with an 89-73 record. Great minds think alike.

    Who do you have in first?

  2. YOU MUST WAIT AND SEE!!!

  3. Kind of a weird set-up. Starting with the predicted second place team?

  4. I prefer “unique”.

  5. Hitting, fielding, bullpen are all in good order
    Starting Pitching remains a question, but the Mets are still very deep and can cycle thru many players to get the right mix.
    Pitching doesn’t win games, it prevents blowouts.

  6. Haha, funny thing, the Mets just signed Chan Ho Park to a 1-yr 600K deal to compete for a rotation spot.

  7. I agree…but as a Mets fan, looking at the starting pitching this year is akin to watching a girl you know is a sloppy drunk slush back a 20oz dr. pepper full of Soco. You know the inevitable is coming.

    And pitching may not win games, but it wins championships.

  8. As we all learned from St Louis…shitty pitching will win you championships when it abnormally pitches well.

  9. Your top 3 pitchers are a combined 103 years old.
    Chan Ho Park is a good value at 600k, and John Maine, if continues development will be a good pitcher. To try and convince me the Mets starting pitching is good enough to win a world series is like me trying to convince you Pat Burrell scares pitchers.

  10. I’ll admit it, at the moment the Mets don’t have anyone to come out and say that they’re the #1 guy, sure Glavine has leadership value, but he is more of a #2-#3 pitcher. If the Mets are to take the WS they’ll need a rookie to bring back memories of Dwight Gooden…along with Maine and/or Perez showing that they’re not flukes.

  11. Excuse me…I meant 113 years old.

  12. We also have Julio Franco as backup on the corners. He is 49!

  13. alright…I can’t hide my love for Julio Franco.

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