Today’s focus: New York Mets
2010 Record: 79-83, 4th Place NL East (10th in NL)
The Mets off-season made news for all the wrong reasons as the headlines have been filled, not with big name free agent signings, but with talk of Madoff, lawsuits, massive debt, plans to sell off team shares, and loans from MLB. This all coming on the heals of fun news items like closer Francisco Rodriguez’s assault arrest that also led to season ending surgery on his thumb and ace Johan Santana’s sexual assault charges and season ending rotator cuff surgery that will keep him out until June at the earliest. All-Star Centerfielder Carlos Beltran has combined for only 145 games the past two years on his surgically repaired knees and has just told the team that he needs to move to Rightfield to reduce wear and tear. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of health going into 2011.
Adding to the lost salaries of Santana and Beltran, the Mets are saddled with several regrettable and/or dead weight contracts (former starter Oliver Perez now relegated to mop up duty, 2B Luis Castillo, and LF Jason Bay) that they can ill afford due to their financial situation. Therefore, it is not surprising that they were unable to improve themselves in the off season through free agency. They will need to play out the string in 2011 and await 2012 when around $60M in salaries will come off the books. One of those salaries of course is All-Star SS Jose Reyes, who when healthy, has consistently outplayed his contract. But will the Mets be able to afford to re-sign him and is he worth the risk?
Besides 3B David Wright, who re-found his groove after a bleak 2009, the Mets have questions or holes due to injury, inexperience and ineffectiveness at almost every position. When Angel Pagan leads your team in WAR, you have to be just a little concerned. A possible exception would be young 1B Ike Davis who has the potential to breakout in his sophomore season and be a solid to very good Firstbaseman. Until Santana can return to the rotation, the Mets will have one of the worst starting rotations in the league. What’s that, you like Mike “Big Pelf” Pelfrey? I would point to his 2010 xFIP of 4.46, low K/9 and high BB/9 before you call him a stop gap ace. I do like the low risk/high reward signings of Chris Young and Chris Capuano who will slot in as the 4/5 starters until Santana returns.
Notable Losses: Pedro Feliciano, John Maine, Fernando Tatis, Sean Green, Henry Blanco, Jerry Manuel (manager)
Notable Pickups: Chris Young, Chris Capuano, D.J. Carrasco, Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, Taylor Buchholz, Terry Collins (manager)
Bottom line, there is little to be hopeful for this year Mets fans. But even though you are in your darkest days, know that MLB will never let your franchise flounder like the Expos/Nationals were allowed to. New York is too important a market to the future of baseball for the Madoff scandal to have a lingering affect. Mets fans will need to continue to take their lumps but one day they’ll reach the light at the end of the tunnel.
Prediction: 71-91, Last place NL East