2011 MLB Team Preview: New York Mets 2011 MLB Team Preview: New York Mets 2011 MLB Team Preview: New York Mets
 

2011 MLB Team Preview: New York Mets

For the first season since 2007, the New York Mets finally made some off-season changes to get the once successful franchise back on track.

In typical Mets fashion, fans started to get hope for the future only to be hit with another blow, that their team’s owner can’t pay because he might be Madoff insider. Yikes.

The large and dedicated Mets fanbase just can’t seem to catch a break. All the fans are thankful for is that the team plays in the same city as the Yankees, so it won’t just disappear.

The Mets have embraced the role of not being the Yankees and getting mad about it instead of doing something about it. Let’s look at the Amazins heading into 2011 season:

The Positives:

It took long enough for the Mets owners to realize that leadership changes had to be made; as GM Omar Minaya and Skipper Jerry Manuel had well worn out their welcome.

Finally, Fred Wilpon did something about it by hiring Sandy Alderson to replace Minaya and Terry Collins to take over as skipper.

Getting a fresh perspective on expectations and acceptable clubhouse behavior will set a new tone.

Collins is a fierce competitor and the players seem to have responded to him, some players even showed up to Spring Training days ahead of schedule. Collins is known for his own dramatic tendencies, and in his last two managerial stints he lost his players respect and was fired from both jobs. That was 11 years ago and Collins acknowledges openly that he didn’t enjoy himself, but now he does.

Look anything is an improvement from Manuel and hopefully Collins will clean up the rebellious, do-whatever attitudes of many Mets players. Mets fans should look at Joe Torre’s managerial history pre-Yankees to see that men can change for the better.

GM Sandy Alderson should thrive and is the guy who can turn this mess around. Alderson has a resume filled with years of success with the Oakland A’s and San Diego Padres. Also, he was a Marine and this should bring some structure. So far Alderson has said all the right things.

The hiring of Collins and Alderson sends the players a clear message, things are about to change and you don’t rule the team anymore.

The Mets definitely don’t lack talent, already have 3B David Wright and P Mike Pelfry to build around, have some terrific young talent in 1B Ike Davis and have a lights out closer in K-rod.

Wright is the franchise’s prize, posting a .283 batting average with 29 homers, 103 RBIs and stole 19 bases in 2010. Wright is in his prime at 27-years of age and look for another solid season from the Mets franchise player.

If the Mets can get production from Jason Bay and Jose Reyes, the Mets have a seriously competitive line-up, who can also run on the basepads. Can’t ask for much more, but need to execute all that wasted talent in 2011.

The Negatives:

The Mets have so many questions and with their lengthy history of giving the wrong answers, makes it hard for fans to trust that better days are ahead.

The traps are all set for the team to fail in 2011, whether they will battle or fold again is up to the players. See any MLB team has the potential to implode, but most don’t fold when it happens like the Mets.

Since the issues/questions are plentiful, I will stick to the Mets problems of ‘right now.’

  • The Mets will start 2011 season sans team ace and two-time CY Young winner Johan Santana, who is rehabbing from off-season shoulder surgery. The good news is that Santana is already throwing from flat ground and is looking to return to Queens by late June. In Santana’s 11-year career he has posted 133-69 record, with a 3.10 ERA.
  • It only took Carlos Beltran one Spring Training game to start hurting again. He is out for six days to rest his injured knee. This is not what Mets fans wanted to hear after Beltran accepted moving to right field just a week ago.
  • Without hesitation I can state that K-rod is one of the elite closers in baseball, when his temper stays in control. Unfortunately it got the better of him in 2010, with the attack of his girlfriend’s father in the family waiting area. This is old news, but whether it stays that way is yet to be seen. The Mets need K-rod to produce and be a leader.
  • Watching Jose Reyes over the years is just sad. Reyes is one of the most naturally talented baseball shortstops ever. Met fans have watched him take it for granted, with a bad attitude, lazy defense and some questionable milking of injuries to avoid having to play. Turning only 28-years-old this June, Reyes can still utilize his gifts and dominate in all aspects of the game in his ninth pro season. Reyes stole 30 bases in 2010, despite that every other stat dropped to a career low.
  • Pitcher Oliver Perez is not good as a starter or coming out of the bullpen. Eat the $12 million salary he is being paid this season. He is downer anyway, so no reason why the Mets would keep around a useless version.

Overall, the Mets have advantages over other clubs in transition because they have the fans. Mets fans are dying for a reason to go to CitiField, but the team has done everything otherwise. For now the Mets have to earn back trust by winning, but regardless if players would fight more it would make a noticeable difference.

I am not going to get into the Wilpon’s current issues of being linked to Bernie Madoff. MLB loaned them $25 million dollars last week. If the Fred Wilpon is totally innocent, like he claims to be, there is no need to worry, as the truth will prevail.

Players To Watch:

3B Jose Reyes: Reyes contract is up at the end of the season, and if he wants to stay a Met he better get to work. His god-given talents remind me of Yankees Robinson Cano, who went the opposite direction from Reyes and look where it got Cano. Reyes time is not yesterday or next week it is now.

OF Jason Bay: Banking on the fact that this will be Bay’s second season and blame his disappointing 2010 on transitioning from the Red Sox. Bay was tremendous in Boston and he can be again if he embraces New York.

2011 NL East Predictions:

No doubt the NL East is going to be extra tough in 2011. The Mets have so many uncertainties that after four horridly sorrowful seasons it is hard to think they will be in the playoffs.

My guess is the Mets will finish fourth, (maybe third if all goes well) but will have an above .500 record and fans will be excited for 2012 after such an encouraging 2011.

Remember that if they want to add before 2012, the Mets have to lure players with reasons to come in Queens. Players have to embrace being a New York Met again and stop sulking about how good their town rivals are in the Bronx.