Although this offseason was not littered with any big name acquisitions and lavish press conferences unlike the last two seasons, the Mets will certainly have many new faces reporting to camp at their in Port St. Lucie complex this spring.
Of course the team has also sustained some losses, and most notable among them were Cliff Floyd, Chad Bradford, Brian Bannister, Roberto Hernandez, Chris Woodward, Darren Oliver, Steve Trachsel, Victor Zambrano, Heath Bell, Royce Ring and Michael Tucker.
Here is a quick look at all the new Mets as we get ready to open Spring Training.
OF Moises Alou – Alou was by far the most significant acquisition for the Mets this offseason. He was signed as a free agent to a one year deal worth $8.5 million dollars. Alou takes over for Cliff Floyd in leftfield, and adds a much needed right-handed bat to the lineup, as well as protection in the lineup for David Wright. Despite his age (41), Alou can still pound left-handed pitching with the best of them, as he scorched them with a .346 batting average, third highest in the league.
RP Ambiorix Burgos – Burgos came over to the Mets from Kansas City in a swap for Brian Bannister. Although he may not play a significant role this season, the Mets look at him as the heir apparent to Billy Wagner. He has a plus fastball and tremendous upside. At 22 years old, he has already amassed 18 saves as the closer for the Royals last season, but still needs to harness his control. He has a tremendous future ahead of him.
RP Scott Schoeneweis - Schoeneweis, 33, was signed to a three-year, $10.8 million deal. Over the last two seasons he has been very effective against left-handers, holding them to a .209 average and allowing just 1 home run in 201 at-bats. His ability to hold left-handed hitters in check will come in handy in a league that is loaded with some of the best power hitters in the game.
SP Chan Ho Park – The Mets were willing to gamble $600,000 in 2007, to see if Park can return to the form that made him a top starter when he was with the Dodgers, before signing his $65 million dollar mega-deal with the Texas Rangers. Although he was largely a bust during the length of the deal, he showed some life last season with San Diego. From 1997-2001, Park averaged 15 wins a season and compiled a 3.40 ERA, while striking out 966 batters in 974 innings. The Mets also included a clause that would pay him only $150,000 if Park fails to make the team out of Spring Training.
SP Jorge Sosa – Sosa probably won’t ever have another season quite like his 2005, when he finished 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA, but for the small price the Mets paid for him, it was a good gamble by Omar Minaya. He is expected to compete for a spot in the rotation (who isn’t?), but can be useful as the long reliever out of the pen. If the 29 year old righty comes close to duplicating his past success, he can be a great replacement for Darren Oliver.
IF Damion Easley – The Mets signed utility man, Damion Easley to a $850,000 contract. He is expected to fill the role played last season by Chris Woodward. Last season he batted .233 in 189 at-bats, with 9 homeruns and 28 RBI’s. I see this as a big upgrade over Woodward and a nice bat with some pop off the bench. His addition will also keep Jose Valentin fresh and he may even work himself into a platoon.
OF David Newhan – Newhan adds some depth and appears to have the inside track on the final bench spot because of his ability to also play in the infield. He hit .252 last season as a reserve and has a little pop and some speed. His main competition for a spot on the roster will come from Ben Johnson.
OF Ben Johnson – The 25 year old Johnson, was the key part of the deal for the Mets when they sent Royce Ring and Heath bell to the Padres. Johnson has an emerging powerful right-handed bat and will provide valuable insurance in case of injury to Shawn Green or Moises Alou. The Padres’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2005, Johnson was ranked as the Padres’ No. 4 prospect by Baseball America in 2006.
SP Jason Vargas – Vargas was once the top pitching prospect for the Florida Marlins. The 25 year old may start the season in New Orleans unless he really turns up the heat in camp. He has a huge upside and could prove to be a steal for the New York Mets.
SP Aaron Sele – Sele was signed to a minor league contract last month, and is one of the pitchers competing for a spot in the back of the Mets’ rotation. He has had some success in the past and may prove to be a good signing by the Mets. Last season he started 15 games for the Dodgers and won 8 of them with a 4.53 ERA.
RP Jon Adkins – Adkins was acquired from the Padres and actually was on his way to having a nice season before tailing off at the end of the year. He finished the season with a 3.98 ERA and pitched in 55 games. The 29 year old righty, might make the 25 man roster, simply because he has no minor league options remaining.