Here is a 2009 Mets outlook from Sports Illustrated’s point of view.
For a complete team-by-team look at the National League entering spring training, read the full article at SI.com.
Coming off their second consecutive September collapse, the Mets were called “choke artists” by Philadelphia ace Cole Hamels. The only effective response would be a playoff berth.
New York spent the offseason in pursuit of pitching and overhauled a horrendous bullpen by signing Rodriguez and trading for Putz. K-Rod, who got a $37 million, three-year contract, set a major league record last season with 62 saves for the Angels. He replaces All-Star closer Billy Wagner, expected to miss the 2009 season following elbow surgery. Putz was an All-Star closer himself with Seattle in 2007 but says he’s fine with his setup role in New York. Barring injuries, the back of the bullpen should be a major strength, though the Mets declined to upgrade the offense for their first season in $800 million Citi Field.
They’ve shown no interest in free-agent slugger Manny Ramirez even though they have an opening in LF and could certainly use a right-handed thumper to complement Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. Savvy youngster Daniel Murphy and veteran Fernando Tatis are set to platoon in left, but there’s no guarantee they’ll duplicate last season’s surprising production.
The health of RF Ryan Church is important after he struggled to come back from his second concussion last year.
New York hopes 2B Luis Castillo will rebound from a poor season. If not, Cora could challenge for playing time.
Erratic lefty Oliver Perez re-signed for $36 million over three years, so the rotation returns almost intact. John Maine is expected to be fine following shoulder surgery. Keep an eye on 25-year-old Mike Pelfrey, pushed past 200 innings a year ago in his first full major league season.
Garcia, a former All-Star trying to overcome shoulder injuries, has an incentive-laden contract. He could compete for the No. 5 spot with Redding and youngster Jon Niese. The Mets might not let ace Johan Santana pitch in the World Baseball Classic because he’s coming off arthroscopic surgery Oct. 1 on torn cartilage in his left knee.
Manuel went 55-38 after Willie Randolph was fired in June, enough to keep the job.