It’s almost that time of year again. Baseball season is upon us and you can feel it in the air. Last Spring all anyone can talk about was the collapse of 2007. Johan Santana came over but that only dimmed the talk of the collapse. The bullpen had question marks coming into the 2008 season and unfortunately toward the end of 2008 we got the answers we didn’t want from the pen, answers that came to be the 2008’s season undoing. Fast forward to 2009 and the attitude has changed even though we did have another collapse.
The bullpen is solid now with K-Rod being our closer and J.J. Putz being our setup guy. The Mets went from not having a closer to having 2 potential closers in the bullpen. The Mets got rid Aaron Heilman, Scott Schoeneweis, Joe Smith and Duaner Sanchez and added Sean Green and Bobby Parnell. The Mets realized that the entire bullpen needed an overhaul so that’s exactly what Omar Minaya did. Omar and the Mets realized that getting rid of one guy was not the answer. The psyche of the club needed to see new arms coming out of the bullpen to get rid of the bad taste of last season.
The lineup looks very much the same on paper except for the addition of Daniel Murphy being promoted to full time outfielder but there is more than meets the eye. Luis Castillo has slimmed down, his body is healthy and he seems to have a new attitude going into the season. He is dedicated to proving that last year was a fluke and the Luis Castillo that we’ve seen in the past can still play ball. Carlos Delgado had a horrible start last season but halfway through the season turned it around and we saw the Carlos Delgado of old. Some were questioning if that was just a fluke but Delgado’s performance in Spring Training and the WBC shows that he has more left in the tank than we thought this time last year. He was also recovering from injuries that I believe were not fully healed like he wanted up to believe. Ryan Church is healthy and is playing good ball this spring and of course now we’ll have a platoon with him and Tatis against lefties this season.
This is Jerry Manuel’s first full year and the changes from the previous management are obviously clear. Jerry is very much a hands on manager, something that Willie Randolph wasn’t. Jerry thinks outside of the box and pushes a team first attitude. Willie on the other hand let the players go work on themselves without him. Jerry saw that one of the lineups difficulties last season was the ability to hit to the opposite filed and instituted that new 80 pitch hitting drill. Watching Spring Training games and seeing our guys in the WBC I think that drill really worked. I saw Delgado, Beltran, Wright and Reyes go the other way throughout the tournament.
The biggest change is that the Mets have a new ballpark that they will be calling home. A new chapter in Mets history will begin on April 13, 2009 when the Mets play their home opener once Tom Seaver pitches the ceremonial first pitch to Mike Piazza to start not just a new and hopeful season but a new chapter in Mets history. This is a good thing, the Mets are starting this season with a clean slate which is what this team needs after the last two seasons. Citi Field has not seen a collapse on the last day of the season for two consecutive years. A new home brings renewed hope and confidence that this year the Mets will live up to their potential and win the division. The Times They Are A-Changin’ for the Mets and I for one cannot wait to see what the new times brings. Play Ball!