New York Metropolitans Preview: Potential! Potential?

An article by posted on February 15, 2012

I sat down in front of my laptop excited and ready to start this article, because for me personally this is the equivalent of Pitchers and Catchers. And yes I purposely anointed that wonderful title a proper noun.

For all those who still own an actual calendar whip out those sharpies and mark off February 19, for that will be the actual day General Big Pelf and co. will once again join forces with those creaky knee’d catchers. Shadily the Mariners and A’s already started on the 12th and if it weren’t for King Felix I would say for good reason. Regardless, Guinness and Cooler Ranch Doritos in tow I mentally prepared myself to somewhat objectively put together a little analysis of our New York Metropolitans. The blank word document was my canvas but as I unfolded my notes the first line stuck out almost mocking me, “What will come from the potential”. Good question Matt from 48 hours ago but don’t you think that is a bit presumptuous? That statement assumes there is actually potential for a beautiful flower of a season to blossom in the first place. So are we looking at some moist, nutrient laced potting soil right now or is it sandy and barren?

C – Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas – I have heard people question whether or not Thole will take the reins with Paulino out of the picture. The fact of the matter is Josh is a .275 hitter at best with no power who led the league in passed balls. Yes, Mr. Thole had the unfortunate task of dealing with Dickey’s ever elusive knuckle ball but the ceiling is far too low in my opinion and Nickeas is not a particularly good vice president of home plate.

1B – Ike Davis – We like Ike that is for sure. Davis was on his way to a 30 bomb season with a sexy .300 average before a freak accident led to serious bone bruising and ligament damage in his ankle that prematurely ended his sophomore campaign. Word on the street is he is good to go but these eyes are far to jaded to assume that all will be well once again, especially considering the track record of the Met’s medical staff. Ike is far too smooth not to love him and at this point there is nothing to do but hold your breath and keep your fingers crossed

2B – Daniel Murphy – Murph Dog is another young stud who hung up the cleats far too early in the middle of a breakout season. He has done a decent job hiding his defensive deficiencies when you factor out those dark days in left field. I do believe that Murphy can keep a hot bat and only be charged with a low level manslaughter for his defensive prowess. On the other hand we are stuck twiddling our thumbs and convincing ourselves that the torn MCL is old news.

SS – Ruben Tejada – The numbers aren’t flashy but realistically Ruben Tejada is a perfect candidate to take over for Jose. The kid finally hit stride, hitting a very solid .306 after the all star break. Unfortunately that was a somewhat shallow average as he has minimal power and speed. The believe that Ruben will offer half a decade or more of solid all around ball.

3B – David Wright – D-Wright, every girl’s dream husband, is one of the few remaining pieces left over from the Shea Stadium days. He is an absolute stud who should be 100% once again following the stress fracture in his back, and hopefully the thought of catching a fastball to the temple continues to fade away. The fact of the matter is, Wright had his worst year at the plate last season. Maybe it is simply difficult to fearlessly give it all on the diamond when your brain is telling you it will probably all be for naught. Who knows, but the skill set is still there and I can smell a bounce back campaign. On a somewhat related note, I always found solace in the idea that D-Wright and Jose would be in the picture for years to come but clearly nothing is set in stone nowadays and although it can’t hurt to be optimistic perhaps we should be taking full advantage of what might be Wright’s dwindling time with the Mets.

Utility Infielder – Justin Turner – The numbers might not be flashy but for those of us who witnessed Turner fill in the holes last season, it is obvious that he is a very capable utility infielder. Unfortunately the Rockies are trying to get their grubby little paws on our favorite ginger so if the Metsies start off cold Turner might be shipped out before we can properly say goodbye.

LF – Jason Bay – This is one of those rare instances where I simply don’t have much to say. It seemed obvious that Jay BayBay would not be a good fit in New York from day one based on his power stroke but he was handed that cushy contract and we have been forced to witness his fall from grace ever since. The guy tries hard so it is difficult to really hate him but the Queen’s water seemed to turn a solid gamer into an injury prone bum who hasn’t gotten solid contact in years. The damage is done and at this point there is nothing left to do but offer Jobu some rum and cigars and ask him to take fear from Bay’s bat.

CF – Andres Torres – I know Pagan struggled a bit last season but it hurts to see him go. His replacement, Andres Torres, certainly has the skill set to bounce back from his disappointing season but I would feel a lot more comfortable with Angel manning centerfield. I actually liked the trade because Ramon Ramirez is an absolute stud but we’ll get into that later. CBS Sport’s John Heyman says that our boy Torres is a fifth outfielder. That is pretty damn insulting but he has nice wheels, a decent glove, and should have an easier time at the plate so I’d say it is just the media bashing the Metropolitans while they are down. Is Torres an ideal leadoff hitter? No. However I prefer a guy with some speed leading off as opposed to the next option, Murphy.

RF – Lucas Duda – The Dude is for real and I must say he might be my favorite Met at the moment. Lucas was shut down last season after mashing his dome into the wall while tracking a fly ball but post-concussion symptoms ceased in October so all systems are a go heading into 2012. Well it is certainly a beautiful thing to check Duda out on paper. The kid has a great eye at the plate, decent power, and a solid glove, so as long as he busts his ass the sky is the limit. The lefty stroke could lead to 20+ bombs in 2012 but the real gem is in that sexy .370 OBP from last season. He should hit fifth and offer Ike a decent amount of protection so hopefully he can stay healthy and pimp it once again.

4th Outfielder – Scott Hairston – Scotty looks like an absolute physical specimen, but plays like an unqualified bum if you ask me. Granted he is generally going to be sitting on the bench and has a touch of pop from the right side if need be, but I just don’t love the guy.

Pitching Staff:

  • Johan Santana
  • Mike Pelfrey
  • Jonathan Niese
  • R. A. Dickey
  • Dillon Gee
  • Chris Schwinden

There are a lot of unknown variables floating around with this motley crew. When people discuss the number of starts we should expect out of Johan, the over-under is somewhat optimistically set at 25. Personally I think 15-20 solid appearances would be absolutely wonderful but even if he is able to stay healthy who knows how effective YoYo will be. There is nothing to do but wait and see because although Santana is one of the best pitchers of the 21st century he said it himself that nobody knows how the surgically-repaired shoulder will respond to increased activity. You gotta love Big Pelf but he is often painful to watch. There has been a lot of buzz recently that his sinker is making a comeback and although it is exciting news I will believe it when I see it.  Niese, Dickey, and Gee are just great competitors with diverse skill sets. Any squad would be happy with these studs anchoring the bottom of the rotation but the Mets have placed them a bit higher on the totem pole since Pelfrey is really just a glorified Number 1-2 on paper. Dickey is the most interesting man in the world, Gee broke out in a big way last year with a solid rookie season, and Niese has the ability to keep you in every game even if his stuff isn’t quite there. Realistically I hope one of the three puts up an ERA below 4 and I highly doubt that any of them will fall apart and possess an inflated ERA above 4.5. I refuse to discuss Schwinden. Hopefully Santana doesn’t face any speed bumps and we won’t be forced to watch Schwinden labor through 5 innings.

Bullpen

  • Frank Francisco (closer)
  • Jon Rauch
  • Ramon Ramirez
  • Bobby Parnell
  • Tim Byrdak
  • Manny Acosta
  • DJ Carrasco
  • Pedro Beato

Well hellooo Francisco and Rauch. Frankie is a proven closer who should be able to handle the job with no problem. He is certainly not one of the most feared 9th inning guys and only finished out 17 of 21 last season but we should feel somewhat safe with the ball in his hands. Rauch is a behemoth of a man who is fully recovered from right knee surgery and has much to prove during his one year contract with the Mets. He has experience closing games and certainly brings a bit of toughness to the gang since he is nearly 7 feet tall and is covered in tattoos. Personally I think Ramon Ramirez should be the 8th inning guy since he has posted a sub 3 ERA in four straight seasons and even won a championship with San Francisco. The guy is a very solid reliever and makes saying goodbye to Pagan more bearable. Parnell is supposedly the closer of the future but I think his fastball looks a bit flat. On the other hand, Bobby strikes out over a batter an inning and could take the next step forward if he cuts back on his walks. Now that I think about it Byrdak, Acosta, and Carrasco are all on the wrong side of 30 and it would certainly be nice to see a young stud like Parnell step it up. Speaking of young studs I really like Pedro Beato. He dealt with a bit of a dead arm last season but he posted solid numbers for his first year in the big show. As an aside, there were rumblings that Collins would eventually like to give him a shot as a starter down the line. So to make a long story short it looks like the bullpen is really just one tier of mediocre/decent relievers but if the stars align this group could prove to be quite reliable.

And the final verdict is? 

Well upon further review there is certainly potential in the cards we have been dealt, but it doesn’t look like enough to really make a splash in the NL East. Unfortunately Atlanta and Washington are stacked with young studs and although Philadelphia maybe has only one or two more years before they begin to deteriorate, Florida is back in the picture as we all know. So what does that mean for us? Well you can choose to boycott them this season and wait for everyone to get fired and/or traded but then you look like a baby. Look we love the Mets because we love baseball. The fact of the matter is this lack of hope means two things, cheap tickets and a greater chance of catching a foul ball. Fans will disappear, but Citi Field will always be a great place to waste 3 hours with your friends. You can’t beat the Blue Smoke/Shake Shack combo and once the Mets permanently move into last place in the NL East you can realistically expect to get field level seats for less than 10 bucks. Yes it is depressing to think that way, but I am just being honest. Also, imagine how sweet it will be when they finally pull it together and once again reestablish themselves as kings of the division. I hate the Yankees so much and their fans are spoiled brats who expect nothing but first place and cry fluke when that doesn’t happen. At this point Mets fans are left with nothing to do but embrace the fact that in recent years this squad has been the most painful team to root for. However that means when the dust finally settles and the Metropolitans are once again contenders, the true fans will be the ones left standing and it will be the best of times.

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