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2007 New York Mets Team Preview

by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
March 7, 2007


2006 Record: 97-65 (First Place NL East Division)
2006 Runs Scored: 834
2006 Runs Allowed: 731
Pythagorean 2006 Record: 91-71



For the first time in my lifetime, there was baseball being played in Shea Stadium while the lights were out in Yankee Stadium. And trust me, Mets fans didn’t have a problem with letting me know. However, with a much older team and a depleted rotation, will that happen again? All I know is that the training staff will be stocking up on Ben Gay and Epsom Salt.

Catcher
2006 Starter -
Paul LoDuca
Projected 2007 Starter
- Paulie

While LoDuca is an above average defensive catcher, he is a notorious empty average hitter. Last year, he slugged below league average, and his OBP was merely above the norm. To top it all off, it was his best offensive season in six years. There’s no reason to believe his defensive will suffer, but his offensive output is another story.

Prediction- .286/.318/.400

First Base
2006 Starter -
Carlos Delgado
Projected 2007 Starter
- Delgado

Like his cross-town counter part, Delgado struggles against southpaws, and is a streaky hitter. While he had two months with an OPS over 1.000, he also had two months with an OPS below .800. Even though Delgado posted a relatively low .261 BA, he posted a very respectable .361 OBP. Many Mets fans expect a bounce back season from Delgado. To me, nothing is wrong with a 138 OPS+, but a “bounce back” season seems unlikely. He turns 35 this June, and has played in 150 games since ’03.

Prediction- .265/.359/.535

Second Base
2006 Starter -
Jose Valentin
Projected 2007 Starter -
Valentin

Talk about a fluke!  Anyone who believes that Valentin is going to perform the way he did last year has lost their mind. At age 37, Valentin posted the third highest OPS of his career, which is unreal. Also, hitting 18 HR in only 432 PA while playing half of your games in cavernous Shea Stadium is very “fluky.”  Valentin has put up some nice HR totals in the past, but did so while playing in a hitter’s paradise.

Prediction- .260/.302./.457

Third Base
2006 Starter -
David Wright
Projected 2007 Starter -
Wright

The best left side of the infield in the National League starts off with David Wright. Wright just turn 24 in December, and really has nowhere to go but up. However, it seems that he is already becoming an overrated ballplayer. Hey, that’s what happens when you play in New York and perform well in the Home Run Derby. People are already considering him the second best third basemen in the majors (Miguel Cabrera says hello), and also, if you watch the Mets on a daily basis, you’ll notice his arm has trouble reaching first base quite often. 

Prediction- .300/.385/.530

Shortstop
2006 Starter -
Jose Reyes
Projected 2007 Starter
- Reyes

If Reyes’ walks total was not a fluke, he could quite possibly be one of the top 5 or 6 players in the game. When you consider the position he plays, his offense become almost twice as valuable. Like Wright, Reyes has no where to go but up. If Reyes’ BB% goes up as he gets older, the way most players’ do, you might just hear his name mentioned with Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines as some of the best leadoff batters ever. You would also think that Reyes still has some time to grow into his 6’0’’ frame, which could translate into more HR.

Prediction .300/.365/.480 68 SB

Outfield
2006 Starters -
Cliff Floyd, Carlos Beltran, Shawn Green, Xavier Nady, Endy Chavez
Projected 2007 Starters -
Mosies Alou, Beltran, Green, Chavez

It will be a miracle if Alou can play 150 games. When healthy, Alou can still hit. He slugged .571 and hit 22 HR in only 345 AB last year. He also smacks around lefties pretty well, too. Last year, he had an OPS above 1.000 against lefties.

Coming off a career year, it would be unfair to expect Beltran to have a 2007 season like he did in ’06. However, it would be fair to expect 30 HR and a .900 OPS. Should Green or Alou go down, expect to see Endy Chavez fill in. After seeing how poor Miledge played last year, I would expect the Mets to be reluctant to start him for a long period of time.

Overall Prediction- .281/.340/.475

Rotation
2006 Starters -
Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Orlando Hernandez, Steve Trachsel, Oliver Perez, John Maine, Alay Soler, etc.
Projected 2007 Starters -
Glavine, El Duque, Pedro?, ???

Let me just say this- I guarantee the Mets will start more pitchers than Antonio Alfonseca has fingers. Glavine is the only given, and he is 40 years old. It was reported a while ago that El Duque had arthritis in his neck. Baseball-Reference.com says he is 38. Mets.com lists him at 36, and the ESPN encyclopedia says he is 41. How ever old he is, I doubt it’s any of those three; how many 40 year olds do you know with arthritis in their neck?

This is where the guessing game begins. Pedro should be coming back no earlier than July, if he comes back at all. And even if he comes back, who knows how effective he’ll be? John Maine looks like he’ll be the third starter when the season begins. Last year, Maine had a good K/BB ratio, which was a little greater than 2:1. However, the one alarming stat was his HR allowed. In only 90 IP he gave up 15 HR, and did so while playing his home games in a stadium which suppressed HR by 12% in ’06.

Other options are prospects Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey. In limited action last year, Pelfrey did not perform well, but his minor league numbers suggest that he is better than what he showed. Humber doesn’t seem ready. He has pitched very well, but only in 150 professional innings.

Other Candidates- Perez, Soler, Chan Ho Park, Dave Williams, Jorge Sosa, Jason Vargas

Projection- 60-53 4.75

Bullpen
2006 Options -
Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, Pedro Feliciano, Darren Oliver, Chad Bradford
Possible 2007 Options -
Wagner, Heilman, Sanchez, Feliciano, Ambiorix Burgos, Guillermo Mota, Scott Schoenweiss

The Mets’ bullpen should remain a strong point. If Sanchez is healthy, they should have the top bullpen in the league. However, the trade for Ambiorix Burgos was questionable to say the least. While he did have impressive strikeout totals, he clearly struggled with his control and gave up 15 HR in only 73.1 IP.

Prediction- 26-23 3.50 ERA, 58 Saves

Final Word

The Mets game plan for ’07 will be quite simple: mash the hell out of the ball, and get the ball to the bullpen. If they do so, they still have just a good of chance to win the East as any of the other three teams. However, if one big bat or bullpen arm goes down or performs poorly, they could be in for a long season.




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