2008 New York Mets
Time for Revenge

BaseballEvolution.com 2008 Spring Preview
by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
With Keith Glab
March 29, 2008

If you were to play a word association game with a Mets fan some time in October or November and you asked what came to their mind when the 2007 season was mentioned, some words might have been: choke, failure, historic, humiliation, and since we are a PG-13 site, we will leave it at that. However, on Feburary 1st, the Mets made a historic trade, giving Johan Santana a six-year, 137.5 million dollar contract in the process. Not only has this signing taken their minds off the terrible September, but also many Mets fans have already claimed the NL East, ignoring the teamís huge health issues.

Key Transactions
Acquired Pos.
Johan Santana LHP
Angel Pagan OF
Brady Clark OF
Brian Schneider C
Departed Pos.
Ruben Gotay IF
Ryan Church OF
Guillermo Mota RHP
Paul LoDuca C
Carlos Gomez OF
2007 Starters    Paul LoDuca, Ramon Castro
Projected 2008 Starters   Brian Schneider, Ramon Castro

Normally, losing a catcher that had an OPS+ of 80 the previous season who has had his named linked to the Mitchell report would be addition by subtraction. However, starting Schneider and his career 82 OPS+ isnít a sexy replacement. Ramon Castro was originally the starter, but a recent hamstring injury will cause him to start the season on the shelf. Any offensive output from this position will represent a bonus.

First Base
2007 Starter   Carlos Delgado
Projected 2008 Starter   Carlos Delgado

In my 2007 preview, I wrote that Delgado would fall off, and he certainly did. Every single one of Delgadoís numbers fell, and fell considerably. I donít think his OPS+ will drop another 30 points, but he is another year older and has been suffering from a hip injury. The worst part about the Delgado situation is they have no one worthy to platoon with him. Marlon Anderson is their best option coming off the bench, and I would rather have a gimpy Delgado over Anderson any day.

Second Base
2007 Starter   Luis Castillo
Projected 2008 Starter   Luis Castillo

What in the blue hell were the Mets thinking? Singing a 32-year old second baseman to a four-year, 25 million dollar contract one month after he had knee surgery? Sure, he is a career .294 hitter who plays adequate defense at an up-the-middle position, but his power is toddler-like, he doesnít walk enough to make up for it, and he hasnít been a demon on the base-paths in quite some time. On top of all of this, the Mets recently cut Ruben Gotay. Gotay is no stud himself, however should Castillo miss time this season, the Mets would be stuck with a 38 year-old Damion Easley and his career .329 OBP.

David Wright
Third Base
2007 Starter   David Wright
Projected 2008 Starter   David Wright

Iíve said quite a few bad things about the Mets in this preview, but the word ďbadĒ and David Wright simply donít mix. Wright, last year was robbed of an MVP Award, but there is no need to worry, as Iím sure many more opportunities will come in the near future. There are simply no flaws in his game. He hits for power, average, draws walks, has the ability to steal a bag, and handles the hot corner well enough.

2007 Starter   Jose Reyes
Projected 2008 Starter   Jose Reyes
Breakout Candidate
Aaron Heilman
Time to finally justify that 1st-round selection
Disappointment Candidate
Oliver Perez
Fool me once shame on youÖ

Let me start off by saying that I love Jose Reyes, and I think he will be one of the best players in the league in years to come. I even drafted him in two of my fantasy leagues this year. However, we canít ignore the fact that his career OPS is below league average. There are some good signs, like an increased walk rate and decreased strikeout rate. The major concern with Jose is his HR totals. Is he a 20-HR a year guy or 10-15 a year guy? Iím not quite sure that his 2006 power numbers were a fluke as Eric Karabell of ESPN has recently noted. If I were to guess, I would think that as Jose matures, and becomes more familiar with the strike zone, which he has done quite well recently, the HR will come.

2007 Starters Moises Alou, Carlos Beltran, Shawn Green, Endy Chavez, Lastings Milledge
Projected 2008 Starters Carlos Beltran, Ryan Church, Moises Alou, Angel Pagan, Endy Chavez

MVP Candidate
David Wright
The Mets just need to make the playoffs, really
Cy Young Candidate
Johan Santana
No kidding
The soon-to-be 42-year-old Alou just recently returned to camp Tuesday after suffering a sports hernia on March 6th. Alou is expecting to be back by the end of April; expect Alou to be back my June.

Taking Alouís place in left field, at least for now, will be Angel Pagan. Pagan has hit .329 this spring, with six extra base hits. However, donít be fooled. There is a reason why he is 26 years old with only 148 games under his belt, and that is his not-so-good minor track record. His career minor-league OPS of .710 is hardly exciting, and he has only hit 18 HR in 626 games. If there is a strength to his game, it is his speed, as he has stolen 204 bases at a 71% clip.

Beltran is coming off a year in which his legs have bothered him, and coming off arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees, he appears to be entering this one with the same problem,. If Beltran is healthy, he is capable of putting together a 30-30 season with great defense in the outfield.

The Mets acquired Ryan Church from Washington along with Schneider for Lastings Milledge. Church played in his first full season last year at the age of 28. He put up respectable numbers: .272/.349/.464 15 HR. One thing that jumps out at you are his lefty/right splits. He has an OPS of .855 versus right-handers and only a .655 OPS against left-handers. If he is managed well, and sits against most lefties, he could become a valuable asset.

Mets Fun Fact
Tom Glavine, John Maine, and Orlando Hernandez each allowed 23 homers last year. Oliver Perez gave up 22.
2007 Crew Damion Easley, Ruben Gotay, Jose Valentin, Carlos Gomez
Projected 2008 Bench Marlon Anderson, Brady Clark, Raul Casanova

For a team with age and injury questions at several positions, this is hardly the group you want providing insurance. Yikes.

Starting Pitchers
2007 Starters Tom Glavine, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Orlando Hernandez, Mike Pelfrey, Jorge Sosa
Projected 2008 Starters Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Maine, Perez, Hernandez, Pelfrey

Pedro Martinez
The Randy Johnson/Curt Schilling comparisons are appropriate. Johan Santana is 16-4 with a 2.27 career ERA versus the National League. Pedro Martinez is the most dominant pitcher of all time. At the same time, last yearís White Sox and Devil Rays teams should tell you that a team needs more than just two great pitchers to succeed.

The rotation is full of question marks after those two, not that Pedro Martinez is exactly question mark-free at the top. John Maine won the 2007 Mark Redman Award. Oliver Perez combined for a 6.22 ERA in 2005 and 2006. El Duque may be older than the New York Mets franchise itself, and Mike Pelfrey hasnít even shown glimpses of his supposed potential at the major league level yet.

Still, at worst, this rotation is vastly improved from last yearís circus, and if all goes right, it could form the best front four in baseball. Part of the determining factor for this will be the health of Beltran and Castillo. If they play defense up to their potential, the Mets will once again rank among the best fielding teams in baseball. If their knees canít hold up, a lot of balls are going to find holes that werenít there last year.

Relief Pitchers
2007 Relievers Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, Pedro Feliciano, Scot Schoenweis, Guillermo Mota, Aaron Sele, Joe Smith
Projected 2008 Relievers Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, Pedro Feliciano, Scot Schoenweis, Jorge Sosa, Duaner Sanchez, Joe Smith

Billy Wagner remains an unheralded closer, considering he is 7th all time in career saves and sports an ERA+ of 180. He has added both a curveball and a changeup to his arsenal this year, and should have been the second reliever selected in any fantasy draft after J.J. Putz. The rest of the bullpen is solid if unspectacular, though Heilman has been teetering on the brink of spectacular for a while, now.

Outlook for the Season

These Mets look a lot like the 2006 Minnesota Twins: A half dozen star-studded players surrounded by an uninspired mess. Those Twins did win 96 games and one of the toughest division races of all time, but only after renowned GM Terry Ryan called a series of spectacular audibles in May. Omar Minaya will need to pull off a similar feat and the Mets will need to prove healthier then they appear to begin the season, or else they may find themselves falling short in an improved National League.

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