The Mets doled out roughly $150 million in player salaries during the 2009 season and managed to win only 70 games. Suffice to say, that was a poor season. Due in large part to injuries, are the Mets ready to move on and compete in this year’s NL East? It is worth noting that according to current estimates, the Mets are dropping their payroll quite a bit for the 2010 season. Cot’s estimates that the Mets are presently set to outlay a little over $120 million, about an 18% drop from last year’s figure. What have the Mets assembled for that cost?
You the loyal readers and forecasters have pegged the Mets for a modest eight-win improvement in 2010, up to 78 wins and a repeat of their fourth-place finish inside the division. If true, at least they would be much closer than last year finishing 11 games back of the Braves rather than 23 games back of the Phillies. CHONE agrees on the division-leading Braves at 89 wins but it is slightly more optimistic on the Mets picking them for 80 wins and a third-place finish.
The infield is loaded with questions for the Mets, starting behind the plate with some sort of conglomeration of Rod Barajas, Henry Blano and Omir Santos. Barajas, of course, is coming off a season in which he posted a .258 OBP over 460 plate appearances. Santos isn’t much better and Blanco is like 90 years old, not that either Barajas (34) or Santos (soon to be 29) are young guns.
Daniel Murphy at first base is an interesting choice and by interesting, I mean punt-worthy. If the Mets get a league average performance out of him it will be amazing but that’s okay because they have Fernando Tatis backing him up.
Luis Castillo returns at second base. He even managed to hit at an above league average clip last year for the first time in five seasons, but he managed to make up for that with some really poor UZR numbers. Alex Cora is the likely backup both here and at short stop. Luckily the Mets are paying him $2 million to offer replacement level services up the middle.
The Mets are likely to need Cora because Jose Reyes has a thyroid condition of all ailments and might miss time in 2010 on the heels of playing in only 36 games last season. For the Mets to have any realistic shot at the playoffs, they need Reyes to be back on the field and his old five-win self because a full season with Castillo and Cora up the middle would make the rest of the questions moot pretty fast.
Speaking of those questions, is David Wright going to rebound and start hitting for power again? His .447 slugging percentage was a career worst by almost 100 points. Citi Field is not entirely to blame as Wright struggled both at home and on the road to hit long balls.
Carlos Beltran and Jeff Francouer return in the outfield joined by new addition Jason Bay and backed up by Anaheim castoff Gary Matthews Jr. Moving from Fenway Park to Citi Field is going to be a story to watch for Jason Bay.
In the rotation, the Mets are planning to not give Livan Hernandez so many starts which is good, but a certain number of those starts are going to go to Oliver Perez so who knows if that’s actually an improvement or not.
The bullpen was decent overall last season, though that might just be because the Mets were so bad that they didn’t give them a chance to blow a late season division lead. Even though they were close to average overall, the bullpen was nowhere near the revamped unit that the acquisitions of Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz were supposed to provide and 2010 doesn’t look to be much different.
The Mets suffered beyond their fair share of injury bad luck last season but looking over the roster up and down, I agree with the projection systems; the realistic ceiling for this team is around .500 and I’m not sure 2011 looks any rosier.
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