In honor of our recent series against them, the Mets are next.The New York Mets
Current Record: 38-28 (2nd NL East)
Manager: Jerry Manuel
Team Outlook: The Mets are playing better than I had expected this year, but it is still early. Knowing them, as we get near the end of the season, they will choke and not make the playoffs. There is a lot of talent on this team, especially their position players. The injury bug always seems to plague this team and if they can avoid it then they could challenge for a spot in the playoffs.
As far as the pitching staff goes, there are a few guys to look at. Johan Santana is not what he used to be; the days of pitching dominance are over. Santana is still a great pitcher but injuries and age seem to be taking a toll on the former Cy Young winner. Hopefully he can figure out why his K/9 is down and BB/9 is up or it might be a long season for Santana. While there are no 20 win seasons left in his tank, expect mid to low teens victories for him this year. The surprise of the staff is Mike Pelfrey. While improvement was expected, I doubt anyone saw him becoming this good, this fast. He is tied, with nine victories, for third most in the majors. His 2.39 ERA is remarkable. Unfortunately, these two guys cannot pitch every game, all game. Jonathon Niese has been pitching well recently, and if he can stay consistent then he should be a solid middle of the rotation guy. Of course John Maine and Oliver Perez are on the DL; where else would they be? The Mets need another starter and are looking at the likes of Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook, and Kevin Millwood. I would love to trade Westbrook and he would fit well, especially since the Mets can afford his big contract. The Mets don't need an ace, just someone who will go out there and pitch an above average game. Westbrook does that (some days).
The bullpen is nothing special either. K-rod is not the shutdown closer of his record-breaking season, but he is still one of the better closers in the league. Elmer Dessens has pitched well and seems to be settling into the set-up role with Pedro Feliciano, also pitching well. But you also have players like Jenrry Mejia who are not good. Although Mejia is only 20, I really don't think he has the stuff to be a great pitcher. Baseball America ranked him as the Mets' best prospect before the season; but after seeing the way he has played, I have my doubts. I hope I'm wrong and wish him the best; but I just don't see it. The bullpen is only average and may need an upgrade if the Mets plan on making a playoff run.
On paper, the Mets have very good position players. You know what David Wright will give you, an all-star caliber season. Jose Reyes played well in the series against the Tribe and hopefully will make his return as one of the better shortstops in the game. I don't expect it, but if he does, it will be fun to watch. Jason Bay is overrated in my opinion. He did play well for Boston last year, but I really don't think he was the best fit for this team. His numbers are significantly down this year and I don't think he will catch fire. With Mets fans becoming increasingly impatient for a title, will they turn on him if he doesn't improve? Rod Barajas is having an excellent season. While he is no star, he is a solid catcher and has a nice approach at the plate. I am not a Jeff Francoeur fan and I could see him being traded in a deal for a middle of the rotation pitcher. Angel Pagan is having a decent season but nothing special. Alex Cora is expendable. The Mets have a surprisingly young team as well, and their continued improvement is crucial to the success of the team. Overall, a solid but not spectacular team.
Key Player To Watch: Ike Davis
The rookie phenom is the most important part of this team. Davis has emerged as both a solid first-baseman and big league clean-up hitter. Every single game he goes out there and gives everything he has because he loves his job. He even showed his ability as a clutch hitter when he hit that game winning home run in extras against the Padres. He looked like a kid out there with as much fun as he was having. At 23, he has a lot of time to get experience and improve, which he will. While the RBI are not where they should be, you must remember that he is only a rookie. If Davis can continue to play as he is and improve as he gets used to the majors, expect great things out of this young man.
Prospect Watch: Wilmer Flores, Fernando Martinez, Brad Holt, Reese Havens, Josh Thole
Wrap-Up: The Mets have a chance to be a contender if they avoid the injury bug and their young players continue to improve. Davis, Tejada, and Mejia need to show why they were so highly regarded by the organization and need to prove that they deserve to stay on the major league roster. With young talented players, veterans like Santana and Wright need to keep keep them on track to their ultimate goal of winning a championship. Unfortunately for them, I don't see it. With an inspired Atlanta team in front of them and a Philadelphia team that will play better as the season progresses, the Mets need to play well if they expect to make the playoffs.