2008 NL East Preview: The Mets

Written by Colin on January 5, 2008 – 8:23 am

Continuing in our look at the National League East next year, we now move to the Mets. Fresh off a collapse of historical proportions, the Mets missed the playoffs last year. But next year is a new year and the Mets have no intentions of giving up their goal of obtaining the division title. Let’s dig into a slice of the Mets and see what they’ve got going for them in 2008.

Offense: The Mets have a strong backbone offensively consisting of Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, David Wright, and Jose Reyes. Both powerful and efficient, they were second in the NL in batting average and fourth in runs scored in 2007. We won’t see any major changes going into 2008, save the loss of Lastings Milledge and the addition of Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. Schneider and Church are average players – nothing that will seriously bolster the lineup. In fact, Schneider may be the weakest spot in this lineup, ranking 24th out of 29 catchers (with over 300 plate appearances) in batting average and home runs. The loss of Milledge won’t be evident next season, but may be in a few years. We’ll likely see similar offensive production from the Mets next year – not quite at the top of the heap, but more potent than the average lineup.

Defense: The Mets return a very strong defense from 2007, where we saw both David Wright and Carlos Beltran win Gold Gloves. The rest of the crew brings above average defense and there’s no reason to expect that to change in 2008. Once again I have doubts about Brian Schneider, who guided the Nationals pitchers last year to a higher ERA while catching than their average ERA. Everywhere else the Mets are a strong fielding team, so they’ll be a very competitive team defensively, there’s no doubt about that.

Starting Pitching: The Mets’ starting rotation is going to be shaky. Sure, they have Pedro Martinez, Orlando Hernandez, and Oliver Perez, but the results out of those three are far from guaranteed. Martinez has had issues staying healthy recently and has said he’ll retire if he has repeated trouble with his trick shoulder. Oliver Perez was quite good last year but there’s no way to tell if that was a glitch as he still has a losing record overall. Orlando Hernandez has been hit and miss and only won 9 games last year. They also lost Tom Glavine to the Braves. Now there’s talk the Mets want to land Johan Santana, but there’s doubt as to who the Mets would have to give up. Additionally, the Yankees and Red Sox have been labeled the front runners, and talks don’t seem to be going anywhere fast for any team. The Mets are not going to be competitive from the rotation without some much-needed help. During their collapse, their starters posted an 8.64 ERA. This is their weak spot.

Relief Pitching: Billy Wagner anchors the bullpen as the closer, and he’s every bit as effective as he has been over the past few years – definitely one of the elite closers in all of baseball. That’s about where the bright spot ends for the Mets – they have a couple decent arms in Scott Schoeneweis (who makes $3.6 mil a year??) and the recently acquired Matt Wise, but there are overall ERA issues. The bullpen posted a 4.03 ERA in 2007 – worse than the 3.28 in 2006. This is another area that is not particularly strong for the Mets, but they have potential.

Coaching: Willie Randolph returns for his fourth season as manager of the Mets. He doesn’t have a long litany of experience like some other managers in the NL East, but he has had success so far at New York. However, one has to think that his lack of success contributed somewhat to the collapse down the stretch. We’ll watch to see how Randolph and his staff recover from the historic choke of ’07.

Recap: While the Mets have strong hitting and fielding on their side, their pitching staff needs some serious help if they want to be serious contenders in 2008. We’ll have to watch them throughout the off-season and Spring Training to see what unfolds, but without some pitching help we see them struggling near the middle of the division.


Posted in League Analysis | 14 Comments »


14 Responses to “2008 NL East Preview: The Mets”

  1. By Stephen Gray on Jan 5, 2008 | Reply

    Another thing to remember is that the Braves will no longer have easy wins in division games playing New York, because they don’t have Glavine for us to beat up on anymore. Now if they would give up Oliver Perez who looks like Cy Young against us, we would be alright.

  2. By Stephen Gray on Jan 5, 2008 | Reply

    Also I do not understand Mets GM Omar Minaya at all. What I don’t understand is they traded their best younf posistion player, Lastings Milledge, for Ryan Church earlier this offseason. That severely hinders the Mets ability to bring up a bat from AAA if an injury occurs. As far as fielding the outfield is concerned, they are left with Endy Chavez as their reserve outfielder. They did just pick up Angel Pagan as a reserve outfielder from the Cubs, but he has nowhere near the potential of Lastings Milledge and if I remember correctly his abilities with the Cubs were inconsistent at the very best. They brought in the mediocre Ryan Church to play right, They let Glavine go, They brought in Brian Schneider and Johnny Estrada to compliment Ramon Castro at Catcher giving them 3 average catchers who want big contracts. It seems like they are trying to trade away prospects to make a run this year but they aren’t getting any big name players in return. Getting rid of Glavine to free up payroll to sign a big name pitcher makes sense, but they havent done that either. It seems like Minaya is just making Shea Stadium the home for the rest of the National Leagues throwaways. It almost seems like they are trying to replicate past successes of the Braves and Marlins winning with players who break out at the same time. Thats a rare thing, and if Minaya keeps this up I think the Braves will have less and less to fear over the next few years.

  3. By Colin on Jan 5, 2008 | Reply

    A couple thoughts to go along with what you’ve posted, Stephen.

    Firstly, I’m not sure why they ditched Lastings Milledge unless they see something in Church and Schneider that nobody has seen before. The trade doesn’t make much sense to me either and it appears that the Nats got the better end of the deal.

    Secondly, Johnny Estrada is now a free agent – the Mets did not offer him a contract. So they spent players to get a catcher that they ultimately did NOT want.

    They have to make a move for a dominant starter – and without giving away one of their key position players I don’t see them landing Santana. Without a starting rotation, the rest of their players are just what you’ve labeled them – retooled players from other teams who have had some success in the past.

    We’ll see what happens this year. I don’t think the Mets’ suits will let Minaya run the team into the ground. I don’t think he’s out to destroy the team, but he doesn’t appear to be working in its best long-term interests.

  4. By Stephen Gray on Jan 5, 2008 | Reply

    That’ exactly why the Estrada deal made no sense, they had to trade Guillermo Mota to the Brewers to get get Estrada and then one month later did not tender Estrada’s contract. Mota had more appearances than any other Met reliever last year and was one of the relievers they relied on the most. The only way that deal makes any sense is if they did it to deliberatley dump off Mota’s contract. The Mets gave Mota a 2 year 5 million dollar deal at the beginning of last season, so maybe they just wanted to dump off the second year. But that falls under the same reasoning as them not ressigning Glavine, that they will use the payroll for something else like maybe getting a more established reliever or maybe even put the money towards a Big Name starter like Santana, although I agree with you I think at this point that will not happen. The only replacements they have added to the bullpen are Matt Wise (Who is decent at times) and Brian Stokes(Whom I know knothing about) It seems like getting rid of Glavine and Mota’s contacts (if that was indeed the intention) without making a big play in the free agent market is foolish. There are still 2 months left before Spring training and I’m not sure how the Mets are suited for pitchers in their Farm System, but as of right now it looks like another mistake by Minaya.

  5. By Colin on Jan 6, 2008 | Reply

    Interesting article here – http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/2008/01/05/2008-01-05_mets_keep_eye_on_as_joe_blanton-2.html – about how the Mets want a piece of Joe Blanton from the Athletics. We’ll see if they pull this one off, because something like this seems more likely than the whole Santana thing.

  6. By James on Jan 8, 2008 | Reply

    As a Mets fan from NY I will explain why the Mets ditched Lastings Milledge…His Attitude. Just look at the game the mets won 11-0 before Glavines melt down in game 162. He (Lastings) hit 2 HR’s the second one made it 7-0, and he was dancing around like it was the seventh game of the World Series, that lit the fire under the Marlins and they made it stick in the last game of the season. His response to the press for his outburst was that he hadn’t played in 10 days and he wanted to express his joy…

    As a lifer Mets fan, I would have traded him for a pair of cleats…Remember, this was the same guy that was left a message over his locker that stated “Know your role Rook”

    As for Mota…well it was the easiest decision Omar had to make. Mota was a bust in 07…He proved that 06 was a result of steroids and not his ability to play fair.

  7. By Colin on Jan 9, 2008 | Reply

    Interesting insight, James. I was not aware of Lastings’ attitude and the impact on the team. Then again, I don’t watch many Mets games. Thanks for the tip – appreciate it!

    Yeah, Mota pretty much was useless to the Mets – he’s not a long-term investment I’d like to make either.

  8. By Stephen Gray on Feb 2, 2009 | Reply

    Another thing to remember is that the Braves will no longer have easy wins in division games playing New York, because they don't have Glavine for us to beat up on anymore. Now if they would give up Oliver Perez who looks like Cy Young against us, we would be alright.

  9. By Stephen Gray on Feb 2, 2009 | Reply

    Also I do not understand Mets GM Omar Minaya at all. What I don't understand is they traded their best younf posistion player, Lastings Milledge, for Ryan Church earlier this offseason. That severely hinders the Mets ability to bring up a bat from AAA if an injury occurs. As far as fielding the outfield is concerned, they are left with Endy Chavez as their reserve outfielder. They did just pick up Angel Pagan as a reserve outfielder from the Cubs, but he has nowhere near the potential of Lastings Milledge and if I remember correctly his abilities with the Cubs were inconsistent at the very best. They brought in the mediocre Ryan Church to play right, They let Glavine go, They brought in Brian Schneider and Johnny Estrada to compliment Ramon Castro at Catcher giving them 3 average catchers who want big contracts. It seems like they are trying to trade away prospects to make a run this year but they aren't getting any big name players in return. Getting rid of Glavine to free up payroll to sign a big name pitcher makes sense, but they havent done that either. It seems like Minaya is just making Shea Stadium the home for the rest of the National Leagues throwaways. It almost seems like they are trying to replicate past successes of the Braves and Marlins winning with players who break out at the same time. Thats a rare thing, and if Minaya keeps this up I think the Braves will have less and less to fear over the next few years.

  10. By Colin on Feb 2, 2009 | Reply

    A couple thoughts to go along with what you've posted, Stephen.

    Firstly, I'm not sure why they ditched Lastings Milledge unless they see something in Church and Schneider that nobody has seen before. The trade doesn't make much sense to me either and it appears that the Nats got the better end of the deal.

    Secondly, Johnny Estrada is now a free agent – the Mets did not offer him a contract. So they spent players to get a catcher that they ultimately did NOT want.

    They have to make a move for a dominant starter – and without giving away one of their key position players I don't see them landing Santana. Without a starting rotation, the rest of their players are just what you've labeled them – retooled players from other teams who have had some success in the past.

    We'll see what happens this year. I don't think the Mets' suits will let Minaya run the team into the ground. I don't think he's out to destroy the team, but he doesn't appear to be working in its best long-term interests.

  11. By Stephen Gray on Feb 2, 2009 | Reply

    That' exactly why the Estrada deal made no sense, they had to trade Guillermo Mota to the Brewers to get get Estrada and then one month later did not tender Estrada's contract. Mota had more appearances than any other Met reliever last year and was one of the relievers they relied on the most. The only way that deal makes any sense is if they did it to deliberatley dump off Mota's contract. The Mets gave Mota a 2 year 5 million dollar deal at the beginning of last season, so maybe they just wanted to dump off the second year. But that falls under the same reasoning as them not ressigning Glavine, that they will use the payroll for something else like maybe getting a more established reliever or maybe even put the money towards a Big Name starter like Santana, although I agree with you I think at this point that will not happen. The only replacements they have added to the bullpen are Matt Wise (Who is decent at times) and Brian Stokes(Whom I know knothing about) It seems like getting rid of Glavine and Mota's contacts (if that was indeed the intention) without making a big play in the free agent market is foolish. There are still 2 months left before Spring training and I'm not sure how the Mets are suited for pitchers in their Farm System, but as of right now it looks like another mistake by Minaya.

  12. By Colin on Feb 2, 2009 | Reply

    Interesting article here – http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/2008/01/05/2008-01-05_mets_keep_eye_on_as_joe_blanton-2.html – about how the Mets want a piece of Joe Blanton from the Athletics. We'll see if they pull this one off, because something like this seems more likely than the whole Santana thing.

  13. By James on Feb 2, 2009 | Reply

    As a Mets fan from NY I will explain why the Mets ditched Lastings Milledge…His Attitude. Just look at the game the mets won 11-0 before Glavines melt down in game 162. He (Lastings) hit 2 HR's the second one made it 7-0, and he was dancing around like it was the seventh game of the World Series, that lit the fire under the Marlins and they made it stick in the last game of the season. His response to the press for his outburst was that he hadn't played in 10 days and he wanted to express his joy…

    As a lifer Mets fan, I would have traded him for a pair of cleats…Remember, this was the same guy that was left a message over his locker that stated "Know your role Rook"

    As for Mota…well it was the easiest decision Omar had to make. Mota was a bust in 07…He proved that 06 was a result of steroids and not his ability to play fair.

  14. By Colin on Feb 2, 2009 | Reply

    Interesting insight, James. I was not aware of Lastings' attitude and the impact on the team. Then again, I don't watch many Mets games. Thanks for the tip – appreciate it!

    Yeah, Mota pretty much was useless to the Mets – he's not a long-term investment I'd like to make either.

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