Between now and the start of the 2007 regular season, I plan on giving previews on some of the more interesting teams around Major League Baseball. While I won’t be covering every team, I will touch on those that either have made significant changes, have interesting stories, or even good chances to win it all this October.
Today’s preview: New York Mets
#7 Jose Reyes | SS
The Mets always hoped the young shortstop would develop a better hitter’s eye once he gained more experience, but they never expected the pop that he’s given them. While Reyes ended the season with a solid .300 average, the biggest suprise came when he hit 19 homers and drove in 81. Those numbers along with his other stellar stats of 122 runs, 17 triples, and 64 stolen bases has made Reyes one of the best overall players in the game. It’s hard to believe that Reyes could improve on his 2006 statistics, but who knows how far the Dominican native’s skills can take him. With another year under his belt, don’t be shocked to see those numbers increase as well as walks and his overall on base percentage as he continues to hone in his eye at the plate.
#33 John Maine | SP
Last season the New York Mets were forced to use a patch work starting pitching staff to carry them through most of the regular season and into the playoffs. Luckily for them, an inexperienced young pitcher named John Maine who had only 24 career starts heading into the playoffs (15 in 2006) stepped up big when they needed him most in the late summer and into the fall. Right handed pitcher John Maine exceeded expectations and climbed up the depth chart due to some outstanding starts in August. During this time Maine would go on a tear that included winning five straight outings and a 26-inning scoreless streak. The Mets finally seemed to discover some stability with one of their starters. With this season seemingly starting the same way last year ended, Maine is going to have to be a huge part of this Mets rotation. Especially until Pedro Martinez returns around the All-Star break.
PLAYER TO WATCH
#44 Lastings Milledge | OF
This young man has a bright future ahead of him but I’m not sure if its with the Mets. Despite how badly the Mets wanted to keep Milledge and not trade him last season, they now seem to have changed their tune a bit. After his brief stints in the Major Leagues last season, Milledge apparently rubbed some of the team’s veterans the wrong way. This perhaps with the Mets realization that they need more pitching has now loosened their stance on the young prospect. Then the Mets brought in left fielder Moises Alou and over crowding the outfield making Milledge the odd man out. Granted Alou has had a history of injuries, but I don’t forsee the Mets leaving Milledge on their major league roster to only have him sit on the bench. Barring any major injuries by one of their outfielder, Milledge will most likely start the season in AAA or will be traded away for starting pitching. Either way, he will be one to watch in 2007.
#18 Moises Alou | LF
While Alou has battled injuries the past couple of seasons, he is still a very solid presence in the lineup. In only 98 games last season, he still hit .301 with 74 RBI with the San Francisco Giants and looks to put up similar numbers in the already potent Mets lineup. Alou even passed up other 2 year deals with other clubs so he could play for the Mets. They should be very happy with their investment, especially if he can play at least 130 games.
[Name, Position (2006 stats)]
1. Jose Reyes, SS (.300 AVG, 19 HR, 81 RBI, 64 SB, .841 OPS)
2. Paul Lo Duca, C (.318 AVG, 5 HR, 49 RBI, 3 SB, .783 OPS)
3. Carlos Beltran, CF (.275 AVG, 41 HR, 116 RBI, 18 SB, .982 OPS)
4. Carlos Delgado, 1B (.265 AVG, 38 HR, 114 RBI, 0 SB, .909 OPS)
5. David Wright, 3B (.311 AVG, 26 HR, 116 RBI, 20 SB, .912 OPS)
6. Moises Alou, LF (.301 AVG, 22 HR, 74 RBI, 2 SB, .923 OPS)
7. Shawn Green, RF (.277 AVG, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 4 SB, .776 OPS)
8. Jose Valentin, 2B (.271 AVG, 18 HR, 62 RBI, 6 SB, .820 OPS)
[Name, Position (2006 stats)]
1. Tom Glavine, SP (15-7, 3.82 ERA, 131 SO)
2. Orlando Hernandez, SP (11-11, 4.66 ERA, 164 SO)
3. John Maine, SP (6-5, 3.60 ERA, 71 SO)
4. Oliver Perez, SP (3-13, 6.55 ERA, 102 SO)
5. Mike Pelfrey, SP (2-1, 5.48 ERA, 13 SO)
Aaron Heilman, RP (4-5, 3.62 ERA, 73 SO)
Duaner Sanchez, RP (5-1, 2.60 ERA, 44 SO)
Ambiorix Burgos, RP (4-5, 5.52 ERA, 72 SO)
Scott Schoeneweis, RP (4-2 4.88 ERA, 29 SO)
Billy Wagner, CL (3-2, 2.24 ERA, 94 SO, 40 SV)
KEYS TO SUCCESS
If the New York Mets want to win the NL East again in 2007, there are a few key items that need to go right for them in order to hold off the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies again. The most important item is their starting rotation. They can not afford any injuries or any players to have sub-par seasons. With as many problems as they have had in the past, this has to be one area that doesn’t cause them problems. They look to get their ace Pedro Martinez back sometime around the beginning of July so until then they are going to need to rely on 3 pitchers that haven’t proven they can pitch consistantly at the major league level. Their starters will also have to eat up some innings so not to burn out their bullpen too early in the season. If the Mets plan on playing again this October, they will need a fresh bullpen as pitching has shown to be the greatest weapon in the post season.
2007 Prediction: 96-66 (1st place in NL East)
2007 Strength: Bullpen
2007 Weakness: Starting Rotation
2007 Team MVP: David Wright
2007 Team Cy Young: John Maine