Sports Outside the Beltway

Baseball Preview: New York Mets

This and next month, Outside the Beltway Sports will be taking a trip around the Major Leagues profiling the 30 major league teams. We continue today with The New York Mets – who along with the Yankees had the best record in baseball in 2006.

New York Mets

Last season: 97-65 won NL East, lost NLCS to St. Louis
Manager: Willie Randolph

Meet the new guys

RF Moises Alou, IF Damion Easley, SP Chan Ho Park, RP Scott Schoeneweis, RP Jorge Sosa

Gone and hardly remembered

RP Chad Bradford (to Baltimore), LF Cliff Floyd (to Chicago Cubs), RP Roberto Hernandez (to Cleveland), RP Darren Oliver (to LA Dodgers), SP Steve Trachsel (to Baltimore), 2B Chris Woodward (to Atlanta)

And now your starting lineup

  1. SS Jose Reyes
  2. C Paul LoDuca
  3. CF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Carlos Delgado
  5. 3B David Wright
  6. LF Moises Alou
  7. RF Shawn Green
  8. Jose Valentin
  9. Pitcher


OF Endy Chavez
OF Ben Johnson
IF/OF Julio Franco
IF Damion Easley
C Ramon Castro
OF/IF David Newhan

The Mets lineup is a nice mix of dynamic young players and excellent older vets. Wright and Reyes give the Mets young talented and inexpensive hitters that complement Beltran. Delgado is the heavy hitter to bring in the table setters. Alou and Green are not counted on to be anchors. It is reasonable that Green is just placeholding until Lastings Milledge is ready for primetime. He showed flashes last season but not enough to warrant the job full time this year. A really impressive spring may change some minds. The weakest non-pitcher link is Valentin, who was as recently as 2004 capable of poking out homeruns with a remarkable frequency for a middle infielder, even lead gloved middle infielders. The bench features the ageless Julio Franco and retreads like Easley, Chavez and Newhan. Johnson was considered a top Padres prospect, but his status dropped last year. He is capable of filling in for Alou or Green if they go down with injury.


  1. Tom Glavine
  2. Orlando Hernandez
  3. John Maine
  4. Olive Perez
  5. Chan Ho Park
  6. Aaron Sele
  7. Pedro Martinez (DL) – Due back in August


Closer Billy Wagner
Duaner Sanchez
Aaron Heilman
Scott Schoeneweis
Jorge Sosa
Pedro Feliciano
Guillermo Mota (serving 50 game suspension beginning opening day)

The bullpen is the strength, and with the addition of Schoeneweis they can weather the departure of Chad Bradford. The rotation is a dodgy proposition. They will audition Perez, Park and Sele as well as top propsects Mike Pelfrey and Phil Humber for rotation spots. The Mets benefit though from the good hitters and the deep bullpen, and when Pedro returns he will be the best trade deadline acquisition in the league. He won’t cost anything and he should be solidly above average. Glavine anchors the current rotation followed by Franco’s fellow ageless wonder Orlando Hernandez. Then come the question marks. John Maine should be number three. Chan Ho Park effectively replaces Steve Trachsel. And that leaves Oliver Perez to round it out. Unless Aaron Sele beats one of them out this spring. Wagner, Sanchez and Heilman are very good in high leverage situations. Shortening ballgames to six innings is advantageous and the Mets will be able to do that in at least fifty games next year.

Help is on the way…

Top prospect Mike Pelfrey has all the makings of a harder throwing Brandon Webb. He gets groundballs easily with a hard sinking fastball. And when he dials it up a bit, he can blow it past them. His progress last season was remarkable getting him four starts late last season. He was roughed up a bit, which is not surprising for a 22 year old kid in his first pro season. This year, Pelfrey could break camp with the big club or spend a month or two in AAA. Regardless, he will be in the Mets rotation at some point this summer.

Other prospects who may be called on
Lastings Mililedge was a mixed bag in Queens last year. No one is ready to write him off, but no one is ready to hand him the job in rightfield. He has the tools and the talent. He needs more discipline, but that will come. He may fill in this season, but I expect Chavez and Johnson to keep him in AAA for a full year of seasoning. Phil Humber went from top draft pick to Tommy John surgery to highly rated prospect in a three year whirlwind that culminated in two hitless innings for the big club last year. Humber has a knee buckling curveball and good velocity on his fastball. He was recovering for much of last season and should be fully healthy this year. The Mets owe it to themselves to give him as long a look as they can afford to give this spring. Fernando Martinez will not be making any appearances at Shea, but succeeds Mililedge as the young toolsy outfielder with a great swing and the necessary make up to play in the bigs. He is easily their highest upside farm prospect. And should be ready for the bigs in 2010. Just after his 21st birthday.


They have definitely slipped. Pedro was not vintage in ’06, but losing him for most of ’07 hurts the Mets more than anything else. They have a powerful offense. A team more constructed for the AL than the NL in terms of run production. Their bullpen is deep, flexible and good. When Mota returns in late May, they will have six above average to excellent arms in the pen. The Mets will have to piece together their rotation until Pedro is healthy. At first glance it is a daunting proposition. But with their potent offense and a reliable bullpen, it is more than manageable. Their season relies on a number of ifs. If Oliver Perez pitches like he did a few years ago when he was a rookie. If John Maine can build on his good starts. If ageless wonders Julio Franco and Orlando Hernandez can keep on producing at the big league level. If Pedro is effective when he comes back. If he comes back. The Mets have enduring questions. They have one huge advantage. They were so far ahead of their division, that even with the slippage, they have not likely yielded their advantage. GM Omar Minaya rewarded Willie Randolph with a new contract. Mets fans will see if both of them are worth it this season, which will be the most challenging one in either of their tenures in Queens.

Predicted finish 93-69 Good for first in a tough NL East.

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