Friday, October 15, 2010

Is there hope for the Mets in 2011?

The last four seasons have been very hard ones for us Mets fans. We have suffered through heartbreaking collapses, numerous injuries, and inept decision making by the front office and manager. This is typical for the Mets fan. We are used to pain. We always are waiting for things to fall apart. We know to expect that things will not work out, and this at times helps limit the pain. The pessimism that most Mets fans exhibit is a necessary defense mechanism to limit the pain the the Mets inevitably bring upon their fans each year.
At times, a new regime in the front office of the organization can bring new hope to the fanbase. The list of candidates being interviewed for the Mets' GM job definitely contains some impressive names and offers us hope that the stupidity and incompetence will end and that at some point things will turn around. But Mets fans are not interested in waiting another three years to make a run. Perhaps the biggest in the Minaya regime has committed is wasting the prime years of our core superstars as well as perhaps even more importantly our prime years as fans. When a team has superstars in their prime, it cannot afford to waste those years because of stupidity in filling out the roster. Those years are wasted World Series opportunities that cannot be brought back, and it is a cardinal sin to be silly and cheap to gamble with these opportunities and take a chance of wasting these years. Also, as fans, these years are supposed to be spent following an exciting and good team with World Series aspirations rather than having to say "Wait 'till next year" far too often. That being said, we have to make a run in 2011 instead of wasting more prime and key years. The question is if that can be done: Is there hope for the Mets in 2011?I believe that the answer to this question is yes. While I doubt that the Mets can do enough to give themselves overwhelming odds to make the playoffs, there are many areas of the team with potential for significant improvement. If the Mets make the right moves, they can be in the running for the playoffs and even have a pretty good shot to make them. The Mets need to improve about 10-11 wins from 2010 (79 wins) to get up to about 90 wins. This would give them a pretty good chance to make the playoffs.
Some of the improvement that the Mets need to make have already been done. By firing the awful Jerry Manuel and ridding themselves of his horrible decisions, the Mets can pick up 3-4 games. Of course, this is dependent on the team hiring a competent and normal manager with some intelligence (not Wally Backman). Usually, a manager can only make a difference of about 2-3 wins because even playing the wrong percentages every night only lowers the team's chances of winning slightly each game. However, Jerry Manuel's moves were so idiotic and unorthodox that a 5 win improvement is definitely a possibility. (Jerry did everything wrong from playing washed up .200 hitters every day, poor bullpen management, and many other stupid moves.) As an added bonus, the manager who is known to play injured players until they further aggravate their injuries (Carlos Beltran's knee, Jose Reyes's oblique) and overwork pitchers until they get injuries that are a result of overuse (Johan Santana) is now gone! Assuming a conservative improvement of 3 wins, we are now up to 82 wins.
There are some other improvements in place for the upcoming season. Jeff Francoeur was terrible in 2010, posting an OBP UNDER .300! Although most fans think he has power, he actually has below average pop for a corner OF. His fielding is another part of his game that is overrated. He has a tremendous throwing arm, but unfortunately for him, fielding is mostly about range and throwing does not make as much of a difference as range. Frenchy's range was terrible, and negated the bonuses provided by his arm and then some. Francoeur is a terrible player who is at fault for the Mets getting the worst production out of RF in the league.
Additionally, Carlos Beltran missed about 90 games in 2010 and when he returned was awful for about 2 months before heating up. His poor offense likely was a result of poor timing after basically missing a season. While we should not expect his offensive production to be like it was in his peak years,
David Wright has taken a bit of a step back since 2006-2007. In the last 2 years he has been striking out at crazy rates, which lower his batting average and power a bit. His fielding has gotten worse as well. Some people think that he is the problem with this team, but we are not going to be able to replace his production so it would be stupid to deal him. I don't think anyone can know what to expect from him in 2011, but it doesn't make sense to assume that he would be worse than he was this season unless he gets injured. Therefore, we will not assume any improvement at 3B.
At 1B, the Mets started off with "amazing" production from the great cleanup hitters Mike Jacobs and Frank Catalanatto, just as Omar expected. Then, for some reason, they were released by the end of April. Ike Davis took over to the delight of Mets fans. His stellar play in the field and his average (for a 1B) bat was a welcome improvement on the field for the Mets. Since he barely even played in AA before 2010, it is reasonable to expect a slight improvement in 2011. Also, replacing the at bats of the automatic outs that the cleanup boys were in April should help too. I anticipate a 1 win improvement in 2011, which gets us to 93 wins.
For some reason, SS is the most controversial position on the Mets. Many Mets fans want to see Jose Reyes traded to get rid of the "rotten core" that caused the collapses of 2007 and 2008. (That is why when he was injured in 2009, the Mets won the World Series.) We have to remember that we are not finding a SS better than Reyes to replace him, no matter how much you may not like him. Therefore, it would be dumb to trade him, unless you like the idea of an Alex Cora caliber player playing every day at SS. Which is okay if you want to win 70 games. You won't need to worry about any collapses. But if you actually want to compete, we are going to have to rely on Reyes to be the guy at SS.In 2010, when Jose Reyes was on the field, he performed worse than he usually has in his career. Of course, this may be due to the nagging oblique injury he played with, after obtaining the expert advice of medical expert Jerry Manuel. Besides sapping his skills, this injury caused him to miss games throughout the rest of the season. In addition, in the beginning of the season, he missed some time after thyroid problems and then suffered through an awful month because he skipped spring training. And of course, lest we forget, when he was injured he was replaced by horribly incompetent backups (this is becoming a theme here). So I think it is reasonable to project a 1 win improvement here, which would get us to 94 wins.

Now we are ready for the pitching staff:
Our #1 starter in 2010 was (officially) Johan Santana. Unfortunately, he suffered a severe shoulder injury that was due to overuse according to an expert surgeon interviewed by Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork. (I wonder whose fault that was, but if you want a hint, it might have been the guy who pitched his arm off right when he came back from offseason elbow surgery and clearly wasn't 100%. For good measure, he hit the DL not too long after 3 complete game performances.) As a pessimistic Mets fan trying to be realistic, let's assume he misses 3 months and then pitches moderately worse than last year after returning (let's guess around 3.50 ERA). This would cause a loss of about 3 wins (before factoring in who would replace him for the 3 months). That takes us down to 91 wins.
Our #2 starter was R.A. Dickey. He pitched to an ERA of under 3 in 2010. While he probably will notpitch as well in 2011 (we can expect his ERA to be around 3.25-3.50), he did not come up until mid May, so that would give us an extra month and a half of Dickey (without figuring out who he is replacing just yet). All in all, this should give us about the same number of wins as last year.
Our #3 starter in 2010 was Jonathon Niese. He pitched pretty well in 2010, and we should expect the same in 2011 but hope for a little improvement.
Our #4 starter in 2010 was Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey had a good ERA but that due to good luck in the first 2 months. While there is always a chance that his pitches come together in 2011, it would be more reasonable to expect some decline. Expect his ERA to be around 4.25-4.50, for a 1 win downgrade from 2010. We are down to 90 wins.
The #5 spot was a disaster for the Mets in 2010. Oliver Perez, John Maine and other terrible pitchers were so bad that replacing them with anyone competent in 2011 will yield a 2 win improvement. With the injury to Santana, the Mets are going to have to pick up a starter (hopefully only for a 1 year or 2 year contract), and they will have someone like Gee or Mejia in the rotation to fill in as well. These 2 wins get us up to 92 wins.
The bullpen was an issue for the 2010.
Jerry Manuel loved to bring in the worst relievers in big spots, with disasterous results. K-rod missed over a month, and the bullpen could have used some other quality arms. Really fixing the bullpen would take a lot of work, but by just having a full season of K-rod in 2011, adding an arm for the 8th inning, having a full season of Parnell and getting rid of stinkers like Every Day Nieve and Ryota Igarashi, the Mets would definitely improve by at least 1 win to get to 93 wins. Of course, this is only if they re-sign Feliciano and Takahashi.
The Mets are a team that we can be hopeful about. Without investing too much money, this team can win about 90 games. They can even withstand a minor injury or bad break. However, anything major going wrong (or a bunch of minor problems) would result in the Mets missing the playoffs yet again. This is just the way it is supposed to be for Mets fans. It is not painful enough to justhave the team stink and we can just forget about them. This team always has to tease us by giving us hope and then letting us watch as it all comes crashing down. There is hope for 2011, but we must be wary of putting too much hope in this team, or else we risk being let down yet again.

1 comment:

  1. this is being extremly optimistic, the mets will top out with 83 wins , and if they want a chance to make playoffs they have to start rebuilding