Unless you are Jon Harper.
I wouldn't bet the ranch on this team. Age and some injury issues at the moment are significant enough to point to how a lot could go wrong, as has been the case too often for the Mets over the years.
Why so glum? Could you point out one team that doesn't have the same exact issues? The Mets were able to withstand significant injuries and make the playoffs in '06 and barely missed in '07 despite fielding one of the worst outfields in the league at one point.
Sure Beltran will miss some time, but he was still extremely valuable despite not playing in 150+ games and as long as he is there at the end and gives 140+ games, I am happy.
As for Castillo, let him get hurt. I mean, I am not hoping he gets hurt, but Ruben Gotay did very well last season and I would not mind seeing him get some significant innings to see if he can grow a bit as a ball player.
Now to the bullpen...I am not sure the Mets are counting on Duaner to save their bullpen. They most assuredly want him back and are excited to have him back, but this bullpen is actually very deep. So deep that Joe Smith might find himself in the minors.
The Mets do not have one bad piece and if they go into panic mode, they can get Pelfrey or The Duque into the pen. There are enough available arms to compliment an improved rotation to give the Mets reliable pitching all season.
Then Harper keeps going and suggesting that Schneider is somehow an offensive downgrade over LoDuca. He makes this mistake as so many do confusing Brian McCann and Paul LoDuca. LoDuca was a horrible offensive player in 2007. Now I am not saying Brian is much better, but I like his offensive game more since it is not solely based around slapping singles around.
He can take a pitch and I appreciate that at the bottom of the lineup and is much more suited to be on this team in its current configuration. Will everything go right for the Mets? Absolutely not. However, predicting some sort of doomsday scenario is just ridiculous.
People are quick to point out all these things while not pointing out that their 1, 2, and 3 starters have room to grow, Wright and Reyes are still growing, Church and Schneider are actually upgrades over what they trotted out there last year, Gotay for one full year or Castillo for one full year is an upgrade over whatever they had in '07, Pelfrey appears primed for a step forward, and Alou is more valuable than half the outfielders in the bigs even after playing only 84 games.
I see no reason why people should be pessimistic at all. What team does not have questions of age and health? Can this guy bounce back or not? Can that guy play in his late 30's? Was 2007 a fluke for that guy? What team is perfect? The Mets are roughly 5% better than the next best team in the NL and almost 10% better than any other team in the NL East. To not be incredibly optimistic is just silly.
The Phillies closer is already out for six weeks, they are depending on a 38 year old set-up man, and they have no back end of the rotation. The Braves have two 40+ starters, a guy who is new to closing for a full year, and their best hitter has played in 137, 109, 110, and 134 games over the last four years. Alou is the Mets fourth best hitter and we are getting concerned about how many games he plays? Let us stop with the sensationalism please and just get behind the goodness that is the 2008 Mets.
None of this is made better by the use of Pedro Feliciano, who can get all hitters out but has had more games pitched than innings the last three years, a sign of how heavily he's used in a specialist role.
I think Willie is one of the biggest problems here and only exacerbated problems with the inability to exhibit any sort of logic. The continued use of Mota is just indicative of how he has no ability to be flexible.
If that's the best that can be said of it, though, Mets fans will be right to be worried all through the year. The problem here is less the quality of the pitchers than the structure of the bullpen, which isn't built to stand up to much stress. If the Mets get three awful starts in a row, it's going to be badly strained. If Heilman continues to have problems with left-handers, there's no obvious second plan. If the team has an important series coming up against a team that feasts on sinker/slider types, they won't be able to do much about it.
Marchman kind of assumes that Sanchez will be out and no one steps up. Register was just converted from being a starter so I think it is unfair to assume he cannot add much value. While I agree I would like some more flamethrowers, the Mets do have options and their spectacular bullpen of 2006 was not comprised of fireballers. The 2007 bullpen was actually very good for the majority of the year and that is overlooked.
I think usage is a big part of it and the ability to adapt is a big part. Willie cannot lay out his game plan and his list of who he likes in game #1 and stick to it no matter what. With bullpens, you need to be dynamic at times and Willie was not dynamic in 2007.
Labels: 2008 season