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Good morning, Mets! How are you? Still embroiled in a terrible ordeal involving finances and ownership? Yes? Good for you!
Although the future of the Mets franchise looks a little better this year, there's still a lot of drama over in Old New York. Scott Boras thinks the Mets should be sold to new owners, the MLBPA disagrees, and a federal trial with almost 400 million dollars in damages at stake will start next week. It isn't clear how much any verdicts will directly affect the Mets (of the damages already awarded, only a few million will come from the Mets organization specifically), but it's probably not a very pleasant place to be sitting for Mets GM Sandy Alderson, the players, or the fans.
I had some difficulty even figuring out what's going to be going on with the Mets this season, which is probably partially a testament to the Mets being bad shape, and partially a testament to me being ignorant and slow. Last year, the Mets finished in fourth place in the NL East, with a 77-85 record, and it looks like there are some losses and some pretty big question marks on this team.
Who are the key losses/additions this season?
This team lost a lot of its most recognizable players. Jose Reyes' talents are now chilling in South Beach, Beltran is hanging out with the stupid Cardinals, Francisco Rodriguez got traded to the Brewers halfway through last year, and Angel Pagan got traded to the Giants in the off-season.
That means there are a lot of new faces in the lineup. Ruben Tejada, a 22 year old Panamanian rookie, looks to be one half of the Mets' keystone combo this year, while, I guess, Daniel Murphy, is the other. There are a lot of questions about Murphy's glove at second, as he spent most of his time in 2011 at first base, filling in for an injured Ike Davis. Getting both Davis and Murphy in the lineup will do a lot for the Mets offense, and perhaps Tejada's defense will be enough to make up for the defensive issue. Andres Torres looks to replace Pagan in center, and Lucas Duda, who swings a pretty good bat, will become the full time right fielder.
The Mets are hoping that Johan Santana will be back for the season this year, after missing all of last year with shoulder injury. Santana will be returning to a rotation that's almost identical to 2011's. Which essentially means that Santana replaces a lackluster Chris Capuano, which seems like it's a clear net benefit. On the other hand, the Mets rotation was not great last year. Dickey was good, but not as good as in 2010, and Pelfrey, Niese and Gee were pretty underwhelming. The pitching allowed 742 runs last year, which, for reference, was worse than the Reds, and that's in a pitcher's park.
Who do the Reds want to/not want to face?
The Mets actually have a potentially potent lineup. Wright, Davis, Duda, Bay and Murphy all are pretty okay hitters. On the other hand, Wright is dealing with a knee injury and has yet to play a spring training game this year. Davis is also coming back from injury (bone bruise) in addition to catching valley fever this spring - but neither seems too likely to have a big effect on him this year. Bay has also been struggling the last few years, and may not return to the kind of hitting he did in his glory days with the ... Pirates.
Right now the Mets bullpen looks pretty vulnerable, led by guys like Frank Francisco, Ramon Ramirez (not the former Red), and Jon Rauch. Bobby Parnell throws hard, but hasn't been great, probably because of lack of control. The rest of the crowd are your usual bullpen suspects, maybe D.J. Carrasco, Manny Acosta, Miguel Batista, etc.
Any rookies/prospects of interest this season?
Tejada at shortstop might be interesting. He plays above-average defense, and has a pretty good walk rate, but is not likely to knock anyone's socks off. Kirk Nieuwenheis is an outfield prospect who might see some time this year, but has a strained oblique right now. The Mets also have a decent pitching prospect in Matt Harvey - he's still probably a bit far away, as he was drafted recently and played A+ and AA ball last season, but there's a chance he may get a look at the majors later in the season.
Any former Reds?
Although it's confusing, the Ramon Ramirez in the Mets bullpen is not the Ramon Ramirez who used to be in the Reds system - he's still with the Padres. But Tim Byrdak (of Jay Bruce clinch HR giving up fame) is injured, which leaves a space open in the bullpen for a lefty - perhaps for the diminutive Danny Ray Herrera, who recently made waves by putting his whole body into a spare pair of Jon Rauch's uniform pants.
So that's about it. If any Mets fans are reading this and are upset about the fact that I think your team may not be terribly good this year, feel free to correct me, and remember that I, like Jon Snow, know nothing.