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Is Jordany Valdespin the Mets’ Answer in the Leadoff Spot?

The New York Mets are playing some great ball right now, and despite the fact that the season is still very young, there are more than a few reasons to expect much of the same in the coming months.

Though I would like to say that the young pitching has been the highlight of the season so far, surprisingly enough, it’s been the offense that has been clicking on all cylinders. The Mets have hit at least one home run in each of their first 11 games, and they are second in the league in runs scored and RBI. Every player has contributed a little something to this offensive outburst, but standouts like John Buck and Daniel Murphy have been the real producers.

We should take a look at a less talked about player in Jordany Valdespin, however. He has appeared in nine of the team’s 11 games and started three of them in the leadoff spot. All in all, so far he is 7-for-13 with a stolen base, two walks and four runs scored while hitting in the leadoff spot.

Pair that with his overall OBP of .458, and it looks as if the Mets might have themselves something special. Valdespin is also nimble in the outfield and capable of running down any ball. That speed also carries over to the basepaths and gives the Mets a legitimate base stealing threat.

However, his game does have a few flaws. The 25-year-old can come off as cocky, and that can cause him to get a little too confident at times. Confidence certainly breeds success, but Valdespin is full of himself (just take a look at his Instagram).

We haven’t seen too much of it this year, but this “do no wrong” attitude has led him to making stupid mistakes and just looking silly. This is no way an attack on him, though, because I actually find his pictures humorous and would rather have someone who is too cocky, as opposed to a nervous wreck like a Mike Pelfrey or John Maine, whose Mets careers didn’t turn out too well to say the least.

If Valdespin can continue to make strides in his all-around game and stay focused, then I have a feeling that his role with the Mets will grow substantially. He has loads of natural talent and just needs to continue to learn the ins and outs of the game.

Jordany should be out there on the field and leading off every game until he proves that he doesn’t belong. He seems like the team’s best option at the moment, and it can’t hurt to give him a chance to show what he can bring to the team.

External options have become a true possibility for New York now that its finances are finally starting to get straightened out, but the Mets shouldn’t spend any money they don’t need to. If Valdespin really does flourish in the role, then he would be a cheap and talented option for the team.

Now is the time for the organization to take a look at what it’s got, and there is no better test than real games. It would be a great thing for manager Terry Collins to continue slotting him in the leadoff spot and investing time and trust in him. The Mets have lacked a true leadoff hitter since Jose Reyes left, and it is only right for the team to give Valdespin a shot.

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New York Mets Offseason Outlook: Catcher

The offseason is just starting to heat up, and the New York Mets are looking to make some moves. The team has a whole lot of weaknesses in their roster at the moment, and these next few weeks will prove to be crucial for the team’s future success.

One of the main needs for the Mets is at the catcher position. Josh Thole was the team’s starting catcher on Opening Day last season, and fans were hoping for him to solidify himself as the Mets catcher of the future. Sadly for them, that did not happen. Thole had a lackluster 2012 campaign, and might have even took a few steps backwards, as far as his talent goes.

His batting average plummeted and his strikeout rate went up. His defense didn’t look like it improved much either. Thole isn’t a bad player, but he just shouldn’t be the team’s starting catcher. He is a much better fit as a backup catcher, in my opinion. 

With that said, the free-agent market for catchers isn’t that deep this year, so the Mets will have to look hard to find someone. The top free-agent catchers are Mike Napoli and A.J. Pierzynski. Russel Martin was somewhere on that short list too, but he just recently signed a contract with Pittsburgh, so he is obviously not an option anymore.

Mike Napoli is a very solid player, and is in the top tier of catchers in the league. Because of the thin crop of catchers, Napoli has been garnering a lot of attention from teams all over. It has been confirmed that him and his agents have already engaged in talks with Seattle, Boston and Texas.

Napoli will most likely be awarded a contract of at least three years, worth $30 million, and don’t be surprised if it turns out to be more. He has a decent amount of pop behind the plate, and the Mets could desperately use some help in the power department. 

We will see how things look for Napoli and the Mets once the Winter Meetings progress. Napoli‘s price tag might be a bit high for what the Mets are looking for right now, but he is certainly worth a look. 

Pierzynski is also a pretty good option for the Mets, as the veteran knows what he’s doing behind the plate, and knows how to win. His age might raise a red flag though, but the truth is that he had a career year last season.

He is also a New York native, and he might want to make a homecoming, for all we know. That is just speculation though, and I don’t believe that the Mets should go too crazy for him. He is worth a look, but only at a reasonable contract.

That is basically it for the free-agent catchers that could be an upgrade for the Mets, so now let’s take a look at the trade market. 

One of the most intriguing options for the Mets is to talk to Toronto about their young catchers. The Blue Jays have just recently acquired veteran catcher, John Buck, from the blockbuster Miami deal. The arrival of Buck makes the Toronto catcher scene pretty crowded. 

J.P. Arencibia has been rumored to be on the trade market, due to the simple fact that the Jays don’t really have room for him anymore. Buck will probably be the Opening Day catcher for Toronto, and then it will be top prospect Travis d’Arnaud’s time to shine. 

The Jays are looking for pitching, and that is one of the few positions that the Mets are deep in. That makes these two teams look like a pretty great match. J.P. Arencibia is a power-hitting catcher and can hold his own behind the plate. He is also pretty young, at 26 years old.

A deal built around Jon Niese and J.P. Arencibia could definitely be in the works in the near future. That would help both teams out, and give the Mets the catcher that they have been looking for a long time. 

As always, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this offseason, but the upcoming Winter Meetings will help give the fans a look into what direction the Mets want to go in. All of the previously mentioned options would be an upgrade for the Mets, and we can only hope that Sandy Alderson and Co. make something happen.

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New York Mets: Is There Reason for Optimism This Season?

The New York Mets are currently an afterthought in the National League East. It seems as if every other team in the NL East improved while the Mets seemingly got worse. It was a long, grueling and painful offseason for the Mets.

New York lost one of their best players this winter in Jose Reyes. Reyes fled Queens for the “glitz and glamour” of Miami. Reyes was undoubtedly the heart of the New York Mets franchise and his presence will be missed.

The Jose Reyes era had its ups and downs, but its stop was inevitable. The New York Mets were still neck-deep in their financial woes at the time of Reyes departure, and they simply couldn’t afford to retain him.

Let’s forget about that, though. Opening Day is almost here and every team is very optimistic right now. The New York Mets are no exception to that. There have been encouraging things coming out of “Metland” these past few weeks and fans have been given reason to be optimistic.

Johan Santana will be the New York Mets Opening Day starter this season. That will help the team talent-wise and from a psychological standpoint. New York lacked a true ace last season due to Santana’s rehab from elbow surgery. 

It does seem as if he has made a full recovery. We shouldn’t expect another Cy Young season for Santana, but he will definitely help this team. 

With that said, the New York Mets strength lies in their lineup. The Mets lineup is loaded with young talent this season. Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada and Josh Thole will all look to produce for the Mets this season. 

Each of the aforementioned players possess great potential and can help bolster the Mets lineup for a long time. Those young players will be surrounded by veterans like David Wright, Jason Bay and Andres Torres.

Wright is the face of the franchise and is looking to put up huge numbers this season. Pesky injuries have weakened his statistics in recent seasons, but he is coming into 2012 with a clean bill of health. I really expect Wright to put up some monster numbers this season and take on the clubhouse leader role.

Jason Bay will be very interesting to watch this season. He has disappointed greatly ever since earning his monster contract with the Mets two years ago. Bay hasn’t managed to maintain hot streaks or get anything going these past two seasons. 

He has looked lost at the plate and he has also endured his share of pesky injuries through recent seasons. All of these things have culminated into a disaster for Bay. His career is hanging by a thread and he will need to perform this season if he wants to maintain a starter in this league.

Andres Torres was acquired by the New York Mets this offseason in the Angel Pagan trade. Torres and Ramon Ramirez made their way to Queens while Pagan packed his bags for the bay area. Not much is expected from Torres, as he is getting old quick and his numbers have been in a downwards spiral.

Torres is as hard a worker as anybody though. His hunger for success is unmatched and he has managed to keep himself in ideal shape. He hopes to prove himself as a viable leadoff hitter for New York this season. 

Torres will also be a huge part of the clubhouse. He was looked at as one of the team leaders back in San Francisco and he played a huge part in the Giants 2010 World Series run. 

The Mets lineup produced the 6th most runs in the National League last season. The team also managed to score more runs than the division champion, Philadelphia Phillies. All of that was done with half a year from David Wright, only one month of Ike Davis, a late arrival for Duda, and half a season for Jose Reyes.

Losing Reyes will hurt the Mets, but I strongly believe that his absence won’t hamstring the Mets lineup. The team continually scored runs last season regardless if Reyes was in the lineup or not. If Wright, Davis, and Duda can stay healthy then the Mets will score more runs than they did last season. Jason Bay is the X-factor for this team, as he can push the offense to a whole different level this season.

The Mets’ “achilles heel” last season was their pitching. The team struggled to get quality starts day in and day out, and the team also lost its share of games due to bullpen collapses. Mike Pelfrey stunk it up last season and one can only hope that he has the right mindset coming into 2012.

Jon Niese and Dillon Gee fizzled off near the end of the season, but they did enough to provide Mets fans with hope coming into 2012. R.A. Dickey was the Mets best pitcher last year and he should continue that trend this season. Santana and Dickey could provide the Mets with a more than serviceable one-two punch.

The pitching rotation has potential this season. Santana will provide the team with a true ace figure and that will work wonders for the rest of the rotation.

The bullpen was disastrous for New York last year. Leads were routinely blown as well as saves. A good bullpen could have transformed the Mets season, but it just didn’t work out. Sandy Alderson and Co. really concentrated on patching up the bullpen this offseason.

Frank Francisco was brought in to be the Mets’ new closer, along with Jon Rauch, and Ramon Ramirez. Lefty, Tim Byrdak is recovering well from surgery and it looks as if he will be a great lefty specialist for the Mets this season. Flamethrower Bobby Parnell has been stellar this spring too. If Parnell can harness his talent and translate it into results then the Mets will have themselves their future closer.

This Mets team might not blow people away, but the truth is that this ball club has a good amount of talent. A great mix of youth and experience can spell success for the Mets this season. If the Mets can stay relatively healthy in 2012 then they will compete.

A lot has to go right for this team this season, but crazier things have happened. No one picked the Giants to win it all in 2010 and absolutely no one expect Arizona to win the NL West last season. the long MLB season is about to begin and this is the time that Mets fans should be optimistic about their team. “Ya gotta believe!”

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Top 11 New York Mets Prospects of 2012

The New York Mets farm system is on a steady rise. Top-notch prospects like Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey highlight the system, but they are not the only players who could make some noise in the MLB.

Recently drafted Brandon Nimmo has caused a stir with his premier athletic talents, and players like Kirk Nieuwenheis and Jordany Valdespin seem primed to make an impact with the Mets as early as this upcoming season.

Sandy Alderson and Co. will look to continue to improve the farm system this season, and add more depth to it. But they definitely have something to work with. There is some premier talent in the minor leagues for the Mets, so here are my 11 top prospects for the Mets.

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Who Should Bat Leadoff for the New York Mets in 2012?

Spring training is right around the corner. The 2012 baseball season is getting ready to begin, and teams are already beginning to decide how their rosters should look come Opening Day. Spring training will allow each team to evaluate their players who are on the fence for making the teams major league roster.

However, Mets’ coach Terry Collins, already knows who his leadoff man will be for Opening Day 2012. It is common knowledge that Andres Torres will most likely be the first Met to take the plate in 2012. Torres was acquired in the Angel Pagan trade earlier this offseason, and he will be the Mets’ starting center fielder for the beginning of the season.

A lot of people don’t believe that Torres will make a good leadoff hitter for the Mets this season. Torres is a solid defender who possesses above average speed. However, his hitting skills are simply not up to par with the rest of the leagues leadoff hitters.

Torres has a .244 career batting average, and he managed to hit a mere .221 last season. With that said, Torres put up solid numbers in 2009 and 2010, but I expect the Torres of last season. He is 33 years old and not getting any younger.

I like Torres, but not as a leadoff hitter. He is a good fit as a fourth outfielder, but he will most likely be starting in center field for the Mets early in the season. If Torres is indeed starting, then I believe that his bat would be best suited lower down in the lineup.

If Torres shouldn’t be the Mets’ leadoff hitter, then who should be?

The Mets have a number of players who are all capable of hitting leadoff; albeit, not overly effective ones. With the loss of Jose Reyes, one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, the Mets will be hard pressed to replace Reyes’ bat at the top of the lineup.


You can make a case for every Mets starter to bat leadoff with the exceptions of Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. That leaves us with five potential leadoff hitters.

Jason Bay, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, Josh Thole and David Wright. 

Jason Bay has decent speed, and can be a solid situational base stealer. With that said, it is no secret that Bay has been struggling over these past couple of seasons. He isn’t an ideal leadoff hitter to say the least, and until he returns to his old form, he should not be seriously considered for a crucial part in any lineup.

Daniel Murphy will most likely be the starting second baseman for the Mets this season. If he can stay healthy, he should have a great year. Before Murphy’s season-ending injury, he was in the top 10 in the league in hitting.

Murphy may not have great defensive skills or be the most graceful player, but he can certainly hit the ball. Murphy has average speed, but his OBP of .362 in 2011 makes a strong argument for him to lead off. It’ll be hard for Murphy to replicate that OBP this season, but I believe that he is very capable of producing something close to that number, if not higher.

Ruben Tejada seems like another strong choice to leadoff for the Mets this season. He produced surprisingly well with the bat last season, and it seems as if he keeps getting better. Tejada isn’t fond of stealing bases, but that does not mean that he cannot run well.

He has slightly above average speed, but he runs the bases like a seasoned vet. Tejada has great base running vision, makes fantastic turns,and great reads on the basepaths. He might make a nice leadoff hitter for the Mets in a couple of years, but not now.


Tejada already has huge shoes to fill with Jose Reyes leaving, and while the Mets organization is stressing to him that they don’t expect him to be Reyes, Tejada’s young mind might be a bit overwhelmed. Putting Tejada in Reyes’ old lineup spot seems like it would put expectations at unrealistic heights for him.

Josh Thole walks a lot and he is a solid contact hitter, therefore he is capable of a great OBP. A high OBP is a crucial part to a successful leadoff hitter. Thole can hit for a great OBP, but he is just too slow to leadoff for the Mets. Simple as that.

David Wright is a very interesting option to bat leadoff for the Mets. Wright has shown the ability to steal bases, and he also has the potential to be one of the best hitters in the game. With the changes to Citi Field’s dimensions, they lead us to believe that Wright will revert to his 2005-2008 form.

If the Mets had a deeper lineup than I would be open to the idea of batting Wright leadoff, but he is better suited to bat in the heart of the Mets’ lineup for this season. He will be much more valuable there.

At the end of the day, some people might make too big a deal of who bats leadoff for a team. The truth is that the leadoff hitter usually leads off only a few innings in a game, with the only guaranteed inning being the first inning. Batting leadoff might get to some hitters minds, and it isn’t worth risking their season just so they could lead off a few innings.

In my eyes, Daniel Murphy should be the New York Mets‘ leadoff hitter. He has a bulldog mentality and nothing seems to phase him. Murphy can flat out rake at the plate, as well as draw his share of walks. Pair that with his decent speed and the Mets have themselves a more than capable leadoff hitter for the 2012 season. 

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2011 MLB Predictions: National League West: Will the Giants Repeat in 2011?

The National League West has been a toss up division in recent history.  The trend will continue this season.  Despite the Giants winning the World Series last year, this division is up for grabs.  The Giants made a fantastic playoff run last season and brought the National League West a World Series trophy. 

The Giants will have to work extremely hard to repeat their miracle run of 2010.  The Rockies and Dodgers will pose as big threats to the Giants.  The Padres and Diamondbacks should also be a thorn in the Giants side this year.  I am fully expecting the National League West to be a tight race until September.  I think that a certain team will stand out in September and go on a fantastic run to clinch the division.  It will be an exciting division.


1. Colorado Rockies

The Rockies had a mediocre season last year.  They finished 83-79, and they lost the last eight games of their season.  That losing skid at the end of the season wiped the Rockies’ playoffs dreams away.  This team was talented last year, but they couldn’t put it all together. 

One of the Rockies biggest headlines in 2010 was the emergence of Ubaldo Jimenez as a dominant pitcher, or not.  Ubaldo had an amazing first half of the season last year; his first half success was up there with legendary pitchers.  After his great first half everything went downhill.  It seemed as if Ubaldo lost “It”.  He was still a solid pitcher, but he was nowhere near the ace that the Rockies needed him to be.

Ubaldo will be the Rockies Opening Day starter this season, with good reason.  This kid has great stuff and a great makeup.  If he can capture even just 50 percent of his success in the first half of 2010, then the Rockies will be satisfied. 

There is not that much talent behind Ubaldo in the Rockies rotation.  Their rotation is definitely not bad, but I think that it is in the middle of the pack.  Jorge De La Rosa is a fantastic No. 2 starter, and I believe that he will build on his success from last season.

Jhoulys Chacin, Jason Hammel, and Aaron Cook follow De La Rosa in Colorado’s rotation.  The end of the Rockies rotation can either be good or bad.  It’s simple as that.  Know one exactly knows what to expect from Chacin, Hammel, and Cook.  They can either push this Rockies rotation over the top, or do the opposite.

Although those three pitchers are extremely important for the Rockies this season, Jimenez and De La Rosa are the two key pitchers in Colorado’s rotation this season.  If Jimenez pitches like a true ace and De La Rosa complements him nicely in the rotation, then that will drastically improve the Rockies playoff chances. 

The Rockies lineup is above average.  Troy Tulowitzki is a legitimate MLB superstar, and he will lead this team on offense, but last year, he got some unexpected help.  Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez had a breakout season last year.  He showed that he can be one of the league’s top five-tool players.

It is going to be interesting to see how Gonzalez performs this season.  Last season might have been a fluke or a sign of things to come.  Gonzalez will be key to the Rockies this season.  Their success will depend heavily on him.

I personally believe that Gonzalez will have another great season this year.  I believe that because he had a fantastic OBP last year.  His OBP was .376, and that shows that he adjusted to the pitchers adjustments to him, and he knows how to make his way on the basepaths.  And when he is on the basepaths, he is a thorn in every pitcher’s side.  He stole a total of 26 bases last season.

The rest of the Rockies lineup is not bad.  The Rockies are hoping that youngster Dexter Fowler plays up to his potential.  They are also hoping to get another solid year from their veteran Todd Helton.  Colorado’s lineup should be one of the better ones in the league this year.

The Rockies bullpen isn’t exactly a strength, but they do have a great closer in Huston Street.  Their bullpen lacks depth, but Street should make up for that.  The bullpen will lose some games for the Rockies this season, but not a staggering amount. 

Overall, the Rockies are a very good team.  They have their share of superstars, but they also have a good amount talent surrounding them.  This team should be in close contention all season, but pull off a Rockie like hot streak and make their way into the playoffs.

Key Batter: Carlos Gonzalez

Key Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez


2. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have a very balanced team this season.  Their pitching has the potential to be fantastic, and their lineup is above average.  Clayton Kershaw is looking to take a big step this season.  The sky is the limit for Kershaw, and if he can live up to his potential, then he will become one of the most feared pitchers in the league.

Chad Billingsley also has a lot of potential.  When Billingsley first came to the bigs, many Dodgers fans saw him as the team’s future ace.  Unfortunately Billingsley didn’t live up to his potential, but he still is a great young pitcher in the league.

Billingsley is better fitted as a number two or three starter.  He will be the Dodgers number two pitcher, and I believe that he will do great in that role this season.  Kershaw and Billingsley will give the Dodgers a dynamic one-two punch for many years to come. 

The Dodgers made a smart move and re-signed Ted Lilly this offseason.  Lilly is an underrated pitcher and he fits very well in the Dodgers rotation.  Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla will fill out the rotation at the four and five spots, respectively.  That is not the sexiest rotation out there, but it is very solid and reliable.

The Dodgers’ offense will not be overly good this season.  They have lost a little bit of their deepness on the offensive side of the ball.  Although their offense has recently took a bit of a dip in my opinion, they still have a great nucleus of young sluggers.

Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andre Ethier are all great young players for the Dodgers.  If all of those guys stay healthy and play up to their potential, then the Dodgers offense should be above average this season. 

The Dodgers will have a bunch of veterans in their starting lineup this season.  Rod Barajas, Casey Blake, Marcus Thames and Juan Uribe will all most likely be in the Dodgers Opening Day lineup this season.  Those four guys are a little old, and the Dodgers are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with at least two of them.  If at least two of those four guys pan out, then the Dodgers should be in good shape.

This upcoming season is going to be crucial for the Dodgers shortstop, Rafael Furcal.  Furcal used to be one of the top shortstops in the league, but he has been experiencing a steady decline in production in the past three years.

He is going to be 33 years old this upcoming season, and he is hoping for a bounce back season.  If Furcal can have a solid season, then he will help the Dodgers mightily. 

The Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton is a fantastic pitcher.  He is accompanied with Hong-Chih Kuo and Matt Guerrier in the Dodgers bullpen this season.  Kuo and Guerrier are solid late inning pitchers.  The Dodgers bullpen should be above average this season.

The Dodgers will miss Joe Torre, but I think that this team is ready for a great season.  If this team catches a couple of breaks this season, then they will contend in their division this season.  I’m not sure if the Dodgers will be good enough to win their division, but they should be in the race for most of the season.

Key Batter: Rafael Furcal

Key Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw


3. San Francisco Giants

I surprised myself by putting the Giants here in the standings, but I really don’t believe that this team will repeat their success this season.  I’m not trying to take anything away from the Giants’ spectacular season last year; the Giants and their fans totally deserved their World Series title last season.  I even believe that everybody should have the Giants as the team to beat this season.  The defending champion should always be the team to beat, regardless of the situation.

The reason why I don’t believe that the Giants will compete this year is simple.  I don’t think that they will catch as many breaks as they did last season.  San Francisco caught lightning in a bottle last year with many players.  Cody Ross, Juan Uribe, and Aubrey Huff all had surprising seasons last year for the Giants. 

The truth is that not all of those three players will repeat their great 2010 season.  Buster Posey is also a question for the Giants this season.  He had a dynamite rookie campaign last season, but there is always the possibility of a “sophomore slump”.  I personally think that Posey will have a great season this year, but that doesn’t mean that the Giants will have a great season.

Pablo Sandoval will be key for the Giants this season.  He has showed that he can be a great player, but he has been hurt by inconsistency.  If Sandoval can play up to his potential and be consistent, then he will give the Giants a much needed boost.

The Giants strength this season will once again be their pitching.  Tim Lincecum is arguably the best pitcher in the league, and Matt Cain is a fantastic number two pitcher.  Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, and Barry Zito fill out San Francisco’s rotation. 

The Giants will hope for Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito to build upon their solid 2010 seasons.  Madison Bumgarner has been one of the Giants highest touted prospects.  He has a great makeup, and he was pretty good in the playoffs last season. Bumgarner will be key for the Giants this season.  If Bumgarner can pitch up to his potential, then he will make the Giants starting pitching so much better.

I would not be surprised if the Giants win their division this season, but I also won’t be shocked at all if they finish in third.  This team has a great coach, a lot of a heart, and a lot of confidence.  But that can only take you so far. 

Sure, last year it took them to the World Series and they won, but that was with a bunch of breaks that went their way.  I’m not taking anything away from the Giants World Series victory.  I’m just saying that I don’t believe that the Giants will catch as many breaks this season then they did last season.  It might be a long season for Giants fans.

Key Batter: Pablo Sandoval

Key Pitcher: Madison Bumgarner


4. San Diego Padres

The Padres are an interesting team this season.  Last year, San Diego won 90 games and shocked everyone.  This year might be very different.  The Padres lost their lone superstar player, Adrian Gonzalez, this offseason.  With Gonzalez gone, the Padres lineup is a lot worse than it was last year.

The Padres made a lot of moves this offseason.  The Gonzalez trade headlined all of them, but the Padres made some other big moves this offseason.   They acquired Cameron Maybin, Orlando Hudson, Brad Hawpe and Jason Bartlett, and Ryan Ludwick will have his first full season as a Padre.

The Padres messed around with a good thing, but you can’t blame them.  They had no choice but to trade their superstar Gonzalez.  This is a small market team, and it’s tough for them to maintain their star players. 

Some of San Diego’s acquisitions were really good ones.  I like that they got Maybin.  Maybin has so much potential, but he just hasn’t lived up to his potential.  A change in scenery might be what he needs.  I think that Maybin will have a breakout season, and it will turn out to be a great move for the Padres.

The Padres lineup will most likely be below average.  It won’t be horrible, and it should put up a decent amount of runs, but the National League West has a lot of great pitching, and I’m not sure if the Padres can compete with them.

Pitching was the Padres strength last season.  Many small names stepped up in big ways.  I’m pretty sure that the Padres pitching won;t be good as it was last year.  A lot of people are expecting another big season from Mat Latos.  If Latos can pitch like a true ace, then he will at least give the Padres a legitimate ace.  If he falters, the Padres will be in deep trouble.

This Padres team isn’t horrible, but they are simply not good enough to compete with the rest of their division this season.  Padres fans should still have a lot of hope though, this team proved everyone wrong last season.  Will they do it again?  We will see.

Key Batter: Cameron Maybin

Key Pitcher: Mat Latos


5. Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks have had a rough past couple of seasons.  The D-Backs are just not that good this season.  Their offense and pitching are below average, and it will be extremely hard for them to compete this season. 

The D-Backs will have an exciting outfield this season.  Justin Upton is one of the top young players in all of baseball.  The sky is the limit for this kid, and a lot of people are expecting a huge season from him.  Chris Young is also a nice young outfielder for the D-Backs.  Those two players should keep D-Back baseball exciting.

The Diamondbacks don’t really have any other big offensive threats behind those guys.  Kelly Johnson will look to repeat his strong 2010 season; his performance will be key to the D-Backs this season.  Stephen Drew will also be looking to have a great season this year.

The Diamondbacks pitching is a little weak, but I am expecting big things from Joe Saunders this season.  Zach Duke might also play up to his potential and help strengthen the D-Backs lineup.  J.J. Putz will be the Diamondbacks closer this season and he is looking to revive his career.

Diamondbacks fans will have some things to look forward to this season, including the All-Star Game.  Arizona will be hosting it, and I won’t be surprised if Justin Upton plays in the All-Star Game this season.  The D-Backs just aren’t talented enough to win the division this year, but they should be an exciting team to watch.  Much better days are ahead for the Diamondbacks and their fans.

Key Batter: Justin Upton

Key Pitcher: Zach Duke

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MLB: Why the New York Mets Can Contend This Season

The 2011 baseball season is right around the corner, and people are beginning to make their predictions.  Predictions are fun to do, but they mean very little.  The San Francisco Giants won the World Series last season, and very little people had the Giants winning it all.

Every baseball season has its share of surprise teams.  This year should be no different.  Not much is expected from the New York Mets this season.  The team has failed to make the playoffs the past four years, and things aren’t looking up for them.

The Mets had a quiet offseason, and that makes a lot of people believe that the team won’t contend this season.  The Mets won 79 games last season.  That doesn’t look like a very good record, but given the Mets slew of problems that they had last year, it is quite impressive. 

That’s not an excuse for the team’s poor season, but it goes to show that this team can do a whole lot better.  Many Mets players suffered from injuries last season.  The Mets have had injury problems the last two seasons, and that is why they haven’t been performing well.  Simple as that.

When your best players aren’t on the field, it’s hard to win a lot of ball games.  The Mets were one of the healthiest teams in the league from 2006-2008, and they won 97, 88, and 89 games respectively in those three seasons.  That is not a coincidence.

Every team suffers injuries through the long baseball season, but the best teams limit their injuries.  Injuries are a huge part of the game, and sometimes, it decides teams’ fates. 

The 2011 New York Mets are different from the Mets teams of 2006-2008, but I believe that this team can be equally as successful as those teams.

The same core is intact, and there are plenty of fantastic new players on this team.  If the Mets stay healthy this season, then they will compete.  When this team is healthy, it can compete with the best teams day in, day out.

The Mets will be without their ace Johan Santana for the first half of the season, but that won’t keep them from being great.  Santana is a huge contributor to the Mets, but he only pitches once every five days.  I’m not taking anything away from Johan, but I’d rather have him out for the first half of the season than one of the Mets’ best position players.  It sounds harsh, but I think that most Mets fan will agree with that.

One of Johan Santana’s best things about him is his work ethic and mindset.  He is a bulldog on a mound and a great teammate.  His presence on the mound will be missed, but he will still be there to talk to his teammates and share his bulldog mentality with the rest of the team.

With that said, the Mets are pretty healthy going into this season.  Going into last season, the Mets had two of their best position players out to begin the season.  Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran were both not ready for Opening Day, but as of now, they both are 100 percent.

The Mets surprisingly had great pitching last season.  It was their offense that kept them from winning many games.  Pitchers like R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, and Mike Pelfrey all stepped up for the Mets last season.  Those three players will be key to the Mets’ success this season, if they can repeat their great performances of last season, then the Mets playoff chances will dramatically improve.

The Mets 2011 rotation should look something like this.

1. Mike Pelfrey RHP

2. R.A. Dickey RHP

3. Jon Niese LHP

4. Chris Young RHP

5. Chris Capuano LHP or Dillon Gee RHP

That rotation is not scary, but it is formidable.  New Mets general manager Sandy Alderson had a lot of great low-risk, high-reward signing this offseason.  Chris Young and Chris Capuano headlined Alderson’s low-risk, high-reward signings.

If one of those players pan out, and Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, and Jon Niese pitch like they did last year, then the Mets will have themselves a solid rotation.  They will also have reinforcements later in the season when Johan Santana returns.  The Mets should not play a waiting game with Santana, though; they should go throughout the season without even thinking that he will return.

The Mets new general manager Sandy Alderson is a great baseball mind, and he knows how to run a team.  The Mets also have a new manager this season in Terry Collins.  Collins wasn’t a fan favorite, but he looks like he fits the team well so far this spring.  The Mets management and front office is a whole lot better then it was last year without a doubt.

The Mets offense was one of their weaknesses last season, but it has a strong chance to be great this season.  The Mets’ offense is 100 percent healthy going into Spring training.  As of now, the Mets’ lineup looks something like this.

1. Jose Reyes SS

2. Angel Pagan RF

3. David Wright 3B

4. Carlos Beltran CF

5. Jason Bay LF

6. Ike Davis 1B

7. Daniel Murphy or Brad Emaus 2B

8. Josh Thole C

That lineup has the potential to be one of the strongest in the MLB.  The first through sixth spots in the lineup are very talented.  A healthy Reyes and Beltran will push this lineup over the edge.  Jason Bay can also add a lot of pop to this lineup.  He had a horrible season last year, but he is too talented to not have a bounce back season.  Ike Davis has to avoid his sophomore slump, and David Wright should build on his bounce back season that he had last year.  If those things happen, then the Mets will have an amazing offense.

What it all comes down to is that the Mets have loads of potential going into this season.  There are plenty of “ifs” for the Mets this season.  Every single team has its “ifs” going into the season, but the Mets’ “ifs” are different from many other teams. 

The Mets are extremely talented, but they just haven’t been able to put everything together.  If the Mets’ “ifs” come true, and another team’s “ifs” come true, then they will have two totally different results.  A team that is not as talented as the Mets has their “ifs”, but the reward is not as high as it is for the Mets.  They might play .500 baseball, and the Mets might make the playoffs.

This season will be crucial for the Mets and their future.  There are plenty of questions heading into the season, but “if” some of their questions have positive answers, then they will compete.  A lot of people are sleeping on the Mets, and the Mets are poised for a comeback season that will surprise many.  Mets fans should be excited for 2011, and they should also be counting down the days until Opening Day. 

If there was ever a time to believe in the Mets, it is now.

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Can the New York Mets Bullpen Be Great in 2011?

The Mets bullpen will have a very different look in 2011.  The only three remaining bullpen pitchers are Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta and Francisco Rodriguez.  The Mets signed a handful of relievers this offseason.  D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Bucholz and Taylor Tankersley were signed by the Mets this offseason and they each have loads of potential.

Some people don’t think that the Mets bullpen will be successful this year.  The team’s bullpen has a lot of question marks, and there are also some injury-prone players in the bullpen.  A strong bullpen can make a mediocre team good, and a good team great.

The Mets had a decent bullpen last year but two of their top relievers are no longer with the team.  Hisanori Takahashi packed his bags for Anaheim, and Pedro Feliciano signed with the Mets’ crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees.

Those two players were key to the Mets’ bullpen success last season, but the team can recover from losing them.  Feliciano was one of the best lefty specialists in the league and he will be missed, but the Mets signed Taylor Tankersley this offseason.  Tankersley is a lefty and he’s not as talented as Feliciano but he might win the job as the Mets’ lefty specialist.

The Mets are hoping that Tankersley will impress in spring training and win the lefty specialist job.  If Tankersley can do that then he will deeply help the Mets.  The National League East has some of the best left-handed hitters in the league so it is crucial for the Mets to have a solid lefty specialist.

If Tankersley doesn’t pan out for the Mets then they will most likely find a solid lefty specialist later in the season.  D.J. Carrasco was one of the Diamondbacks‘ best relievers last year and he can be an effective long man in the bullpen. 

Carrasco can play the role of Hisanori Takahashi in 2011.  Takahashi pitched long relief for the Mets and he also made some starts for the team when they had injury problems or needed to give their pitchers another day of rest. 

Carrasco may play a similar role but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be given a chance to win the setup job.  As of now, Carrasco, Bucholz and Parnell are the front runners for the setup job.  If Carrasco doesn’t win that then he will most likely be a seventh inning man who can long relieve and make spot starts.

Taylor Bucholz has an ample amount of potential.  He just hasn’t been able to translate his talent into consistent success.  This is a crucial year for Bucholz; he can either make or break his career.  Bucholz will compete for the setup job and he should make a pretty good case to win the job.  He was a great signing for the Mets and he has the potential to be a key part of the Mets bullpen this season.

Bobby Parnell will be returning to the Mets, and so will Manny Acosta.  Acosta was a pleasant surprise for the New York Mets last season; he should make a great middle relief man this season.  Parnell is a young guy who has a lot of potential.  He is a flamethrower and he routinely hits the upper 90s on the radar gun, and even hits 100 on occasions.

Parnell will also be competing for the job to set up Francisco Rodriguez.  Parnell has a big chance to be a key part to the Mets bullpen.  Parnell has a solid array of pitches and he has one of the best fastballs in the game.  If Parnell can control his fastball and still throw it in the upper 90s then he will be a great reliever.

Parnell is the ideal setup man: he is a power pitcher and if you tell him to go out there and give it all he’s got then he will blow batters away.  He has the ability to strike out many hitters and he can also set up Francisco Rodriguez perfectly.

When teams go from seeing a 100-mph fastball one inning to a nasty curveball in the mid-80s, they will be off on their timing.  Parnell is a great player and he will allow K-Rod to throw many of the batters off.

Francisco Rodriguez had an up-and-down season last year.  Right when he started to get in a groove, he got into a tussle with his father-in-law.  That messed up his whole season and many fans wanted him out of Queens.  Fans forgot how good Rodriguez actually is.

Rodriguez has the potential to be one of the best closers in the game.  Although he gives Mets fans mini heart attacks every time he takes the mound, he almost always gets the job done.  He has a knack for getting saves, and he has loads of talent.

This Mets bullpen has a lot of potential and it can help lead the team to a winning season.  Bullpens are crucial to a team’s success and the Mets are going to need all the help they can get.  If this bullpen doesn’t perform up to its potential then the team will be in trouble, but if it does then the Mets could have one of the best bullpens in the league.  This bullpen might not be the sexiest, but it has the potential to get the job done night in and night out.

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Why the New York Mets Might Be Rid of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo Soon

Mets fans have wanted Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo off the team for a long time now.  They might get their wish very soon.  With all the negativity swirling around the Mets ownership with the Bernie Madoff situation, the team might be desperate to give the fan base something to be happy about.

Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo are great people but Mets fans can’t stand them as players.  They both have one thing in common: they are being paid too much money.  Perez is being paid $12 million a year to be mop-up reliever.  Castillo’s contract is not as bad as Perez’s but no team wants to pay an aged second baseman who can’t field anymore due to his bad knees.

Spring training is 10 days away and Perez and Castillo deserve the chance to at least try to win a job on the team.  As of now, it doesn’t look like they will get that chance.  Word around the Mets’ front office is that they might cut Perez and/or Castillo before spring training begins.

If the Mets do that, then they will finally give their fans something to smile about.  It may not be the right move to make regarding the baseball team, but it will cut the front office a lot of slack.

The Wilpons are in a mess right now and the fans aren’t too happy about it.  One way to make the fan base happy is to cut Perez and Castillo.

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MLB: Grading Sandy Alderson’s First Season with the New York Mets

Sandy Alderson was named the New York Mets’ new general manager early in the offseason.  Alderson has a big challenge ahead of him, as the Mets have bad contracts at many positions, not to mention Omar Minaya’s mess.

The Mets have recently been big spenders in the offseason, but due to financial constraints, they couldn’t make any big signings this year.  Alderson watched top-notch free agents fly off the market while he was forced to go searching in the bargain bin.

He managed to sign players such as D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Bucholz, Ronny Paulino, Chin Lung-Hu, Chris Capuano and Chris Young.  None of these guys were “sexy” signings, but they all have one thing in common—a high ceiling.  All of these players have the potential to greatly contribute to this franchise.

The best thing about these players is that they were cheap.  Alderson didn’t sign any players to long-term contracts this offseason, following through with his plan to not tie up the Mets with any long contracts. 

His main goal all offseason was to sign low-risk, high-reward players so as to not make any long-term commitments.  He did exactly that.  Alderson followed through with his plan, and it seems he is done acquiring new players.  There may be a few minor league signings, but now Alderson is concentrated on spring training.

It has been a long offseason for the Mets, but Alderson has helped New York fans enjoy it.  Not much was expected from the Mets this offseason, and even though fans knew the team wasn’t going to be bringing in any big-name players, they were still interested in seeing how Alderson would operate.

He carried out his offseason vision and impressed Mets fans with many smart signings in the process.  This offseason was all about next offseason.  Alderson and the Mets had to find a way to spend a minimal amount of money so New York could spend big next year.

It’s not easy watching players like Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee go to different teams, but the reality is that the Mets had no shot at those players this offseason.

It’s hard to grade the Mets’ offseason this year because of the different circumstances.  In the past five offseasons, the Mets have made big splashes, but those moves didn’t result in much winning.   

Given the current circumstances, Alderson did exactly what the team needed during this offseason.  Almost every single one of the players he signed can contribute.  The best part is that if a player doesn’t pan out for the team, it won’t hurt the Mets.

None of the Mets’ signings put a dent in their wallets either.  Alderson deserves an “A” for his performance.  The grading rubric for him is totally different than what it would have been for the Mets in the recent past.

Given the task at hand, Alderson did exceedingly well.  He wasn’t tricked by Scott Boras, and he stood his ground to wait for the right free agents to fall to him.  He signed players to cheap, short contracts, but added in just enough incentives for players to come to Queens.

A new era has begun for the Mets with Alderson’s long-term vision for the team.  Mets fans should be looking forward to seeing this team get on the field.  After all, the most important day of the Mets’ offseason isn’t when they sign a player or make a trade, but the day before spring training begins.

When Alderson and his sidekicks Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi pack away their winter coats and break out their shorts and t-shirts, they will ultimately realize what they accomplished. 

They put a quality team on the field for the upcoming season and most important of all, allowed themselves the flexibility to have a huge offseason next year.  Like they say, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

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