From Tom Seaver to Dwight Gooden to David Wright, A look at the New York Mets past, present and future.
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As the 2012 New York Mets open spring training, the team has several issues that need to be resolved in camp. The health of stars– LHSP Johan Santana(shoulder) and 1B Ike Davis(ankle) has to top the list. If these two can contribute, the Mets are greatly improved. One of the weaknesses of the 2011 club was the bullpen and General Manager Sandy Alderson added 3 new veterans to the unit via trade or signing in Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez and Frank Francisco. The 2nd base position is clearly Daniel Murphy’s job to win or lose but serious knee injuries in the previous 2 campaigns make his status a question mark as well. Shortstop became an issue when the team lost 2011 National League batting champion Jose Reyes to division rival Miami via free agency but again, the Mets have a strong internal option in INF Rueben Tejada. Lets look more in depth to these camp battles.
1- Team Health- Obviously a key to any teams success but the Mets in recent years have been snake bit with the injury bug,often to star players. A return of LHSP Johan Santana(Late 2010 shoulder surgery,did not pitch in the ML in 2011) would give NY 5 solid starters while balancing out the rotation(2 lefties with 3 right handers). Slugging 1B Ike Davis was off to tremendous start(.302,7 home runs, 25 rbi in 36 games) in 2011 before brutal ankle injury felled him for the season in May. Slotting him in the cleanup spot should give the Mets a presentable 3-4-5 combination with 3B David Wright, Davis and LF Jason Bay. Making this group even more intriguing is fact that they go righty, lefty, righty which presents problems for the opposition managers when using match up relievers late in games. Wright, who looks great in camp, also missed 60 games in 2011 with a broken bone in his back and is primed for a big year in Queens. Whether he ends the season in Flushing is another issue but with the Citi Field fences moving in and appearing to be more hitter friendly, look for #5 to put up some monster numbers.
2- Rebuilt Relief- This unit was up and down in 2011 and part of that was the trade of the team’s controversial closer, Francisco Rodriquez at midseason. GM Alderson has added some veteran pro’s to the returnees and this group should help Skipper Terry Collins relax a bit in late inning situations. RHs Ramon Ramirez and Jon Rauch(Tallest player in MLB) should pitch somewhere in the 6-7-8th innings while RH Frank Francisco, who has closed in both Texas and Toronto, is the likely saves guy. 2011 staffers Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato, Bobby Parnell(100+ MPH several times in 2011) and lone LH Tim Byrdak should round out the bullpen. A 2nd lefty would be a good addition to this group while RHP Jenrry Mejia,who missed most of 2011 after elbow surgery, is an elite arm who could make this team with a strong camp.
3- 2B- This is Daniel Murphy’s job to lose and if you judge a guy by how hard he works, Murphy will be hard to beat out. The talented hitter(Batted .320 in 109 games in 2011) showed up two weeks early for spring training and has been working hard on his defense. However, he has had two serious knee injuries while playing the field and wears braces on both joints. Justin Turner, who hit .260 in 117 games in the beat up Mets infield in 2011, looks more like a super sub than everyday guy. Prospects Jordany Valdespin and Reese Havens although talented do not appear to be major league ready.
4- Replacing Reyes- Again, the Mets have an incumbent internal option in Rueben Tejada to take over at shortstop. However, replacing the 2011 National League batting champion Jose Reyes is more of team wide thing than just on the 2nd year major leaguer. Tejada is an excellent defensive player and ideally a #2 hitter on a good team. He hit .284 with .696 OPS in 328 at bats in 2011(No home runs) and has gained 10 pounds in the offseason. This is a solid player, not the spectacular Reyes and most fans realize this. Others-namely Davis and Wright- will have to pull more weight to offset the loss of the Mets former star shortstop.
5- Outfield Options- I think the Mets are set at the corner spots with Bay and the promising Lucas Duda in right field. In his rookie season, Duda hit .292 with 10 homers and 50 rbi in 301 at bats. He is not Dwight Evans in right but he is passable. Veteran Scott Hairston and the team’s top OF prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis are the options to supplant Duda. CF Andres Torres was acquired in the Angel Pagan trade and had a tough 2011 campaign in San Francisco after being a key component for the 2010 World Champions. An excellent defensive outfielder, the team hopes he can approach his career best 2010 season, when he hit .268 with 16 homers.
First of all, I am writing this today with a heavy heart. Tough, tough day. I want to dedicate my 2012 season on Tomseaverfan.com to Gary Carter and his family. I lost a bit of my childhood today. While left with some great moments and memories, I am sad because the world lost someone today who was a true hero in every sense of the word. We will miss you, Kid.
The New York Mets and Baseball lost a great player and man this afternoon as catcher Gary Carter passed away from brain cancer at the age of 57. A team leader and respected locker room voice, the Hall of Famer was an 11 time All Star(2 time All Star game MVP) and starred with the Montreal Expos for 10 seasons. Carter ,acquired in a offseason trade entering the 1985 season, was considered the best backstop in the game and played for New York til 1989. That move was viewed as the final piece in the puzzle for the young and talented Mets club that took off in 1984 before winning the franchise’s 2nd World Championship in 1986.
Baseball wise, Gary fit the Mets like a glove. He teamed with 1B Keith Hernandez and RF Darryl Strawberry to form a brutally devastating 3-4-5 slots in the batting order. The Power hitter was an ideal cleanup man(324 career home runs, 20+ his first 3 years with the Mets) for the club with his right handed stick balancing the south paws in veteran glove man Hernandez and the emerging superstar talent Strawberry. “Kid” was also great with pitchers and worked hard to make them successful. Mets skipper Davey Johnson praised his research and preparation, calling him “a one-man scouting system”. He was famous for catching starting pitchers pregame BULLPEN sessions. Saying I want to see how they throw, not have some one tell me. An underrated defensive force, he collected 3 gold gloves.
I spent several hours tonight watching coverage of Gary’s passing on the Mets flagship network, SNY and you began to realize how loved and respected he was. I come from a divorced family and my Father lived in New York for most of the Carter era years. We frequently visited Shea Stadium and I loved the Mets. They played with energy, passion and intensity, they had flair and flash. That team helped turn me on to sports and is big reason why I do what I do today. Somewhere upstairs, Gary Carter is smiling.
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