The NY Mets had hoped to battle the Philadelphia Phillies for the top spot in the National League East. They addressed their needs in the bullpen by adding closer Francisco Rodriguez, setup man JJ Putz, and reliever Sean Green. However Putz is now a free agent as he suffered through the season with an arm injury. The Mets trudged through the season battling injuries and the Washington Nationals for the bottom spot in the NL East. A far cry from where they hoped to finish with the new ballpark opening and the high payroll. The Mets have quite a few needs so here’s their wish list:
Healthy players: All of the big name players spent time on the DL. The top of the order was missing for a good portion of the season. Jose Reyes tore his hamstring and they were missing his speed, defense, and leadoff capabilities. Carlos Beltran was bothered by a bone bruise in his knee for half the season and they missed his defense, power, and speed. Carlos Delgado missed most of the year, forcing the Mets to look for a first baseman. Now that Delgado is a free agent, they still are looking for an answer at first (is it Daniel Murphy or prospect Ike Davis). Third baseman David Wright’s power was virtually nonexistent and then he suffered a head injury later in the season after getting beaned in the head. Ace Johan Santana suffered through an elbow injury, finally succumbing to surgery in September. The rotation followed suit with injury as Fernando Nieve and Jon Niese had freak leg injuries after pitching well. The Mets need a healthy core to be able to compete in 2010.
- A bridge from the rotation to closer Francisco Rodriguez: The Mets bullpen was a concern going into the 2009 season and it still is a concern heading into 2010. They feel confident with the combination of Brian Stokes, Bobby Parnell, and Sean Green setting up for K-Rod. Lefty Pedro Feliciano is also an option if there are left-handed hitters up in the eighth inning. Relievers are abundant on the market so the Mets can find help if they choose to look.
A first baseman: Daniel Murphy, who was converted to left field during the early part of the season, was converted to first base late in the year. Is Murphy the answer? Ike Davis, one of their top prospects from Arizona State, spent the 2009 season in Single-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton. Davis also represented the United States in the World Cup as he won a gold medal and finished the season in the Arizona Fall League. In the AFL, Davis hit .341 in 21 games with 4 homeruns and 16 RBIs. He would be the obvious choice to take over first, but the Mets may decide to send him back to the minors for more seasoning. If that’s the case, the Mets would be looking for a short-term answer at first base, which could be Murphy or someone on the free agent market like Adam LaRoche or Aubrey Huff.
- A corner outfielder with power: No team hit less homeruns than the Mets, as they hit just 93. The Mets traded right fielder Ryan Church to the Atlanta Braves for right fielder Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur’s power numbers have fallen every year since 2006. His overall numbers have gone down the last two years, though his strikeouts declined in 2009. If Francoeur doesn’t produce, the Mets will need a backup plan. After Murphy moved from left field to first base, the Mets platooned players like Jeremy Reed and Cory Sullivan in left field. Big-time left fielders are on the free agent market like Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, and Johnny Damon. Rumors are that the Mets are interested in Washington Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham, though the Mets don’t have the pieces to trade. I would expect the Nationals to ask for catcher Josh Thole as the Mets aren’t planning on using him in the big leagues in 2010 (and the Nats need a starting catcher), despite his great debut (.321 in 17 games and just 5 strikeouts) and continuance in winter ball in Venezuela (.377 in 43 games with 28 RBIs and more walks than strikeouts: 25 BB/ 13 K). Thole leads the Venezuelan League in hitting.
- A starting rotation beyond Johan Santana: Santana suffered an elbow injury and he wasn’t as dominant as in the past. John Maine hasn’t thrown many innings in the last two seasons (a little over 220). The Mets were disappointed in the lack of progress Mike Pelfrey had from the year before. In 2008, Pelfrey was 13-10 with a 3.72 ERA in 200.2 innings. In 2009, he was 10-12 with a 5.03 ERA in 184.1 innings. Instead of going after a big name starter last offseason, the Mets resigned Oliver Perez. Perez was a mess all season. It was like he had no idea what he was doing. He was 3-4 with a 6.82 ERA in just 14 starts with 58 BB/ 62 K. The Mets may need to find help for Santana.