The New York Mets have to be feeling pretty good about themselves. How could you not after acquiring Johan Santana during the off-season. After dealing for arguably the best pitcher in the game, the Mets become overnight contenders in the NL East for obvious reasons. Santana has won 90 games since the 2002 season, an average of 15 a year. In that time period he struck out 1289 batters, the most in baseball over the six year span. Not to mention, boasted a career 3.22 ERA.
Saying this guy’s good is an understatement, it’s almost an insult, because Johan Santana is amazing.
For the Mets, spring training will only be a chance to showcase their talented new ace that joins a staff of two other pitchers, when in their primes, were also once considered the stud on a staff. Pedro Martinez and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez are not strangers to the number one spot in the rotation. Martinez was there with the Montreal Expos, (may you Rest In Peace) and then the Boston Red Sox while Hernandez was the anchor to the New York Yankees club in the late 90’s.
Aside from what looks to be a dominant staff of starting pitchers, the Mets look very solid in the field as well. SS Jose Reyes is the fastest man in MLB, and is the first legitimate player since Ricky Henderson’s 1983 season to have a chance at stealing 100 bases in a year. 3B David Wright’s numbers have gotten better in each of his first three campaigns in the big leagues, and last year he finished 4th in the MVP balloting so look for this season to be even better. Veteran 1B Carlos Delgado still has some pop in his bat and should provide 20-30 HR’s and right around 100 RBI’s.
Another great sign for the Mets is having outfielders Moises Alou and Carlos Beltran reporting to camp on time, in shape, and completely healthy. The two roaming the outfield at Shea Stadium this season certainly will help Mets pitchers because their defensive prowess closes the gaps for opposing hitters. If both can continue to produce their career averages at the plate, the Mets have nothing to worry about from the two sluggers.
Lots will be going on in New York this year, but the Mets will be taking the ‘one game at a time’ approach because they do not want a duplicate of last years September collapse to repeat itself. With a new field and stadium scheduled to open for 2009 (Citi Field), the Mets would love to go out with a Championship for their loyal fans.
Before they even step foot in New York, the first thing the Mets want to do is get through spring training. They opened their first Grape Fruit league game against the Detroit Tigers and looked very solid through the first 6 innings holding the Tigers scoreless. The Tigers ended up winning the game 4-2 but team officials were very pleased with the effort the squad put forth.
As for Mets fans, they have every reason to smile this spring. Some guy named Santana is coming to town, and he’s bringing the heat. The NL better be ready for him or they are going to get burned.
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