The Mets and their fans are rather joyous and celebrating their Season 20 play. Big par-tay in Queens tonight. You might find that funny but there are several reasons for the party. For one, our record harbingers a hopeful beginning for a drive to a pennant. Not since season 7 have the Mets won more games. Not since seasons 7 and 8 have they not finished last in the division two years in a row. Okay, so last year was a tie for third and the tie-breaker made us third.
Most of the offensive categories improved but the biggest let down was final production. We had a lot of stranded runners. Pitching seemed to be be the biggest downfall however. We were 50-50 on 1-run games, at best you need to be positive in that category to have a .500 season. We led the league in extra inning games which means we fought hard but an 8-13 record just won't get the job done in that area either.
There will be lots to do in the off-season and to ponder also. A break down by position and possible solutions.
C: Gary Stanley is a FA at the end of season. He will 35 next season and will retire afterwards. He isn't wanting much in the way of a contract but rollover might just zap him so we will have to patient. We have two capable youngsters and a vet under contract in the minors so it might actually be a moot point. Rob Webster is our primary catcher but a good backup is a concern due to fatigue issues.
1B: Tomas Guerrero had a decent defensive year but his offensive production was down a bit. It looks like his production is cyclic at the plate in average but walk-to-SO tendency was normal. It also could be caused by where he was slotted in the lineup. He is a tough one to place.
2B: John McInerney has emerged as a young superstar in the making. He didn't improve his ratings at all during the season but we think he might improve during the off-season. He is arb eligible for the second time and will want a big contract, we have no choice to give his asking price.
3B: Chun-Lim Satou had a respectful season in our minds, however we know it could be better and might be due to finding the right place in the batting order.
SS: Pedro Johnson played the tough position after we found out his bat was better in the lineup. It is a hot topic on whether to resign him next year. For one he will be a first time arb eligible and his production was actually a smoke screen. His defense was actually substandard in our minds and chances are slim there will be any improvement. Tomas Trevino was signed to a moderate contract to play the position at the beginning of the season but was used as a platoon player instead as he can't hit a punching bag. We have a prospect we think can do an overall better job at the position.
LF: Dan Radke did a much better job defensively this year. Offensively however was a disappointment.
CF: Abdul Riggs started last year as the outfield anchor. This year we came across Clarence Valentin who looked like he could handle a bat much better. We had to wait to sign him as money was tight and we were hoping no one else would grab him until his price fell into our range. What we found out in the end, we needed to play both of them to give us a three headed base stealing approach. Valentin can play several positions which is great until you had to leave someone out of the lineup.
RF: Domingo Jose played the position as well as could be expected and would make a much better LF. His bat disappointed.
Daiki Xaio was used as an everywhere platoon player but doesn't have a job next year as he won't be affordable as a second year arb.
We have 7 potential position prospects we are looking at heavily for the majors next season. However most will stay in the minors for another year and that may be the wise thing to do. We think we will go with a rookie SS for most of the season next year however.
One thing we may try to do in the off-season is find a left-handed bat. That is one glaring hole in the offense that might help us.
Pitching was a let down and an area to improve on the most. Injuries hurt the most as George Atkins didn't recover well and may be demoted to long relief next season.
Charlie Hicks was another that lost a lot to the injury bug. He is at the end of his contract and will probably be a FA casualty.
Several pitchers may find themselves hoping they can cash in with the FA market as we are not too keen on resigning many.
Harry Rodriguez was called up for a tryout at roster expansion and may have secured a job. Pitching well against the D'Backs and Browns was not much of an impossible task but showed he could do the job. His thrashing at home against the Marlins may have been a little overwhelming to any rookie pitcher.
Ted Maxwell was also called up and as long as he keeps throwing strikes has secured a pen job as well.
Al Limon will be offered a contract also.
Wayne Hampton didn't have a spectacular season but I think we had him in the wrong role.
The biggest problem was in the starting staff, they just couldn't get to the 6th inning and that hurt. When they did pitch well, the pen would find a way to blow it or the offense gave little support. Finding quality pitching next year is a must or we will be just the same so-so team.