Every day this week, Philthy Stuff will be taking a look at each of the teams in the National League East, as they look to unseat the Philadelphia Phillies. First up, the New York Mets.
It seems like it was an eternity ago, but once upon a time, the New York Mets were a bonafide rival of the Philadelphia Phillies. They were nearby, they had intense fans, and most importantly, they were good. Their roster was packed with superstars, and they had all the makings of a dynasty.
That was, up until the Phillies made an improbable, late-season comeback in 2007 to unseat the reigning division champs. Since then, things just haven't been the same for the Metropolitans. While the Phillies would go on to win the division five straight years, the Mets would fall victim to injuries, bad luck, and a pyramid scheme that saw their owners lose a considerable amount of money, forcing them to jettison their players in an effort to cut back on payroll.
In 2012, the Mets' best bet will be to play the role of spoiler; A team that will only succeed in knocking out a would-be contender in the final weeks of the season. That's not to say that they won't be a thorn in the side throughout the season, but their odds are greatly diminished in the now-powerhouse National League east.
Their pitching staff is anchored by Johan Santana, who missed the entire 2011 season, and part of the 2010 season due to rotator cuff surgery. It remains to be seen how effective he will be in 2012, but if his spring training is any indication, it appears that the Ace will return to form.
The rest of the rotation is a mixed bag, with the hit-or-miss Mike Pelfrey (4.74 ERA in 2011), knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (3.28), lefty Jonathon Niese (4.40), and hard-thrower Dillon Gee (4.43). Similarly, the bullpen is nothing spectacular, and consists of the likes of Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Bobby Parnell, Tim Byrdak, Pedro Beato, Ramon Ramirez, and D.J. Carrasco.
On offense, it could be lean times for the Mets in 2012. David Wright is the most recognizable name of the bunch, but recurring injuries could limit his time on the field as he looks to recover from a career worst 2011, where he had a .771 OPS in 102 games. He is joined by Daniel Murphy at second base, and Ruben Tejada is his double-play partner up the middle, as he looks to replace Jose Reyes at shortstop.
Jason Bay returns in left field, but he is not without his own injury concerns. Lucas Duda should provide power in right, and the newly acquired Andres Torres brings speed and defense in center.
The best of the bunch is young Ike Davis, who will look to rebound from an injury-shortened 2011, when he had an impressive .302/.383/.543 line in 36 games. Despite some concerns about his health when spring training started, all systems are go for the 25-year-old first basemen in 2012.
There is a bit to like about the Mets this season, but it figures to be more bad times than good as they look to rebuild their team in the wake of the departures of Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. They figure to put up a bit of a fight, but fans shouldn't expect too much from their hometown team.
My Prediction: The Mets are going to cause a few aches and pains for the competition, assuming that Santana can return to form and that their offense can stay healthy. That will only get them so far, however, so expect them to finish at the bottom of the division.