StrategyFebruary 24, 2009

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30 Teams in 30 Days: New York Mets

By David Allinger

September has been a painful month during the last two seasons for legions of New York Mets fans. This past October only brought further sorrow, as the National League East-rival Philadelphia Phillies reigned supreme and brought home their first World Series title in 28 years. Fortunately, general manager Omar Minaya has worked tirelessly to avoid yet another September swoon. Whether importing new talent into a hapless bullpen or sending the ineffective out of town, Minaya has taken the necessary first steps in turning the page.

For a closer look at the New York Mets and the rest of the NL East, be sure to check out The Can of Corn NL East Preview Podcast.

Offensive Starters

C Brian Schneider.257.339.367309380335
1B Carlos Delgado.271.353.51896381151598
2B Luis Castillo.245.355.3054632817298
SS Jose Reyes.297.358.475113166856688
3B David Wright.302.390.5341153312415626
LF Daniel Murphy.313.397.473242170131
CF Carlos Beltran.284.376.5001162711225606
RF Ryan Church.276.346.4395412492319

Unsettled: Daniel Murphy. According to Minaya, the offense was not a major concern; as such, the lineup closely resembles the standard 2008 method of attack. However, Murphy is far from a lock to get 400-plus at bats in left field, as he will be part of a platoon with the right-handed-hitting Fernando Tatis. With corner outfielder production near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories in 2008, it remains to be seen if the platoon of Murphy/Tatis will pay dividends. Though neither should be on your draft lists in standard leagues, take a wait-and-see approach, and feel free to add either of them if they start to get hot.

Target: Ryan Church. To say Church’s 2008 was hindered by injury would be an understatement. Seemingly every time he would get in a groove, he would suffer another set back due to post-concussion syndrome. A healthy 2009 would signal a prime opportunity for him to become an above-average right fielder. With 550 at bats in this talented lineup, a .280 average, 20-25 home runs, and 100 RBI is a distinct possibility. Not bad for a late round flier.

The Rotation

Johan Santana (L)16-72.531.1520663234.1 
Mike Pelfrey (R)13-113.721.3611064200.2 
Oliver Perez (L)10-74.221.40180105194 
John Maine (R)10-84.181.3512267140 
Tim Redding (R)10-114.951.4312065182w/Was

Unsettled: Tim Redding. Redding is not guaranteed to win the job out of the gate and faces competition from both Freddy Garcia and Jonathon Niese. Garcia was recently signed to a minor league contract, and with his considerable major league success in the past, he could wind up making more starts than Redding and Niese combined. Niese has an outstanding change-up and impressive command but could use some additional seasoning in Triple-A. Despite an uneven 2008 season, Redding still appears to be the front-runner if only because he seems to be the most likely to eat innings. From a fantasy standpoint, the headaches that this log jam will cause are not worth monitoring.

Target: Johan Santana. If you think this goes without saying, you’d be right, but I do feel the need to drive the point home. Do yourself a favor and draft Santana. You cannot do any better. If you are going to take a pitcher early, Santana is the pitcher to take. Santana is as durable and consistent as they come and his dominance over the last five years is simply unmatched. He will also undoubtedly benefit from the much-improved bullpen. His ability to go seven quality innings on a regular basis coupled with arguably baseball’s best eighth and ninth inning duo in J.J. Putz and Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez will lead to many opportunities for one of the hardest fantasy categories to predict – wins.

The 8th and 9th Innings

Francisco Rodriguez (R)622.241.28773468.1w/LAA
J.J. Putz (R)153.881.59562846.1w/Sea

Chasing Saves: The Mets have two of the games most-talented relief pitchers in J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez. In a record-breaking 2008 season, Rodriguez managed to close out 62 games. He will be the go-to guy for saves, regardless of the fact that Putz was a top-five closer as recently as 2007. With his new role as setup man for Rodriguez, Putz becomes the first component in what will arguably be the most daunting late-inning duo in the game.

Final Thoughts:

With four players — David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Johan Santana — who will be drafted in the first two rounds of every league, you could do worse than landing one of the elite Mets. The key here is identifying the players that can be useful to you during the later stages of the draft. Ryan Church is a good choice for a late round flier as he should put up favorable numbers if healthy. Both Oliver Perez and John Maine should approach 15 wins on this Mets team. Unfortunately, Mike Pelfrey is a player that is a perfect example of someone who is more helpful to his real team than your fantasy team. He is a good pitcher, but since he pitches to contact, he is not going to strike anyone out and will hurt you if you are in a roto league. Finally, J.J. Putz is a diamond in the rough who would be a great choice in the last round or two. He will provide stellar ratios and will vulture a few wins and saves in the process.

Yesterday, we looked at the Florida Marlins. Check back tomorrow for a look at the 2008 World Series-champion Philadelphia Phillies in the next installment of “30 Teams in 30 Days!”

David is a life long New York Mets fan who is eager to begin his tenth year of fantasy sports. You can find him around the boards as your resident poker nut, the one and only pokerplaya.
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