After a disastrous 2009 season that threatened to bankrupt the New York Mets’ medical insurers, 2010 is already off to a rough start. Carlos Beltran underwent right knee surgery and will miss at least the first month of the regular season. His right knee was the same one that caused him to miss two months last season and with his role as the Gold Glove center fielder who also provides five-tool talent to the Mets and fantasy owners, losing him is a devastating blow before spring training begins. The Mets will try to fill the gap with a combination of Angel Pagan and recently acquired Gary Matthews Jr. Big off-season acquisition Jason Bay was brought to provide the power threat the Mets sorely lacked. After the Mets hit a miserable 95 home runs, 27 fewer than the second-lowest team, they needed to make a splash to get back on the fantasy radar. If the Mets can avoid having their players spend 1,480 days on the disabled list, this top heavy roster can easily return to the fantasy spotlight.
|C Omir Santos||.260||.296||.391||28||7||40||0||281|
|1B Daniel Murphy||.266||.313||.427||60||12||63||4||508|
|2B Luis Castillo||.302||.387||.346||77||1||40||20||486|
|3B David Wright||.307||.390||.447||88||10||72||27||535|
|SS Jose Reyes||.279||.355||.395||18||2||15||11||147|
|LF Jason Bay||.267||.384||.537||103||36||119||13||531||w/BOS|
|CF Angel Pagan||.306||.350||.487||54||6||32||14||343|
|RF Jeff Francoeur||.280||.309||.423||72||15||76||6||593||w/2T|
Unsettled: Center Field. Carlos Beltran’s hopefully short-term replacement will be decided in spring training between Pagan and Matthews Jr. Fantasy owners and Mets fans should want to see Pagan win the job. After Beltran went down last year, Pagan emerged as a valuable contributor, scoring 54 runs and stealing 14 bases while batting .306 in only 343 at-bats. Pagan has the potential to steal well over 20 bases with regular playing time, had 39 extra base hits, and boasted an .800+ OPS in limited action. Pagan doesn’t provide any power numbers, but in Citi Field having natural strengths elsewhere is ideal for sustaining success. Matthews Jr. was essentially given away to the Mets and has been miserable since ’07. Given his combination of age, park factors, and inability to steal bases, Matthews Jr. isn’t worth owning except in very deep leagues.
Target: The top half of the order should be set with Reyes, Castillo, Wright, Bay, and Francoeur at the top, Omir Santos batting eighth, and sixth and seventh will be between Murphy and whoever wins the center field job while Beltran is out. Once Beltran returns, he should slide back into the cleanup spot between Wright and Bay. If Pagan wins the center field job, don’t be surprised to see him bump Castillo out of the number two hole at some point in the season as Pagan was very productive batting leadoff when Reyes was out. The addition of Bay and health of Wright and Reyes will instantly transform this offense from a bottom feeder to respectability. Wright’s 2009 season was scary for fantasy owners but as a former top-five pick, a 10 home run season should be treated as an anomaly rather than the start of a trend. As a second-round pick heading into 2010, he is worth the gamble. The Mets are hoping that Bay can continue to hit home runs in any park, demonstrated by Bay being one of the AL leaders in no doubt home runs. A full season of 2009’s lone bright spot, Jeff Francoeur, will also provide an additional power boost to the Mets lineup. The health reports out of Queens for Reyes report that he hasn’t experienced any setbacks after right hamstring surgery. Fantasy owners should expect to see him back fully healthy but must lower their speed expectations in the first half of the season as he works his way back from injury.
Prospect Watch: Ike Davis. Make no mistake, if Davis gets called up in June, the Mets season will be going poorly, but that works in favor of fantasy owners. Davis is a former first-round pick who followed up a disappointing debut in the New York Penn League in 2008 with a very promising 2009 where he hit 20 home runs with a .900+ OPS in 429 at-bats. His path to first base is clear with Daniel Murphy expected to be the opening day starter in 2010. If Davis continues his minor league success and the Mets are struggling, Davis should see a call-up by July. It’s doubtful that he will become a major bat at first base but he can definitely be fantasy relevant.
|Johan Santana (L)||13-9||3.13||1.21||146||46||166.2|
|Mike Pelfrey (R)||10-12||5.03||1.51||107||66||184.1|
|John Maine (R)||7-6||4.43||1.29||55||38||81.1|
|Oliver Perez (L)||3-4||6.82||1.92||62||58||66|
|Jon Niese (L)||1-1||4.21||1.40||18||9||25.2|
Unsettled: Jon Niese. Jenrry Mejia is by far the best Mets pitching prospect, however, even with the Mets tendency to rush their Latin American prospects, a September call-up would be generous. Combined with general manager Omar Minaya’s failure to sign Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro, Ben Sheets, and other targets, Niese becomes the go to guy for the fifth starter job. In 2009, Niese suffered a torn hamstring that prematurely ended his season, but as it wasn’t an arm injury, his long-term stock should remain the same. Niese had a nice season in Triple-A, recording almost a strikeout per inning with low walk and home run rates. When called upon by the big league club, he came through admirably with a couple of strong outings. If Citi Field is Petco Park East, a young starter like Niese is worth watching if he has a nice spring training. He’ll be one to keep an eye on from the waiver wire as opposed to drafting anyone in the rotation after Santana.
Target: Johan Santana. Once you get past Santana, the rotation is essentially a mess. Pelfrey took a step back last season, Maine could not get past the fifth inning, Perez would have had the worst season by a New York starter in years if Wang wasn’t in the Bronx, and Niese had a solid season in the minors and limited major league action but profiles as a middle of the rotation starter, not the savior the Mets desperately need. Pelfrey has proven durable but a 5 ERA will not get it done. Pelfrey is a sinker-ball pitcher who clearly suffered without Reyes’ defense. A healthy Reyes should help his ERA get closer to his 4.39 FIP and hopefully much lower. A return to form of his sinker to 2008 levels plus a healthy defense is essential for Pelfrey to make an impact. Maine was a fantasy revelation in 2007, but due to spending too much time on the disabled list and his inability of getting deep into games, he has been ineffective since. Maine could be worth a flier in deep leagues but should typically go undrafted. Perez received an exorbitant contract after 2008. Most Met fans, myself included, justified this contract by thinking that with the short supply of starting pitching and his flashes of dominance, he was needed to keep up with the Phillies. The bottom fell out on Perez last year, nearly walking as many guys as he struck out before being banished to the minor leagues. Santana is still a fantasy ace, albeit a low end one these days, but assuming good health, he can provide an excellent return for fantasy owners at a fourth or fifth-round draft day price.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Francisco Rodriguez (R)||35||3.71||1.31||73||38||68|
Chasing Saves: The Mets bullpen is pretty simple, K-Rod is being paid a lot of money to close for the Mets and he has no competition for the job. This makes him a great pick on draft night for fantasy owners. He is one of the few closers in baseball who has basically no threat to his job and will close for the Mets unless he gets hurt. Hopefully a healthy Mets offense will enable Rodriguez to pick up more saves but his other numbers should remain close to the same. Escobar is a great flier pickup for the team, but Mets fans really want him to make it back to shore up the shaky rotation, not set up K-Rod. Escobar, Pedro Feliciano, and Ryota Igarashi are the primary sources for holds here.
The Mets are a top heavy fantasy team. Wright, Reyes, Bay, Santana, K-Rod and a healthy Beltran are all studs, but after that it’s mainly trying to find diamonds in the rough here. Fortunately though, stars bouncing back from injuries are always available for a discount on draft day. Drafting Wright and Reyes at a reduced second-round price tag, or gambling on Beltran could be what carries a team to a fantasy championship. Beyond the elite, keep an eye on guys like Pagan and Niese from the waiver wire. Hopefully owning a Met fills a need on draft day and not your disabled list spot.
Gareth Porter is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Gareth in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Grounded Polo.
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