Expectations for this season are very high. After last season's debacle and the offseason acquisition of Johan Santana, anything less than a National League Pennant would be a major disappointment.
And unfortunately I think that's what's in store for us this season.
While the Mets might have the best rotation in the National League the bullpen is suspect and the lineup is a lot worse than people are willing to say.
Also the team is poorly constructed as the Mets continue to rely on veterans who cannot be trusted to stay healthy. The team's age showed down the stretch last year and again in spring training as a rash of injuries decimated the team.
Let's break it down player by player as I offer my completely arbitrary season predictions:
Jose Reyes: Reyes is still awesome. What happened to him last September was merely a poorly timed slump. I have no doubts that he will continue to be one of the best and most exciting players in the majors. .280 BA, .370 OBP and .430 slugging as well as 50 steals and 100 runs scored are minimum levels of achievement for him.
Luis Castillo: Frankly, Castillo sucks. He contributes nothing offensively. He has no power, he can't run anymore and although he does draw some walks, not enough to make him a high on-base guy. Also his defense which is his calling card is suspect as he made several bad plays down the stretch last year. Good offensive teams can carry a .725 OPS guy and bat him 8th. The Mets are counting on him to bat second.
David Wright: I expect David to continue to grow this year. While last year's .325 BA and 34 steals might not be reachable again, with a few more walks and a few more home runs I think he could have a 1.000 OPS this season. I expect 35 homers and 125 RBI out of him. And fewer errors, especially throwing errors.
Carlos Beltran: He should put up similar numbers to Wright only with slightly fewer walks and a lower batting average as well. But I expect him to score 100 runs, drive in 100 runs and have a .900 OPS.
Carlos Delgado: I believe he is washed up and can no longer get around on a good inside fastball. I think he's going to be injured/benched at some point this year. I think we are going to see a lot of strikeouts and double plays when Delgado is up in key situations this year. I expect a .240 BA, 20 homers and 75 RBI.
Moises Alou: I think Alou can still hit, but I know he can't stay healthy. It's unreasonable to expect him to hit .341 again, and its also unreasonable to expect him to play more than 100 games. He will bat closer to .300, with an OPS of .850 and he'll be good for 15 homers and 60 RBI.
Ryan Church: He's a major swing player for this season. If he can contribute some run scoring hits from the bottom of the lineup that will make a huge difference. If he becomes a younger Shawn Green, then the Mets are in trouble. I think an .800 OPS is realistic for him, with 15 homers and 65 RBI.
Brian Schneider: I don't expect anything from him offensively and I expect by May reasonable Mets fans, led by myself will be calling for Castro's insertion into the starting lineup.
For the starting pitchers I have much higher hopes.
Johan Santana: Changing to a league with less potent lineups, the pitcher's spot and a more favorable home ballpark should help him regain his old form. But I think the weak offense and the questionable bullpen as well as Randolph's aversion to letting pitchers go deep in games should cost him a few wins. 19-9, 2.93 ERA.
Pedro Martinez: I think he's going to get off to a good start but miss some time around midseason. I also think that they want to keep him to 6 innings which should cost him quite a few wins. 12-9, 3.78 ERA.
John Maine: I don't think he's going to have the breakout that everyone is hoping for but I think he can win a lot of games by being more consistent. I think last year's late season fatigue was an inexperience thing, and possibly a contagion from the rest of the team. 16-10, 3.67 ERA.
Oliver Perez: Perez's problem is that he can pitch shutouts and dominate, but he can also get wild and give up home runs which lead to losses and high ERA. 15-13, 4.10 ERA.
I'm not going to provide individual breakdowns for every member of the bench or bullpen but I think Wagner will be what he is, very good but a few blown saves, and I think Feliciano and Heilman will be excellent as his main setup men. I think if Schoeneweis can stick to being a situational lefty, he will do fine, if his role is larger than that he will struggle. I do not expect Duaner Sanchez to return to his 2006 form.
As for the bench, Marlon Anderson will never be as hot as he was at the end of last season. Ramon Castro will set the world on fire in his spot starts, then get hurt again. Endy will be Endy, contributing excitement and filling in when Alou gets injured, but since we already have Castillo, if he has to play everyday he will have to bat 7th or 8th. And half the rest of the guys on the bench won't be here when the season ends.
My prediction: 90-72, 1st place NL East, lose in NLCS.