Thursday, February 16

New York Mets: Better on Paper ... again

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Starting Pitching:

You want to talk about a bunch of fun what-if statements? This is your place for them. Again, on paper, this rotation looks pretty good. Pedro Martinez, when he's Pedro Martinez, is one of the best pitchers in the NL. Tom Glavine is slightly above average, Victor Zambrano can be if he's not walking everything in sight (up to and including the batboy), Steve Trachsel is a reliable innings-eater, and Aaron Heilman did a great job last year. Sounds great, right?

But now we get to the ifs. What if Pedro's legs don't hold out? That means Glavine will have to step in. Now you've got an ace who's 1) old and 2) kind of lucked out a little bit. If he regresses, then what? You've got Mr. Walk-o-Matic anchoring your staff. Not too great. Keep on moving down the line to the guy who was out most of last year. Your fifth starter has barely pitched over 100 innings in a season.

Can it work? Yeah, it can. The Hindenburg had a few flights, and zepplins were all the rage for a while. But yeah.... when it falls, oh shit.

Ironically enough, they traded away Kris Benson and Jae Seo, who, they weren't great. Seo was a little better than Benson, but neither were great. What they provided was depth... what they don't have? Yup. Depth. (And Jose Lima doesn't count.)

Rough Rotation Guess:
Ace: Pedro Martinez
2nd: Tom Glavine
3rd: Victor Zambrano
4th: Steve Trachsel
5th: Aaron Heilman

Fantasy Value:
Obviously, Pedro's going to be good stuff. (I don't think the doomsday scenario will happen, but some of it might.) Glavine and Zambrano will probably be passable. Ironically, Heilman might be the second best choice from this crop; Trachsel will only be valuable in deep leagues when you just need a guy who doesn't absolutely destroy your ratios. I use the word "valuable" loosely.

More Information:
Tom Glavine
Pedro Martinez

Closer / Bullpen:

So the Mets made a lot of changes this offseason; quite possibly the most significant was the upgrading from Braden Looper to Billy Wagner. Wagner's one hell of a fireballer and a member of the elite closers and will probably allow the Mets to win a few games that Looper blew last year. There's a ton of confidence -and a ton of pressure - riding with Wagner this time around; Mets faithful are quick to turn, especially on someone viewed as their closing savior.

So who else is in the bullpen? Well, the Mets were active this offseason, bringing in Duaner Sanchez from the Dodgers, Jorge Julio from the Orioles, and Chad Bradford from the Red Sox. These moves bolstered the bullpen - although none of these pitchers were the studs in their respective 'pens. Julio might've come the closest, although he was outsted for B.J. Ryan in the Baltimore closers' role and responded with a horrible season. Bradford is probably the best pitcher of those three, but that's mainly due to his funky delivery. He'll work well in a situational role. Sanchez was the 7th inning man for the Dodgers, at least in theory - Gagne was out most of the year, so he got shoved into a setup role. In addition, he did notch 8 saves, so there's a lot of ex-closing experience out there.

Rough Bullpen Guess:
Closer: Billy Wagner
8th inning: Jorge Julio
7th inning: Duaner Sanchez
Sit. Lefty: hmmmm.... maybe this is a problem area....
Sit. Right: Chad Bradford (.409 vs. lefties - ouch.)
Mop-up: TBD

Fantasy Value:

Obviously, Billy Wagner's one of the best closers around, and with pitching 81 games in Shea, his periphials will be fantastic, along with his save totals. Julio and Sanchez might be worth taking fliers on, although that's only in deep, deep leagues, and not even until after the regular season starts. They'll get hot for some periods of time, though. Aside from that ... yeah, not much else here. Of course, that's standard fare for the bullpen.


Well, it finally happened. The Mike Piazza Era is finally over. Possibly ironically, they went back to the well of former Dodger catchers and brought in Paul LoDuca. This wouldn't have been a bad signing at all a few years back, but LoDuca is getting old, and even at his peak, he wasn't the offensive tour de force that Piazza was. He was above average for a couple of years, no better.

Kaz Matsui - how the mighty have fallen. When you came over from Japan before the 2004 season, you were touted as the guy who going to be the keystone combination with Jose Reyes for the next 10 years. Now Reyes is quickly turning into a star (albeit one who doesn't walk), and the team couldn't get rid of you to save their life this offseason. You even got moved from short over to second to make room for Reyes to move back to his natural position. Now the team is more or less willing to deal with you, although as soon as they find another second baseman with a pulse, you just might be gone. Inflated expectations? Possibly. But it's also your contract year - are you going to produce?

The corners spots are among some of the best in the game. Like LoDuca, Carlos Delgado also came over from the Marlins from their fire sale du jour (get it while it's hot, kids), and he's had experience working in a pitcher's park. David Wright is already one of the best third basemen in the game; if he's not already a household name (which he should be), he will be after this year.

Projected Infield:
C: Paul LoDuca
1B: Carlos Delgado
2B: Kaz Matui
SS: Jose Reyes
3B: David Wright

Fantasy Value:

It depends all on what you're willing to pay for with these guys. Wright, Delgado, and Reyes are all fantastic (Reyes will give you a huge jump in steals alone). Delgado and Wright will put up some fantastic power numbers. Kaz Matsui, on the other hand, should just find the junk heap. LoDuca might be worth drafting in deeper and NL-only leagues, but that's about it. Studs'n'duds, these guys are.

More Information:
Carlos Delgado
Jose Reyes
David Wright


Well, Carlos Beltran's back. Of course, that's a loaded statement it in of itself. Why? To put it bluntly, he sucked last year - at least compared to what was expected of him. Were the expectations a little too much? Probably; it's hard to move from a hitter's park into Shea and then improve on your numbers from last year. In addition, injuries killed a lot of his speed. He'll probably balance between his '05 and '04 numbers - and if I had to pick a direction, probably a little closer to his '05 numbers. It's close, though. He'll move into center field this year, mainly thanks to the Mike Cameron trade that brought over Xavier Nady (more on him in a minute).

Cliff Floyd is also back - although his last year's 150 games were an aberration. That's the most he's had in any season save 1998; 120 games is probably a more realistic expectation. Even that's a little above his average (which is about 105-115 games). When healthy, though? He's quite a solid bat to have in the lineup. Endy Chavez (or, more likely, one of the two guys in right) will move into left if Floyd is out for any real length of time.

Right field will have the only major new outfield face - Xavier Nady will join Victor Diaz. Ironically, one of the reasons people were happy that Diaz was traded was that it'd give him more playing time. He'll get more, but not significantly so.

More information:
Carlos Beltran
Xavier Nady

Fantasy Value:

Floyd, when healthy, should produce. Diaz and Nady are certainly useful in NL-only leagues, and also in leagues where you have a suitable replacement for their off days.

Beltran... well, Beltran is an interesting story. It all depends on what you expect from him. If you expect a return to 2004 numbers, draft high. If you expect 2005 numbers ... honestly, I'd just avoid him entirely in that case. Worth going after if he falls under value, though.

Extra Stuff:

So remember how I said that the Braves always seem to be greater than the sum of their parts? These guys are always less. It's weird - perennial underachievers, these guys. Ironically enough, everything is perfectly set up for a repeat performance of that sort of thing yet again.

Why? Well, their pitching got a little bit worse, although their bullpen got a LOT better. They'll win games late now. Their offense is worlds better - although 1) it's Shea and 2) Wright might languish back in the 6-hole - or worse, 7-hole. These are significant problems - question marks that might not go away even halfway through the season. When you doubt your staff's ability to go late and effective in games and your offense is mildly handcuffed for half the season, there's reason to be concerned.

Am I overestimating these factors? Yeah, probably. However, I've seen this too often to not have a jaded view of it. Something will happen - it always does.