Friday, February 5, 2010

3 Reasons to Believe

The 2009 MLB off season has been about as positive for New York Met fans as the previous four seasons. Let's recap (Mets fans...close your eyes and go to your happy place) - In 2006 the Mets steamrolled their way into the playoffs and looked like the likely favorites to hoist that World Series trophy at the end of October. The Cardinals (particularly Yadier Molina) never got the memo, as the Cardinals took the NLCS in 7 games, and kung-fu chopped the Tigers in 5 to win the World Series.
In 2007 with much the same team assembled the Mets missed the playoffs by losing the last game of the regular season to the Marlins. 2008... same song as 2007 only this time we had Johan Santana. 2009 - a year filled with hope and possibility that crashed and burned almost from the get-go. If you are like me, none of this matters today. I was heckled for continuing to watch the 2009 club, game after horrific game, but my response was ever the same... Ya' gotta believe.
Well Mets fans, I am here today to preach from the rooftops my message of hope and expectation... YA' GOTTA BELIEVE! 2010 will be our year, and there are several reasons to be optimistic about our September/October chances!

First, the injury bug has passed and we will be healthy in 2010 (though we are already off to a rough start on that front). Seasons like 2010 are like lightning strikes - they never happen twice in the same place. Sure, we may view the Beltran surgery as a dark omen the like of which have not been seen since Shakespeare penned Julius Caesar. I choose to view the Beltran surgery as a positive - we will have the best all around CF in the game completely healthy from June on, thanks in large part to this surgery. Imagine if he hadn't undergone the procedure... we'd probably lose him in June and be kissing our season goodbye.

Second reason to believe in 2010 - role players. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, and Francisco Rodriguez. Can you name another team in baseball (outside of the Phillies, and Yanks) with a more formidable core?
I think not. Our problem over the last few seasons has not been the core, but the role players on our team. We have often been knocked for being to thin after our star players, and maybe that's right. This year however, we go into the season with a solid bullpen and some great character guys in the field. Jeff Francouer spent his 2009 showing the Met fanbase that he was gritty, tough, and proud (everything the pundits said the Mets had not been) - with a full 2010 maybe he can help inject some life and energy into this team. Daniel Murphy proved in 2009 that their is life after Carlos Delgado, the kid plays has range at 1st and a soft glove all he needs now is the experience to give him the wisdom to play the position. Most of his errors at 1st base last year were of the mental variety not the defensive/talent variety. If he can learn the position better I think we have a ++ defender at 1st base who can absolutely rip right handed pitching. Bringing back Alex Cora, and Fernando Tatis adding Henry Blanco, and Frank Catalanotto bring a talented veteran stability to the team (not to mention versatility with Catalonotto and Tatis). Hopefully Gary Matthews, Jr. will also prove to be a boon to the bench. Super-sub Angel Pagan is better suited to a fill-in role and it's a nice plus for a team to have a better 4th OF than most other teams 3rd OF.

A third reason to believe in 2010 - the Rotation. "What's that you say?" Yes, it's the much maligned rotation, think back to the 2009 off-season when we had such high hopes, before the crash of injuries laid our summer to waste. We were optimistic about our rotation. Santana was a sure thing (barring injury), Pelfrey was building momentum, Maine was ready to step in and be the stabilizing presence we needed in the middle of the rotation, and Oliver could be lights out AGAIN!!! Not so much. Well, I am here to say have those same hopes for 2010 because - it can only get better. Maine, Pelfrey, and even Perez have the talent to be better than average starting pitchers - which is why I assume the Mets have not added any pitchers to the staff. I get the sense from the Mets front office that if (and that's a big IF) these guys are healthy and in the right presence of mind they believe our rotation will be better than league average, and combined with a potent offense will mean victories. Add a handful of starts from Fernando Nieve, Nelson Figueroa, and Jon Niese the Mets should be fine in the #5 slot of the rotation.

We can be melancholy. After the offseason the Mets have had, we have reason to be cynical. We can be pessimists. We're Mets fans we do that kind of thing better than most. We can even be despondent. There are various and sundry reasons that the 2010 Mets could be as big a failure as the 2009 version... BUT ...
I for one choose to look 2010 square in the fact and say "Ya' gotta Believe!" There is reason for hope, and there are 162 games to play... and then we make the playoffs!

Only 13 days until pitchers and catchers report!

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