2009 MLB Preview: #3 New York Mets

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Offseason Movement: In a major effort to try and bolster their bullet riddled bullpen, the Mets signed top free agent closer Francisco Rodriguez, who saved a record 62-games last season for the Angels. The Mets also acquired reliever J.J. Putz, outfielder Jeremy Reed and RHP Sean Green in a three team swap with the Mariners and Indians. The club signed free agent starter Freddy Garcia, but after he gave up 15 runs in just seven innings this spring, they reassigned him to minor league camp. Livan Hernandez – yet another free agent signing – fared much better and will be the Mets’ fifth starter when the season opens. Casey Fossum, Alex Cora, Darren O’Day, Rocky Cherry, Connor Robertson and Cory Sullivan round out the rest of New York’s offseason additions.

Top Prospect: Wilmer Flores, SS
Outfield prospect Fernando Martinez also deserves mention here, but Flores is already showing potential at just 17 years old. Flores is light years away from the big leagues, but he’s already drawing comparisons to Miguel Cabrera in terms of his potential at such a young age. The Mets will likely move Flores along slowly and let him develop his skills. There’s absolutely no need to rush him, but he’ll get his opportunity to shine in the next couple of years.

The Big Question: Can the new faces in the bullpen come together?
The Mets blew 29 save opportunities last year, so to address that weakness they signed a closer in Francisco Rodriguez who set a record in saves last season with 62. Outside of his WHIP rising every season since 2002, K-Rod remains one of the best closers in the league and at only 27, he still has plenty of baseball ahead of him. Adding J.J. Putz via trade this offseason was also a solid move for this club, but the long-relief situation is a bit of an uncertainty considering the mixed bag of Pedro Feliciano, Sean Green, Brian Stokes (who was almost traded recently), Nelson Figueroa, Bobby Parnell and Darren O’Day. Parnell and O’Day have been good this spring, so the Mets’ bullpen appears to be ready for a major bounce back. But with so many new faces, it’s tough to assume that all of the club’s issues in the pen last year are fixed.

Outlook: The Mets fit in one of two categories in terms of their 2009 outlook. People either assume that they’re postseason bound after addressing their most glaring weakness (the bullpen), or they’re not fooled by all the offseason moves and therefore are urging the rest of the baseball world not to buy into the hype. I tend to fit into the former category and believe that this could be the Mets year to make some noise. They collapsed last year – bottom line. And there’s no way of knowing if they’ll do it again this year. But they completely overhauled the bullpen with quality arms like K-Rod, J.J. Putz and Sean Green, and still have one of the best lineups in the National League, headlined by Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and emerging youngster Daniel Murphy. It’s no secret that the starting rotation is a bit of a question mark after Johan Santana, but it’s solid nonetheless. Should anyone be surprised if the Mets fall apart again this year? No. But given their talent, nobody should be surprised if they make a run at the World Series either.

Projection: 1st NL East

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