Monday, February 11, 2008

Spring Is on The Way? Oh Yes It Is...

There is snow on the ground,and -0 wind chills here in the Northeast, but there is magic in the air. Pitchers and catchers for the New York Mets officially report on Friday, and you know what that means.

Baseball is back! Oh yeah and the Mets traded for Johan Santana. Can life get any better?

So, what do we make of this year’s version of the Mets? A starting rotation filled with Santana, a few old guys (Pedro & Hernandez), and a few young kids coming off a career year and posting a 15 win season apiece(Maine & Perez). A bullpen filled with, well, filled with … umm … who knows what it’s filled with. There are about 812 guys vying for the a bullpen spot. A manager who will be on the hot seat and on a short leash. It's a superstar-laden lineup, yet a few aging players that may or may not be counted on to match the production of the past couple of seasons. And Jeff Wilpon calling more of the shots as each year passes.

Yes, definitely lots and lots of questions about this team. As the NY Post points out.

How effective will Pedro Martinez be? My take, Pedro will be effective, but don't over project his numbers. I would think Pedro gets about 25 starts for 150 IPs and a 12-5 record. His ERA should still be below 4.00, closing to a 3.50 ERA. Think less and be happy if you get more!

What will Santana's first spring training be like? My take, I could care less what he does in spring training as long as he comes to Queens healthy!

Will Santana be overwhelmed in New York City? Here is the key. Does Santana handle the New York media well, or does he fall to the pressure like Carlos Beltran did in his first year. I think Santana will hold his own, he seemed to handle the media well this winter in regards to all the trade talks.

Is Duaner Sanchez ready to go? My take don't count on him, if he gives us anything at all decent, it will be a positive. Don't even think you're getting the 2006 Sanchez

Who is the 5th starter? Hernandez will start the season as the #5 starter. I would like to see Pelfrey in AAA for a full year, but I think he does a lot of traveling between New Orleans, and Queens.

How will other newcomers besides Santana fare? Schneider had nearly identical offensive stats as Lo Duca in 2007. Lo Duca was better but not by as much as fans think. Schneder is a much better back stop as well. Church will put up solid numbers, but he lacks that fire that Milledge brought to the fans.

Who might emerge as a surprise? My take, it's going to be Scott Schoeneweis. He avoided a 15 game suspension by MLB for his link to HGH. He has never been a very good relief pitcher, but he should be healthy this year. He'll improve on his 2007 numbers, can't get much worst can he...Matt Wise is another to keep an eye on as the pen comes together this spring.

And the DAILY NEWS adds questions like:
Will Willie Randolph tighten the reins? I don't think we'll see a huge difference in the way Willie handles the players. Entering his 4th season as the Mets manager he should start to make better game time decisions. He has 2 years left on his contract, anything short of playing in October and his gets his pink slip!

Can Delgado bounce back? Look for Delgado to return to his 2006 self. Another year like 2007 and he too will be looking for another job.

Are Brian Schneider and Ryan Church really better than LoDuca and Milledge? Offensively no, defensively yes, in the club house much better.

All of these questions will start to be answered when pitchers and catchers report on Friday Febuary 15th. First workout is Saturday Febuary 16th. Position player report on Wednesday Febuary 20th and the first full team workout out is Thursday Febuary 21st.

The Mets train at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Capacity: 7,800
Year Opened: 1988
Dimensions: LF=338 feet, CF=410 feet, RF=338 feet
Surface: Grass
Tradition Field is the former Thomas J. White Stadium; naming rights were sold when the Mets and the county embarked on a renovation for Spring Training 2004.

What's odd: One thing survived the renovation. Bats, the St. Lucie Bat House. In the past bats were a huge problem in Thomas J. White Stadium, so the county hired a bat expert to bat-proof the stadium. To give the bats an alternate place to live -- since, after all, it would have been cruel to bat-proof the stadium and leave hundreds, if not thousands, of bats homeless -- St. Lucie County constructed a bat house 14 feet off the ground with 160 chambers for hanging bats. The county says that between 10,000 and 15,000 bats can live comfortably in the St. Lucie Bat House. To find it, head to the east entrance to the stadium and follow the signs.

The New York Mets have had only two spring-training venues in team history: St. Petersburg's Al Lang Field (1962-1987) and Port St. Lucie (1988-present).