Well we've got 13 days left until Opening Day, which means it's season preview time. We'll be running it down team by team, with an added new wrinkle this time around: the beer of choice for fans of the team to enjoy whilst watching their team take the field! Nothing like that to help get you through a baseball season, especially if you're from Pittsburgh. Up next: the New York Mets.
Lineup: Without Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, who will miss significant time in the beginning of the season, there are three worthwhile hitters on this team: David Wright, Jason Bay, and Angel Pagan. And Pagan is somewhat of a stretch. Yeah, Jeff Francoeur was good for half a season after the Braves traded him here, but the guy is dragging around a .311 career OBP. So that bodes well. Luis Castillo was washed up seasons ago, and Alex Cora isn't washed up only because he was never good to begin with. Daniel Murphy might be a serviceable hitter, but not as a first baseman, and the catching group is a mess. They have six potential backstops right now, and show no plans to play the only one with any promise (Josh Thole). Plus, there's no guarantee that David Wright returns to form or that Carlos Beltran can rebound from his injury, and they have no depth in the event that their team turns into a cavalcade of wounded like it did last season.
Rotation: Johan Santana and then...nothing good. A pair of rose-colored glasses might tell you that John Maine is a capable starter, but he's shown little ability to stay healthy and isn't exactly a top-of-the-rotation guy when he is. He can be league average, though, which makes him better than Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez, to say nothing of Fernando Nieve, Jon Niese, or Nelson Figueroa. There's precious little to like here, and the worst part is that this was the case last season, too - and management did nothing to address the issue. Not that we're necessarily complaining, because it is going to be tons of fun watching them getting blown out of games.
Bullpen: Francisco Rodriguez was supposed to be the late-game savior after bullpen woes submarined the team in 2007 and 2008. He was not. He's been trending downward for years now, but the Mets were blinded by the saves record and are locked in to paying him big money the next two seasons in order to be a fairly average reliever. Good times! But let's be somewhat kind to GM Omar Minaya: Kiko Calero was a marvelous addition, particularly on a minor league deal. If he can avoid injury - which might as well be called the Calero Caveat* - then he might well be the best reliever on this team. Though that's not necessarily the most ringing endorsement...how much trust would you have in a relief corps that prominently features rookie Japanese import Ryota Igarashi, Bobby Parnell, Pedro Feliciano's corpse, Sean Green, and Elmer Dessens? Kelvim Escobar would've been a good addition as well, but he's already dealing with shoulder soreness and in no way should be counted on for significant innings this season.
*Kiko Kaveat? Calerveat? Kikoveat? The Notorious K.C.C.?
Overall: The Mets were hamstrung last season by a plethora of injuries, and stumbled to a 70-win season that was, to say the least, unforeseen. The nice thing about last season - and the minor upgrades that were made to a deeply flawed team - is that people won't be surprised when the Mets fall flat this year.
Predicted Record: 74-88, 4th place NL East
Beer: Dos Equis. Because Omar Minaya might be the most interesting GM in the world. Nothing is impossible when Mr. Minaya is in charge. Be in the top 5 in payroll, and have a right fielder with a .311 OBP? Sure! Hand out utterly inexplicable deals to Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez? Why not! Sign up every middling player who's ever tried on catcher's gear? Absolutely! Alienate one of the team's best players to the point where he gets major surgery without the team's consent? You bet! Nothing is out of the realm of possibility with this guy. And his willful ignorance of things like advanced metrics and the finer points of, y'know, assembling a pitching staff, will drive Mets fans to drink plenty.