A New Baseball Season With New Questions
A New Baseball Season
With New Questions
Winter is over and the Mets are back at Shea Stadium for their 40th year and they start the season with a lot of questions.
In the off-season we bade goodbye to third baseman Robin Ventura, outfielders Benny Agbayani and Tsuyoshi Shinjo, first baseman Todd Zeile and pitcher Kevin Appier, among others. We know what we had. Let’s look at what we got.
Forget Jason Giambi. The Mets pulled off the off-season’s most stunning trade when they grabbed perennial All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar. Alomar instantly brings power to complement Mike Piazza. Shrewd General Manager Steve Phillips didn’t give up a lot to get Alomar. That wasn’t all, Phillips went on to add first baseman Mo Vaughn. He brings a nice bat, too. Roger Cedeno returns with his speed to Shea (he left in the Mike Hampton trade).
A word of caution: the pitching is suspect. Pray for the stalwart Al Leiter to stay healthy. Leiter’s the anchor of the bullpen and the heart to this team, the classic gamer. His presence lifts the team. If the inconsistent Steve Trachsel is in his late season form he could win 20 games. Trachsel was magnificent in the second half of last year. He showed grit and consistency. Starters Shawn Estes and Pedro Astacio could boom or bust. They will have a lot to do with the success or failure of this team.
What do the Mets need to take the pennant and play well into October? Here’s a list:
A healthy bullpen. Starters Jeff D’Amico and Pedro Astacio have been plagued by injuries. If they end up on the sick list the ship may falter. John Franco has been hurt and a set-up man is a necessity. Closer Armando Benitez needs to dominate in clutch situations. He has the power and the talent to take his game to the next level.
The return of Edgardo Alfonzo. Alfonzo is the most underrated player on this team. This was never more apparent than last year when he was injured. If Alfonzo had been healthy last year the Mets would have made it to the post season.
Mo Vaughn has to be healthy and hungry. All indications so far would appear he’s both.
Mike Piazza will have a career season, now that there more bats in the line-up to complement him.
Rey Ordonez continues his renaissance and hits double-digit home runs, I think 11. He showcases his mastery at shortstop.
This is Jay Payton’s year. He stays healthy and shows the rest of the league why Bobby Valentine and company stayed with him.
Bobby Valentine did a fine job holding his team during the last year. The Mets had more than their share of injuries and Valentine kept them going. The entire organization deserves praise for their class act after September 11. Their humility and determination to salvage the season for the city was inspiring. They have us ready to believe.