No-Han Makes History

50 years. 8019 games. The New York Mets have never thrown a no-hitter. A franchise rich with pitching for decades, including Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, and Doc Gooden; no member of the Mets has ever achieved this feat. Seaver and Nolan have thrown plenty of no-hitters, after they left New York. The Mets took the field for game 8020 in its franchise with Johan Santana taking the mound. Friday nights game was slated to be a pitcher’s duel. Two pitchers, Adam Wainwright and Johan Santana, missed all of 2011 due to injury. Before their injuries they were both revered as two of the best pitchers in the game. One of them maintained their part in pitching like an ace. Johan Santana made Mets history.

Johan Santana missed all of 2011 due to a major shoulder surgery. He was struggling all year to secure wins despite pitching very well in almost every one of his starts. Friday night, he made sure that any run support he received would be enough. Terry Collins had previously put a pitch count of 115 on Johan. Friday night Terry Collins would have to eat his words for the sake of his ace pitcher. Johan, 33 years old, has started 273 games before Friday night and his 274th start will be his most memorable to date. After pitching in almost 2000 innings he has never thrown more than 125 pitches. After a career high 134 pitches he became the first pitcher in Mets history to throw a no-hitter.

Former Met, Carlos Beltran made a bid for a hit to leadoff the 6th inning, but the call was blown by third-base umpire Adrian Johnson. The replay showed the ball landing on the chalk down the third-base line. A spectacular catch was made by Mike Baxter against the outfield wall in the 7th inning. He would have to be pulled out of the game due to what is now being called a left shoulder bruise. Johan struck out David Frese on a 3-2 count with 2 out in the top of the 9th to seal the no-hitter. Johan threw 134 pitches with 5 walks and 7 strikeouts. This came after coming off of his 4 hit complete game shutout of the Padres.

Baxter’s amazing catch and the missed call by Adrian Johnson helped aid Santana and the Mets in obtaining their first no-hitter. Friday night was a memorable night for every Mets fan.

SIDE NOTES:

Philip Humber who was traded for Johan Santana also threw a no-hitter earlier this year.

13 No-hitters have been thrown by former Mets.

The Mets have thrown 35 one-hitters.

6 No-hitters have been thrown against the Mets.

The Cardinals have not been no-hit in 22 years before Friday night.

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No Mo’ Rivera

Last night before game time, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was shagging fly balls in the outfield like he has been doing for his entire career. He does it to keep in shape, the 42-year-old closer says. Last night however shagging fly balls seemed to be detrimental to his health instead of keeping him healthy. He fell on the warning track in Kaufman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals, and grabbed his leg in pain. Much like Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert did last weekend except those two are in their early 20’s no their early 40’s. Rivera went in for an MRI last night which revealed a torn ACL. A huge blow was taken to the Yankee bullpen whom had Rivera cemented in the closer spot for years and is arguably the greatest closer Major League Baseball has ever witnessed.

Rivera was interviewed earlier today with tears in his eyes. It isn’t known whether or not he will return this year or at all. I know that all Yankee fans are hoping for a smooth recovery as this is not the way they envisioned one of the greatest Yankees of all time to go out. I’m no Yankee fan, actually I’m quite the opposite, I’m a Mets fan. That being said though, I’m not your typical Mets fan who hates the Yankees. I don’t boo Jeter when he steps to the plate against the Mets. Jeter is too great a player and person for me to be disrespectful in that aspect. I won’t say he “Jeter Sucks!!!”, because quite frankly that’s far from the truth. As for Mariano Rivera, there is no denying that he is probably the greatest closer to ever record a save. His postseason resume speaks volumes of his work and his adjusted ERA over the last 100 years with at least 1000 inning pitched ranks 1st all-time. The two pitchers he is ahead are Pedro Martinez and Walter Johnson, not too shabby of company.

SO what does this mean for the Yankees? Joe Girardi said that he’s leaning towards Robertson taking over Rivera’s role and using Soriano as the setup man, but he said he’ll have to sleep on it. Soriano has some closing experience and Robertson does not. Robertson has been one of the better bullpen arms in the past 2 years and probably deserves that role, but I don’t think it would be wise to rush him into it. Plus the Yankees paid Soriano $35 million so they might as well get some good use out of him. After that the Yankees bullpen seems to be wearing thin because they also lost Joba Chamberlain earlier in the year. The Yankee pitching rotation besides C.C. Sabathia has been all but consistent. Ivan Nova is probably their second best pitcher, but he’s young and like all young players can be inconsistent. Michael Pineda was traded for catching prospect Jesus Montero to help bolster the rotation, but is out for the season with an injury. If you don’t think the Yankees rotation is thin, the Yankees signed Andy Pettitte who hasn’t pitched in two years to help them. That right there is a sign that they need some rotation help and who knows how he will perform when he comes back. The Yankees are struggling right now as far as Yankee standards go and the loss of Mariano Rivera doesn’t help.

If you are a baseball fan, no matter what team you root for, you want to see Mariano Rivera go out on his own terms. Not due to injury, especially not one that wasn’t sustained during an actual game. I get the sense from seeing Mo speak that he might be done. He has had a great career no doubt, but I envisioned him leaving on his own two feet. He deserves that one last standing ovation, standing on the pitcher’s mound, dawning a Yankee uniform. Mo is 42-years-old and a speedy recovery and rehabilitation are not likely although, if he wants to make a return I’m sure he will work as hard as he can to make it back and throw one last cutter like nobody else has. Whatever happens I’m glad I got to see him pitch and I hope we all get to see him on the mound one last time before he calls it a career, a Hall of Fame one at that.

Bad Contracts?

Over the past 15 years or so baseball organizations have handed out some lucrative contracts. The debate is whether or not these contracts are good or bad for baseball. A majority of owners, GM’s, and agents will argue that these contracts are good for baseball, for the team, the city, and the community. Anybody spending that kind of money better have the ability to justify shelling out those large amounts of coin. Some GM’s, coaches, and some smaller market teams might come up with an opposing argument on why paying players such fruitful contracts. Let’s play both sides of the fence.

I recently heard Scott Boras, Super-Agent, speak about how big and long tenured contracts are good for the game of baseball. He of course is biased since he takes a percentage of those same contracts that make people’s eyes pop out of their head. He brings up a good point in terms of marketability and a business investment. A player like Albert Pujols before signing his 10 year $254 million contract has earned roughly $104 million in his career thus far. Boras argues that he (Pujols) has made the Cardinals easily $150 million during his tenure as a St. Louis Cardinal. Thus signing a player like Pujols to a contract that might seem absurd to anybody else is actually a great business decision. You have to spend money to make money. That $100 million dollars wasn’t like going out and spending it on a car that would depreciate in value once you handed over the money and took the keys. It was like investing it in a stock that was sure to rise. In the business sense, yes it makes perfect sense. To a team and an owner who has that kind of money to spend it’s a great investment, but to a small market team who can’t afford it, ehh not so much. It pushes them right out of the market for a player like Pujols. That’s another reason why big market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox can pull off deals like this, because they have a large fan base. They also don’t want a player of that caliber to land on a rival team so over betting may be one way to make sure that that situation doesn’t happen.

Why is a bad decision to sign someone to such a cost-effective contract? There’s plenty of reasons; a several million reasons actually. First, most players don’t get these types of contracts when they are under 25 and it would be asinine to give such a young player a 10 year $200 million plus deal when they haven’t proven anything. Most players get them around 30 years of age give or take a few years. Let’s just say you get the deal at 30, then you’ll be 40 years old when your contract comes to an end, making the player 40. I’m not sure there is any player in baseball who is worth around $20 million a year at that age. In Pujols’ case he will be 42 years old and his contract is heavily back loaded at $30 million a year in his final year. Pujols may be the greatest hitter I’ve ever witnessed, but at 42 years old and $30 million later I’m not so sure he’s worth that. Let’s say the Angels in the next few years hit a potential snag in their finances and can only spend $100 million a year on their roster. Well 30% of that number is already locked up into one player. Can’t happen? Anything is possible just ask Mets owner Fred Wilpon, who cut roughly $50 million in payroll this year due to inflexible financial issues.

Most of these contracts are given out after a player has performed well enough to deserve such a deal. At that point most of these players are in their prime and will most likely be past their prime well before their contract runs out. Only a few players are inked to a deal right as they are hitting their prime. Alex Rodriguez was one of them. The 10-year $256 million deal he signed in 2001 came at a perfect time. Don’t forget though that he never played out the full 10 years before signing another 10-year deal at even more eye-opening $275 million. The first time he signed a 10-year deal may have been justified somehow, but the second time around, hardly. He is nowhere near the player he once was. That is no fault of his own, he’s 36 now and it would be impossible to think that he could still put up the numbers he did 6 years ago after going thru such a grueling baseball season year in and out.

Troy Tulowitzki is another example of possibly justifying getting a 10-year contract being that he is still young, getting his deal at 26. His contract also entails that he never makes more than $20 million in a given year which kicks in when he turns 30, around the time a player is expected to hit their prime years. His contract isn’t heavily backloaded like most contracts as he will make $14 million in his final year of the contract with $15 million team option or a $4 million buyout. Tulowitzki’s contract was only for $157 million over 10 years which is about $100 million less than the big contracts that A-Rod and Pujols receieved, and about $60 million less than Prince Fielder’s deal. The Colorado Rockies aren’t deemed a big market team and they did what they had to do to lock up arguably the best shortstop in the game. Players like that don’t come around too often especially at the shortstop position so it is understandable to give him such a long-term deal. He’s one of the rare cases in baseball where his contract is completely justifiable as was A-Rod’s first 10-year deal.

As a pure baseball decision most of these contracts never pan out. Maybe you get several good years of production from these players, but the latter days of these contracts don’t really go as expected particularly with the amount of dollar they make. When someone is making $15 million-plus they are expected to put up a certain production level. Not all short-year big-money contracts work out either. Take Jason Bay for example. He made upward of $18 million last year and performed well under what his production was expected and that’s being nice. GM’s will strikeout when it comes to getting what they payed for, it happens. It can be avoided though by giving maximum 6-year deals. Those deals should only be given to baseball’s elite. Take Jose Reyes for instance, he just signed a 6-year $106 million deal. He only played in 126 games last year and no more than 133 games in the past 3 years. Is that the kid of money you want to spend on a guy who might not be able to take even take the field? I love Jose Reyes and I think he’s a great player, but he has been injury prone his whole career. That has to be taken into consideration. I understand he might be the most exciting player in the game to watch, but GM’s should proceed with caution when it comes to him. He gives it 100% every game and doesn’t hold back and you have to love that about any player, but the way he plays the game is reason why is oft injured. Then again he is an elite player at his position and like I said before no more than a 6-year contract should be given out. The Marlins seemed to follow that protocol.

Another reason why these deals are ludicrous is because this money is guaranteed whether they play all 162 games or if they are hurt. Unlike the NFL, and this is where I think the NFL has it right when it comes to giving out contracts, these deals are 100% guaranteed money. If the contracts given out such that one got a 10-year $250 million deal, but only $125 was guaranteed then it would make more sense and save GM’s and owners from themselves. Once they start handing out contracts with long years and big money the next player to hit free agency will compare themselves to that player to induce such contracts. It’s a vicious cycle and the owners got the ball rolling on this one.

Maybe I can’t fathom why these players get such contracts because they are making preposterous amounts of money. According to Forbes, the average American makes $51,000 a year. A-Rod and Pujols will make about triple that per game at about $170,000 and $157,000 per game respectively. So it will take the average American three years to make what these guys make in about 3 hours of playing a kids game! Where did we go wrong? Ok their talents are undeniably greater than mine or any person not playing professional baseball, but those numbers are insane. We are partly to blame. We buy the tickets, we buy the jerseys, we idolize these demi-gods. I’m not complaining. Ok maybe I am a little bit.

Of the top 20 highest paid players in the MLB last year only about 4 played up to their expected production. Those players are C.C. Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Miguel Cabrera, and Ryan Howard. Even Ryan Howard’s BA. is suspect, but he gets paid to hit home runs and drive in runs and he is one of the best at doing that. I’m no math genius but that means that only 20% of the highest paid players actually performed up to par with what they get paid. They all got paid ranging from $32 million (A-Rod) to $16.5 million (A.J. Burnett). The proof is in the pudding. Nothing is going to stop these contracts from being written up and signed by MLB players, but GM’s should seriously think about lowering the length of these contracts. Salary cap anybody?

Wonder why Pujols and Fielder fled to the American League? The DH period. Of all the 8 year plus contracts given out only 3 have been signed in the National League, all by the Colorado Rockies, to Mike Hampton (8 years), Troy Tulowitzki (10 years), and Todd Helton (11 years). The AL has the power to move these players to DH when they can no longer be of adequate service on the field. The NL does not have the pleasure of doing that. Maybe we can blame the AL. Maybe we can blame the GM’s. Maybe we can blame ourselves. Either way bad contracts will continue to be handed out like flyers on the street. I’m not saying anything that a GM hasn’t heard already, but then hey it’s not like their spending someone else’s money.

The State of Officials

Officiating is a big part of every sport. Calls can change the outcome of a game or the momentum of a team. In America’s big three sports; baseball, basketball, and football, the officiating is very different. Needless to say the referees or umpires hold some weight when considering the outcome of a game. For the most part they make the right calls, but which league really has calling the game down pat.

Let’s start with baseball, more particularly the MLB, or the show as some would like to call it. Baseball is the most traditional sport we have in America. The rules have changed very little from it’s inception in 1869 with the leagues first team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. One of the most notable changes in the rules of recent years is the ability to review home runs via instant replay. Before that the biggest and most distinguishable rule adoption was the Designated Hitter (DH) by the American League, or Junior Circuit, in 1973. Replay is used in the NBA and NFL, but MLB was reluctant to add the use of replay because of baseball being so traditional. Bud Selig, however felt that it would not hinder the game but only aid in making the right call. That’s helping the officials make the right call when it may be hard to determine some 325-plus feet away.

In my opinion baseball does the best job of officiating out of the three sports. Ok so there are some blown calls here and there, but the umpires are only human and everybody, yes everybody makes mistakes. The most notable blown call of late came on June 2, 2010 where umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base which would have cemented Armando Galarraga’s in baseball history by pitching a perfect game. Jim Joyce later, in tears, admitted he blew the call and apologized to Galarraga. At least he was man enough to admit he blew the call and clearly he did miss out on making the right one. Like I said before were all human and humans make mistakes. It happens. Had the call come in a game where someone was not pitching a perfect game I’m not so sure people would remember Jim Joyce for that call.

Baseball has the best officiating because it’s a slower paced game and therefore less likely to continuously make bad calls. The home plate umpire may be scrutinized by fans and even managers, but for the most part I’d have to applaud the job they do. Is it hard to tell exactly where a 98 mph fastball landed? Yea I’d say so. A 12-6 curve ball that makes even a hitter flinch could be hard for an umpire to see, but they do and they do it well. The main reason why I think that MLB does the best job is because they are consistent. Each umpire may have a different version of the strike zone, but they stick to that strike zone. Sure an outside pitch just off the plate may be called a strike. Some umpires are pitcher friendly while others are hitter friendly. When there are 2 strikes on the hitter maybe the pitcher gets a little more breathing in terms of the strike zone. Ever here the phrase protect the plate with 2 strikes? You shouldn’t be looking at close pitches in that situation. At the end of the day MLB umpires do a great job of calling a consistent and mostly justified game.

The NBA and NFL are probably the harder games to officiate with the fast-paced uptempo style of play. I will give the NBA referees a slight edge in difficulty of officiating. There are two factors that make me believe this and here’s why: It’s a fast-paced game in constant movement where referees have to run up and down the floor with the players for the full 48-minutes. Also, the league has been plagued by “flopping” and in real-time it may be hard to distinguish whether it was actually a foul or a player acting to get the call. This is a part of the game that I can’t stand and I think most would agree, especially when it’s pretty blatant. A smaller guard running into the paint with a forward or center in their way, then contact, the larger player falling to the ground, the foul call. I mean come on, that same player who flopped was getting bumped in the post on offense by a big defender and now he’s falling to the ground with slight contact from the smaller opposition.

My biggest gripe with the NBA officials is the lack of consistency. I fully and completely understand that it must be hard to run up and down the court with these athletes and make the right call every time, but at the same time at least call it the same both ways. Like most fans if there are two NBA games on I’ll surf between channels and watch both games. I remember watching one game with the score being fairly close and the game clock around 30 seconds. The team losing was trying to foul a simple touch of the player that received the inbound a foul call was made. Free throws. Flip to the other game almost an identical situation. This time though the defender repeatedly grabbed the other player before a foul call was made taking a good 3 seconds off the clock. A foul is a foul is a foul, no?

Then there is the superstar call. Hey, I get that rookies don’t have the same credibility that veteran players, particularly superstar caliber players have, but sometimes its just ridiculous. Thunder vs. Lakers 2010 playoffs. A defender falls down while guarding Kobe Bryant. Kobe pulls up hits the shot. A whistle. A foul call. Free throws. Wait what? Shout out to Bill Simmons for that one. Where was I? Foul really? His defender was on the floor how could he foul him? Kobe gets all the calls. I dislike Kobe for this reason and it’s not even his fault. I’m not a Kobe hater. I respect his game and can’t deny he is one of the greatest basketball players that I’ve ever seen and that ever lived. I’m not denying that, but when someone gets calls like that and he thinks he should get calls like that since he often wants the foul when he misses, I can’t stand it. On my own New York Knicks I often hear A’mare Stoudemire screaming, “AND 1!!!”, whenever he goes up in the paint. Come on guy that’s not gonna help your case. That’s right in line with flailing your arms and throwing your head back to draw the call. Let the ref do their job and next time you get fouled make the shot and the free throw, I think that’s way more productive than screaming and then slowly getting back on defense with your palms to the sky.

I don’t really have much to say with the NFL, except that they do a pretty good job particularly with all the new rule changes for player safety. They blow calls yea of course. They do a pretty good job thought officiating especially in the playoffs. A lot of no-calls go a long way in the playoffs. More is at stake and it’s a physical game, so I’m glad they let them play. For the most part they are consistent with their officiating, calling a past interference the same way for each team. Good no-calls in some cases. They almost always get false start and neutral zone infraction calls right. Yea there are some games where I say wow they just want the other team to lose. The recently headlining Saints and their whole “Bounty-Gate” scandal was started in their 2009 Super Bowl run. I remember watching the Saints vs. the Vikings in the NFC Championship game and saying wow they are really letting them play as more often than not Brett Favre was on his rear-end. A lot of no-calls in that game, but like I said before they call less penalties in the playoffs so you can’t really get stuck on that game. The thing that bothers me most and it’s not even the fault of the officials is that the league is so invested in protecting their players that it hinders the defensive side of the ball. You can’t hit the quarterback like you used too or you’ll get a fine. Hit a defenseless receiver, yea that’s another fine. Numbers don’t lie and that’s why this season saw 3 quarterbacks throw for over 5,000 yards. Eli manning was only 77 yards away from eclipsing that mark too. Only 2 players before this year have ever done that and Drew Brees was one of them along with Dan Marino. So for 3 players to do that this year is remarkable or is it? Yea it’s a real pass happy league now and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we see 3 more people do again this year. Hey that’s not the officials that the rules and the officials are supposed to uphold the rules.

Mets 2012 Season in Preview

The 2012 MLB season is upon us with spring training underway and opening  day less than a month away.  Every team has reason to be excited because they all are equals as of right now.  Each team has a clean slate and expectations that they could be the team this year to take the title of World Series champions.  Unfortunately, 29 teams will go home empty-handed.

I’m a huge Mets fan, that’s no secret.  I grew up watching the Mets in the early 90’s when they were terrible, make a run in the early 2000’s, then watch them collapse in the late 2000’s.  This season I’m sure I will be disappointed once again and will find myself shying away from watching games in September because quite frankly I hate watching my team lose, but after years of witnessing this you build some thick skin.  Last year with the arrival of Terry Collins and his message to Mets fans and the organization that he will make sure that the team does not become complacent and they will hustle on every play whether they are up 10 or down 10, I was excited we had a coach to light a fire under our players and get them to play to their full abilities.  Jerry Manuel never really had the pulse of the team and rarely pushed the right buttons to get them to perform.  Terry Collins was a man of his word and in my opinion was one of the most underrated managers in the game last year.  How can I say that about a team that finished 77-85?  A team that had the 19th best record in all of baseball?  Terry Collins finished 8th for the Manager of the Year.  He managed a team that did not feature its best pitcher in Johan Santana.  He started the season off at 5-13 and managed his team to .500 record as late as August 8th.  I know mediocrity should not be something to celebrate, but the team dealt with so many injuries and was written off before the season started that you have to be somewhat shocked at their performance.  Key injuries to star players like David Wright and Jose Reyes as well as DL stints by other players like Daniel Murphy hindered the club.  A season without first baseman Ike Davis and Johan Santana and the eventual trade of Carlos Beltran did not help either.  Health was one big issue the Mets had last year.  Quite frankly they had a few more issues than that but we’ll get into that later.

The 2012 season for the Mets has already had headlining issues.  Many Mets fans such as myself are still in disbelief that we let one of our franchise players, Jose Reyes, leave without even trying to retain him.  The state of the Wilpon’s financial situation has been closely watched.  After Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled that Fred Wilpon pay up to $83.3  million to the victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.  Both sides are set to go to trial on March 19 for a possible ruling of an additional $303 million that trustee Irving Picard is requesting.  The verdict will be an interesting one and one that Mets fans will want to know the details of.  Mark Cuban anyone?

There are so many questions that Mets fans have to wonder heading into this season.  How will the new field dimension play to the Mets offense?  Will David Wright and Jason Bay bounce back after a woeful 2011?  How will the Mets handle the loss of Jose Reyes?  Will Ike Davis be healthy? If he is will he stay at the pace he was early last year?  Will Lucas Duda have a break out year?  Will the bullpen meet the expectations of Sandy Alderson?  Will Johan Santana be Johan Santana?  How good will the pitching staff be?  These are all valid questions.  A LOT of questions.  Possibly too many to answer and any team with that many questions can’t be favored to have a great season.  There are some reasons to believe that the Mets can excel this year even after all the question marks surrounding them.

I just want to say that they deserve more credit than the expected 60-70 wins that I am hearing many experts make.  Last year the Mets Pythagorean W-L record was 79-83, which is the estimate of games won and lost based on runs scored and runs given up.  This record relates to how lucky or unlucky a team was and the Mets fared relatively well in the luck department being they only finished 2 games under that number.  Did I just say Mets had some luck last year?  Couldn’t be.  They had zero luck when it came to health.

The new dimensions at Citi Field will get rid of the Mo’s Zone which I never understood why they implemented in the first place.  The high outfield walls in left field will be lowered to 8 feet and moved in slightly.  Sandy Alderson is taking a page out of the field changes made to Comerica park where they moved their left field fence in from 395 feet to 370 feet, a huge difference that goes from warning track power to going…going…gone.  How the new dimensions will play to the Mets offense particularly Wright and Bay to left field and Davis and Duda to right field will be looked at early and often.  Lucas Duda has been talked about at the Digital Domain Park, the Mets Spring Training Facility, as he has been said to be showing some power to right field.  I look forward to seeing him hit a few home runs at Citi Field and project him to hit somewhere near 2o long balls this season.

The loss of Jose Reyes hurts, but I think it only hurts in a morale stand point.  Reyes is an explosive player, no doubt about it. He’s electric.  He’s one the most exciting players to watch in the game just ask Alex Rodriguez.  I’m just as offended as Reyes is that the Mets did not give him a formal offer.  I have reason to believe that Reyes wanted to stay in New York even if it was for a few million less than other ball clubs offered him.  The 6 years $106 million that Reyes accepted from the Marlins was not going to be matched by the cash strapped Mets organization.  Would he have taken a 4 year $80 million deal with and an option for a 5th year?  I don’t know.  Could the Mets even offer that to him? I don’t know the answer to that either, but they owe it to him and Mets fans to have at least extended some kind of offer.  If he says no you live with it and move on.  If you knew you weren’t going to give him an offer why did they not try to trade him for a prospect much like they did with Carlos Beltran.  I think that’s what disturbs me the most about all of this.  You knew you couldn’t afford to keep him yet you didn’t try to get anything in return.  I’m sure you could have found a suitor for Reyes for a draft pick or two or three.  He’s that electric. All that being said, how much will the Mets miss him?  Reyes only has a 6.2 WAR.  WAR stands for win above replacement meaning how many more games one would win over a replacement player.  If you took that number and subtracted it from the Mets win total last year we should win 72 games.  Ruben Tejada has a WAR of 1.7 so lets put 2 wins back on the board that’s 74 wins.  Tejada also had a slightly better fielding percentage than Jose Reyes.  Remember were at 74 wins.

know the Mets didn’t get any big name free agents or even attempt to this offseason.  We are however getting back  a two-time Cy Young award winner.  The last year he pitched in 2010 he had a WAR of 4.4, in 2009 a 3.6, and in 2008 he posted a 6.4.  That’s an average of 4.8 wins above replacement.  Add 5 more wins and that’s 79 games.  I’m not sure how well Santana will perform and if he will pitch the whole year, but if he’s anything close to his previous numbers it’s a far improvement over what they were throwing out on the mound as their #1 starter.

Guess whose who.  Player A .302 AVG .383 OBP .925 OPS; Player B .299 AVG .366 OBP .906 OPS.  Player A is Ike Davis and player B is Albert Pujols.  Ike Davis only played in 36 games last year and only had 129 at-bats.  It’s a small sample, but the kid shows some promise and I believe he’s an all-star caliber player.  If you give him 550 at-bats his power numbers jump to about 30 bombs and 100 RBI’s.  That’s like getting an all-star caliber player in free agency. He’s also above average with the leather.  Remember those over the dugout catches he had his rookie season?  He’s not Pujols with the glove but he’ll only be 25 by the time the season starts.  He has a high ceiling for growth and as a Mets fan you have to love it.

The Mets bullpen last year was inconsistent to say the least.  They blew 24 saves last year and completed only 64% of save opportunities.  That’s why Sandy Alderson made sure he got some bullpen help.  Jon Rauch is 6’11 and gives many hitters trouble as the ball seems to drop out of the sky and rarely walks hitters.  Frank Francisco is one of the better control relievers without sacrificing speed and walks very few batters, walking only 18 batters in 50.2 innings, while striking out 53.  Ramon Ramirez, one of the trade pieces in the Angel Pagan deal, is a good bullpen arm with a nasty slider, who was a formidable piece of the Giants bullpen.  Terry Collins often had to leave starters in a little longer than he may have wanted to last year because of the lack of depth in the bullpen.  Theses three arms will help in those situations and then you put guys like Bobby Parnell in situations that better suit them instead of asking them to come into situations that they are not ready for.

If the Mets win have the games in which they blew saves that would give them 12 more wins, bringing it their win total to 91.  Do I expect the Mets to win 91 games.  Absolutely not, but it is possible.  That’s their ceiling 91 wins.  In the NL East, the best division in the NL, 91 games won’t win you the division.  The Phillies will probably win around 100 games again, but the loss of Ryan Howard for the start of the season could hurt them.  The Atlanta Braves have a lot of young talent, but it isn’t known if they will stay consistent throughout the year.  The new look Marlins made some key acquisitions that should help them climb out of the cellar of the division.  They added a few starting rotation arms in Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano.  Josh Johnson is slated to come back this year and I would equate some of their success to his health.  The Nationals have some good young prospects and shored up their starting rotation with the signing of Edwin Jackson and the trade for Gio Gonzalez along with the reemergence of Stephen Strasburg.

The Mets should look to add some arms to their staff in case of injury or under performance.  Rumors have been going around that the Mets are looking to possible bring back Chris Young, who pitched well for the Mets last years before being shut down for the year.  There was also word that they were watched Scott Kazmir throw a few bullpen sessions.  Sign him to a minor-league deal, invite him to camp, and see how he performs.  It couldn’t hurt and having too many starting pitchers has never been a problem in the Majors.  If the Mets  don’t make any of these moves I’ll still be content with the surplus of young arms that we have in our farm system and Jenrry Mejia slowly coming back from Tommy John surgery the future for our starting pitching looks very bright.   It’s possible that we will see some of these prospects come September, but I much rather watch them next year so they can learn to be consistent in the minors.

In ESPN magazine’s latest issue, One for the Money, Jon Niese is given a 28% chance to reduce his ERA by .5 from 4.30 in 2012.  He is also given a 25% chance to reduce his WHIP by .1 from 1.44 a year ago.  There is a another positive thing to look forward to this year.  As for the Mets cutting the most payroll in history in one year, $19 million on the books last year was for Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.  Another $9 million was for Beltran and K-Rod whom they traded late last season.  That’s $28 million, so really they are only cutting $24 million.  It doesn’t make it any better I know, I’m still mad too.  Let’s stay positive though and let’s look for some power numbers from some players, consistent play, aggressive base running as we’ve seen early this spring training, and Terry Collins getting players to hustle on every play.  All that being said I say the Mets finish 82-80 this year and we will at least be able to watch games through September without being out of it in early August.