Thursday, March 17, 2005
Aside from their rivals up the East River in the Bronx, no team was more active in the 2005 off-season than the Mets. Kris Benson. Pedro Martinez. Carlos Beltran. The Mets made the big deals in 2005 and many expect them to challenge the Braves this season. A few (and they shall be nameless) think they might be good.
I’m not one of them. Lots of people think that the Mets are a viable threat to the Phillies, Braves and Marlins, but I don’t. The Mets will be better than they were in 2004, but you have to be a lot better than 71 wins to challenge in the NL East. I see the Mets improving to slightly under .500 (look for 79-80 wins), but they will lag badly behind the Big Three.
Let’s start with a new observations:
-The 2004 Mets were a decent defensive team. They ranked slightly above-average in DER and Dave Pinto’s PMR ranked them tenth defensively.
-Offensively the Mets were pretty lousy. Fourteenth in OBP? Tenth in GPA? Tenth in ISO? Terrible. Carlos Beltran is a tremendous talent (.364 OBP, .599 SLG, .300 ISO with the Astros), but there really isn’t that much back there with him. Is he going to make that much of a difference in a lineup that devoid of power?
-Pitching-wise, the Mets have invested a lot of cash in their rotation. On paper they already looked formidable. After all this staff had an ERA of 4.09 in 2004, .21 better than the NL average. However, the Mets pitching benefited from the team’s strong defense: their Fielding Independent Pitching ERA was much worse, 4.34, or -0.04 below the NL average.
Was signing Pedro a good move? I doubt it. After a sterling run with the Red Sox, Pedro saw his ERA jump by +1.68 (!). He went from surrendering 7 home runs in 2003 to 26 in 2004. I think Pedro’s arm is starting to give out and he’ll run into a lot of trouble pitching against the Phillies and Marlins lineups.
As for Kris Benson, I’m not a big fan. The man has a lot of talent, but his ERA is always well over 4.00 … He does out-pitch his ERA, but he simply isn’t a dominant pitcher. Note that even playing with a good defense (Mets, as opposed to the Pirates) behind him he didn’t really improve much. He’s not a “money” pitcher.
I’d also beware of the decline in Tom Glavine’s skills: his FIP was 0.65 higher than his regular ERA in 2004. At age 39 there isn’t much gas left in the tank. This Big Three of Glavine, Pedro and Benson looks weak.
Bottom-line: these guys could get hit hard. Their pitching could be nothing short of awful in 2005. Adding Beltran is an improvement, but they have to add another bat or two to have a dangerous lineup. Defensively they’ll be good, but spending $90 million a year they should be better than they look on paper.
Good luck Mets fans. It’s gonna be a rough season.