Sunday, March 6, 2011

MLB Preview, Key to success: New York Mets

My complete preview for the MLB season is here, today I will continue my team by team analysis of the player that is the most important to watch in the upcoming season. This isn't necessarily the best player, rather someone who's season is important for the team, or their growth as a player.

New York Mets: Mark Rogow/Jason Craig
For the second time, it's a non-player, but looking over the Mets, they are one heck of a mess. Rogow is the Coordinator of Medical Services and Craig is the Strength and Conditioning coordinator; two guys who look like they will have plenty of work this season.

The Mets the last few years have been one of the most injury riddled teams in the league. I don't blame these two men for that, but this year will likely be no different than the last few years because the same injury plagued players are coming back.

Carlos Beltran has had knee problems for the last two seasons, which has caused him to play in just 81 and 64 games in those seasons. Just a few years ago he was a 40 home rune 100 rbis batter, but injuries have derailed his career. He is still bothered by knee injuries, so chances are he will miss time again in 2011.

Jose Reyes had stolen 56+ bases in 4 seasons in a row up until the 2009 season. That was when injuries set in to slow him down. In 2009, Calf injuries kept him out of the majority of the season, then in 2010 he found out he had a thyroid problem which forced him to stop baseball activities. He eventually made it back, and played well for the Mets, but still he has question marks due to the recent injuries.

Luis Castillo is old, but also injury prone as well. In the last 3 years, he has played in under 90 games twice. Some of that was due to lack of production, but he also spent time on the disabled list both years. He is getting up there in age, but the Mets expect him to start. I doubt that happens, and I think he will be out of the lineup sooner than later.

Jason Bay isn't exactly injury prone, he has had just one year since becoming a full-time player in which he played fewer than 145 games. That was last year when he missed the final 2 months from a concussion. Head injuries are unpredictable, and it is tough to tell what the impact could be on his play this season. The Mets will need him to step up because he is one of their better hitters that isn't a major injury risk.

Francisco Rodriguez isn't normally much of an injury plagued player. But he did miss a month and a half due to a torn ligament in his thumb suffered in an off-field altercation with his girlfriends dad. He has been able to throw and is expected to start the season in the closer role, but hand injuries are dangerous for pitchers, especially a closer who has a generally violent delivery.

2 years ago Johan Santana was the last person anyone would point to as injury prone; he had started 33+ games in 5 years in a row. Then in 2009 he was fine until late August when the injury questions showed up.

He missed the entire month of September because of surgery to remove bone chips in his throwing elbow. 2010 was similar because he was healthy until the final month of the season. Then he got hurt and needed surgery to repair his shoulder. That injury is still a problem and Santana isn't expected to join the team until the second half of the season.

When he pitches, Santana is one of the best in baseball; his worst era since 2002 was 3.33. Also in that time he has posted 6 seasons with an era below 3. He may be the best pitcher over that time period, but injuries have put question marks on his future.

After naming these 6 players, there is only 1 star left on the team, David Wright, who is likely not to miss any games, and be the only player who is consistently producing for the Mets.

If everything were to go right, and none of these players went to the DL, the Mets would be a contender. They are some of the best players in baseball, but I see no way they can remain healthy for an entire season. They may not all get hurt, and likely it won't happen at the same time, but the loss of players of such a high caliber would be deadly...Again.


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