Friday, January 9, 2009

Mets not Built for Success

It is difficult to ignore; the Mets improved during the off-season. They are certainly going to be a better team going into 2009. Unfortunately for them, they are still the Mets.

Cole Hamels called them choke artists, and no one can argue with him. The management remains intact, and the core players that could not come through in the clutch or down the stretch are also coming back for more.

New York made a big splash in last year’s free agent pool as well, plucking the best pitcher on Earth from Minnesota’s organization and bringing Johan Santana to Queens. The Mets, who actually played very well against the Phillies last year, went only 3-2 against Philadelphia in games that Santana toed the rubber. The Mets collapsed down the stretch again, and failed to make the playoffs as the Phils went on to win a world championship.

This off-season, New York made significant improvements to their weakest area, the bullpen. Arch-nemesis Billy Wagner is out, and last year’s saves leader, Francisco Rodriguez, or “K-Rod,” will anchor the back end of the Mets’ bullpen.

They also acquired J.J. Putz as their set-up man, which is no small feat. Before having a shaky 2008 in which he converted only 15 of 23 save opportunities, Putz was a rock solid closer for Seattle. In 2006, he saved 36 games with a 2.30 ERA, and 40 games in 2007 with a miniscule 1.38 ERA. Putz’s 2008 ERA, 3.88, was still very solid, but if he can return to his dominant form of two years ago, New York will have found the perfect bridge to K-Rod.

Does anyone care though? This team finds a new way to lose every year. David Wright didn’t hit down the stretch or with runners in scoring position. He shrunk in the spotlight about as much as Alex Rodriguez does for the Yankees. Jose Reyes throws temper tantrums on the field, and he also doesn’t hit in September. Manager Jerry Manuel called himself a gangster and said next time Reyes throws a hissy fit, he will go on the field and “cut him.” Carlos Delgado had a monster resurgence last year, but don’t expect a repeat of his numbers this year.

The Mets have problems, and adding a few players is not going to fix them. They didn’t subtract players, and that is their problem. They needed a shake-up, and it didn’t happen. All the regular problems remain, except for a few members from the bullpen. They may have a few new big names, but they are still the Mets, and that spells trouble for New York.

Sure, Santana for seven innings, and Putz and Rodriguez for one each will win them some ballgames, but they still don’t have the make-up of a winner. They have no true clubhouse leaders, and no backbone. This team is not built for success. They are a bunch of individuals, not a team. The Phillies laid the blueprint for winning as a team, which is something New York does not understand.

You will see an improvement in the Mets’ bullpen this season. But when all is said and done, there is no reason to expect the end result to be any different for the men up the Turnpike.

1 comment:

  1. the mets bullpen blew about 30 win opportunities with that crap bullpen. with an improved bullpen they shouldnt blow that many games. there offense still scored the 2nd most runs in the NL i believe, they should be more than in contention for the NL East championship with the Phillies. I would hope there wouldnt be a different ending result but you cant say you expect the Mets to be the same or worse as they were last year because it is not going to happen.