by Gus Ramsey
Opening Day is almost here. I'm fired up. I know there is little reason for optimism for the 2011 Mets, but I refuse to think negative thoughts this early in the year. That said, I am a realist. So after some serious number crunching, reading, interviewing and completely made up stuff, here are my predictions for the core group of this years Mets.
.274 avg, 24 HR, 88 rbi, 2 railing catches, 5 homers into the Pepsi Porch, 3 appearances on Mike Francesa's show where Francesa says "you got a nice swing, you know that? Really nice swing. I mean a nice swing, ya' know?"
Brad Eamus: The Mets went to spring training with 5 second basemen. Much like when an NFL team has 3 quarterbacks in the mix for the starters job, they don't really have a QB, the Mets don't really have a second sacker. One anagram for Brad Eamus is Bard Amuse, which means he might entertain the Mets beat writers. Another is A Armed Sub, which may suggest he is better suited to be a defensive replacement. A third is A Dames Rub... let's just leave that one alone and move on to the predictions.
.253 avg, 6 HR, 41 rbi, 18 different pronunciations of his name by Ralph Kiner.
Jose Reyes: This is going to be tough. In 2006 I was excited about having Wright and Reyes together because they were home grown and would be franchise cornerstones for years to come. Plus, my boys would kind of grow up with those two. Wright and Reyes would be their guys. You don't get that much any more, so I was really looking forward to it. That's coming to an end this year. Jose, his dreads, his obliques, his hammy, his great smile and laugh, his fun HR celebration, his awesome arm and his blazing speed will be gone before the season is out. It will be odd and emotional too. The Mets haven't dealt a star player mid-season since David Cone in 1992. He was part of "The Worst Team Money Could Buy." Kind of appropriate that the worst investment of money by a team will be the reason Reyes will go.
.298 avg, 7 HR, 26 rbi, 24 SB as a Met before being dealt and playing in the playoffs for some American league team in October. He'll be back at Citi Field in 2013 for the All-Star game.
David Wright: My good friend Pete can't stand Wright. He hates how friendly Wright is with opponents. He hates how Wright doesn't "deliver in the clutch." I mean Wright really drives him nuts. If Wright ever hits a walk-off homer and punches out the catcher as he crosses home, Pete will love him. David had me at hello. He had the leader tag thrust upon him from the get go. When other teammates were high-tailing it out of the locker room during the '07/'08 collapses, Wright stood there and faced the music every night. I was at his first All-Star game in Pittsburgh and predicted a double down the line in his first at-bat. He homered. I met Wright at the All-Star game in San Francisco with my boys. He could not have been nicer. In short, I like him. So I root for him and I hope he plays his entire career with the Mets. If he happens to take out Rollins or Jeter with a hard slide, or charges the mound after being drilled by a Brave or a Marlin, great! I know it'll make Pete happy.
.313 avg, 25 HR, 92 rbi, 22 SB, 2 fights.
Jason Bay: I always thought when a player gets knocked loopy like Bay did in L.A. last year, the team should just start saying "You are Babe Ruth, you are Babe Ruth..." over and over again. You never know, he might come to and start playing like the Bambino. Instead the Mets said "You are Shane..." and Bay never came back. I hope he turns it around this year because he has so much headline potential;
"The Bay Hey Kid," "Bay, City Rolling," "Bay Watch (if he gets a long hitting streak)," "Bomb Bay!"
"Canadian Bay-Can" and "Oy Bay!"
.271 avg, 21 HR, 78 rbi, 3 back-page headlines.
Angel Pagan: I have no idea what to make of his 2010 season. In his 5th season, and first with extended playing time, he looked like a guy who could be just below star-calibar. His splits are a little concerning
1st haf: .320, .362, .467
2nd half: .260, .317, .382
.262 avg, 12 HR, 47 rbi, 18 SB, 1 collision with Beltran.
Carlos Beltran: I've always been a supporter of his. It's not his fault he was offered an absurd contract. From 2006-2008 he averaged 112 runs, 113 rbi, 33 HR, .278 avg. and WARs of 8.0, 5.3 and 6.8. Even in '09 when he only played half the season he produced 50 runs, 48 rbi and 100 hits in 81 games. He's been a very productive player who has measured against his contract and not his peers. Beltran was first in RBI for CF over from '06-08, 2nd in runs only to Sizemore, 1st in HR's and 1st in Slg%. Injuries have clearly crippled his career and he is no longer the player he was. Watching him run the bases this spring was like watching the ice road truckers driving over the perilous roads; slow, cautious and it felt like he could collapse at any moment. I expect the Mets will end up dealing him for nickels on the dollar and the Beltran Era will end with a whimper.
.248 avg, 9 HR, 38 rbi, 4 cortisone shots.
Josh Thole: He's got some John Stearns in him. He smacks liners around the yard, is athletic behind the plate and will quickly become a fan favorite. I see him being the kind of hitter who will bat around .280 and maybe chase .300 some year. He's on twitter and tweets things like "Don't forget to turn your clocks ahead." (we'll work on that.) Plus, as best as I can tell, he is the only Josh in Mets history, which makes him Josh 1.0
.283 avg, 6 HR, 54 rbi, 152 tweets (3 of which will be funny)
Danny Muprhy: Murph is a bat without a position. I think the Mets will get him 350-400 at bats and he'll be productive. Hopefully he'll spend more time in the corner infield than the corner outfield.
.288 avg, 8 HR, 44 rbi, 5 - the number of times he is attacked by a fly ball.
The starting pitching was a pleasant surprise last season. It will be again. In part because Citi Field is pitcher friendly. I'm hopeful Niese and Pelfrey take forward steps. There's no reason to think K-Rod won't be fine, so long as family members stay away from the ballpark.
But they say hope springs eternal, so I'll continue to hope for good things to happen. I'll hope the ownership situation is resolved quickly. I'll hope that they play competitive baseball like the did in 2005. Just play crisp, hard-nosed baseball and give me a reason to watch. I'll hope Ike and Josh emerge as new cornerstone guys. I'l hope Bay, Beltran and Pagan stay on the field. I'll hope Dickey's knuckler flutters like the feather in Forrest Gump. I'll hope somehow Reyes stays the year and Wright shows a bit of a nasty streak so that Pete will like him.
2011 Mets 79-83