Many would call this a transition year for the Mets. The Phillies are clearly ahead of the pack in the National League East, and the Metropolitans will have their work cut out for them if they hope to make a run at the Wild Card.
But as the Giants proved last season, some big years from some key players can launch a team to the promised land.
I’ve compiled a list of the five Mets that the team needs to have a big season from if they have any hopes of playing serious September/October baseball.
1. Jose Reyes-
We all need a big season from the franchise shortstop. The fans need it, the team itself needs it, and most importantly, Jose needs a big season for himself. When Reyes is healthy, there’s no arguing that he is one of the most tantalizing players in baseball. But in 2011, Reyes needs to prove that his body is not already starting to break down at the age of 27. Realistically, this could be the last season that Jose Reyes is a Met. He’s a free agent after the season, and if he has a big year he will undoubtedly be targeted by several teams who could use an upgrade at shortstop. If the Mets don’t plan on resigning him, you could see him used as trade bait in late July if the Mets aren’t in contention.
2. Carlos Beltran
Believe it or not (I can’t), this is Beltran’s final year on his seven-year contract that he signed back in January of 2005. It seemed at the time that Beltran would be a Met for life, but now we certainly know that’s not the case. There’s been no talk of the Mets trying to retain Beltran, so it’s apparent this will be his farewell tour in Flushing. The Mets would love to get a glimpse of the production that the 2006-08 Beltran gave them, but coming off two injury-riddled seasons, that might be a stretch. But if the Mets are having a successful season, you can expect that Beltran is contributing in some way. He’s in the same boat as Reyes, though. General Manager Sandy Alderson could try and swing him to a contender that is in some need of offense at the deadline.
3. Jason Bay
Bay was not the power threat the Mets had hoped for last season. He hit just six home runs in 95 games before crashing into the left field wall at Dodger Stadium, suffering a concussion, and missing the last two months of the season. Bay’s grace period with Mets fans is probably over, and he can’t expect to present the same production and not hear about it- loudly. Bay has averaged 30 home runs and 105 runs batted in throughout his career, and production like that will be what the Mets will expect, and need.
4. R.A. Dickey
Dickey was probably the most consistent starting pitcher for the Mets last year. It seemed like every time he went out there, you were guaranteed at least six or seven innings of two or three run ball. The Mets would love for him to produce a carbon copy of 2010 in this upcoming season, but that’s nothing to put money on. Dickey had the best season of his career at age 35. It was the first time he had ever won 10 games or more, and it was the first time since 2003 he finished with a winning record. Hopefully for the Mets faithful, Dickey’s knuckleball continues to puzzle the opposing starting lineup. A consistent Dickey would be great for this pitching staff which is in semi-shambles right now with Johan Santana out until June or July.
5. Francisco Rodriguez
Realistically, the Mets won’t exactly be blowing people out of the water this year. Therefore, it’s very important that when they have a lead late in the game, they shut the door. That starts and ends with K-Rod. He drives everyone crazy with his propensity of making things extremely stressful- all the time. But more often than not, he goes for the kill right as the other team is about to pounce. The Mets could use a career year from K-Rod in 2011, because good teams win close games, and for the Mets to win close games, they are going to need K-Rod. If Rodriguez is going out there and blowing one out of every three or four save opportunities, the Mets are going to be in for an even longer year than everyone is anticipating.