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October 2009

Top 5 Met Off-Season Questions

Mets
Flushing, New York--
Now that the Met season is over the organization must decide on a number of hot button issues before they embark on re-tooling for the 2010 season.  Aside from all of the injuries and getting the "core" healthy Omar Minaya must find that "special sauce" that has been missing from this team since 2006.  Here is a look at those issues:

 
Issue #1: Finding A Second Starter Behind Johan Santana: There is no doubt Santana is an elite pitcher but to put a solid=#2 hurler behind him will not only help Johan but also help Pelfrey, Perez an= possibly Maine slot into spots in the rotation more conducive to their abilities.  There are a number of pitchers they will look at with Roy Halladay being the best alternative but he will cost a lot in terms of prospects provided the Mets have a match for the Jays and provided Toronto's new GM still wants to move him. An interesting option might be Tim Hudson who has a mutual option with the Braves who already have 4 healthy starters under contract plus Javier Vazquez.  They certainly can not keep all 6 and they may decide Hudson is the one they will not retain.  Angels ace John Lackey will likely test the free agent waters but I doubt the Mets will sign him because his contract will be costly and if you are going to open up the vault, it make= more sense to trade for Halladay.  Jason Marquis remains a free agent option as well.
 
Issue #2: Finding A Big Power Bat: This is a tricky one because it really hinges on whether the Mets think Daniel Murphy or Angel=Pagan is an everyday player.  My sense is that Pagan showed more than Murphy but it might be easier to land an outfielder than a first basemen.  Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez will be the big names being shopped this winter and both will cost 2 or 3 prospects while a Matt Holliday could be signed as a free agent.  There is always the chance Carlos Delgado could return for a relatively inexpensive contract which would allow the Mets to spend more=on that second starting pitcher behind Santana.
 
Issue #3: Tailoring The Team To The Ballpark: Now that the Mets have played a year at CitiField it is obvious that the park is even more pitcher friendly than we thought.  That also should put a big premium on defense and speed especially in the expansive outfield. I am told that Carl Crawford will be available this winter but my preference would be to give Angel Pagan a shot in left alongside Jeff Francoeur and Carlos Beltran giving the team great outfield speed.  My thought here is all 3 will all take advantage of a triple friendly park with their speed when they are in the batters box. A big part of your defensive personality is the man behind the plate and the combination of Omir Santos/Josh Thole deserves a chance here.  Both have shown they can hit and while Santos is more polished defensively than Thole, Josh is a tireless worker who will get better behind the dish.  Omar also has to spruce up the bench with a slick fielding middle infielder, a reliable pinch hitter, and a 4th outfielder if Pagan gets the starting left field spot.
 
Issue #4: The Return Of The Injured Core: Carlos Beltran proved in the last few weeks of the season he has totally recovered from his knee bone bruise that put him on the shelf most of the summer.  As far as Jose Reyes is concerned, I have been told his surgery will allow him to be ready by early February by the latest to hit the field at full speed.  Both Santana and Perez are already in "rehab" mode with Santana telling me he is so far ahead of schedule that he might begin serious workouts one month ahead of schedule.  Even though David Wright is fully recovered from his stint on the disabled list, many point to his numbers as a source of concern. What do I think?  David Wright's resume speaks for itself--he is a committed, dedicated athlete who suffered from a lack of a supporting cast.  That allowed teams to pitch around him and that contributed to the RBI total in the 70's although he did still manage to hit .300.  The last thing the team should worry about is Wright as I expect his #'s to return to the 25-110=range in 2010 simply because he will have protection in the lineup which will allow him to see better pitches and get into better "hitting counts." 
 
Issue #5:  Who Sets Up For K-Rod?:  The Mets did not get to see the Putz-K/Rod combination that Omar Minaya envisioned all winter because Putz went under the knife in mid-season but the question of a set-up man is an important concern.  However, I think the answer may already be in the Met clubhouse.  The combination of Pedro Feliciano and Brian Stokes has real possibilities especially if the Mets get another left handed spec=alist in the bullpen who could help preserve Feliciano for 8th inning duty. I also think Stokes provides an interesting contrast to the slinging southpaw and that could allow Jerry Manuel to mix and match.  There is also the chance Omar might buy out Putz's option and then sign him at a cheaper rate. That could give the team a trio of hard throwers for the 8th inning with all 3 providing a great bridge to K-Rod.
 
There you have it--should be an interesting hot stove season for Omar Minaya.
 
 
 

Rich Coutinho Talks New York Sports

Welcome to New York Sports - the blog that talks about everything having to do with sports in New York. I am Rich Coutinho, a sports reporter and avid fan.

Life takes you on some interesting journeys and for me my sports reporting career has carried me full circle.  After graduating from Fordham University in 1982, I got some freelance work at various radio outlets but quickly branched off into an Ad Sales career in cable television working at such networks as Lifetime, Discovery, Bloomberg, Bravo, and IFC.  It was a rewarding and challenging time but I always kept my hand in sports reporting especially with the advent of sports talk radio.  In 2008, I had the opportunity to be the Mets beat reporter for 1050 ESPN provided I could get a sponsor to bank roll the travel budget.  So, I used my Ad Sales experience to get that done and I have, for the last year and a half, raised my profile so high that I am now a key contributor to the best sports network in the world.  Life lesson here is follow your dreams and keep running for the goal line.  If your heart and your soul is strong enough, your legs will get you there.
 
My articles and podcasts will appear here on an ongoing basis. I look forward to your insights and commentary.