Mets Worst Nightmares Coming True

Blinded by the Johan Santana deal, everyone in New York thinks its a foregone conclusion the Mets will at least win the division, if not the NL pennant, without much competition. After a historic collapse, Omar Minaya patiently waited to pull off a heist, grabbing Santana for an array of mid-level prospects. However, that bold move, without question a great decision given the circumstances and need, hides a handful of risky contracts and weaknesses on a flawed Mets squad.

57 pitches into his comeback season, Pedro Martinez walked off the mound, about to expose one of those Met weaknesses, starting pitching depth. Prognosis – out until June, which may really mean July in Martinez rehab terms. Pedro was the big question mark, if he returned to a semblance of his former dominating self, behind Santana in the rotation, the Mets had four solid starters. Without Pedro, the pressure mounts on Maine and Perez, and an iffy 5th starter situation becomes a serious problem as that role moves into the fourth slot. El Duque is already on his first of multiple hiatus’ this season. Running Mike Pelfrey out every fifth day, or Nelson Figueroa, does not lend itself to long losing streaks. While you watch Pelfrey struggle, take a look at how effective Brian Bannister is in KC, a pitcher Minaya basically gave away last off season.

Martinez brought pitching concerns to the forefront, lineup problems started in Spring Training. Reyes, Wright, and Beltran are elite offensive players, take them as given for MVP type production – if not, Willie can start looking for a new job now. Behind them, Carlos Delgado is the offensive equivalent to Pedro Martinez. An aging star who struggled to produce and battled injuries last season that the Mets are counting on.  Already battling a bad hip in the spring, about to turn 36, Delgado is a high risk proposition from both a health and production stand point. After Delgado, the lineup reads Ryan Chruch, Brian Schneider, and Angel Pagan or Endy Chavez, in front of the pitcher, perhaps one of the weakest bottom four in baseball. Can you say rally killer?

Moises Alou you say. Already on the shelf. Yes, he will be back, he’ll hit .350 for a month because he is a great hitter, lull everyone to thinking the Mets lineup problems are resolved, and just when you start to feel confident, he’ll pull up lame again and disappear for two months.

Signing Luis Castillo for 4 years will haunt the Mets. Never more than a glorified slap hitter with some speed and above average defense, the Mets made a mistake committing to him long term. Resting a season of hope on Pedro, Delgado, and Alou is not smart management. The Mets left themselves vulnerable to risk in too many areas, and may end up paying for it. Philadelphia and Atlanta are not without problems, but unless an unsung starter emerges or Delgado and Alou manage to both stay healthy and put up numbers reminiscent of their primes, the Mets should gear up for a battle.

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