Port St. Lucie, FL: As spring training for Major League Baseball comes closer to the end to make room for the regular season, more and more New York Mets fans are looking toward NFL training camp time, LeBron James pipe dreams, the Nets eventual move to Brooklyn, and hockey, all in that order.
Luckily for the fans, this season is not starting out with the same dreams and aspirations as last season held. This time, the New York Mets find themselves 10-1/2 games out of first place in the National League East before the season even begins.
“This isn’t a case of prediction,” explained baseball commentator Peter Gammons. “We calculated the moves by the New York Mets administration and injuries this off-season with activity by other teams, and found that, when all is said and done, the Mets are 10-1/2 games out of first place and second to last in the National League East. It should be worse, considering they finished the 2009 season 23 games out of first place, but we’re giving them the benefit of the doubt.”
The off-season struggles began with free agent signings: there weren’t many. In fact, the biggest signing was for outfielder Jason Bay, whose bat would replace former first-baseman Carlos Delgado, therefore making the upgrade modest at best.
Even this signing was marred, as Mets general manager Omar Minaya tried to instigate a trade of Bay after his signing. Minaya propositioned a trade to the New York Rangers of Jason Bay for goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
“I just didn’t feel comfortable about having only ten catchers on staff, and I thought Lundqvist would be perfect as our starter,” explained Minaya. “He uses a lot of pads in hockey right now, so it’s obvious he would be talented at the position.”
Unfortunately, the trade was never finalized.
Injuries also played a part with the 10-1/2 game deficit, as outfielder Carlos Beltran and shortstop Jose Reyes have not even begun their spring training. Beltran invested in knee surgery at the end of last season, and Reyes, unbeknownst to him, has a thyroid condition that makes him unable to play. These injuries are not as severe as last year’s, which decimated the team so badly that there were more players on the disabled list than starters for games.
Luckily, all is not lost. The entire Mets pitching rotation, which is Johan Santana, is feeling good and pitching well. Manager Jerry Manuel has slated Santana to pitch 150 games this season, allowing the other 12 games to be dispersed to prospects, John Maine, and Mike Pelfrey.