We know what to expect from players like David Wright, Jose Reyes, and even Billy Wagner. We know that they'll go through slumps, but for the most part be the rock solid veteran players that we expect.
But on every team there are "x factors." Those players who aren't the focal point of a team. They aren't superstars, but they're performance just as much plays a role in the fate of a team as those who are the central focus of our opponents.
The list below is comprised of a few players in whom I feel will have a direct impact on the type of season the Mets have. Of course if Wright & Reyes have horrible seasons, then the Mets will suffer, but this is a list of complimentary players that need to succeed to support the season we expect from our marquee guys.
1. Pedro Martinez - Pedro used to be a marquee guy, but those days are gone. Sure he's the headliner on our pitching staff, a guaranteed Hall of Famer, but he needs to prove he's still the pitcher we know and love. Pedro showed excellent control in his few starts of 2007. Even though his velocity isn't there, his movement on his changeup and fastball still make him unhittable at times. The question will be if Pedro can give the Mets 25 starts. If he can, and he pitches like he did last year, the Mets are in a great position to win at least 15 starts. If not, we have a bigger hole in our starting rotation that we originally thought.
2. Moises Alou - I fully expect Moises Alou to miss 3 weeks of the 2008 season. If he misses more than that, we might have a problem. Alou proved last year that the Mets are a much, much better team with Alou in the 5 hole than without him. Alou gets hits and drives in runs. He's a hitting machine. Without him the Mets lack that RBI man in the middle of the lineup, especially if Delgado continues to struggle. Like El Duque, I'll give Alou a pass on a few weeks on the DL, but he can't miss 3 months like he did in 2007.
3. Ryan Church - Ryan Church has the opportunity to change a city in 2008. I don't think anyone really expects much from Ryan Church, but if he bats around .250 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs he might be run out of town (along with Omar Minaya). The trade for Church and Schneider was questionable at best, but if Church proves he has the talent Minaya believes he does we could have gotten a steal. Church needs to bat +.275 and be in the 20 homers/80 RBIs range to have an impact. Sure he'll probably bat in the 7th spot, but this is a corner outfielder were talking about. We should expect that to be a power position and if Church can't put up decent numbers, the Mets will be looking to fill a void come the trading deadline and could suffer offensively scoring runs down the stretch.
4. Marlon Anderson - Amidst the late collapse, the Mets found a true gem in the latter months of the 2007 season in Marlon Anderson. Anderson was a beast off the bench and seemed to play a pivotal role in nearly every comeback win the Mets had. Having a pinch hitter like that can help you win at least 10 games over the course of a season. Was Marlon Anderson's success one of those passing moments or can he produce of the bench consistently? If he can, the Mets have a leg up on pretty much every other team in the NL East as our bench will be significantly better with Anderson, Castro, & Chavez as the key bench players. If Anderson can't reproduce his 2007 success, the Mets will again be searching for a big bat off the bench come the trading deadline. And we all know how Jeff Conine worked out.