I was recently asked to give my take on the Mets strengths and weaknesses as we head into spring training in a few weeks. While I could probably go on about this topic for pages on end, I've tried to compile my list in a concise manner which I'll share with you below:
(a) Starting Pitching - The Mets are the only MLB team with three 15 game winners in Perez, Maine & Santana. Plus having Pedro Martinez for a full year makes it possible to have four 15 game winners in one season which would be a remarkable feat.
(b) Speed - arguably the fastest lineup in the NL with Endy, Reyes, Beltran, & Wright leading the way. Bunts, steals, and hit & run are all options available from anyone in the lineup.
(c) Infield defense - at pretty much every position we have a solid defender. If Delgado can keep picking balls out of the dirt and Reyes & Wright can keep his errant throws to a minimum the infield could have fewer than 20 errors this year.
(a) Bullpen questions - If El Duque is in the pen it makes it a lot stronger. Otherwise we're pretty much bringing back the same group of guys who blew a ton of game last year, minus Mota. Wagner is going to be solid but Feliciano, Schoeneweis and the return of Duaner Sanchez will decide the fate of at least 20 games this year
(b) Power hitting - Outside of David Wright and Beltran power hitting is rare in the Mets lineup. Alou will put up numbers when he's not hurt, but Delgado & Church are huge question marks as far as power at the plate. If the Mets got 50 home runs between those two we'd be in good shape.
(c) In-game managing - Randolph has a tough time managing a tight game. His refusal to put down a squeeze with Reyes/Chavez on third and 1 out or less cost the Mets at least 2 or 3 games last year. His bullpen maneuvering is always questionable as we've seen with his obsession with putting Mota in close games. Randolph has a lot to prove in how he handles games down the stretch.
Overall I think the Mets are in good shape as a team heading into spring training. I'd like to see a power right-handed bat be added to the bench for those late game situations, but otherwise I like the reserves we have in Marlon Anderson, Jose Valentin, Ruben Gotay & Endy Chavez.
The Mets should be positioned to make a run late into the playoffs, but that's what I thought last year.