The season is over for our beloved New York Mets. I found myself enthralled with pennant chase baseball last night and reveling in the demise of both the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves. I only wish Chipper Jones hit into that game ending double play, but it was still enjoyable nonetheless.
I'm not going to get into the Jose Reyes drama about him not playing the whole game. Please, just stop. If you missed his at bat, shame on you for not being there for the start of the game and if you're angry you only saw him once there were 161 other games that you could have watched him. Don't tarnish an amazing season by the most electric player in New York by whining about only one at bat.
Ok, so I did get into the Reyes drama but now I want to leave you with 3 takeaways from the Mets 2011 campaign.
1. Never believe what people say about the Mets farm system.
How many times have we heard in the last 4 years that the Mets farm system is depleted. That the Mets don't have the chips to make a trade. Or that they need to rebuild the minor leagues? Spare me. The Mets fielded a team of minor leaguers for the better part of 2011. Tejada, Turner, Duda, Evans, and Gee are all examples of guys who can play regularly in the majors. None of them are going to be All Stars tomorrow but there's no denying they are better than what everyone has made them out to be.
2. Pitching is paramount.
I'm tired of talking about this, but pitching is what the Mets need. There will be talk about Prince Fielder, complaining about the horribleness of Jason Bay, and the dimensions of Citi Field but the most important thing the Mets can do this off season is improve their pitching staff. Bullpen and starting rotation. Pelfrey needs to go. Parnell needs therapy and shouldn't take the mound in the 9th inning of a close game for a long time. Offensively, the Mets were actually really good this year. I know it's hard to believe. Their BA is above the NL average. For months they were leading the league in hitting with 2 outs. They're in the top 10 in runs scored and stolen bases. Home runs are obviously an issue but honestly the Mets aren't a bad hitting team. What they are bad at is pitching. How many games did the bullpen blow this year? How many times did we see Niese, Capuano and Pelfrey give up 5+ runs in a single inning that basically blew the game? Missing Santana was obviously a major hurdle to overcome but the lack of a true #2 starter and a somewhat reasonable bullpen is really what killed the Mets...and injuries too.
3. A healthy lineup makes a huge difference.
You want to know something that I would love to see? A healthy Reyes, Wright, Davis and Murphy in the lineup for 150 games. I know injuries are a part of baseball. It's unavoidable, but the Mets haven't even come close to a healthy lineup in the last 3 seasons. Look at what Reyes did running on all cylinders? He missed a few weeks, but he's the batting champ, triples machine that we knew he could become. Pair that with Wright who has his highs & lows but generally produces 30 HRs & 100 RBI and an Ike Davis who could potentially match Wright's production or exceed it. Then add in Murphy who was a top 10 hitter until that dreaded play at second base and you have a very interesting lineup to play with. If Duda continues to grow as a hitter and Jason Bay improves at all and the Mets will have no issues scoring runs. But the key is can they stay healthy? Do you think the Brewers would be in the position they are with Braun out for 2 months? Could the Cards have made the comeback they did without Pujols & Halladay for a stretch in September? Of course not. We have yet to truly see what this Mets team can do if they have a healthy lineup and some help in the rotation.