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Mets Moves Were Better Than Ya Think

By Michael B. Dowd

After an atrocious 2009 season, which saw the injury-riddled New York Mets post a 70-92 record, furious and fed-up fans screamed for major changes.

Five months later, you can ask any Mets fan and they’ll tell you that the Blue and Orange were not so Amazin’ in the offseason acquisition category.

But were the Mets’ moves THAT bad? Let’s take a look. This writer believes that there’s a lot to look forward to in 2010. That’s because the Mets, plain and simply, became better. With the improving health of the injured 2009 stars and the addition of a few major and minor pieces, expect the Mets to finish with at least 87 wins. That’s a 17-game improvement over last year’s nightmare.

Jason Bay – the power-hitting left-fielder (36 longballs last year) has big-game experience in Boston and handled the tough task of replacing legendary Manny Ramirez. Bay boosts the homer-sick Mets lineup and completes an impressive outfield - which also features perennial All-Star Carlos Beltran and spirited right fielder Jeff Francoeur. Sure, Beltran was banged up for a good portion of ’09 and starts 2010 on the shelf, but he’s expected back in May – and even at 75% capacity, Carlos is better than most big-leaguers at his position. Francoeur is a 12-year-old playing in a grown man’s body. His enthusiasm for the game and never-say-die approach will work wonders for the Mets clubhouse, which in recent seasons has been accused of being listless.

Mike Jacobs – Quick, give me the name of the Mets’ late-inning power threat, who was capable of slamming a game-tying or winning homer in the 7th, 8th or 9th inning last year? Fernado Tatis came close … but for the most part, “late-inning-hero guy” did not exist in Queens. So, in steps the sweet swing of Jacobs, a former Met prospect – who played briefly for the big-league club in 2005 before being shipped to Florida in the Carlos Delgado deal. Jacobs, in his five MLB seasons, has 162-game averages of 29 homers, 91 RBI and 34 doubles. There is talk that he will be given a full shot to unseat the unheralded Daniel Murphy as the first-base starter. Spring should be interesting at the first-base bag.

Rod Barajas – I am sure Brian Schneider was a nice guy, but most Mets fans had grown tired of his sub-mediocrity both at the plate and behind it. And while Omir Santos was a nice surprise, the Mets became stronger at the dish by signing the 34-year old veteran to a cheapskate deal with huge upside. The former Diamondback, Ranger, Phillie and Blue Jay threw out more than a third of potential base-stealers last year and works well with pitchers. And although it’s a small sample, he has two homers and three hits in nine career posteason at-bats. Lastly, he was a World Series champ with the D-Backs in 2001, bringing more much-needed winning experience to the Metsies.

Throw in solid outfielder and potential pinch-hitter Gary Matthews Jr, the talented righty set-up arm of the animated Kelvim Escobar, and the lefty, contact bat of Long Island native Frank Catalanotto and the Mets have a nucleus of new talent that should steer them away from last year’s losing culture.


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