My loyal readers know how much I enjoy roster analysis, so even though we are already one game into the season I wanted to take a minute to talk about the team that the Mets broke camp with.
For the most part, it is a surprisingly well-constructed roster to start the season. I would've liked to have seen a second left-hander in the bullpen instead of Bobby Parnell, who I simply do not believe in yet. That said, if it makes Jerry Manuel more likely to simply rely on his best relievers and less likely to become obsessed with platoon matchups, I think it's worth considering for now.
I liked the Gary Sheffield signing as a low-risk investment, but the key will be how Omar Minaya makes room for Livan Hernandez, who will be the fifth starter and will take the mound on Saturday. Minaya absolutely must release Marlon Anderson for this signing to make any sense at all. Anderson has no place on this team - he can't hit, he can't field and he can't run. Modern teams simply do not have room for Manny Mota-type pinch hitters, and Marlon Anderson is no Manny Mota.
Pitching is still a question mark, in my opinion. Johan Santana will be an ace, but can anyone say with confidence that Mike Pelfrey will not regress, that Oliver Perez and John Maine won't remain inconsistent and that Hernandez will not be awful? I can't - and the Mets will not survive in the National League unless three of those four live up to expectations.
The bullpen seems to be built entirely and hopes and dreams. If Francisco Rodriguez's decreasing strikeout rate and increasing WHIP isn't a sign of trouble ... if JJ Putz is fully healed from last season's injury and rediscovers past success ... if Sean Green and Brian Stokes learn how to get out left-handers ... if Pedro Feliciano remembers how to get out right-handers ... if Parnell out-performs every expectation that his entire minor-league track record would give you ... if Darren O'Day's rotator cuff doesn't completely tear ...
If all of these go right, you have a 100-win team. If they all go wrong, you have an 80-win team. I'm predicting an 87-75 record, which should indicate my confidence in the bullpen right now.
There are fewer questions among the position players. David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes will hit, because that's what they do. I think that Daniel Murphy will too, although I think he's more Rusty Greer and less Don Mattingly or Wade Boggs (two players I heard him compared to this week). Either Ryan Church or Luis Castillo will put up good numbers - and if they both do this lineup has the chance to be very potent.
The key is Carlos Delgado. I just don't see another 38 home runs from that aging bat, but the Mets don't need that to succeed. They need .265/.350/.470 and 25 to 30 home runs to be successful - and they need Delgado to be consistent for six months. Another season where he's clueless at the plate until July 1 will be disastrous.
Francisco Rodriguez (closer)