Met Offense Looks to Rebound

There seems to be an whole lot of questions around the Mets and what happened to their offense last year, and not many answers, but one thing is for sure. This season must be better because what are the odds that all of them will post career lows for the second year in a row? Mets management and Met fans are wagering that last year was some kind of evil fluke and that there is no way history will repeat itself, I mean, isn't that like asking lightning to strike in the same place twice?

In the offseason, Bobby Valentine and his coaching staff shouldered most of the blame for failing to motivate and manage the team and new skipper Art Howe (the Mets second choice for manager, but a good hire) brings a fresh attitude and a history of success with him from Oakland, and new blood may be just what the doctor ordered here. In recent years, the Mets have looked stagnant at times and a change was needed to shake things up and motivate the players.

Let's start at the top. In the leadoff spot is Roger Cedeno (who the Mets were unable to deal in the offseason). A career hitter of almost .300, he tailed off considerably last year and could not hit the ball on the ground to save his life. Look for his numbers to improve with a new batting coach and working with Brett Butler in the spring and should he fail, eager Timo Perez (who batted .296 last season) waits in the wings for his chance. Although not the prototypical leadoff hitter, Timo is a scrappy hitter and a fan favorite.

In the second slot will be Robby Alomar, who also had a sub-par year last season. He is in the last year of his contract and will look to post big numbers. With a full year in the National League under his belt, he should feel more and more comfortable at the plate and return to hit .300 and score 100 runs while driving in 80.

Batting third will be newly-aquired Cliff Floyd, a big bat the Mets desperately needed. He has reported to camp in excellent shape and should post great numbers if the guys in front of him get on base at all. And with Piazza batting behind him, he should get his share of good pitches. He could be big fun to watch this year.

Cleanup hitter Mike Piazza is well…Mike Piazza. Even though his numbers dipped a little last year, look for him to return to form with a better supporting cast and a comfortable slot in the middle of the lineup. Could be looking at 120 plus RBI's this year and almost certainly will get his 30 HR's. Enough said.

Even Mo Vaughn reported to camp lighter and healthier and knows his reputation and career could be on the line this year. Working with a fitness guru in the offseason, he looks to increase his stamina and regain his batspeed. Will need a little help in the lineup behind him to see good pitches, but if he gets any help at all from Burnitz and Wigginton, he could post monster numbers. Mo loves being in the spotlight, and this is New York City. The table is set Big Mo, go eat!

The sixth spot will probably go to Ty Wigginton, to establish that right-left-right-left thing in the order. But if he struggles early, look for the Mets to go out and deal for a third baseman. He posted decent numbers at the end of last season, but he will not make up for losing favorite Edgardo Alfonzo. Those shoes will be hard to fill and the pressure will be on from day one. It will be interesting to see what pans out from here.

That brings us to Jeromy Burnitz! Wow, what can you say. After three solid seasons with good power numbers, he completely went into the tank last year and was hit hard by the Met faithful at Shea. He has always struck out a lot, but last year looked completely out of sorts in the batters box. Switching leagues didn't help and maybe he wont feel the enormous pressure to produce if everyone else is contributing also. The good news is that he can't possibly be as bad as he was last year. If he starts to resemble the hitter he was two years ago, the Met fans will embrace him and all will be forgiven. If he does, Shinjo'' return gives the Mets a steady guy to plug into several different spots in the lineup, including Burnitz's.

Rey Sanchez was a good sign at short to replace Ordonez. He has a stseady bat with some pop and did a great job filling in for Nomar last year in Boston. He could hit between 15-20 HR's in a full season and will get his shot at 75 RBI's. If he falters, young Met Phenom, Jose Reyes should be ready by mid-season and might contribute nicely for the stretch run.

Off the bench with Super Joe McEwing, Vance Wilson, Shinjo, Perez and possibly Jay Bell, the Mets look like they could do some damage this year.

The Mets need to realize that this is a team sport. Pitchers help hitters by keeping the team in ballgames. Its a lot different hitting up 3-2 then when you are down 8-0. Guys have to be patient at times and aggressive at others. Take walks, move runners over, sacrifice, bunt protect runners...all the things that make good teams great. They need to cut down on strikeouts and make contact with runners on base and in scoring position. That's what baseball is all about and why Bobby Valentine was fired and Art Howe was brought in.

This Met fans believes that the pieces are in place and that this will be a great year. The National League East will be a fierce battle but to coin an old phrase "Yes we can!".


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