By Taryn “The Coop” Cooper
Good afternoon everyone (although by the time you will be reading this, it will be the evening). After I retired my old blog, My Summer Family, a few months ago, there were some pieces I knew I wanted to bring over as a matter of course, my nod in essence to myself. One of these pieces was my annual Crystal Ball piece. After all, we bloggers are opinionated, and we take our opinions and run with them.
I love how writers are anointing the Mets to fall in last place, namely Sports Illustrated. Behind the Marlins. BEHIND THE NATIONALS for pete’s sakes. Why, because the Marlins have a good but VERY overrated starter in Josh Johnson? Because the “other” Mike Stanton is a decent player? Because Hanley Ramirez is a poor man’s Jose Reyes? And seriously, the addition of Jayson Werth is automatically making the craptastic Nationals a 4th place team? Keep dreaming. Mets will finish in third place this season, and in effect play spoiler to a lot of teams with Wild Card ambitions for 2011. I am saying they are an 82-win team, finishing with their first winning season since 2008.
As for the rest of the East, don’t discount the Braves. I actually pin them with the NL East crown this year. Phillies starting rotation is obviously what it is, but their lack of depth in positions with injuries plus a declining Jimmy Rollins and a strikeout artiste in Ryan Howard may not overcome injury-prone Chase Utley. Trust me on this. Braves are going to surprise many.
Never underestimate the power of a walk year. Jose Reyes is going to come up huge this year. Expect him to be in MVP considerations.
Carlos Beltran will not finish the season with the Mets. If Jason Bay gets off to a hot start after his injury (I actually believe this administration when they say it’s “not serious”), expect his name to be thrown into the mix for midseason trades. Unlike Jose Reyes, I believe he will play out this season. I won’t go so far to say he’ll re-sign with the Mets in 2012. But I will say that his best value is in the form of arbitration and draft picks provided he does not stay a Met as opposed to a midseason trade.
Speaking of depth, I am probably one of the few who truly believes Johan Santana will return this season. Expect Chris Capuano to be shipped off midseason as well.
In the meantime, expect a huge season from Jon Niese. Even though I am a big Mike Pelfrey homer, consider his ass a .500 pitcher this year.
So let’s not allow past performance dictate the present and very near future. I think at the end of it all, we’re going to like the grittiness of this team and we’ll become fond of them again. Hopefully to continue into the future as a team with a game plan.