Obviously it hasn’t gone that well.
This time around, however, the Mets and Braves are making some changes and additions that just might help their chances in 2010. For the Braves it has been a few upgrades in the bullpen with the addition of Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, and the return of Rafael Soriano. What makes this news significant is that the Braves had the best starting pitching in the Majors in 2009 (3.52 ERA) and a relieving corps that was sixth best (3.68 ERA) in all of baseball.
Typically it works the other way around and the bullpen posts better numbers than the starters, but for the Braves it seems as if a few more runs from the offense would have made life much more difficult for the Phillies.
As far as the upgrades to the hitters go, the Braves are said to be discussing Johnny Damon and Nick Johnson—two hitters that can make a difference at the top third of the batting order.
Needless to say, the Braves want to add a piece or two to the offense before the start of the season.
The Mets, on the other hand, say they want to change up things a little bit. After learning something or two about their new, cavernous ballpark after its inaugural season, Mets’ manager Jerry Manuel says his team needs to “set a different philosophy.”
“Everyone puts an emphasis on pitching and defense, but with our ballpark we really have to put an emphasis on it,” Manuel said. “If you’re a pitcher that throws strikes, you really have a chance in our park.”
The Mets still have uber-ace Johan Santana, and they were in the hunt for Randy Wolf before it became apparent that Wolfie will land in Milwaukee. Additionally, the Mets have been tied to John Lackey and Joel Pineiro in an attempt to bolster the pitching staff.
Offensively, Manuel believes he has some hitters whose repertoires fit into the configurement of their ball yard, specifically with Jose Reyes. At CitiField, the Mets will pick up a few triples with the big gaps and interesting angles. In fact, last season the Mets hit 49 triples—32 of them in the home park.
Home runs though… yes, the Mets need to deemphasize that. Judging from David Wright’s homer totals, CitiField had an effect on the team’s power. After hitting 63 homers in the two seasons prior, Wright clubbed just 10 last year. Needless to say the drop from 33 bombs to 10 was a pretty big deal.
Still, it remains to be seen how long Manuel will be around to stand charge over the Mets’ new philosophy. After a dreadful 2009 and two big September collapses in 2007 and 2008, the Mets just might have to be pro-active regarding their management. Besides, with the addition of ex-big league managers Bob Melvin, Terry Collins as well as Wally Backman to the team’s staff, Manuel will be wise not to look over his shoulder.
“I think those are all good baseball people, good baseball minds,” Manuel said Tuesday. “I think for any organization to move forward, you need those types of people in place. You know, perception would say, ‘Hey, Jerry, turn around.’ But Jerry isn’t turning around. I’m just going to go do my thing and do the best I can. We have the means to acquire and have a good team, and I think if you’ve got a good team you should be OK. So I don’t have a problem with that.”
Very true. Besides, with the way the last three seasons ended no one would wish the Mets' gig on an enemy.