2011: The season in review

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Jose

The Mets ushered out the 2011 season in an afternoon win against the Reds on Tuesday. They finished up with a 77-85 record, “earning”

them fourth place in the NL East, worse than what was expected by most at the beginning of the year. Today, we’ll look into the big headlines of this season, analyze what went wrong, and grade the team and organization.

Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes had a year for the ages in 2011, hitting an NL-leading .337, 16 triple, and swiping 39 bags. Even with hamstring injuries plaguing him, Reyes still managed to become the first Met ever to win the batting title. He had an amazing first half, hitting .354 with a .398 On-Base Percentage, compared to his second half, when he hit .305 and got on base at just a .356 clip. He also only played 126 games, going on the DL twice. Will this be an excuse for Sandy Alderon to not sign him?As you already know, he is a free agent five days after the World Series is over, which isn’t that far away, and he will be demanding big money, which the Mets will not be able to pay him. He had a great season and says his heart is in New York, but I won’t believe it until I see it.

The rotation: Gee and Dickey shine, Pelfrey… doesn’t

This year was one of extreme ups and downs for the Met rotation. R.A. Dickey, despite losing  13 games, largely continued his excellent performance from 2010. He went 8-13, but had a 3.28 ERA and was the victim of some really tough games. Dickey went at

least seven innings in 16 of 32 starts, but was 4-8 in those games. He also went up against some of the NL’s best including Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong, Clayton Kershaw, Yovani Gallardo, and Cole Hamels.

Meanwhile, Dillon Gee was arguably the biggest surprise for the Mets this season. After pitching five games in 2010, Gee jumped out to a huge 7-0 start. He was the last full-time starter in baseball to be undefeated, losing his first game of the season on June 21. He pitched smart, efficiently, and proved to everyone that you don’t need top talent to succeed at the major league level.

Jonathon Niese didn't live up to expectations in 2011.

Mike Pelfrey, who came into the season as the interim ace of the rotation after a 15-9 2010, was anything but impressive. Big Pelf was a dismal 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA. There were glimpses of what might have been, like his two complete games, but it seems like his days in New York may be numbered.

Rounding out the rotation, Jonathon Niese and Chris Capuano each had sub-par seasons.

Niese’s ERA went from 4.20 in 2010 to 4.40 this year. He

finished 11-11 compared to 9-10 in 2010.Capuano pitched well early, going 8-8 with a 4.12 ERA in the first half but fell off towards the end. bringing his record  below .500 (11-9), and raising his ERA to 4.55.

Overall, the rotation wasn’t very impressive this year. I’m excited to see what Gee and Dickey can do for the team next year, but that’s about it. The Mets may want to gut the rotation this offseason, keeping Gee and Dickey, while hoping for a return by Johan Santana.

 The absent ace

After surgery on his left shoulder in 2010, it was widely considered that he would be ready to pitch May 1. Well, May 1 rolled around and Johan Santana was still waiting to pitch in a minor league game. June 1 was the same, and so was July 1 and August 1. It turned out that Johan would not pitch at all in 2011. He only managed to pitch five minor league innings. His absence was one of the biggest disappointments of the season and might have been the reason why the Mets couldn’t reach .500 for the year.

With Satana, it seems like most people are just giving up on him. He has missed the majority of his Met career due to injury, but each time he has come back, he has succeeded. Why can’t he do that next year? I think he can and he will be back next year in top form, or close to it.

Alderson and Collins

Last winter when Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins were each signed, a new wave of optimism flowed through the players, ownership, and fan base. Ten months later, the optimism is still there. Collins and Alderson have completely changed the culture of the Met organization, instilling a fighting spirit into the otherwise lowly Mets. They may not have won too many games, but they fought and fought, not giving up until the last out. The talent wasn’t quite there, but a winning attitude was. For the most part, the new regime did a great job turning around this team.

 Grades

Sandy Alderson: B+

He didn’t make any moves to benefit the team in 2011, but he made moves for the future, getting rid of some bad contract and trading for Zack Wheeler, who is now the top Met pitching prospect. His real test will be this upcoming offseason when there will be no excuses for failure to build a good team.

Terry Collins: A+

Oh, this is making me cry (end-of-year press conference reference). Terry did a great job this year. He made this team a fighting one, as I said earlier and he also made the atmosphere very rookie-friendly. He gave Lucas Duda, Nick Evans, Ruben Tejada, and many others chaces to show what they have.

The offense: B-

Say what you want about Lucas Duda, but the Mets were missing that big power threat in the middle of the lineup this year. After Ike Davis went down, the threat of a Met home run disappeared. However, despite being 13th in the NL in home runs, the Mets were second in the league in hits, behind only the Cardinals. They succeeded in every other phase, finishing second in the NL in doubles and On-Base percentage, and third in triples. The reason I’m giving them a B- is again, their lack of power in an otherwise potent offense.

The starters: C-

As you look down the statsheet of Met pitchers this season, not much makes you smile. The 4.12 starting pitching ERA is tenth in the National League. They rank in the bottom third of the majors in almost every category. The only two bright spots in the rotation were R.A. Dickey, who had another impressive season, and Dillon Gee, who established himself as one of the best young pitchers ion baseball. Other than that, Mike Pelfrey had a horrible year, Jonathon Niese failed to continue developing, and scrap heaper Chris Capuano  was just that… a scrap heaper. Hopefully, Johan Santana will be back next year and will contribute and maybe the Mets will be able to spend some of the $40 million or so they will be able to spend this offseason in some starting pitching. They really need it.

The Bullpen: D

When you trade away your closer for practically nothing, with a bullpen already shaky to begin with, you could encounter major problems, and that’s exactly what happened with the Met ‘pen this year. After the trade of Francisco Rodriguez, the Mets, for the most part, relied on Jason Isringhausen and Bobby Parnell to close. Isringhausen had arm problems coming into this year, and the Mets seemed to know that he could not take on a closer role for a full season. He was decent, but fatigue got to him and the Mets had to go to Bobby Parnell. Parnell was… awful. He was 6-12 in save opportunities, and had a win-loss record of 0-3 in save situations. After Parnell, Manny Acosta got a shot at the role, too, and he ran with it. In save situations, Acosta’s ERA dropped to 1.15. He was only 4-7 in save chances, but was still brilliant. Once you get past Acosta, however, the bullpen was awful this year, and will need to be gutted and rebuilt this winter.

 

What do you think? Did I miss something? Are my grades wrong? let me know in the comments section…

About Connor O'Brien
I'm a 17 year-old blogger, high school student, and lifelong Mets fan. I've been blogging about the Mets in some form or another for about four years. I embrace the new age, sabermetric way of thinking, but also recognize the importance of scouting and player devlopment.

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