This is part two of the New York Mets preview of 2008 with a biography of each player. Part one included a summary of the 2007 season, as well as a little biography on Carlos Delgado, Luis Castillo, David Wright, and Jose Reyes. That article can be found here: http://www.rootzoo.com/articles/view/2587/This article will include a biography on the pitchers, the catcher, and the outfield. We will begin with our new catcher.
In a move I still don’t really agree with, during the offseason the Mets traded Lastings Milledge to the Nationals for Brian Schneider, after former catcher Paul LoDuca was let go. Although he is not offensively amazing, his defensive skills more then make up for it!
Brian grew up in Northampton, Pennsylvania where he played baseball and basketball. He was the Player of the Year in the Lehigh Valley in back to back years (’94 and ’95) and was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1995. However, Brian did not make his MLB debut until late May of the 2000 season. He is known for his outstanding defensive skills, leading the majors with 46.7% thrown out base runners in 2003, 47.8% in 2004. He also set a franchise record for best fielding percentage, with a flawless .998 in 2004. He received the 2002 Roberto Clemente award, recognizing a player on each team for his community service and sportsmanship. And in 2007, Brian’s offensive numbers improved, but was still one of the most elite defensive catchers in the game. He should be a very good fit for the Mets because of his defensive abilities, because they have not had a defensive catcher in a very long time, and pitchers tend to do much better with a good defensive catcher. He could add two or three wins to each of the pitchers record that now have confidence behind the plate!
The 41 year old Moises is still showing Met fans all he’s got. His father Felipe, who is a manager in MLB, coached Moises in Montreal as well as in San Francisco. Moises was originally a basketball player and didn’t get interested in baseball until college. He was drafted second overall by the Pirates in 1986. In 1990, he was traded to the Expos where he played for his father. Originally a very speedy ball player, in 1993 Moises hurt his ankle very badly and was now forced to only play corner outfield. In 1994, he hit .339 and was named to the All Star Team. He signed with the Marlins for the 1997 season where hit 23 HR’s and drove in 115, as he led them to the World Series. He was then traded to the Astros, where he hit 38 homeruns and drove in 124 runs as the Astros won 102 games. However, he tore his ACL in a treadmill accident and missed the entire 1999 season. He hit .355 in 2000 and .331 in 2001. He then signed with the Cubs, where he had a lousy 2002 season. 2003 showed more promise, however a late season slump brought down his average from .300 to .280. In the post season, he was more of a hero. But the Steve Bartman incident stopped Alou from becoming even more of a hero. In 2004, Alou belted 39 homeruns, but the Cubs did not make the playoffs because of an end of the year slump. He played for the Giants under his father in 2005 and 2006, and then he found his way to the Mets in 2007 where he broke the Mets hitting streak record when he completed a 30 game streak. Hopefully age will not be a factor this year for the six time All Star.
The Puerto Rican Centerfielder is one of the most naturally gifted athletes in the game. He is a true five tool player, whether it is his amazing stealing ability or his absolute slugging power, his blazing speed or his outstanding fielding ability. Under Carlos’s belt is a 1999 Rookie of the Year award, where he hit .293 and belted 22 homeruns, as well as driving in 108 and stealing 27 bases. His 2001 season was also marvelous as he hit .306 with 24 home runs. He followed that with a .273 BA, 29 homerun, 105 RBI 2002 season and a .307 BA, 26 homerun, 100 RBI 2003 season. In 2004, Beltran was traded from his original Royals to the Astros right before All Star break. He started for the NL All Star team, although he had yet to play a game for the NL. His 2004 post season performance, including a whopping eight home runs which went down five games in a row, goes down in history as one of the best post seasons in history. Right after the playoffs, the Mets beat out their rival Yankees to sign Carlos. Although his 2005 season was disappointing for the Mets due to an injury (a collision with Mike Cameron in the outfield), his 2006 season earned him an All Star spot and he even surpassed his 2005 home run total at All Star break. He topped off the year with 41 homeruns, which included 3 grand slams (both franchise records.) He also received the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award. However, his season ended when he struck out with bases loaded to win the NLCS, one of the most depressing sports moments in my life.
The newly acquired Mets outfielder should look to continue the great play of 2007 this upcoming season. In 2005, Ryan was the top contender for Rookie of the Year with his .325 batting average and .544 slugging percentage, however he was injured in late June after running into a wall during a home game. He took two more trips to the DL before the end of the season and the early magic never came back. 2006 was no better for Church, as he was sent back to the minors after an early slump. 2007, however, was a big year for Ryan. He was known for his 42 doubles, however plenty of those will turn into homeruns as Shea is more of a hitters park then PNC Park was.
Starting Pitcher (1)
Potentially the reason why Mets fans can breathe again, Santana brings so much to New York as well. His mere presence should serve as a motivator for the team, and his talent is beyond real. Earlier this month (February), the Mets traded for Johan and signed him to a 6 year, $137.5 million dollar deal, the largest in baseball history for a pitcher. Johan may be one of the best pitchers to ever play the game, with arguably the best change up we’ve ever seen. However according to Johan’s father, Johan’s older brother Franklin was the more talented player. Johan was actually not drafted, but instead signed by the Astros in 1995. However, Johan chose to stay in Venezuela (where he was named the Tovar Mérida Athlete of the Year). In 1999, The Florida Marlins drafted Santana, but later traded him to the Twins. Johan began his pitching career in 2000, however was far from successful, posting a 6.49 ERA. 2001 and 2002 Johan spent in the minors. 2004 showed one of the best second halves ever in baseball, which included a four or fewer hits in ten consecutive starts, as he went 13-0 with 11.13 K’s per game as well as a 1.21 ERA. He finished the season with a 20-6 record (this entailed a 0.92 WHIP, and .192 batting average.) In 2005, Johan led the majors in strikeouts, and in 2006 Santana won the “Triple Crown”, the first player since Doc Gooden in ’85. And in 2007, his greatness continued. Johan is going to be more then just a pitcher for the Mets, he is going to be a God.
Starting Pitcher (2)
Pedro Martinez is among one of the best pitchers in baseball, and has quite the resume. This includes 200 wins (highest win percentage of all the 200 game winners), three Cy Young Awards, and 3,000 strike outs. A Hall of Fame resume if I’ve ever seen one, no? Going back to the early years, we see Pedro alongside his star pitching brother Ramon. Ramon said Pedro was better then he was, however Lasorda disagreed due to Pedro’s size. He was traded to Montreal in the 1994 season, where he turned into a star. 1997 showed us a 17-8 record, 305 strikeouts, and a 1.90 ERA as well as 13 complete games! He was then traded to the Red Sox, where he had one of the best seasons in baseball’s history in 1999, where he went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts. This earned him the “Triple Crown”, an unanimous Cy Young Award, and second place on the MVP ballot. In a September 1999 game, Pedro struck out 17 out of only 28 batters. Pedro went on in 2000 to have ten straight starts with 10+ strikeouts, with a season 1.74 ERA and another Cy Young award. He spent 2001 injured, although he went 7-3. 2002, Pedro was 20-4, 14-4 in 2003, and 16-9 in 2004. After helping the Red Sox win their first World Series in 2004, Pedro joined the Mets in 2005 and went 15-8 and lead the league in WHIP for the fifth time. After a brilliant start to the 2006 season, he got hurt and it ruined the rest of the season. He spent most of 2007 hurt as well, however played well when he eventually came back. Pedro is in the rotation for all of 2008, and should look to continue the good old days.
Starting Pitcher (3)
John is one of the best young pitchers in the game of baseball right now, Maine will begin his reign at dominance this year in my opinion. Maine was drafted in 2002, and was called up in 2004. Although he was only kind of successful in Baltimore, he was traded to Mets in 2006. 2006 showed promise for Maine, as he pitched 26 straight scoreless innings. This streak was the longest ever by a Mets rookie, passing Doc Gooden himself. He was 6-5 in 2006, however he started games one and six in the postseason. In both games, he pitched very well. Game one was a no decision despite the Mets 1-0 win. And game six was a defeat over Cy Young Winner Chris Carpenter, bring the series to the 7 th game. 2007 was a 14-9 record for Maine and had a no hitter through 7 innings on April 18th. Although posting All Star numbers, he was left off the squad despite leading the NL in wins. On September 29 th, in a bid for the playoffs, Maine got a much needed 13-0 win as he kept a no hitter till the 8 th as he fanned 14. John has drawn comparisons to Mets living legend Tom Seaver, and I am confident he will confirm that this season.
Enter Sandman. Enter Wagner. Enter a victory. Billy Wagner is one of the most unstoppable closers in the game currently, and his story is almost as amazing as his skills. Although Wagner is naturally a right handed pitcher, he broke his arm twice as a kid. Due to this, he taught himself how to pitch left handed and threw nothing but fastballs. Wagner now throws 100+ MPH left handed. Wagner set all types of records in his college career, including strikeouts, hits per nine inning. He entered the MLB as a SP in 1995. In 1996, Wagner was a minor league starter and a major league reliever. In 1997, Wagner had 23 out of 29 saves, and set an MLB record for Strike outs per nine inning, with 14.4. In 1998, Wagner notched 30 saves, including 19 in a row. In 1999, Wagner got the Roloids Reliever of the Year Award with his 39 saves. 2002 showed us 35 saves, and 2003 a career high 44 saves. Wagner was traded to the Phillies in 2004, and although he did pretty well he had some trouble with teammates. In 2006, he signed with the Mets, where he scored 40 saves. Wagner is a five time all star and has 324 saves, and I would not be surprised to see him on the 2008 All Star Team.
I predict HUGE things from the Mets this season. Huge. And these are the players we will see. GO METS! METS IN '08!!!!