Prevention and Recovery. That was the slogan posted in the Mets locker room in Port St. Lucie this spring. After a rash of injuries that crippled the team, they needed to come up with a positive outlook on the 2010 season.
After game #1 of 162, Johan Santana prevented the Marlins from scoring and David Wright recovered from last year’s power outage. Santana upped his opening day mark to 3-0 with the Mets, who interestingly ran their all-time opening day record to a MLB best 32-17. That’s pretty amazing considering that they had lost their first 8 season openers.
In 2008 David Wright was Superman. He had the best year of his career, batting .302 with 33 HR and 124 RBI. In 2009, Superman met his Kryptonite. Citi Field. From it’s opening in 1964 to it’s morbid closing in 2008, Shea Stadium was by no means a home run hitters park. It was known as a pitcher’s park, due to its deep power alleys. But Citi Field zapped Superman of all his powers. He only hit 10 HR last year. It just seemed like every ball that Wright hit into the gaps were swallowed up by the Grand Canyon that has become known as Citi Field’s outfield. But this is a new year. 2009 is in the rear view mirror and a thing of the past. In the bottom of the 1st inning, Wright smashed an opposite field 2-run HR to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. Wright didn’t get into a home run trot, he ran around the bases as if to tell his teammates “Let’s go, get on my back.” When arriving at the dugout he was dishing out high-fives like a Hulk Hogan double-axe handle off the top rope.
As important as David Wright is to the Mets offense, Johan Santana IS the Mets Pitching staff. He was acquired by the Amazin’s 2 years ago and didn’t disappoint in his first campaign. He went 16-7 with a stellar 2.54 ERA. Last year, he was cruising along in his usual fashion, when he started losing velocity and later had his season cut short do to an elbow injury. Fast forward to opening day and he was as good as ever. Johan went 6 innings, while only giving up 1 run. His change-up was devastating. Hitters were constantly off-balance and hit many weak fly balls. He used the change-up so effectively in his first two at bats with Hanley Ramirez, that in the third, he blew 3 straight fastballs right by him on the inside corner. That’s a master a work.
The Mets aren’t going 162-0 this year, but with a few breaks here and there, a .500 record is not out of the realm of possibility. The key will be the 4 starters behind Santana. Pelfrey, Maine, Perez and Niese must have good years for the Mets to contend for a wild card birth.