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2011 Fantasy Outlooks: New York Mets

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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It's out with the old and in with the new. That's the Mets' mantra heading into 2011 as the team overhauled its coaching staff and front office in the offseason.

Gone are the brain trust of manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya, who led New York to a disappointing 79-83 record and fourth-place finish in the NL East last season. In is manager Terry Collins, who previously has skippered the Astros and Angels, and general manager Sandy Alderson, who has surrounded himself with former general managers Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi. They now make up the leadership that is expected to get the Mets out of the NL East cellar.

The Mets had a quiet offseason as far as signing big names, bringing in the likes of Chris Young, Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, Chris Capuano and Ronny Paulino to provide the team with veterans who came at a relatively cheap price. They are set to join a cast of underachieving players from 2010.

The Met with the most Fantasy upside heading into '11 remains third baseman David Wright, who had a bounce-back campaign of his own last year. Angel Pagan was the team's biggest surprise a year ago and now enters '11 with a starting job and Fantasy relevance.

It's clear, though, that the Mets need better production from Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez, who all missed significant time and failed to meet expectations last year. New York also has to wait on ace Johan Santana, who could miss up to half the season recovering from shoulder surgery.

It's not all doom-and-gloom for the Mets. They have some promising young players in Ike Davis, Jonathon Niese, Josh Thole and Daniel Murphy, who could supplant handle-with-care veteran Luis Castillo at second base.

Not many pundits are expecting the Mets to contend in '11 and the team could be big-time sellers at the trade deadline. All Fantasy owners can hope for is that they don't pack it in early.

Bounce-back player ... Jose Reyes, SS

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Everyone, including the Mets' front office, knows how valuable Reyes is to the team's offensive production. He is the catalyst atop the lineup and his speed is second-to-none on the base paths. Reyes did finish fifth among Fantasy shortstops last season (429 points), but the scary thing is that he could have had an even better year. Reyes missed much of spring training battling injuries and spent the first two-plus months in spring-training mode as he got acclimated to game action. But he hit his stride in early June and produced up to standards the rest of the way. Reyes hit .310 with six triples, 10 homers, 19 doubles, 33 RBI, 53 runs and 16 stolen bases in his final 80 games. Reyes is not only healthy heading into the spring, but he is in the final year of his contract and certainly has extra motivation to perform well in '11.

Sleeper ... Ike Davis, 1B

In Ike We Trust. And so should Fantasy owners. Davis effectively filled the void at first base for the Mets in '10 that was left by Carlos Delgado's departure. Although Davis doesn't possess Delgado's home-run prowess, he sure fooled us last year. Davis slugged 19 homers and posted a respectable .791 OPS. Delgado had an .843 OPS in his rookie season before finishing with a career .929 mark, so Davis has room to improve. Davis is more of a gap hitter that probably tops out at about 20-25 homers and 80-90 RBI. He does need to show a little more patience at the plate -- he struck out 138 times in 147 games as a rookie -- but this guy can certainly outproduce his draft position.

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Bust ... R.A. Dickey , SP

How does a journeyman knuckleballer go from spring training invitee to a top-of-the-rotation arm? Ask R.A. Dickey, who performed the magic act in '10. Dickey was one of the biggest Fantasy surprises last season, winning 10-plus games for the first time in his career while posting a 2.84 ERA. Still, the odds of him repeating that performance are against him. Dickey came into last year with a 22-28 record, a 5.43 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in first seven MLB seasons. The 36-year-old's season was pretty much an anomaly. While knuckleballers can throw way past their prime, Dickey is probably going to follow the path of fellow knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. At 35, Wakefield also posted a sub-3.00 ERA in one of his best seasons. The year after (2003) he posted a 4.09 ERA and since that season has a 4.53 ERA.

New York Mets Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Jose Reyes SS 1 Mike Pelfrey RH
2 Angel Pagan RF 2 Jonathon Niese LH
3 David Wright 3B 3 R.A. Dickey RH
4 Carlos Beltran CF 4 Chris Young RH
5 Jason Bay LF 5 Chris Capuano LH
6 Ike Davis 1B Inj Johan Santana LH
7 Luis Castillo 2B
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Josh Thole C CL Francisco Rodriguez RH
Top bench options SU Bobby Parnell RH
R Daniel Murphy INF RP Manny Acosta RH
R Chin-lung Hu MI RP D.J. Carrasco RH
R Scott Hairston OF RP Oliver Perez LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Jenrry Mejia 21 SP Majors Triple-A
Front-line starter who has a mid-90s fastball. Needs to stay healthy and stretch out his arm in minors.
2 Wilmer Flores 19 SS Class A Double-A
Could be heir apparent to Reyes at short. Gap hitter with burgeoning home-run power.
3 Lucas Duda 25 OF Majors Triple-A
Possesses ability to hit .300 with 20-homer power. Hot start in minors could force Mets' hand.
4 Matt Harvey 21 SP N/A Class A
Power college arm that has command issues. '10 first-round pick that won't debut in '11.
5 Fernando Martinez 22 OF Majors Triple-A
Former top prospect that is injury-prone. Could become bench option this season.
Best of the rest: Dillon Gee, SP; Cesar Puello, OF; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF; Reese Havens, 2B; Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B; Bradley Holt, SP; Justin Turner, 2B; Brad Emaus, 2B; Ruben Tejada, 2B/SS; Cory Vaughn, OF; Juan Urbina, SP; Zach Lutz, 3B; Jeurys Familia, SP; Armando Rodriguez, SP; Sean Ratliff, OF; Albert Cordero, C; Matt Den Dekker, OF; Darrell Ceciliani, OF; Jefry Marte, 3B; Mark Cohoon, SP

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put Team outlooks in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

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Player News
Red Sox trade Anthony Ranaudo to Rangers for Robbie Ross
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:40 pm ET) The Red Sox and Rangers announced a two player trade Tuesday where Boston sent Anthony Ranaudo to Texas and the Rangers sent Robbie Ross to the Red Sox, both teams announced.

Ranaudo posted a 4-3 record with a 4.81 ERA in 2014 for Boston in 39 1/3 innings pitched. Ross went 3-6 with a 6.20 ERA in 78 1/3 innings for the Rangers.


Report: Blue Jays also interested in Jonathan Papelbon trade
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:20 pm ET) Along with the Brewers, the Phillies have also discussed trading closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Blue Jays, soruces told MLB.com.

Papelbon is due $13 million next season, which is believed to be one of the sticking points in negotiations. In 2014, Papelbon had 39 saves with a 2.04 ERA.


Report: Orioles, Pirates rekindle Travis Snider trade talks
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) The Orioles and Pirates have revived trade talks regarding Pittsburgh outfielder Travis Snider, a source told The Baltimore Sun. The Orioles are closing in on a framework for a deal for Snider and are encouraged a trade will happen in exchange for one or two minor-league players.

The 26-year-old Snider is in his second year of arbitration and will be a free agent after the 2016 season. He will make $2.1 million in 2015.


Report: Angels, Garrett Richards set arbitration date
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) The Angels and pitcher Garrett Richards have reportedly set an arbitration date for Feb. 11, according to the L.A. Times.

Talks for the new contract have been moving slowly with no discussion of a multi-year deal coming, according to the report. Richards asked for $3.8 million, but the team only offered $2.4 million.

Richards went 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 2014, amassing 164 strikeouts in 168 2/3 innings.


Giants SS Brandon Crawford agrees to $3.175M salary for 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:34 pm ET) The Giants and shortstop Brandon Crawford avoided arbitration Tuesday, agreeing to a $3.175 million salary for 2015, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Crawford, who is in his first year of arbitration, made $560,000 in 2014.

Crawford just finished his fourth season in the majors and third full season in 2014. He had career highs in triples (10), home runs (10), runs (54), RBI (69), walks (59) and games played (153).


Mariners' McClendon toying with idea of using Wilhelmsen as starter
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:28 pm ET) The acquisition of J.A. Happ means Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon doesn't have to head into spring training with long reliever Tom Wilhelmsen competing for a spot in the rotation.

However, McClendon hasn't totally given up on the idea of Wilhelmsen potentially transitioning to a starting role down the road, per MLB.com.

"I don't think it's totally dead," McClendon said. "I would say it's probably a long shot. My plan, as we speak right now, is to maybe stretch him out in spring and just play with it a little bit and see what happens, but I think it's a long shot. He was just so good in the role he was in, it'd be hard to take him out of that role."

Wilhelmsen pitched multiple innings in 24 of his 57 appearances last year. The former closer went 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings.

"I really tried not to change anything at all, [other than] try to simplify a little bit," Wilhelmsen said. "If I was going in in the fourth inning, I knew I'd have to throw two or three innings and I just really attacked the zone. But it's not like you don't attack the zone any other time. It's the same thing. You have to get outs."


Tigers' Castellanos works to be 'more comfortable' at 3B in 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:17 pm ET) Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos struggled in his first full year playing third base at the major-league level in 2014, so he is hard at work this offseason improving his defense

"Last year was [about] the actual ground-ball catching," Castellanos said, per MLB.com. "This year is a lot more [about] quickness, working on my range, lateral movement."

On top of committing 15 errors, Castellanos' Ultimate Zone Rating of negative-18.4 was nearly twice as bad as the next-lowest rating among third-base regulars. He also had a Defensive Runs Saved of minus-30 and a plus/minus rating of minus-39, which was lowest in the majors last year.

"I'm going to be more comfortable this year," Castellanos said. "Last year, I knew nobody [in terms of hitting tendencies]. Also I was getting used to the tempo of the game. It wasn't like I was in the big leagues for a while at another position and then had to go to third base. It was pretty much me making my first year in the big leagues at pretty much a new position, or trying to relearn an old position."


Santana, Escobar to compete to be Twins' starting shortstop
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:56 pm ET) While Danny Santana is considered the front-runner to be the Twins' starting shortstop, first-year manager Paul Molitor said nothing has been decided yet. Santana will compete with Eduardo Escobar for the starting job this spring.

"It's probably been one of the more awkward things for me this winter in dealing with that situation," Molitor said, per MLB.com. "Obviously, I have to go in there open-minded about how it will play out. I can't say Santana will be the shortstop because things can change. Escobar deserves an opportunity to play and whether it's spotting around the organization or he has to go back to shortstop, I can't tell you it all will work out."

Escobar started a team-high 86 games at shortstop in 2014 for Minnesota. He made it clear he wants to play every day, but is willing to play where Molitor needs him.

"This season is important for me," Escobar said. "I'm coming in ready to play. I don't know if I'm going to be the starting shortstop or not, but I've been working hard to be ready for spring training. If Molitor wants me to play shortstop, or wherever, I'm ready for it."

Santana said he is excited he is moving back to shortstop after making a team-high 62 starts in center field last year. He's been fielding 200 grounders per day in the Dominican Republic to get ready for the season.

"I'm very happy about playing shortstop. I was waiting for that moment," Santana said. "Shortstop is my natural position. I just need to keep working and I can do the same thing as last year."


Rockies' Bridich: 'Highly unlikely' Tulo, CarGo traded before opener
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:17 pm ET) Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told FOX Sports on Tuesday that it is "highly, highly unlikely" shortstop Troy Tulowitzki or outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will be traded before opening day.

Tulowitzki, who has been linked to trade rumors involving the Mets this offseason, is under contract through 2020 on a six-year, $118 million deal. He is also recovering from August hip surgery.

Gonzalez is under contract through the 2017 season on a seven-year, $80 million contract. He is also recovering from surgery in August to repair the patellar tendon in his left knee.


Pitcher Johan Santana shut down in Venezuelan Winter League
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:46 pm ET) Free-agent pitcher Johan Santana has been scratched from pitching in any of the remaining Venezuelan Winter League championship series games, reports FOXSports.

Santana has been experiencing discomfort in his shoulder. Teams that have indicated interest in Santana include the Yankees, Blue Jays, Padres. Santana's agent said Santana may still throw for major-league scouts, but wasn't sure.

He last pitched in the major leagues in 2012 and produced a 4.85 ERA in 21 starts.


 
 
 
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