The Mets nearly beat the Phillies last year with a bullpen that blew 29 saves, while Phillies closer Brad Lidge did not blow a single save during the regular season. Those numbers figure to be different this season, enabling the Mets to make up the ground they need to overtake the Phils.
Despite some questions, the rotation should be better than it was last year. Mike Pelfrey is now an established big-league pitcher and John Maine appears to be healthy. Oliver Perez will have his awful days and his great days, just like last year. Livan Hernandez will at least give the Mets more than they got out of the last spot in the rotation last year.
Francisco Rodriguez will fail to save 40 games, but only because he won't get all the save opportunities he got last year with the Angels. After K-Rod and J.J. Putz, the rest of the bullpen may end up doing no better than last year's bunch, but it won't matter with the eighth and ninth innings in much better hands.
The offense will improve from last year. with Carlos Beltran having an even better season, which will make up for Carlos Delgado regressing somewhat. David Wright and Beltran will be in MVP competition. Jose Reyes will steal fewer than 50 bases but hit more homers. Daniel Murphy will do all right but turn out to be a little overhyped. Luis Castillo will quiet the boos, but they won't necessarily turn into cheers.
Gary Sheffield will be off the team by the end of July.
The Mets will win the division and advance to the NLCS, where they will face the Cubs. The Cubs will be nine outs from the World Series when Lou Piniella sends Aaron Heilman out to the mound.
In the World Series, the Mets will square off against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays will win the AL East. Whether the Yankees or the Red Sox win the wild card will depend on which team's aging veterans break down the least. If the Yankees make the playoffs, they will advance to the ALCS, when a magazine interview with A-Rod is released in which A-Rod says the Yankees would be stronger with Ramiro Pena at short and Derek Jeter at second.
In the World Series, the Rays will attempt to psych out the Mets by having Victor Zambrano throw out the first pitch. Whether or not the Mets win will depend on whether Omar Minaya can sneak Sheffield back onto the team before the World Series begins. If Sheffield is on the Mets, the Rays will win the World Series and the MVP will be Pat Burrell. Scott Kazmir will strike out ten Mets in his start but get a no-decision. If Sheffield is not on the Mets, they will win the World Series. The MVP will be Francisco Rodriguez.
Instead of stopping at City Hall, the ticker tape parade will continue up to Madison Square Park, ending at Shake Shack.
Tell us your predictions for the 2009 Mets.