New General Manager Omar Minaya wasn't shy in throwing the Mets' money around, but unlike in year's past, the players New York brought in should provide improvement. Having been burned by Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn and Jeromy Burnitz, the signings of Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran were sound moves from a baseball and business sense since New York fans will have at least a couple of reasons to care about the Mets again.
Worth Every Penny
Last season Beltran narrowly missed going 40-40. He stole enough bases but went into a prolonged homerless drought before exploding in the postseason for eight round-trippers. He was clearly the best player in uniform in October for any team. Although his numbers will dip a bit since Shea Stadium can take the life out of any hitter, he's still a virtual lock for a 30-30 season.
About To Blossom
Mets fans had been awaiting the arrival of Wright for two years and he didn't disappoint when he was finally called up last July to replace Ty Wigginton. He's a five-tool player at third base and will duel with Beltran to occupy the "Worth Every Penny" spot well into the next decade.
Acquired from Tampa Bay for Scott Kazmir at the trade deadline last season, Victor Zambrano, a converted shortstop, had pitching coach Rick Peterson licking his chops because of his potential. When he's on, Zambrano is downright unhittable. But he often loses command of the strike zone. Can Peterson really fix him?
Do You Feel Lucky?
Coming to the Mets amid all of the hype and pressure placed upon him by the combination of New York and Japanese media, Kaz Matsui was fairly pedestrian last season. Despite clocking a home run on Opening Day, his power slipped from 26 home runs in Japan in 2003 to just seven last season. He's probably not going to have numbers like he put up in Asia, but he's not as bad as he looked at times last year. Fifteen home runs and 25 steals should be expected.
Willie Randolph is going to let his team run at will so not only will Beltran, Reyes and Matsui run, but guys like Mike Cameron, Cliff Floyd and David Wright all should be in double-digits in stolen bases. Just don't look for any speed from Mike Piazza, who hasn't successfully stolen a base since 2000.
If Something Should Happen To Braden Looper
A bunch of non-roster invitees are in camp with the ability to close games, including Scott Strickland, Orber Moreno and even Roberto Hernandez. Strickland, the former Expo who is returning from Tommy John surgery, has 20 career saves including 18-for-25 in two auditions as Montreal's closer in 2000 and 2001.
Don't Forget About
Martinez, Piazza, Tom Glavine, Kris Benson
Don't Bother With
Andres Galarraga, Joe McEwing
David Sabino is the associate editor in charge of statistics at Sports Illustrated and the author of the book, Dominate Your Fantasy Baseball League (Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade).