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Jeff Pearlman
March 26, 2001
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Mets
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March 26, 2001

[enemy Lines]

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an opposing team's scout sizes up the Mets

I wouldn't count the Mets out, but this team is significantly weaker than it was last year. It's tough to win without outfield production, and losing Mike Hampton really hurts....

Even so, when you look around the league, this staff is in the upper echelon because it has a lot of proven guys. Al Leiter has looked outstanding this spring. He keeps getting better. His cutter is devastating to righthanders. Four years and $42 million was a shock, but Kevin Appier has the knowledge to get outs even though his stuff has diminished somewhat. He still has that big curveball, and he locates well. Rick Reed is the poor man's Greg Maddux—a big key is having him healthy for the whole season. Glendon Rusch has learned how to pitch inside and is a lot more aggressive....

Mike Piazza works his butt off behind the plate, but he'd benefit the team most if he played first base. He might hit 70 home runs if he played there. He has a weakness way up in the zone, but if you miss a hair below that, he'll hit a tape-measure shot....

Edgardo Alfonzo has no defined weakness at the plate, no place in the zone a pitcher can go when he gets in trouble. There aren't many hitters like that....

Jay Payton might be an All-Star someday. He has compact strength; his power is gap to gap, but as he matures, he might learn to turn on balls more....

If Armando Benitez would put aside his machismo and mix in a breaking bail occasionally, he could be a lights-out closer. When he gets in trouble, he tries to throw harder and harder, and as hard as he throws, his fastball doesn't have a lot of life.