Written By: Kenny Mauss

The New York Mets finished the 2009 season with a record of 70-92. Good enough for 4th place in the extremely competitive National League East. While a season of that magnitude may be tolerated in baseball cities such as Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Washington, it doesn’t fly in The Big Apple. Injuries without a doubt played a large role in the ineptitude of the Mets that began in May and lasted throughout the season, but injuries are a part of the game and a Major League team is expected to withstand them and have some resolve. The much bigger problem for the team from Queens was their lack of starting pitching….

Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and John Maine combined for a paltry 20 wins last year. While it may not be fair to compare the Mets to the Yankees, it is what is and cross-town rival, the Yankees top 3 pitchers (C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Petitte) combined for 46 wins. This stat alone had Mets fans across New York clamoring for pitching this offseason. I’m sure the thought of Pat Mitsch, Nelson Figueroa, Oliver Perez (who is entering the 2nd season of a 3 year-$36 million deal), and Tim Redding bringing up the rear of the rotation had something to do with that as well. When push came to shove though and the best free agent pitcher John Lackey was available, had the Mets thrown enough money his way, the Mets balked. While I happen to agree with this decision (he’s not worth 5 years and $82.5 million) many fans did not agree. They didn’t just pass on Lackey though. Jason Marquis signed with Washington, Joel Pineiro signed with the Angels, Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban who defected signed with Cincinnati, and left-handed Randy Wolf signed with Milwaukee. While none of these 3 have the appeal John Lackey has, it’s definitely an upgrade over the Mitsch, Figueroa, Niese, Perez bottom of the rotation.

The 2010 starting rotation is going to look much like the 2009 one did. A healthy Johan Santana will be the Ace of the staff and will no doubt have the Mets in position to win every game he starts (assuming the Mets can score 3 or 4 runs per game this season). Behind Johan is Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez, and most likely Jon Niese. At first glance, this may seem as though it is a nightmare, but do not forget, with the exception of Niese, they have all put together at least one solid season. Both John Maine and Oliver Perez had 15 win seasons in 2007, and in 2008 Mike Pelfrey had a 13 win season with a 3.72 ERA. Assuming Johan returns to his status of a premiere pitcher in baseball the breakdown on wins could realistically look as follows:

Johan Santana: 18 Wins

Mike Pelfrey: 13 Wins

John Maine: 14 wins

Oliver Perez: 12 Wins

Jon Niese: 8 Wins

That would mean 65 wins from the starting rotation alone. If the bullpen is able to win approximately 20 games, that would be 85 wins. I know 85 wins probably won’t win the division, but it would absolutely mean they are in contention come September and with pitcher and catchers reporting soon, the idea of meaningful baseball in September for the team in Queens, lets just say that would be a major upgrade over the performance of last year.