By Rich Coutinho
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The National League may experience a power shortage in 2012 as two of the biggest bats the league possessed — Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols have cleaned out their lockers and are headed for the junior circuit. Add in the fact that Ryan Braun will miss the season’s first 5o games and Ryan Howard’s skills might be diminished by a ruptured Achilles (at least in the short-term) you realize the National League has lost a lot of thump. And this is good news for the Mets who – quite frankly – have as many potential power bats in their lineup as any team in the league with the exception of the Cardinals and the Reds.

Think about it — a healthy Ike Davis, the continued progress of Lucas Duda and David Wright benefiting from the New CitiField dimensions and you potentially have a pretty good trio of power bats compared to some of the other lineups in the league.  And we have not even considered a bounce back year from Jason Bay yet. As much as the Marlins have improved, they will be hoping Mike Stanton continues his rise to star status as much as the Mets are expecting a big year from Ike Davis. The Nationals? They will need both Ryan Zimmerman AND Jayson Werth to have big power years and if the Phils lose Ryan Howard, they will be hoping the duo of Chase Utley and Hunter Pence will carry the lunch until Howard returns to healthy status. The Braves? Brian McCann and Dan Uggla seem to be the only givens for big power numbers.

To me the only two lineups that I think can be relied upon for heavy power in the NL are the Cardinals–Beltran and Holliday and the Reds with Votto, Phillips, and Bruce. The point I am making here is starting pitchers will not be navigating through power laden lineups night after night like pitchers will in the American League. As a consequence, I think good starting pitching can get you through the schedule. And I stress the word “good” meaning it does not have to be great. Now don’t get me wrong teams like the Mets will still need a healthy Santana and a couple of other things to go right like a rebound year from Pelfrey and solid pitching from R.A. Dickey as well as the continued development of Jonathan Niese.

But the thing that will separate teams will be the consistency of their bullpen which will make the Phils, Marlins, and Braves tough to beat but if the Mets reconfigured bullpen gives Terry Collins a blueprint to take over last two or three innings of a game, the Mets might be better than people think. My theory on bullpens has always been they make or break your season. A good one can cover up many weaknesses such as the inability to score tack-on runs or the fact your starting pitchers can not pitch deep in games. On the other hand, a poor bullpen can take every blemish of a team and make it an eyesore like a poor defense for instance.

The events of this off-season only heighten the importance of the bullpen and clearly the NL East has a plethora of dynamite relievers — Papelbon, Storen, Clippard, Venters, Kimbrol, and Heath Bell. Aside from the health of Johan Santana, the ability of the Mets new and improved bullpen to keep pace with their NL East counterparts will tell us a lot about their season. And lets face it — those other teams have better names but the Mets might have a few hidden jewels of their own down there. And if guys like Francisco, Ramirez, Rauch, and Acosta (not to mention Brydak) perform like I think they can, the Mets might be better than people think. And the exodus of two big power bats from the league will only help them.

What do you think? Are the Mets pitchers up to the task?

Comments (9)
  1. Avi says:

    If they had re-signed Reyes, I might have agreed with you. Without Reyes, everyone else in the lineup moves down at least one notch. As a Mets fan since day one, I am so disgusted I am not bothering to renew my season tix. Not that the Mets seem to care, they didn’t even contact me about it. The Mets have last place locked up.

    1. Boomer says:

      what makes you think Reyes was the answer, he wasn’t the answer when he was with the Mets, they sucked with Reyes for many years, after all, he’s not Jeter, Pujols or any other great player who has carried their teams to WS Championships.

      He’s a Marlins now, get over it.

  2. SNY NEWS FLASH!!!! says:

    Mets fans keep believing in Rich Coutinho columns. He’s the same guy who last year said the Mets were in a pennant race in early May.

    Also the Mets would resigned Reyes. That Josh Thole would be the best hitting 2nd and that Santana would be pitching in June. Not to worry about the Mets payroll going down by much for 2012.

    The Mets could be looking at the record for trimming the most payroll from one season to the next.
    Team Year 1 Yr. 2 Decline
    Mets ’11-’12 $142.8 $90.7 $52.1 (proj.)
    Rangers ’03-’04 $103.5 $55.1 $48.4
    Marlins ’05-’06 $60.4 $15.0 $45.4
    Royals ’10-’11 $71.4 $36.1 $35.3
    A’s ’07-’08 $79.4 $48.0 $31.4
    Rays ’10-’11 $71.9 $41.1 $30.8

    So much for his predictions or expertise on what’s right for the Mets.
    Must be tough being a Mets fan, wishing upon a star and not have your dreams come true.

  3. LongTimeFan says:

    I agree with Rich Coutinho the potential is there. And that includes 4 players capable of 30 homers, 2 of whom have already done it multiple times. A lot of things have to go right for this team to succeed – like good health and performance to individual capability – but this team has enough talent to play well all season should they also play smart.

    1. LongTimeSufferingFans says:

      Last I checked the Mets were in the NL East Division where they have to compete with the Mighty Phillies pitching of Halladay, Lee & Hamel and now have added ace closer Papelbon. You then have the Braves & the much improved Marlins & Nats. The Phillies with or without Howard easily win the division

      The team that’s very happy Fielder & Pujols are gone is the Reds. Only one team makes the wild card. So where do the Mets fit in the NL East? last place.

      Last place & potential in the NL East does not get you to the playoffs.

      1. says:

        Got that right,last place for generations.. P.S. the Mess suck!

  4. says:

    The Mess still suck!

  5. LOL, LOL says:

    And this supposed to be good news for the Mets and their fans because?

    First, the Brewers & the Cardinals are not in the same division as the Mets.

    Second, the Mets stink and will stink for the next few years, if anything, that helps the Brewers & the Cardinals because of weak competition coming from the Mets who by the way, have no pitching, and did not improved the rotation over the winter. Don’t pencil in Santana in the rotation until at least June.

    The Mets have Ike Davis returning but they lost Beltran & Reyes so how is this an improvement for an already weak line up.

    Last place is looking pretty good for the Mets for the 2012 season. The Brewers & the Cardinals have nothing to worry about.

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