With the season neigh upon us, time for a quick look at 5 Things In Favour of the Mets Winning The NL East and 5 Things That Might Prevent The Mets From Making the Post Season.

5 Things That Might Prevent The Mets From Making the Post Season:

1. Age of the Pitching Staff: We all know that age kills over the course of a 162 game season. Having top line starters or the meat of your order pushing 40 is an open invitation to breakdown and disappointment, unless of course, a plucky bench and a depleted farm system can come to the rescue. Of the pitching staff, Pedro, coming off a season he pitched less than a half dozen games in, Scott Schoenweiss and Billy Wagner are all either 35 or older or will turn 35 this season. The 80 year old El Duque is already on the 15-day DL and will require yet another force majeure, a miracle of age and wonder, to avoid the physical collapse that would fail every other senior citizen in his position. When you consider that he contributed 24 starts and nearly 150 innings of work last season, you have to wonder where how deep the water is in that well of eternal youth he keeps drawing from. These are arguably four key discs in the spinal column of the pitching staff and if all stay healthy (with the exception of Wagner's predictable meltdown in games that matter) the Mets will be able to hold together a strong run for the pennant.

2. Age of the Batting Order: Of the every day batting order well, we already see two of the most powerful bats in the lineup with worrying problems: Moises Alou, who usually is polite enough to wait for the season to start before getting hurt is already out for the beginning of the season following a hernia operation. It doesn't take a molecular biologist to have easily predicted a season of less than 100 games for Alou and relying on a 41 yeard old, injury-prone man to drive in 100 runs and patrol left field under those circumstances is simply wishful thinking. Wishful thinking that borders unrealistic expectation.

Compounding Alou is the nearly 36 year old Carlos Delgado's worrying performance last season combined with a dodgy hip, just the sort of injury a man who has already pushed beyonhe

Now consider that the Mets replaced and ageing Paul Lo Duca with the hamstrung 31 year old Brian Schneider at backstop and backing up Schneider is the injured 31 year old Ramon Castro and the soon-to-be 35 year old current backup Raul Casanova and you can easily envision a potpourri of injury and breakdowns in one of the key positions on the team.

Yes, the Mets sensibly rid themselves of one senior citizen in Julio Franco, they will still be relying upon the 39 year old Damon Easley to plug many of the regular season holes as well as the 34 year old Marlon Anderson.

3. Bullpen: Forget for a moment that the Wagner is far more successful when it doesn't count than when it does, not precisely the attribute you want in your closer and worrisome enough in and of itself. Now combine this with questions like will Aaron Heilman provide a durable and meaningful work as Wagner's set-up man or will Willie be forced to make coy comments all season relying upon the rehabilitation of a worrying Duaner Sanchez, who doesn't at this point anyway, look in anyway prepared to regain his brilliant 2006 pre-taxi accident form. Schoenweiss, is a questionable bridge between the starters and the pen. Jorge Sosa will be drafted into the rotation should there not prove to be a capable fifth starter which means there is further potential to see the bullpen, which collapsed late last season, to turn to dust again when it counts. If they ever get off the ground, that is.

4. Speed or Power?: With Alou out and Delgado questionable, two primary power sources in the every day lineup have gone missing which invariably leads to the question of who is going to protect David Wright in the order? Ryan Church? Angel Pagan? Granted, if all were healthy and hitting, the batting lineup assembled would be quite impressive. But we all know that isn't the case, there's some big holes in this lineup potentially that could render the Mets into a singles-hitting, bunt and steal and sacrifice sort of team. Admittedly, this would perhaps be more effective - after all, it's precisely that sort of the team that usually makes it to the World Series so not having three 40 homer guys isn't the end of the world. Provided they actually CAN execute the bunts and the sacrifices and steal the bases and not make the sort of dumb mistakes that often plagued them last year.

5 Does Bonehead Willie or Competent Willie Manage the Team? Anyone who has watched the Mets over the last few seasons will easily recall the crazystupid sort of moves Willie has made over the course of his managerial stint. We don't doubt he will surprise us even further this year with questionable calls but he failed miserably in last season's gut check, leaving it to veterans with little or no leadership skills to recover the sinking season. That isn't to say that The Collapse is entirely his fault but certainly you don't see Hall of Fame managers lead teams on the sort of irrevocable and historic downfall that Willie oversaw last season. Willie's job is on the line no doubt and the first bit of adversity will have the Mets questioning themselves - it will be up to him to make sure they get over the hump.

5 Things In Favour of the Mets Winning The NL East

1. Johan Santana, Pedro and Maine: The caveat to this is in knowing that starters don't usually finish games and even if these three pitch masterfully there will still be the issue of the bullpen holding the lead to keep the victory in hand. Still, when you sign one of the best lefties in baseball as a form of solace after blowing an entire season, you expect there to be some pretty massive knock-on effects. The entire team, not to mention the fan base, was buoyed by the trade for Santana and their pennant hopes will likely rise and fall with how well Santana the losing streak breaker, performs.

2. No One Else In The NL East Is Very Good: Let's face it, the Mets are the cream of the division. They've spent more money, made more sensible, if splashy signings over the course of the last few seasons, have come the closest of anyone of the NL East Three to get to the World Series and are built for success NOW. Yes. both the Phillies and the Braves are perennial pains in the arse as opponents but if the Mets play to their potential, let's face it, the Braves and Phillies are going to be left choking on fumes. It's the Mets' division to lose. Even those muppets in Philly and the rednecks in Atlanta can see that.

3. Carlos Beltran's Guarantee: Ok, incredibly unoriginal but I like the fact that the guy who is supposed to be leading this team by now has finally opened his gob and said something controversial, dared to speak with words rather than constantly attempting to lead quietly by example. Yes, that unnamed Philly won the league's MVP after making similar comments last Spring and one would think since he's laid it all on the line like that, Beltran is going to similarly have to rise to the occasion. The result could be a big season. And of course we all know the song, IF Alou and Delgado are healthy and hitting, blablabla. Whilst David Wright and Jose Reyes remain the most promising, in the end Beltran will have to lead and lead strong.

4. Karma: If last season's collapse didn't absolutely gut them (and there's no sign that it has) then the signing of Santana and the humiliating experience of last season are going to be a hefty one-two combination when it comes to comeuppance. You might consider that the Mets could well be playing this season with a chip on their shoulder, angry at the squandered opportunities and ready to kick in the NL East door early and keep everyone else down in the cellar the rest of the season. The Mets will be looking not only to grab the lead but make it a lead so bloody big no collapse could possibly dwindle it to nil.

5. Because They Bloody Well Better: If they aren't winning the division by double digits come the All-Star break everyone and I mean everyone is going to be talking about The Collapse. It might even behoove the Mets to sneak up making a late season run to gut someone else's fan base for a change and then roll on to the World Series but the point is, the Mets have got to do something big to make up for last season. Something memorable in a positive way and little short of a World Championship is going to do that. The first step is the NL East.


nb: The season might well be decided in the first month when the Mets play the Phillies and Braves a total of 12 times.

NL Central
1. Chicago
2. Cincinnati
3. Milwaukee
4. Houston
5. St Louis Cardinals

NL West
1. Arizona
2. Los Angeles
3. San Diego
4. Colorado
5. SF Giants

NL East
1. NY Mets
2 Atlanta*
3 Philadelphia
4 Washington
5. Florida

Mets crush everyone in the NLCS

Because they've humiliated themselves once. No team can be more motivated.

AL Central

1. Detroit
2 Kansas City
3. Cleveland
4, Minnesota
5. White Sox

AL West
1. Oakland
2. Seattle
3. Anaheim
4. Texas

AL East
1. Yankees
2. Boston*
3. Tampa Bay
4. Toronto
5. Baltimore

Oakland v Mets in World Series with everyone still laughing at Barry Zito

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