Baseball Scott Dierking

2006 Final Mets Report Card

by Scott Dierking 

The architectural blueprint drafted by Omar Minaya for the 2006 New York Mets was an easy one to read. The Mets, through the primary every day line-up additions of Carlos Delgado and Paul LoDuca created a line-up that was balanced in its versatility and exceeding in its prolific combination of both power and speed.
Minaya’s pitching staff placed an emphasis on bullpen, with attention given to closing games from the 7th inning onward. The starting staff was grounded in veteran leadership with guile and guts.
The results? The Mets dominated a parity filled National League in a seemingly effortless manner. Dare we say, the swagger was returned New York National League baseball on the heels of a 10-1 road trip that concluded in early June. An 800-pound gorilla was wrested form the collective back of the Mets as they swept the Braves in Atlanta at the end of July. That sweep effectively served notice to the rest of baseball that there was a new landlord for the National League East.
Jose Reyes– A more lethal top of the order dynamo, the Mets have never seen. Through a more patient approach, Reyes increased his walks to 53 and upped his OBP to a more respectable .359. His defense was steady and he wreaked havoc on opposing defenses any time that he was on base with a MLB leading 64 swipes.  On a team filled with MVP candidates, Reyes was the most valuable Met.
David Wright– The face of the franchise for at least the next decade. Wright displays an endearing blend of personal humility with aggressive play to form a left side foundation for future Met teams. Wright is at his best when he is driving the ball in the gaps, and lets the power come to him. The post All-Star power shortage caused some minimal concerns, along with diminishing numbers against lefties as the year went on. The defense is coming. The potential is there for a Mike Schmidt type of career, with an even better average.
Grade:  A-
Carlos Delgado– Provided terrific line-up protection batting behind Carlos Beltran, as the clean-up hitter. The concern was how the New York spotlight would affect him, and he did not wilt. Delgado proved that he can supply power in any ballpark and even made Shea appear small at times, the likes that the ballpark has not seen since Strawberry. His batting average was lower than his lifetime mark, but the Mets would take these numbers every year.
Grade: B
Paul LoDuca– The consummate professional hitter, patient in the two hole, and moving runners along. That he does it out of the catcher’s position is only a bonus. His at bats with two strikes should be sent to Cooperstown as a manual for Little Leaguers. LoDuca provided grit and leadership on the field and in the dugout.
Grade: B+
Carlos Beltran-This was the player the Mets thought they were getting, and envisioned when they signed him two years ago.  Through several stretches, Beltran carried the Mets with torrid hitting. His homeruns seemingly would pierce outfield walls if they had a lower trajectory. With a propensity to play conservatively deep in center field at times, Carlos makes up for it with a loping stride and powerful arm. Disproportionate split stats heavily favoring road production gives slight concern to what the NY playoff spotlight will do to Beltran’s psyche.
Grade: A-
Jose Valentine– Jose saw an opportunity and took advantage of the debacle at second base that was Kaz Matsui. Easily sliding into the batting order, Valentine provided clutch hits and steady defense to provide stability in the Mets infield. Jose was another shrewd Minaya pick-up.
Grade: B-
Endy Chavez– Through fill-in work at the corner outfield positions, Chavez took advantage of 383 at bats to continually find himself in the middle of Met rallies. Chavez fulfilled his potential by driving the ball through the infield and going with the pitch. Surprising arm strength along with excellent field coverage made Endy a late inning defensive specialist.
Grade: B+
Cliff Floyd– In the on again, off again cycle that is Cliff Floyd, predictably this was an off year. When Floyd was not battling an assortment of nagging injuries, he was struggling through slumps and looking to find his stroke. Floyd is a must to protect Wright in the playoff batting order.
Grade: D
Lastings Milledge– An assortment of outfield injuries made Lastings’ prime time debut a little ahead of schedule. Milledge appeared raw and not ready with over aggressive at bats and some bouts of immaturity. The Mets did Milledge no favors by juggling him between outfield positions and he appeared uncomfortable.
Grade: C-
Ramon Castro-While Ramon was hampered by a late season injury, when healthy, he did provide catching relief for LoDuca while showing some occasional power and clutch hitting. Pitchers appeared comfortable with Castro’s game calling.
Grade: C
Julio Franco-Credit Minaya with another excellent acquisition. The Ponce De Leon of the National League was a clubhouse presence and could be seen tutoring the younger Mets in the dugout. The Rusty Staub of today’s Mets.
Grade: B
Shawn Green-An August acquisition, Green was wildly inconsistent and appears to be a shell of his former self. His playoff role appears uncertain.
Grade: D+
Tom Glavine– Glavine was most effective in the early part of the year when he continued his late season trend of 2005 of pitching inside. Toward the middle of the year, he started to become the nibbling Glavine again, but still was mostly effective. Though he had his own physical scare with a blood clot, Glavine was the Mets most effective and steady pitcher
Grade: B+
Steve Trachsel– Every staff always has one, and this year it was Trachsel who was the beneficiary of run support. Give him credit, he made the runs hold up to the tune of  15 victories. Trachsel always appeared to be working with men on, and never wanted to give in to hitters. He had the ability to limit damage.
Grade: C+
Pedro Martinez– It just was never right for Pedor this year. First it was the toe, then an intestinal bout and finally the calf and then the rotator cuff did him in. One has to feel they all had to be related to some degree, with the stomach ailment thrown in for good measure. Pedro still seems to be the pulse of the Mets and keeps them loose. Regardless his stats and numbers, he contributed immensely to what this club is today.
Grade: C
Orlando Hernandez– Sometimes, it seems his head is just not in the game. El Duque came over from Arizona as insurance for a post-season Mets playoff appearance and this is a policy the Mets are going to cash in on.At times, Hernandez could stupify hitters with angles and varying speeds, and other times he looked flat hittable. The Mets will get to see if he can live up to his previous post-season resume
Grade: C
John Maine-An after thought in the Kris Benson-Jorge Julio trade, Maine started the season at Norfolk and became a staff main stay through injuries. He was outstanding. Displaying a veteran’s control and savvy, Maine got outs and strung together an impressive run of innings.
Grade: A-
Oliver Perez-A reclamation project that the Mets hope they can salvage. An array of arm angles and wicked stuff entice any scout that watches hi. Whether he can harness that control, as well as control his emotions, remains to be seen. At times, he just looked filthy. Other times, he just looked hittable.
Grade: C
The Bullpen-The only way to fairly grade the relievers is as a group. They were constructed with roles in mind, and that is the way they performed. While Wagner was the closer, and he lived up to expectations, mostly, the roles filled by Sanchez, Heilman, Oliver, Bell, Feliciano at times was just outstanding. Minaya made the bullpen his mantra, and they did not let him down. There are only two recognizable blemishes: The Wagner meltdown against the Yankees and a Sanchez taxi ride.
Grade: A+
Randolph-The man has a soft-spoken way about him and the players seem to respond. He does not manage in the papers and keeps clubhouse problems away from the media. A quieter Mets team there has not been, save an unfortunate LoDuca appearance in the gossip columns. His strategy is sound and he stands behind his players
Grade B+
Minaya-Give the man credit, he wanted big names, he got big names, and more importantly he saw them gel as a team. Not many Met GMs have been able to perform that act. His mantra was the bullpen, and it worked for him. He created balance in the line-up, and it was potent. The only question remains, what would Minaya have done had Sanchez not been injured the eve of the trade deadline? Would the Mets have entertained a deal for a power arm, that the staff lacks? Instead, he re-equipped the bullpen, and stuck to his philosophy. Grade: October will tell

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