In the spirit of the excellent Bill James Handbook and Hardball Times Baseball Annual comes the Maple Street Press Mets Annual. This 128-page publication, edited by Matthew Silverman and Greg Spira, is devoted entirely to the Mets and features stories, stats, and photographs. Here is a quick summary of its features:
2009 Mets Preview
- "New Home, Old Worries" (Spira and Silverman): A brief recap of the 2008 season and 2008-2009 offseason.
- "2009 Mets Projections and Scouting Reports": CHONE projections and in-depth reports on Mets regulars, including the recently departed Duaner Sanchez.
- "50 Greatest Mets Seasons": The top fifty seasons by Mets pitchers. Tom Seaver appears ten times. Steve Trachsel, Glendon Rusch, and Kevin Appier also make cameos.
- "Santanarific" (Spira): Johan is awesome.
- "Replace Mets" (Joe McDonald): Mets prospects that could make an impact in 2009 include Daniel Murphy, Nick Evans, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, and Eddie Kunz.
- "Comebacker" (Silverman): Fernando Tatis had a memorable 2008 - can he do it again in 2009?
- "Shea Memoir" (Michael J. Bielawa): Personal memories of Shea.
- "A Cut Above" (Jon Springer): Profile of no-longer-interim manager Jerry Manuel. The title is appropriate.
- "Money on the Table" (Vince Gennaro): Analysis of the free agent market and the Mets offseason moves. This is top-notch writing by a graduate professor of sports management and is my favorite piece in the Annual.
- "Keys to the Citi" (Tara Krieger): Preview of Citi Field.
- "Home Plates" (Springer): A look at the upscale culinary options at Citi Field. Springer writes: "The Mets seem determined to be sure Citi Field food - from cotton candy to caviar - is served with a generous helping of hospitality that will set it apart from other facilities." I'll stick with a hot dog and $8 Budweiser.
- "Around the League" (Ted Berg): Tour of the National League. Berg notes the lack of a clear favorite in the NL East, and I agree. Each team, save the Nationals, has a shot at winning the division.
Down on the Farm
- "Minor Upgrade" (Toby Hyde): Rankings of the top Mets prospects. I liked this description of a certain catcher prospect: "Josh Thole knows the difference between a strike and a ball."
- "Minor League Statistics": Self-explanatory.
- "Needs Met" (Mike Emeigh): Review of the Mets 2008 Draft, which is looking pretty decent right now.
- "Still the One" (Evan Drellich): The "one" is Fernando Martinez. He can hit, but will he stay healthy?
- "Shuffling off to Buffalo" (Spira): Summary of the changing locales of the Mets AAA team. The long-time affiliation with the Norfolk Tides ended in ugly fashion after 2006, and it wasn't practical to keep the squad in New Orleans. Enter chilly Buffalo. Three of the Mets six minor league clubs are now in New York state.
- "Buffalo Redux" (Bielawa): Buffalo was home to the Mets top minor league club from 1963 through 1965. The team's stadium was featured in the film "The Natural."
- "Mets Affiliates 2009 Schedules"
Pieces of Mets History
- "There Are Some Words" (Greg Prince): Memories of the 1969 Mets, celebrating the fortieth anniversary this year.
- "As the Worm Turns" (Dan Schlossberg): 1984 was an eventful year for the United states (Ronald Reagan re-elected, Summer Olympics, Apple computer introduced) and also for the Mets (Dwight Gooden's rookie year, Keith Hernandez's first full Mets season). That season planted the seeds for the 1986 World Series Champions.
- "Stepping Forward" (Silverman): An interview with the one and only Keith Hernandez.
- "1984 Acquisitions": How Frank Cashen Built the 1984 Mets.
- "Seconds, Anyone?" (Howard Megdal): How are the Mets like Susan Lucci? They're both familiar with second place.
- "Opening Jitters" (Andy Esposito): The Mets called the Polo Grounds home from 1962-1963 before moving to Shea in 1964. The first game at each stadium resulted in a Mets loss - can the 2009 team buck this trend at Citi Field?
- "Shea Memoir": The editors and writers share Shea memories.
It's an excellent read for the daily commute, in between classes, or on a lazy weekend afternoon. I particularly enjoyed the stories which take the reader through Mets history. The pages are filled with photographs, including some great ones of the old Polo Grounds and its unique dimensions. Buy it here, or at bookstores in the tri-state area.