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Baseball preview: New York Mets

It's somewhat fitting that today's breakdown of the New York Mets follows yesterday's preview of the Minnesota Twins. The future of the Mets relies heavily on one of the biggest pieces of the Twins' past – left-handed pitcher Johan Santana.

After a monumental collapse last season, the Mets will look to Santana to lead them back to the postseason in 2008. On Sept. 12, New York was 83-62 and led the Philadelphia Phillies by seven games. The Mets went 5-12 in their last 17 games and the Phillies rallied to win the National League East. With a lot to prove this season, the addition of Santana to a team full of superstar players will help the Mets recover from their horrendous finish.

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The Mets are loaded with players who will have an impact in the fantasy world this season. Along with the obvious choices that are listed below, there are several players who could help you win a championship.

Veteran right-handed pitcher Pedro Martinez hasn't gotten much publicity because of Santana, but he'll likely bounce back from injury and win 10-15 games with an ERA around 3.50. With a lot of offense behind him, it won't be hard for Martinez to earn victories. He could still be available in the middle rounds, so keep him in mind.

Speaking of offense, outfielder Moises Alou hit .341 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs in 87 games last season. I wouldn't trust him with a full-time roster spot because he likely won't play all year, but he provides a nice offensive boost if your other players are in the middle of a slump. Alou can be selected with one of your final picks.

New York Mets

2007 record: 88-74 (2nd in NL East)

Key additions: LHP Johan Santana, C Brian Schneider, RF Ryan Church

Key losses: C Paul Lo Duca, LHP Tom Glavine, OF Lastings Milledge, RF Shawn Green

Most valuable fantasy performers:

1. Jose Reyes, SS – You should definitely pick Reyes if he's still available when you make your first selection. Unfortunately, you probably won't have the opportunity unless you're drafting in the first half of the first round. Reyes hit .280 last season with 78 stolen bases and 119 runs scored. He also had 12 home runs and 57 RBIs. This season Reyes will hit around .285 with 10-15 home runs and 110-120 runs scored. He'll likely lead the NL in stolen bases for a fourth consecutive year. How many can he get this year?

2. David Wright, 3B – Like Reyes, Wright will be selected near the top of your fantasy draft, so there's a chance he'll also be gone when it's your turn to pick. If he's available, grab him because he'll help your fantasy team in several categories. Last season, Wright established career highs in batting average (.325), home runs (30), runs (113) and stolen bases (34). Those numbers might not be as high in 2008, but he'll still hit at least .300 with 25-30 home runs, 105-115 RBIs, 95-105 runs and 20-30 stolen bases.

3. Johan Santana, LHP – With the addition of Santana, the Mets now have three players who could be drafted in the first round of most fantasy leagues. That's incredible considering there are 30 teams in the majors and typically only 10-12 teams in a traditional fantasy format. Santana has won at least 15 games and collected at least 235 strikeouts in each of the past four seasons. He'll win 15-20 games in New York and could surpass his career high in strikeouts (265).

4. Carlos Beltran, CF – Beltran could potentially be selected in the first round as well, but it's more likely that he'll be available in the second or third round. He hit .276 with 33 home runs, 112 RBIs, 93 runs scored and 23 stolen bases in 2007. Beltran will have 30-35 home runs, 100-110 RBIs and 20-25 stolen bases this season.

5. Billy Wagner, LHP – Although he's getting older (he'll be 37 in July), Wagner is still one of the best closers available. He had 34 saves last season and has saved 30 games in eight of the past 10 seasons. You should be able to draft Wagner in the eighth or ninth round of most draft formats and he'll take care of the saves category for your team.

6. Carlos Delgado, 1B – Last season was the worst of Delgado's career, but he still had 24 home runs and 87 RBIs. He's no longer one of the best first basemen available, but Delgado will likely hit 20-25 home runs with 80-90 RBIs. He'll be available in the middle rounds and will provide your team with solid numbers at first base.

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Hidden gems:

1. John Maine, RHP – Maine was 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts last season. The Mets won't have to depend on the former Oriole as much with the addition of Santana. While his numbers won't improve much from last year, Maine could be overlooked by a lot of owners. This means he'll be available in the middle to late rounds for you to scoop up.

2. Ryan Church, RF – Last season, Church hit .272 with 15 home runs and 70 RBIs as a member of the Washington Nationals. In the offseason, the Mets sent outfielder Lastings Milledge to the Nationals for Church and catcher Brian Schneider. Church probably shouldn't be drafted, but keep an eye on his performance during the first month of the season. Be the first person to grab him if he gets off to a quick start.

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