I was asking a simple question of a few friends who are Mets fans: Who is playing for the Mets this year. Most of them gave me a simple answer: I don't know. I think those three little words speaks volumes as to the state of the New York Mets. The team is in the middle of a lawsuit brought on by those victims of the Madoff ponzi scheme. Based on that, it's safe to say that the team has been hampered financially which reflects the team's lack of aggressiveness when it came to signing free-agents this past offseason. Though many Mets fans are skeptical when it comes to the state of their team this season, the team still has a young nucleus that they can conceivably build around.
Third baseman David Wright and shortstop Jose Reyes are still the centerpiece to the Mets franchise. Creeping up right behind them is second year first baseman Ike Davis. That leaves three stable piece to the infield, though many believe that Reyes will be taking his services elsewhere by the trade deadline at the earliest.
I have personally believed that Reyes should have been shipped out for pitching long ago. It just seems that he is too preoccupied with how his home run celebration dances opposed to his total production on the field. Adding to that assessment is the injuries that have helped to hamper his performance in the last two seasons. From 2005-2008, Reyes played in no less than 153 games, topping out with 160 in 2007 and 161 in 2005 while he only played in 36 games in 2009 and 133 in 2010. This season is going to be an important one for Reyes since he is in the last year of his 5-yrs $33.75 million contract.
David Wright will continue to be his consistent self in both the lineup and in the field. Aside from his 2009 season that was shutdown due to a concussion, Wright has played in no less than 154 games playing in 160 games in 2005, 2007 and 2008. For those who worry that Wright has lost some of his power, Wright has averaged 27 homers and 107 RBI for his career and showed last season that he could hit the ball out of the park after his seemingly power empty 2009. He's under contract with the Mets through 2012 with a team option for 2013.
Ike Davis will only get better as time goes on. At least we know that Luis Castillo will NOT be playing second base for the Mets. One of the poster children of the unfulfilled potential of the former regime, Castillo was cut with a 1-year $6-million owed to him. His departure opens the door for Brad Emaus to try and make his name for the Mets at second. If he doesn't work out, the Mets have David Murphy waiting in the wings.
The Mets starting catcher will be Josh Thole. This will be his first chance to start the season as the everyday catcher. After him there is some reason to worry. The Mets signed Ronny Paulino to be their backup catcher once his 50-day suspension for performance enhancing drugs expires. Mets fans will have to wait a little longer for Paulino to make his Mets debut. Paulino has been diagnosed with Anemia and cannot play until his blood count improves. A trip to the DL is likely once his suspension has ended. It leaves the team with relative unknown Mike Nickeas as the backup and backup shortstop Chin-lung Hu as the emergency third catcher.
The outfield is made up of Jason Bay, Angel Pagan and Carlos Beltran though Bay is starting the season on the DL with a rib injury. Can Beltran come back from his knee injury and produce while playing a corner position? Can Pagan continue to improve from his impressive 2010 season? Can Jason Bay live up to the contract he signed during the 2009-2010 offseason? While I would like to say the questions for the Mets end there, there are even more questions the pitching side.
The biggest one revolves around ace Johan Santana. Will he come back from surgery in June or is it just lip service. Some news outlets had reported that Santana was not on pace to come back in June. That in fact he would return NEXT season. To hold down the pitching staff, the job falls to Mike Pelfrey, Jonathan Niese and the surprise story to the 2009 season AJ Dickey. Rounding out the rotation will be Chris Capuano (formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers) and injury prone Chris Young (formerly of the San Diego Padres). Joining Castillo on the departed list will be starter Oliver Perez who seemed to the the focus of the fans' venom. A big sigh of relief could be heard when it was announced that he would be cut from the team.
Aside from closer Francisco Rodriguez, the bullpen seems to be full of faces that might be unrecognizable to Mets fans. From the right side, the Mets have rookie Pedro Beato, Blaine Boyer, Taylor Buchholz, DJ Carrasco and Mets veteran Bobby Parnell. Tim Byrdak will attempt to replace Pedro Feliciano as the left-handed specialist out of the pen.
Mets manager Terry Collins certainly has his full this in his first season with the Mets. With the team playing in a very tough division with the favored Philadelphia Phillies, the dangerous Atlanta Braves and the pesky Florida Nationals and Washington Nationals it seems that this season won't be one ending with a playoff spot. Who knows, if the team keeps close in the hunt maybe when Johan Santana returns, he'll help them get over the hump for a Wild Card spot. Unfortunately, I think the off field issues will overshadow whatever the team does. For the good of the team and their fans, the team needs to have new ownership so that the focus can just return to the field where it belongs.
For Further Reading:
- Click Here for a look at the 25-man roster for the 2011 New York Mets from Metsmerizedonline.com