If spring training were to begin spring training tomorrow, the Mets would not bring to Florida that would be worthy of optimism, not with Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami and Washington all getting better and willing to make the moves the Mets can’t afford in their present economic climate.
When asked what he would say to Mets’ fans to sell them on 2012, GM Sandy Alderson said his sales pitch would be focusing on the future, and if the team was healthy and played to its expectations they could be competitive.
We’ve heard that refrain before and we’ll hear it again,
But for now, assuming no additions to the roster, let’s see what the Mets will bring to Port St. Luice:
JOHAN SANTANA: Alderson said the other day he expects Santana back in the rotation. Would be nice for him go through a spring training first. There’s no guarantee when Santana will return, and if he does, how effective he’ll be. They can’t be thinking they’ll plug in a Cy Young Award winner.
MIKE PELFREY: The de facto ace last summer after a strong 2010 and Santana’s injury. He’ll get his raise for winning all of seven games. This just might be Pelfrey’s make-or-break season. If the Mets could land another starter, and they’ll need it after losing Chris Capuano to Los Angeles, I wouldn’t be adverse to trying Pelfrey as a closer. Something has to be done to shake up this guy.
RA DICKEY: After a rocky start, Dickey closed strong despite pitching injured. The fluke label should be removed because Dickey has been the Mets’ most consistent starter the past two years. Even so, he’s still a back end of the rotation guy.
DILLON GEE: Like Dickey in 2010, Gee came out of nowhere to become a viable member of the rotation. Gee sprinted out of the gate, but hitters eventually figured him out. However, on the plus side, Gee did his own adjusting. Gee passed through the organization without a lot of flash. Yes, we have to look at his first year with caution, but there’s also reason to be optimistic.
JON NIESE: Niese is another who is an injury question. When he’s been on he’s been nearly untouchable. He’s also had moments when he loses the strike zone. One of the Mets’ best decisions was not to include Niese in the Santana trade. It may turn out he’ll replace him in the rotation.
CLOSER: Alderson has stated this as a priority, but several are already off the market, and the rest might be too pricey for the Mets’ blood. The Mets have been wanting Bobby Parnell to win this job, but he wasn’t even able to make it as a set-up reliever. Parnell has the stuff, but his thought process on the mound is often flawed as is his command.
THE PEN: As it is configured now, the following will join Parnell in the pen: Taylor Buchholz, Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak, Manny Acosta, DJ Carrasco, Josh Stinson, Daniel Herrera and Chris Schwinden. Most had a moments of success, but did not demonstrated any consistency. As of now, this is what the pen looks like. It wouldn’t be surprising if half these guys are gone Opening Day.
CATCHER: Josh Thole is still new to the position and it shows. In 2010, the Mets liked his plate patience and presence, but he regressed in those areas. Defensively, he also took a step back in calling games, blocking pitches and throwing out runners. Ronny Paulino isn’t coming back as a reserve, so that’s open.
FIRST BASE: The Mets would like it to be Ike Davis, who sustained a puzzling ankle injury and was lost for much of the season. Davis said he’s better, but is he in playing shape? Nobody knows. Davis has potent power potential if healthy. Hopefully, we’ll know that answer in March.
SECOND BASE: The position had a turnstile last season with Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner and Ruben Tejada. Murphy was the best hitter, but is flawed defensively. Turner hustles but is a role player. Tejada has the superior glove, but will be moved to shortstop to replace Jose Reyes. Currently, Murphy, who is coming off an knee injury, appears the front runner.
SHORTSTOP: Reyes is gone and Tejada is next in line. Scouts say Tejada can field the position, and could even be an upgrade. Tejada hit better than expected, but the window was too short.
THIRD BASE: David Wright. Alderson insists the team is not looking to trade Wright, and you can count on that while the season ticket drive is on. Wright is the face of the franchise and if the Mets do peddle him they’d better get top drawer talent in return. The problem is Wright has had injury problems and hasn’t produced the power numbers needed of him in recent years. His stock has fallen, which is reason, in part, why the fences will be brought in.
LEFT FIELD: Jason Bay has not produced in his first two years with the Mets and there’s no sign of that changing. He’s played well defensively, always hustles, but hasn’t been close to the power hitter the Mets envisioned. He’s another who’ll benefit from the fences. Clearly, the Mets aren’t interested in getting their money’s worth from Bay, but trying to salvage the contract.
CENTER FIELD: The Mets will keep Angel Pagan because they have no alternatives. Pagan regressed in all areas last season, defensively, at the plate, on the bases and in the clubhouse. The Mets loved his desire and hustle in 2010, but are now wondering what happened.
RIGHT FIELD: Lucas Duda was moved to right field late in the season, but with the season long since over, they should have done it sooner, perhaps right after the Carlos Beltran trade. Duda is a liability on defense, but can only improve with playing time. Duda has power potential and a high on-base percentage. The Mets don’t have many young chips. This is one of them.