“I want to play this game for as long as I can and I can’t do that with having the kind of year I had last year,” Pelfrey said. “Going into the offseason, it kind of hits you like, ‘Man, what happened?’ So you go through it, you learn from it and you try to get better. I’m more determined not to let that happen again. Obviously, I need to have a good year or . . . I might not be back.”
No doubt there are a myriad of questions and curiosities about the 2012 Mets, but two I am wondering about most are Lucas Duda and Mike Pelfrey.
I’m skipping the obvious choices, David Wright, Johan Santana and Jason Bay. With Wright, either they’ll trade him or they won’t. With Santana, he’s either healthy or he’s not. And Bay? Based on his first two years with the Mets, I have no expectations.
Duda and Pelfrey are different to me because their performances can dictate a lot about the future.
Duda combines loads of power potential with limited defensive capabilities. He’ll be in right field, a position where power is a necessity. We can’t project Duda for 30 homers because he’s never done it. For that matter, he hasn’t hit more than 10, and that was last season in a short window.
That short window production is what has us salivating. There’s no doubting his strength, and the shorter fences should help, but there are other factors. How will he adjust to National League pitchers and how will they adjust to him? Will he produce over the long haul and with the pressures of starting?
Duda is still a babe in the woods, but that potential has me thinking that if he can handle right field, this could be a player with a bright future.
We’ve been saying “bright future” about Pelfrey for years. He seemingly had a breakthrough 2010, but regressed greatly last season. Well, which is it? Pelfrey is still young enough where he can have a good career. He’s also not commanding the big dollars.
However, he’s an enigma and what he does this season could determine whether the Mets cut ties with him or make a commitment. Pelfrey’s performance could also dictate the future of pitching coach Dan Warthen.
If Pelfrey pitches as he did in 2010 and several of the other Mets’ questions are answered in the positive, the Mets could be competitive and entertaining this summer. If not, the projected long summer will be upon us.
Pitchers and catchers report to St. Lucie in three weeks and where is the sense of optimism that comes with the approaching baseball season?
In the past three years the Mets entered spring training without realistic hope save wishing they could muster a competitive season to keep their dwindling fan base interested and enthused.
This year included.
It is not healthy when the fans’ biggest hopes are for the owners to sell and not trade their marquee player. The core three of David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran is down to Wright, and nobody would be surprised if he got off to a fast start and the Mets dealt him in July. Believe me, the vultures are calling.
We are seven weeks from the start of spring training, and that time will fly. The NFL playoffs start this weekend, and when they conclude pitchers and catchers aren’t far behind.
The Mets will face a myriad of questions and issues this spring, with the following dozen the most prevalent:
1) QUESTION: To what degree will the Wilpon’s financial problems impact the Mets?
SPECULATION: To think fallout from the Ponzi scandal won’t influence things is naïve. Jose Reyes is gone because the Mets didn’t have the resources to compete. GM Sandy Alderson anticipates a payroll of close to $100 million, which would be $40 million less than in 2011. Maybe the Mets should consider a bake sale outside Citi Field this summer.
2) QUESTION: Will the roster significantly change between now and spring training?
SPECULATION: I doubt it. There’s been no indication of them pursuing any name talent, and who expects that to change? Any additions the Mets do will be strictly tweaking, which doesn’t help when there are positions needing an overhaul.
3) QUESTION: What will we get from Johan Santana?
SPECULATION: I’m not counting on it. Santana’s shoulder injury is similar to that which effectively ended Mark Prior’s career. Santana has already had several setbacks and regardless of Alderson’s spin, nobody can say definitively when Santana can, or if, he can pitch again.
4) QUESTION: How long will David Wright remain a Met?
SPECULATION: I can’t see him being traded prior to spring training, and believe he’ll be here for the entire season because there’s an option for 2013, which means they don’t have to do anything this year. The Mets want to be sure of Wright’s health and his production (with the fences brought in) before doing anything. If Wright is sound and hitting, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s dealt. At this point, expect anything to happen.
5) QUESTION: Which Mike Pelfrey will we see?
SPECULATION: Your guess is as good as mine. After a seemingly breakthrough 2010 season, Pelfrey regressed dramatically last year. I don’t have that much more confidence in Pelfrey than I had in Oliver Perez, which pretty much says it all. The Mets must do some serious soul searching on all levels concerning Pelfrey, including whether pitching coach Dan Warthen is the answer to if they should cut ties with him. Clearly, he has not lived up to expectations.
6) QUESTION: What is the configuration of the bullpen?
SPECULATION: The depth chart on the Mets’ official web site lists 10 relievers, which is about right. The Mets have long hoped Bobby Parnell would seize the closer role, but that hasn’t come close to happening. Former Blue Jays Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco are expected to compete for the closer role, but one can’t forget why Toronto didn’t want to keep them in the first place.
7) QUESTION: Is Ruben Tejada the answer as Jose Reyes’ replacement?
SPECULATON: Absolutely not. Trying to fill the hole left by Reyes’ departure probably puts as much pressure on Tejada as any other Met. Reyes is a unique player not easily replaced. The Mets probably won’t see a fall off defensively, but Reyes has a dynamic offensive presence. Losing Reyes will gnaw at the Mets all summer and there’s nothing Tejada will be able to do.
8) QUESTION: Can Daniel Murphy make it at second base?
SPECULATION: Murphy was having an outstanding season at the plate before he injured his knee covering the bag. There were times it appeared Murphy was making defensive strides, but he had enough head-scratching moments, also. Murphy didn’t take to the outfield, his natural position is third, but that won’t happen because of Wright and he played well at first, but Ike Davis precludes that from occurring.
9) QUESTION: How healthy is Ike Davis?
SPECULATION: A freak ankle injury cost the Mets Davis for most of the season and any off-season prognosis is simply a guess. If Davis can’t play for some reason, Lucas Duda will play first which will create a hole in right field. Davis has loads of potential and doesn’t cost much, which is the kind of player the Mets need.
10) QUESTION: What’s the make up of the rotation?
SPECULATION: There were stretches last season when the rotation pitched well, but not enough of them and there are significant issues with every arm. Santana and Jon Niese are coming off injuries; Pelfrey is an enigma; RA Dickey was 8-13 last year and 41-50 in his career; and Dillon Gee has only 32 lifetime starts.
11) QUESTION: Will it ever happen for Jason Bay with the Mets?
SPECULATION: This is an annual question, and there’s nothing to suggest he’ll ever become the player the Mets have hoped. So far, this looks like $66 million flushed down the toilet.
12) QUESTION: Will moving in the fences matter?
SPECULATION: No. The theory is to add power, but the Mets actually showed they could score last year. Then again, they had Reyes and Carlos Beltran. Perhaps the new dimensions will help Wright and Bay, and maybe provide them a jolt of confidence. Could happen. Then again, bet on the opposition hitting more homers, too. Count on that.
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.