INFIELD: On the left side, the Mets have former All-Stars in Jose Reyes and David Wright, but the key is keeping them together for prolonged periods of time. That's not a problem with Wright, who regularly plays close to 160 games every season. And Reyes, despite his history of leg issues, never has looked faster on the basepaths in spring training. First baseman Ike Davis is solid defensively and provides a badly needed home run threat in the middle of the lineup. The problem is the uncertainty at second base -- Brad Emaus gets his first taste of the majors.
OUTFIELD: Remember when everyone was holding his breath about moving Carlos Beltran to rightfield? That proved to be a seamless transition when Beltran himself eliminated the suspense early in spring training. Now the issue is whether he can play at all. If Beltran's arthritic knees keep him out, the Mets are in trouble. Angel Pagan will be a defensive upgrade in center, but there are questions at the corners. Can Jason Bay rediscover his power stroke in leftfield? And who fills in for Beltran? Lucas Duda? Nick Evans? Scott Hairston? Could be a revolving door out there.
CATCHER: The Mets decided early in the offseason to stick with Josh Thole as their starter, although the 24-year-old backstop had played only 90 games in the majors. Thole seemed to be a quick study last season and the Mets like his offensive ability; he has a .286 batting average and a .357 on-base percentage during his relatively brief stay in the bigs. General manager Sandy Alderson signed the experienced Ronnie Paulino as Thole's backup, but he'll miss the first eight games because of a PED suspension, giving Mike Nickeas an opening to start the season.
BENCH: The Mets made an effort to improve their reserves by signing power threat Scott Hairston as a fourth outfielder and Willie Harris -- formerly known as a Mets-killer -- to back up at a handful of positions. Just signing Harris should save them a few games in the standings. Also in the mix is Daniel Murphy, a solid lefthanded hitter who is a defensive liability, and middle infielder Chin-lung Hu, an all-glove, no-bat backup.
ROTATION: With no Johan Santaa until probably July, Mike Peflrey has been thrust into the No. 1 spot, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to that additional pressure as he comes off a breakthrough season. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey earned a two-year, $7.8-million contract after posting a 2.84 ERA last season, so the Mets are betting that he finally has found his groove at age 36. Jon Niese still is an unknown quantity at No. 3, as are Chris Young and Chris Capuano at the back of the rotation.
BULLPEN: The best part of the Mets' relief corps, by far, is Francisco Rodriguez, a closer they don't want to finish games. How's that for a quandary? If K-Rod gets to 55 finishes, the Mets owe him another $17.5 million for 2012, something they'd rather not do. Bobby Parnell and his 100-mph fastball should work in a setup role and Generation K castoff Jason Isringhausen would make a nice story for the late innings. The rest of this crew is mystery, however.
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